Tag Archives: McLaren

Could Romain Grosjean follow Eric Boullier to McLaren?

Romain Grosjean’s close relationship with Eric Boullier could lead to the Frenchman leaving Lotus and join his countryman at the McLaren team as soon as 2015.

When Boullier left his role as team principal of Lotus at the end of the 2013 Formula 1 season and joined McLaren, doubts arose regarding the driver he signed for the team in 2012, and stood by during all his on-track issues that year.

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With so much off-track doubts surrounding Lotus, including delays in paying employees including its drivers, there is a possibility that Grosjean could link-up with Boullier again in 2015 in some capacity.  McLaren have a few choices for its drivers – Jenson Button, Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne are already there this year – but Grosjean could offer something different.

The Frenchman had a breakthrough year in 2013, and was the only driver to regularly trouble the Red Bull Racing/Sebastian Vettel domination at the end of the year.  He claimed six podium finishes, including a second place in the United States Grand Prix in Austin, and five third places in Bahrain, Germany, Korea, Japan and India.

Boullier was part of Gravity Sport Management who manage Grosjean’s career, but Gerard Lopez, the chief of Lotus team owner Genii Capital and the successor to Boullier at Gravity, believes Grosjean will be at Lotus for the long term.

“It is us who brought Romain from GP2, and his career was launched by Jean-Paul Driot, who is a friend and a partner,” said Lopez.

“Then the choice of the lineup for F1 was done with Eric Boullier, but it’s still us who decided. And Gravity is 100% ours.

“For me, Romain is one of the best drivers in F1 today, and I think we will soon be able to announce something for the very long term.”

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If the car Lotus give Grosjean is not as good as the one they gave him in 2013, there is a big possibility that the Frenchman could walk away from Lotus at the end of the 2014 season, especially if the financial issues that have been around the team do not go away.

Grosjean and new team-mate Pastor Maldonado will hope to run in the new Lotus in the upcoming pre-season test in Bahrain after Lotus decided to miss the first test.

Sources: http://www.gravitysportmanagement.com/, http://www.espn.co.uk/

Jan Magnussen – The F1 career that got away

When the Australian Grand Prix kicks off the 2014 Formula 1 season in March, Kevin Magnussen will become the latest son of a former F1 driver to race in F1 himself.  His father Jan raced once for McLaren-Mercedes in 1995 then 24 times for the Stewart Grand Prix team in 1997-98, before settling in to a career in GT racing.

The likes of Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill and Nico Rosberg have all followed their fathers – Gilles Villeneuve, Graham Hill and Keke Rosberg respectively – into the top level of motorsport, something Kevin Magnussen has now signed into with the McLaren team.

Let us have a look into Kevin’s father, Jan Magnussen’s F1 debut, at the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix at the Aida circuit in Japan, and his subsequent career in Formula 1.  Regular driver and future double world champion Mika Hakkinen was unwell with appendicitis so Jan stepped in to partner Mark Blundell at the team for this one race.

Jan 1

Prior to F1, Magnussen had broken the British Formula 3 record held by Ayrton Senna of most wins in a season, as he dominated the 1994 season with 14 race wins out of 18 starts driving for Paul Stewart Racing.  This got him noticed and signed to McLaren as part of their young driver programme.

The MP4/10 car and its upgrade, the MP4/10B the team used were not the greatest McLaren F1 cars ever made, and were the first with the Mercedes engine.  A lack of front-end grip was the team’s main handling issue, while the engine was often unreliable.

1995 Pacific Grand Prix – Qualifying Result

Pos

No

Driver

Team

Q1 Time

Q2 Time

Gap

1

6 David Coulthard Williams 1:14.182 1:14.013

2

5 Damon Hill Williams 1:14.289 1:14.213 +0.200

3

1 Michael Schumacher Benetton 1:14.524 1:14.284 +0.271

4

27 Jean Alesi Ferrari 1:14.919 1:15.131 +0.906

5

28 Gerhard Berger Ferrari 1:14.974 1:15.125 +0.961

6

15 Eddie Irvine Jordan 1:15.696 1:15.354 +1.341

7

2 Johnny Herbert Benetton 1:15.561 1:15.556 +1.543

8

30 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber 1:15.942 1:15.561 +1.548

9

26 Olivier Panis Ligier 1:17.071 1:15.621 +1.608

10

7 Mark Blundell McLaren 1:15.652 1:16.166 +1.639

11

14 Rubens Barrichello Jordan 1:16.263 1:15.774 +1.761

12

8 Jan Magnussen McLaren 1:16.339 1:16.368 +2.326

*Times in bold represent the drivers fastest lap*

In his first official time in the car, in the old two-session qualifying format, Magnussen qualified an impressive twelfth on the 24-car grid, only seven tenths of a second behind his vastly more experienced team-mate.  David Coulthard took pole position ahead of his Williams Renault team-mate Damon Hill.

1995 Pacific Grand Prix – Race Result

Pos

No

Driver

Team

Laps

Time/Retired

Grid

Pts

1 1 Michael Schumacher Benetton 83 1:48’49.972 3 10
2 6 David Coulthard Williams 83 +14.920 1 6
3 5 Damon Hill Williams 83 +48.333 2 4
4 28 Gerhard Berger Ferrari 82 +1 Lap 5 3
5 27 Jean Alesi Ferrari 82 +1 Lap 4 2
6 2 Johnny Herbert Benetton 82 +1 Lap 7 1
7 30 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber 82 +1 Lap 8  
8 26 Olivier Panis Ligier 81 +2 Laps 9  
9 7 Mark Blundell McLaren 81 +2 Laps 10  
10 8 Jan Magnussen McLaren 81 +2 Laps 12  

In the race, Magnussen followed his team-mate Blundell home in tenth position, albeit two laps behind race winner Michael Schumacher.  It was the best he could have hoped for in a new car for his first ever grand prix.  He did not put a foot wrong all weekend.

“It’s great for me not only to finish race, but also to make it to the top ten,” said Jan after his debut.

“I had a good fight with [Rubens] Barrichello at the beginning of the race and then towards the end I was closing up on Mark [Blundell]. Even if I had caught him I would not have overtaken though because I did not want to take unnecessary risks.”

Jan 4

Both then McLaren team boss Ron Dennis and then Mercedes boss Norbert Haug were full of praise for Jan’s efforts during his first race.

“Jan did an exceptionally good race for his first Grand Prix and I’m sure he is as pleased with his own performance as we are,” said Dennis.

“Jan was very impressive,” added Haug.  “In his first Grand Prix, he proved to be a real racer, setting the best lap times and being quick coming in and out for each of his three pit stops.”

Mika Hakkinen would return for the remainder of the 1995 Formula 1 season, and it would take Jan until 1997 to get a full-time drive in the sport with the newly formed Stewart Grand Prix outfit.  Ron Dennis advised Jan not to leave McLaren, but the offer of racing was too much for the Dane to turn down.

“Ron advised me against leaving but I didn’t hear a word he said,” said Jan.

“I just wanted to be a Formula One driver and I couldn’t see myself in a McLaren with the driver lineup they had at the time. I should have stayed one or two more years, to have all the things I didn’t have hammered into me by Ron Dennis.

“But McLaren were different then. Since then they have developed a fantastic programme for young drivers, which Kevin is benefiting from. It is a great team of people to have around you. He really is part of the McLaren family. They will take good care of him. For any situation, any question there’s a guy to go to, someone to teach him.

“In my time, though, there was no coaching, no teaching the ropes. There was just me and they expected me to figure it out.”

Jan 2

Jackie Stewart was full of praise for Jan Magnussen when signing the Dane for Stewart, calling him the ‘the greatest driving talent to emerge since Ayrton Senna’, but unfortunately his career at the team did not work out as either he or his team had hoped.  He struggled to match team-mate Rubens Barrichello, and only scored one point in total, for a sixth-placed finish at his final grand prix at Canada in 1998.  He would then be let go, replaced by Dutchman Jos Verstappen, and would never compete in Formula 1 again.  It did not help that he retired from 16 of the 25 races he would compete in.

“My biggest problem was that I didn’t have enough time in the car. It always blew up. We had a lot of mechanical failures. I remember sitting down watching the car burn on too many occasions.”

Jan would move into sports car racing with much more success, and was the 2013 American Le Mans Series champion alongside Spaniard Antonio Garcia, driving for Corvette Racing, winning the title on the same day Kevin would win the Formula Renault 3.5 series title.

But Jan regrets what happened to him during his brief career in F1, and knows he let only had himself to blame.

“I let myself down,” said Jan. “I wish I’d had another chance but Kevin is where he is today because of what happened to me. He can learn from my mistakes.

“He is much more mature than I was at 21. In fact there are no similarities. He’s super hardworking and much more organised than I ever was. I’m sure Ron [Dennis] was frustrated with me. I was a smoker, I didn’t train properly and was not at all organised. I was not ready for F1.”

We can only hope that Kevin Magnussen’s F1 career is more impressive than his fathers.  He seems to have the skill behind the wheel and the ambition to succeed, so we could expect big things from the Danish driver.  Jenson Button might just get a surprise or two in 2014.

Jan 3

“Kevin used to be the son of Jan Magnussen,” said Jan. “Now, suddenly, I am the father of Kevin Magnussen.”

Sources: http://www.theguardian.com, Autosport, FORIX

The Belgian Superstar – Stoffel Vandoorne

Before 2013, hardly anyone had heard of the young Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne, but after a marvellous year in the Formula Renault 3.5 series where he won four races and finished second in the championship, and has a place in the McLaren junior programme, everyone is talking of him as one to watch for the future.  He will go into 2014 as a championship favourite, whether he races for a second season in Formula Renault 3.5 or if he moves into the GP2 series as McLaren would prefer him to do.

Vandoorne 1

Stoffel Vandoorne only made his single seater debut in 2010, driving in the F4 Eurocup 1.6 series, driving for the Autosport Academy team.  He won the championship with a race meeting to spare, ahead of Frenchman Norman Nato.  Vandoorne won only his second ever race in the series at Motorland Aragon, then did the double at the following event at Spa-Francorchamps.  He won three times more, once at Magny Cours in France and then both races at Hockenheim in Germany, and only finished outside of the top four on one occasion, a 16th placed finish in Hungary.  He took five pole positions en-route to finishing the championship with 159 points.

For the 2011 season, Vandoorne moved up to 2.0 litre cars, driving in both the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series, and the Formula Renault 2.0 North European Cup (NEC), both with the KTR team.  Neither championship brought the Belgian a win, though he had eight podium finishes in NEC which left him third in the standings behind Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat.  One podium in Eurocup saw him finish fifth in the championship, behind Sainz Jr and Kvyat again, Will Stevens and series champion Robin Frijns.

2012 was a completely different story however for the Belgian.  He concentrated most of his efforts on the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series, but also raced in the NEC series sparingly.  Four wins in 14 races in the Eurocup saw him win the championship driving for Josef Kaufmann Racing, narrowly defeating Daniil Kvyat to the crown.  He won both races at the Nurburgring, plus once each at the Hungaroring and at Paul Ricard.  He also had five runner-up places, plus two more thirds, finishing ten points clear of Kvyat on 244 points to 234.  In the NEC championship, he only competed in seven events, yet won five of them.  Ninth in the championship despite missing over half the season was mightily impressive.

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Just prior to the 2013 season, he was signed up by McLaren to join their young driver programme.  He moved to Fortec Motorsports for his racing, joining the Formula Renault 3.5 series, replacing outgoing champion Robin Frijns within the team.  He became the first rookie to win his first ever 3.5 race, doing so in Monza.  He won race two in his home weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, then dominated the Moscow event, taking two pole positions, two fastest laps and two wins.  He finished second on five occasions, and third three times.  He finished second in the championship behind fellow McLaren junior driver Kevin Magnussen, scoring 214 points.

So what does the future hold for Stoffel Vandoorne?

Vandoorne revealed he had an offer from Toro Rosso in Formula 1 to replace Red Bull bound Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo, but he declined it.

“The proposition of Red Bull would have been only for one season, and we are looking into the long term. After some talks with my management, they have advised me to stay with McLaren. I am convinced that this will be my best option to eventually get into Formula One”.

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He recently participated in the recent GP2 series tests in Abu Dhabi, driving for two days with the ART Grand Prix outfit, then the final day with the DAMS team, ending the final day on top of the timing charts.  GP2 is a serious option for Vandoorne for 2014, but he also admits he could return to Formula Renault 3.5 if a GP2 drive does not materialise.

“McLaren is trying to put a programme together for me so we are creating some opportunities and then looking at what is best for next year,” he said.

“I want to race. I only have one year of experience in big cars so I think another year would benefit me. Whether that is going to be in GP2 or World Series again, I don’t know yet.

“It’s better for me to race, and a second year in a high-level class like World Series or GP2 would definitely be good for my future.

“McLaren will decide, so I don’t know where I will be. But we will keep the doors open for everything.”

Vandoorne 3

Whatever happens, the future is bright for the Belgian.  He is one of the quickest young drivers around, and should have a long and prosperous career in motorsport.  McLaren have taken a superstar under their wings.

Is Sergio Perez ‘Dangerous’?

Nico Rosberg has become the latest Formula 1 driver to lay some criticism on McLaren driver Sergio Perez after the two drivers collided during the recent Japanese Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver described the Mexican’s driving as ‘dangerous’ after their battle for eighth place on the road lead to Perez suffering a left-rear punctured tyre and left Rosberg with a damaged front wing.

Perez 1

“Perez was not right with what he did.  Definitely dangerous” said Rosberg, as he was sure Perez was defending his position in an unfair manner.  He then added:

“The rules are clear: if you brake and you close the door then you have to move out again.  I was there and he didn’t leave any space”.

It is not the first controversial incident Sergio Perez has been involved in during the 2013 season.  He upset his own McLaren team-mate Jenson Button with ultra-aggressive overtaking attempts at the Bahrain Grand Prix in April, whilst in Monaco he clashed with Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen at the Nouvelle chicane which lead to the Finn lambasting him.

Perez 3

“He hit me from behind and that’s about all there is to it,” said Raikkonen at the conclusion of the Monaco race back in May.  “If he thinks it’s my fault that he came into the corner too fast then he obviously has no idea what he’s talking about.

“It’s not the first time he’s hit someone in the race. He seems to expect people to be always looking at what he might do, then move over or go straight on if he comes into the corner too quick and isn’t going to make it without running into someone.”

The main issue with Perez is when he is under pressure he sometimes makes rash decisions.  His speed has never been in doubt, – the three podium finishes in 2012 with Sauber shows this – however it is his wheel-to-wheel battles that could sometimes be described as unsafe.  If he can eliminate those mistakes he will become a much better driver and ensure a longer career in Formula 1.

His career at McLaren is under threat after just one season in the team, as he has been generally out-performed by Button.  Jenson has 54 points compared to the 22 points Sergio has scored, while the Brit has also out-qualified the Mexican by eleven races to four.  Whilst it is possible that McLaren could retain him, drivers including Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg continue to be linked with the team, and with Jenson Button already signed for 2014, it is obvious whose seat is under threat.

Perez 2

If McLaren were to drop Sergio Perez from its 2014 line-up, it is hard to see where else he could end up.  Maybe a return to his first team Sauber could happen, especially if the funding from Mexican Billionaire businessman Carlos Slim continues for another year.  I cannot see him in any other team however, though that is just from my point of view.

It could end up being a case that, at 23 years old, he could be on the outside looking in, out of Formula 1 in 2014.  It would be a real shame for Sergio and for sport in Mexico, some fans believing that Sergio Perez could be a future Formula 1 world champion.

2013 Blancpain Endurance Series Season Preview

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2013 Blancpain Endurance Series Season Preview

Now into its third year, the Blancpain Endurance Series features Grand Tourer racing cars modified from production road cars that comply with the FIA’s GT3 & GT4 regulations.  Sponsored by Swiss watchmaker Blancpain, the series is running five 2013 races, the first three events in Monza, Silverstone and Paul Ricard being three hour events, the race in Spa a twenty-four hour affair, with the fifth at the Nurburgring lasting for 1000 kilometers.

The teams are divided into three categories – the GT3 Professional class, the GT3 Pro/Am class, and the GT3 Gentleman class.  GT3 Pro sees solely professional drivers, while the GT3 Pro/Am class has teams with mixed professional and Amateur drivers.  The GT3 Gentlemans class is for drivers using cars that are at least one year old.

The series sees a whole array of manufacturers providing cars, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Nissan, and Aston Martin, most of them entering more than one class.  We also get to see a whole host of top class and highly rated racing drivers on show, including Oliver Jarvis, Alexander Sims, Alvaro Parente, Rene Rast, Andy Soucek, Yelmer Buurman, Maxime Martin, Markus Winkelhock & a whole host of others.  Its a series growing, with over 60 entries for the first round in Monza, a big increase on 2012, especially in the Professional class.

The 2012 GT3 Pro Drivers Champions were Christopher Haase, Stephane Ortelli and Christopher Mies, while the team award went to Belgian Audi Club Team WRT.  The GT3 Pro/Am honours went to Louis Machiels & Niek Hommerson for the drivers, and AF Corse for the teams.  The GT3 Gentlemans class was won by Robert Hissom and Pierre Hirschi for the drivers, and Sainteloc Racing for the teams.

So who starts out as favourites?  The Audi team look strong on paper, however the series implements extensive performance balancing and handicap weights to try and artifically make the cars more equal on the road.  Many teams have good drivers, so it should be up to them to get the various cars to the front.  It could be an interesting season.

———————————————-
GT3 PRO Teams

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT – Audi R8 LMS Ultra
1 – Stephane Ortelli – Monaco / Laurens Vanthoor – Belgium / Rene Rast – Germany
2 – Edward Sandstrom – Sweden / Frank Stippler – Germany / Christopher Mies – Germany
13 – Rahel Frey – Switzerland / Niki Mayr-Melnhof – Austria / Matt Halliday – Australia

Marc VDS Racing Team – BMW Z4
3 – Bas Leinders – Belgium / Maxime Martin – Belgium / Yelmer Buurman – Netherlands
4 – Henri Moser – Switzerland / Markus Palttala – Finland / Nick Catsburg – Netherlands

Phoenix Racing – Audi R8 LMS Ultra
6 – Oliver Jarvis – Great Britain / Christopher Haase – Germany / Harold Primat – Switzerland
16 – Enzo Ide – Belgium / Anthony Kumpen – Belgium / Markus Winkelhock – Germany

Hexis Racing – McLaren MP4-12C
7 – Alvaro Parente – Portugal / Alexander Sims – Great Britain / Stef Dusseldorp – Netherlands

ART Grand Prix – McLaren MP4-12C
11 – Antoine Leclerc – France / Andy Soucek – Spain / Mike Parisy – France

JRM Motorsport – Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3
23 – Lucas Luhr – Germany / Steven Kane – Great Britain / Peter Dumbreck – Great Britain

Vita4one Racing – BMW Z4
26 – Franck Kechele – Germany / Greg Franchi – Belgium / Stephano Colombo – Italy
27 – Stefano Cressoni – Italy / Matias Russo – Argentina / Martin Matzke – Czech Republic

Sainteloc Racing – Audi R8 LMS Ultra
40 – Gregory Guilvert – France / TBA – TBA / TBA – TBA

Kessel Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia
44 – Daniel Zampieri – Italy / Cesar Ramos – Brazil / Davide Rigon – Italy

Vita4one Team Italy – Ferrari 458 Italia
57 – Eugenio Amos – Italy / Giacomo Petrobelli – Italy / Francesco Castellacci – Italy

Gulf Racing – McLaren MP4-12C
69 – Rob Bell – Great Britain / Adam Carroll – Great Britain / Nico Verdonck – Belgium

SMP Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia
71 – Kirill Ladygin – Russia / Victor Shaitar – Russia / Mikhail Aleshin – Russia

Prospeed Competition – Porsche 997 GT3 R
75 – Maxime Soulet – Belgium / Xavier Maassen – Netherlands / Marc Hennerici – Germany

Young Driver AMR / Emil Frey Racing – Aston Martin Vantage GT3
80 – Fredy Barth – Switzerland / Lorenz Frey – Switzerland / Gabriele Gardel – Switzerland

SMG Challenge – Porsche 997 GT3 R
83 – Marco Mapelli – Italy / Eric Clement – France / Nicolas Armindo – France

Fortec Motorsport – Mercedes SLS AMG GT3
62 – Withdrew from Monza weekend due to late arrival of sponsorship – aim to run from round 2
63 – Withdrew from Monza weekend due to late arrival of sponsorship – aim to run from round 2

———————————————-
GT3 Pro/Am Teams

Boutsen Ginion – McLaren MP4-12C
5 – Koen Wauters – Belgium / David Dermont – France / Frederic Vervich – Belgium

Haribo Racing Team – Porsche 997 GT3 R
8 – Hans Guido Riegel – Germany / Mike Stursberg – Germany / Emmanuel Collard – France

Gulf Racing – McLaren MP4-12C
9 – Mike Wainwright – Great Britain / Andy Meyrick – Great Britain

ART Grand Prix – McLaren MP4-12C
12 – Gregoire Demoustier – France / Gilles Vannelet – France / Yann Goudy – France

Insight Racing with Flex Box – Ferrari 458 Italia
17 – Dennis Anderson – Denmark / Martin Jensen – Denmark

Black Falcon – Mercedes SLS AMG GT3
18 – Klaas Hummel – Netherlands / Steve Jans – Luxembourg / Adam Christodoulou – Great Britain

Preci Spark – Mercedes SLS AMG GT3
22 – David Jones – Great Britain / Godfrey Jones – Great Britain

Blancpain Racing – Lamborghini LP560-4
24 – Marc A. Hayek – Switzerland / Peter Kox – Netherlands

TDS Racing – BMW Z4
25 – Henry Hassid – France / Ludovic Badey – France

Nissan GT Academy Team RJN – Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3
32 – Wolfgang Reip – Germany / Mark Shulzhitskiy – Russia / Peter Pyzera – Germany
35 – Lucas Ordonez – Spain / Alex Buncombe – Great Britain / Steve Doherty – United States

Pro GT by Almeras – Porsche 997 GT3 R
33 – Eric Dermont – France / Franck Perera – France

Saintloc Racing – Audi R8 LMS Ultra
42 – Ronnie Latinne – Belgium / David Hallyday – France / Romain Monti – France

ROAL Motorsport – BMW Z4
43 – Edoardo Liberati – Italy / Michela Cerruti – Italy / Mario Ferraris – Italy

Prospeed Competition – Porsche 997 GT3 R
48 – Charles Putman – United States / Charles Espenlaub – United States / Joe Foster – United States

AF Corse – Ferrari 458 Italia
50 – Niek Hommerson – Netherlands / Louis Machiels – Belgium / Andrea Bertolini – Italy

Mtech Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia
54 – Jake Rattenbury – Great Britain / Andrew Danyliw – Canada / Stephen Jelly – United States
55 – Diego Menendez – Argentina / Fabian Taraborelli – Argentina / Jorge Ginaz – Argentina

SMP Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia
70 – Alexey Basov – Russia / Alexander Skryabin – Russia / Alessandro Pier Guidi – Italy
72 – Boris Rotenberg – Russia / Sergey Zlobin – Russia / Daniil Move – Russia
73 – Yuri Evstigneev – Russia / Alexander Frolov – Russia / Devi Markozov – Russia

MRS GT Racing – McLaren MP4-12C
77 – Rodin Younessi – United States / Carlos Kray – Brazil / Philipp Eng – Austria

GRT Grasser-Racing Team – Lamborghini LP560-4
78 – Hari Proczyk – Austria / Gerhard Tweraser – Austria / Gottfried Grasser – Austria

Von Ryan Racing – McLaren MP4-12C
88 – Leon Price – South Africa / Rob Barff – Great Britain / Jordan Grogor – South Africa

Beechdean AMR – Aston Martin Vantage GT3
99 – Andrew Howard – Great Britain / Jonny Adam – Great Britain / Daniel Mckenzie – Great Britain

Kessel Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia
111 – Marco Zanuttini – Italy / Stefano Gattuso – Italy / Thomas Kemenater – Germany

Team Ukraine – Ferrari 458 Italia
123 – TBA – TBA / TBA – TBA / TBA – TBA

JRM Motorsport – Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3
230 – Matt Bell – Great Britain / Charles Bateman – Great Britain / Humaid Al Masaood – United Arab Emirates

———————————————-
GT3 Gentleman’s Class Teams

SOFREV Auto Sport Promotion – Ferrari 458 Italia
10 – Gabriel Balthazard – France / Maurice Ricci – France / Jerome Policand – France
20 – Jean-Luc Beaubelique – France / Jean-Luc Blanchemain – France / Patrice Goueslard – France

Boutsen Ginion – McLaren MP4-12C
15 – Karim Ojjeh – Saudi Arabia / Marlene Broggi – Belgium / TBA – TBA

Black Falcon – Mercedes SLS AMG GT3
19 – Robert Hissom – Great Britain / Oliver Morley – Great Britain / Andreii Lebad – Germany

Pro GT by Almeras – Porsche 997 GT3 R
34 – Christian Blugeon – France / Nicolas Armengol – Switzerland / Philippe Giauque – France

Sainteloc Racing – Audi R8 LMS Ultra
41 – Pierre Hirschi – Switzerland / Marc Sourd – France / Claude-Yves Gosselin – France

AF Corse – Ferrari 458 Italia
51 – Filipe Barreiros – Portugal / Francisco Guedes – Portugal / Raffaele Giannoni – Italy

Sport Garage – Ferrari 458 Italia
52 – George Cabanne – France / Romain Brandela – France / Lionel Comole – France
53 – Leonardo Gorinni – Italy / Thierry Stepec – France / Thierry Prignault – France

Delahaye Racing – Porsche 997 GT3 R
58 – Christian Kelders – Belgium / Daniel Desbrueres – France

ARC Bratislava – Porsche 997 GT3 R
66 – Miro Konopka – Slovakia / Ahmed Al Harty – Oman

Kessel Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia
79 – Lorenzo Bontempelli – Italy / Beniamino Caccia – Italy / Alessandro Garofano – Italy

———————————————-
2013 Blancpain Endurance Series Race Schedule

Round 1: Autodromo Nazionale Monza – 14th April; Round 2: Silverstone Circuit – 02nd June; Round 3: Circuit Paul Ricard – 30th June; Round 4 – Total 24 Hours of Spa – 28th July; Round 5 – Nurburgring – 22nd September.

F1 Teams & Drivers Aims of 2013

What should all the drivers and teams be aiming for in 2013?  Yes they should be aiming high, but just how high? I shall run down team by team, driver by driver, and say what I believe they should be thinking about during the 2013 season.

Red Bull Racing

As triple World Constructors Champions its hard to imagine that Red Bull are aiming for anything but four on the bounce. Adrian Newey is a master of aerodynamics & engineering, so I don’t think they will be far away from the top.

  • Sebastian Vettel – Three championships in a row, four has got to be the aim. He will not want to be coming from behind as he did in 2012, and will want to return to the level of domination he had in 2011. He likes leading from the front.
  • Mark Webber – Surely one of Mark’s aims will be to shut Helmut Marko up. He has to have a strong season, competing regularly at the same level as Vettel, otherwise he’ll be on the scrapheap.

Scuderia Ferrari

When Fernando Alonso joined the team in 2010, it should have meant some more world championships for both team & driver, but that hasn’t happened as of yet.  It should be their aim to break the Red Bull domination, but it also requires them to design & supply a car to do so, something Alonso didn’t have in 2012.

  • Fernando Alonso – Three years, two runners up spots in the final standings. His fight to the end of the 2012 season was amazing in a car that wasn’t the fastest at any time during the year. He should be aiming for P1, anything less could be considered another failure.
  • Felipe Massa – A strong finish to 2012 enabled the Brazilian to keep his Ferrari seat despite a lot of pressure from outside the team. He should be aiming for a strong season from race 1 this time around, to stop all the mutterings returning about who would and could replace him.  He should also be aiming to return to the top step of the podium

McLaren Mercedes

McLaren arguably had the fastest car in 2012 but failed to take it to the top. Having lost Lewis Hamilton they’ll have to regroup, but their aim still has to be P1. They still have former World Champion Jenson Button at the team alongside young Mexican Sergio Perez so race wins should be the aim every time they race.

  • Jenson Button – He should be aiming for a return to the form of 2011 where he was by far the best of the rest to Sebastian Vettel.  On his day hes a match for everyone on the F1 grid, but like Mark Webber, he needs to make it his day far more often.
  • Sergio Perez – Surely the Mexican’s aims have to be improving his qualifying efforts, which hampered him during his couple of years at Sauber, and to win his first race.  Its been a long old time since a Mexican stood on the top step of the podium.

Lotus Renault

When the team signed Kimi Raikkonen in 2012, it was seen as a surprise. But after a few years away he proved he still had it.  The team surely has wins on its aims list for 2013, having tasted the champagne just once in 2012.  They should be aiming to break into the top three of the championship, mixing it with Red Bull, Ferrari & McLaren.

  • Kimi Raikkonen – Whereas the team might not put priority in winning the constructors championship, Kimi surely has aims for the drivers championship.  He was a good third in 2012, and will be aiming to win more than just the once like he did last year.
  • Romain Grosjean – Make or break year for the Frenchman. His first aim will be to get around the first lap of every Grand Prix without incident.  Then once he’s under control, he’ll be aiming for regular podiums and to be the first Frenchman to win a race since 1996.

Mercedes-AMG

The team shocked the F1 world by signing Lewis Hamilton to replace Michael Schumacher for 2013 & beyond.  This year has surely got to be a year of rebuilding before a full on assault on both championships in 2014.  The team has surely got to aim for podiums and to get amongst the big boys on a regular basis.

  • Nico Rosberg – A first win in 2012 was well deserved.  His aims surely have to include being at the same level as his highly rated teammate and to show at the same time that he’s one of the best around.  Podiums and possibly a win or two could also be aims for the German.
  • Lewis Hamilton – You have to assume Mercedes can’t give him a championship winning car straight away, with their main aim being 2014.  However it should be one of Hamilton’s aims to get amongst the Red Bull’s, Ferraris, McLarens & Lotus’ and challenge for poles, podiums & wins.

Sauber Ferrari

Sauber were at times in 2012 the surprise package, grabbing four podiums.  Surely its aims must be to emulate those achievements and maybe, just maybe, grab their first ever win as an independent team.  It has two young drivers who could just possibly make that happen.  To finish 6th in the constructors championship has also got to be a big aim for the team.

  • Nico Hulkenberg – Surprising left Force India after a strong season. Surely an aim is for him to finally step onto the podium.  A good car could let him do just that.  A small aim might be to win a race but that might be decided by circumstance rather than racecraft.
  • Esteban Gutierrez – Pushed into F1 by his sponsors, his aims must surely to be solid, bring the car home regularly and to score points.

Force India Mercedes

A winter of uncertainty has left Force India with only one driver at present.  Surely as the biggest team in 2012 not to score a podium (though Nico Hulkenberg should have delivered one in Brazil) thats got to be one of its biggest aims.  To finish ahead of Sauber and the other midfield teams is also something to aim at.

  • Paul di Resta – Strong throughout the first two thirds of 2012 but dropped off once Hulkenberg got into form.  Confidence driver, so aim must be to be confident and score big points for the team and grab his first ever podium finish in F1.
  • Jules Bianchi / Adrian Sutil / Narain Karthikeyan. – TBA

Williams Renault

A surprise win in 2012 in Barcelona but no other podium finishes.  Has to be aiming to get ahead of both Sauber & Force India in 2013.  A podium or two would also be on their wish list I imagine.

  • Pastor Maldonado – First Venezuelan to win a Grand Prix, but has a tendency to be erratic.  He should be aiming for regular points finishes and the odd podium to complement his obvious talent behind the wheel.  Getting into Qualifying three in every race should be an aim too.
  • Valtteri Bottas – pitlane favourite making his F1 racing debut after a year as a test driver.  Has to prove to the team that his hype is well-placed.  Aims must be a consistant season with regular points finishes.  Has to also try and qualify close to his teammate who was epic regularly in 2012.

Toro Rosso Ferrari

The eyes of management are always on the Toro Rosso drivers, however the team must deliver a car that can decide whether or not the drivers are up for the job.  They need to aim higher than they delivered in 2012, and need regular points scoring for both drivers.  They should be aiming for 6th, not the 9th they accomplished in 2012.

  • Jean-Eric Vergne – One aim has got to be to sort out his qualifying pace, especially with two midfield drivers guarenteed to drop out of qualifying at the first hurdle.  He showed good race pace on occasion in 2012, and needs to build on that and score regular points in 2013.
  • Daniel Ricciardo – The likeable Aussie has to prove that the talent he showed in junior categories is still there.  He has to aim for qualifying performances like we saw in Bahrain 2012 on a more regular basis, and to finish in the points more often too.

Caterham Renault

Points.  Purely and simply must be the aim for Caterham.  Three years have passed already since they entered the sport and no points have yet to be scored, despite having good drivers on their books.  The original line-up has gone, but the target for points and at least 10th in the championship remains.

  • Charles Pic – Second year in the sport for the Frenchman, and the most experienced within the team. Has to build on a solid first year in the sport and be the main driver who challenges for those first elusive points.
  • Giedo van der Garde – Has been linked to F1 drives for years but has finally reached it.  Has to aim for good qualifying speed and good racecraft, taking advantage of anything that happens to perhaps challenge for points.

Marussia Cosworth

Losing Timo Glock is a big blow, but like Caterham, its aims have surely got to be the teams first ever F1 points.  KERS for the first time should help, but two rookie drivers is always a risk, especially for a small team.

  • Max Chilton – The Brit comes with a lot of backing, but also with a good amount of talent, having won several races in 2012 in the GP2 season.  Has to aim to qualify good, and take advantage of anything that happens in front of him to maybe scrape into the points.
  • Luiz Razia – Very talented Brazilian, should do well in F1 given the right car.  Should, like his teammate, be aiming for competive qualifying sessions, perhaps getting into the second phase on a regular basis, and perhaps a point or two during the races.

My Top 10 Wishes for F1 2013

Formula 1 in 2012 was one of the best seasons ever in the sport. We had seven winners in the first seven races, a record, and 8 winners in total after Kimi Raikkonen’s win in Abu Dhabi.  F1 in 2013 has a lot to live up to, but here is a list of what I would like to happen this year:

1 – Close, exciting racing.
F1 2012 had 8 different winners for 6 different teams. I would like 2013 to have a similar storyline, with competitive drivers up and down the grid. I know overtaking isn’t as hard anymore due to the Drag Reduction System (DRS), but I want the drivers to be close enough to be able to use it. China 2012 is an example of the close running, when it seemed P2 to P14 were running on the same back straight.  More of that if you please.

Grosjean-en-Valencia

2 – Felipe Massa to return to the top step of the podium.
It would be some story to see Felipe Massa win again.  He hasn’t won a race since the end of the 2008 season when he was pipped to the title by Lewis Hamilton in Brazil. His return to form at the back end of 2012 was welcomed, and was just in time to save his Ferrari career.  Now he needs to complete his comeback and win a race or two. No one could say he wouldn’t deserve it.

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3 – Mark Webber to prove to Helmut Marko he’s no number 2.
Helmut Marko has a knack of talking rubbish.  We all know Mark Webber, on his day, can beat anyone including Sebastian Vettel, Nurburging 2009, Monaco & Spain 2010, and Silverstone 2012 spring to mind.  However we also know that his days do not come often enough, whereas Sebastian seems to be always there or there abouts.  Marko has come out said that Webber’s job is to support Vettel. I’d hope that Webber can not just do that, but prove to Marko that he can be a winner and on a consistant basis, and run Vettel close all year like he did in 2010.

F1 Testing in Jerez - Day One

4 – Marussia & Caterham to finally score points.
Excuses are running out for these two teams – they need to score points.  Both of the teams are entering their fourth year of Formula 1 and have yet to break into the top 10 during the race.  With HRT’s demise, we do not want to see either Caterham or Marussia at the back, we want them competing with the midfielders for points.  Hope is higher for Marussia than Caterham to finally do it, but I want them both to manage it.

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5 – Mercedes to provide a competitive car for Rosberg & Hamilton.
Lewis Hamilton leaving McLaren to go to Mercedes was the biggest off-track story of 2012, but it now needs his new team to provide him with a car that is going to compete for wins for him and his teammate Nico Rosberg. We all know the fight Lewis has in him, but he needs the car to be working well under him for him to be competing for race wins as lots of people will be wanting him to.

Motorsports: FIA Formula One World Championship 2012, Grand Prix of China

6 – Romain Grosjean to prove he belongs in F1.
We can all say 2012 wasn’t the best year for Romain Grosjean.  He had a number of start line and first lap incidents (not all of his fault) but he cannot afford to make any mistakes again this year.  We all know he’s quick, his three podiums last year and his Valencia performance show that.  He just has to put it all together and prove to all his doubters that he’s in F1 for the long haul.

F1_2012_Jerez_test_-_Lotus_4

7 – Sauber to finally win a race.
Sauber have been racing since 1993 and have never reached the top step of the podium as a privateer team.  Yes they won with Robert Kubica when they were in partnership with BMW, but Malaysia 2012 with Sergio Perez was by far they came to a win as their own team. Nico Hulkenberg is the most likely of the two drivers to win a race in 2013, but it would be a mighty popular win if Sauber could indeed pull it off.

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8 – A Force India to finish on the podium.
Aside from Toro Rosso and the three minnows, Force India were the only team not to score a podium finish in 2012. Nico Hulkenberg came closest in Brazil, and could possibly have won had he not spun on the damp track into Lewis Hamilton.  They had a podium with Giancarlo Fisichella back in 2009, but nothing since. They need to get back there, and I’d like them too.

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9 – No major controversies, on or off the track.
Purely and simply, I just want clean races and no backhanded tactics affecting the season, on the track or off it.

Spanish F1 GP 2012 - Race Preview Feature (MBAMGF1)

10 – A different world champion.
No offence at all to Sebastian Vettel, hes earned the last three championships, but I just want a change at the top. I really don’t mind who wins it, as long as they are a deserving champion.

vettelwin_2511getty_630

F1 Launch Season – Part 1 – Red Bull, Ferrari & McLaren

As the Formula 1 launch season approaches fast, its time to begin speculating what F1 in 2013 is going to be like, who’ll be fast and who’ll be bringing up the rear, which teams will have improved, which drivers are under pressure to perform from the start of the season, and who’ll come out at the end of it as Formula 1 Drivers & Constructors champions?

RED BULL RACING RENAULT RB9
1. Sebastian Vettel –
Germany
2. Mark Webber –
Australia

Sebastian Vettel & his Red Bull Racing team are on a roll.  Three consecutive World Championships for driver & team will make them the pre-season favourites to add a fourth.  Adrian Newey has claimed that they are on the back foot after putting in so much effort into winning it in 2012, and rumours were the new car would miss the first pre-season test in Jerez.  However those rumours were put to bed when the team announced they’d be launching the car on 03rd February, just in time for the first day of testing.

F1 Testing in Jerez - Day One

Helmut Marko has a big mouth, we all know that, and I hope Mark Webber knows to ignore whatever he says.  We all know Mark is a talented race car driver, and could have been the 2010 World Champion had the final race turned out differently.  However Helmut has come out and basically condemned Webber to a support role to Vettel, which is both unjustified and unfair.  If Mark is ahead of Sebastian, I’d be delighted to see him stay ahead.  Whether or not he’ll be ahead enough of his teammate in the first place is another matter.  Vettel does hold the upper hand but on his day Webber is unbeatable.  Its just a shame his day doesn’t come often enough.

SCUDERIA FERRARI
3. Fernando Alonso –
Spain
4. Felipe Massa –
Brazil

I think it was clear to most people that the 2012 Ferrari wasn’t the best car out there.  In fact, sometimes it was lagging behind Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes, Lotus, sometimes Sauber, sometimes Williams, sometimes even Force India.  However Fernando Alonso put in an amazing effort with it to take the championship to the wire.  You’d expect a better 2013 Ferrari, which comes out on the 1st of February.  If its a better car, then you’d have to say Alonso will be one of the favouritres to win the title.  He’s possibly the most complete driver on the grid right now, and will be remembered as one of the legends of the sport when he hangs up his helmet.

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Whereas Alonso’s future with Ferrari was assured for 2013, Felipe Massa’s was far from it.  He had a disappointing first half of 2012 but came back strongly, and was on the podium a couple of times, running Alonso close.  He showed he still had his fighting spirit that everyone thought lost after a bad few seasons following his horrific Hungary incident in 2009.  It was nice to see his return to form, but he needs to be on form from the offset in 2013 to give him a chance of remaining not only at Ferrari but also a chance to remain in F1.  A win or two will do wonders for not only his confidence, but his whole career.

MCLAREN MERCEDES MP4-28
5. Jenson Button –
Great Britain
6. Sergio Perez –
Mexico

Jenson Button becomes the unofficial team leader of McLaren after Lewis Hamiltons defection to Mercedes.  He’ll hope that now the car, released on 31st January, should be designed around him more that he’d be able to challenge for wins on a more regular basis.  When the races are affected by mixed weather, there is no one better than Button.  He has showed time and time again just how smooth his driving is.  If McLaren can give him the car, he’ll be a contender for sure.

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The fact that McLaren replaced Hamilton with Sergio Perez was a surprise when it happened, but no one should be surprised really that the Mexican driver has reached a top team so young.  Its been obvious in his relative short career that he has the talent behind the wheel, but 2013 will be his biggest challenge yet.  He’ll need to prove that he doesn’t need alternative tyre strategies to do well, and will have to show he knows how to qualify better.  In his Sauber days, that was his biggest downfall, and he knows he’ll have to step it up.  This kid is under pressure to show that hes worth the hype and the promotion.

CONCLUSION

It seems that three drivers are secure where they are: Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso & Jenson Button.  However their respective teammates are under pressure to perform.  Mark Webber has un-necessary pressure from within his own team, whereas Felipe Massa is under pressure to prove he still belongs in a top team.  Sergio Perez is under pressure to prove he deserved his promotion to the big league.

In the next Blog, I will comment on Lotus, Mercedes & Sauber.

On the Outside Looking In: Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen looks ever increasingly likely to miss out on a 2013 Formula 1 seat despite impressing at Caterham over the past few seasons. Its a shame for a former grand prix winner to be ousted from his drive, probably for a pay driver.  Whether or not the comments made by Mike Gascoyne are correct or not doesn’t make it any less of a shame to not see the popular Finn on the grid.

Having advanced from British Formula 3, he spent two years in World Series by Nissan, finishing second and then first in the championship, winning 7 races along the way.  This paved the way for a drive with Arden International in GP2, and a season long duel with Nico Rosberg, who pipped him to the title.

Kovalainen-fuji-2007_2707946

Kovalainen made his Formula 1 debut for the Renault team in 2007 having spent a year at the team in 2006 as their third driver, running in numerous practice sessions when teams were allowed to run a third car during free practice 1.  His debut season started slowly and Flavio Briatore was unsure on whether he belonged in Formula 1.  However a strong finish to the season, including a fine second place finish in the very wet Fuji race, lead to McLaren taking him on for 2008, replacing Fernando Alonso.

As Lewis Hamilton’s teammate he was always going be under pressure driving for the British team. A podium in his second race was a good start, but he wasn’t a championship contender.  He did grab his first pole position in Silverstone, and won the Hungarian Grand Prix after long time leader Felipe Massa dropped out near the end.  Only one future podium in 2008 lead to seventh in the championship with 53 points.  2009 however was a write off.  In a car even Hamilton struggled in, he never reached the podium and only got 22 points and 12th in the table.

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When Lotus entered Formula 1 in 2010, they needed an experienced line-up, and they plucked for Heikki alongside Jarno Trulli.  However it was clear from early on that the three new teams were not on the pace of the established runners.  However He was by far the most impressive.  He may not have scored points, but he finished a season high of 12th in Japan, enabling Lotus to finish 10th in the championship and get extra money for it.  He was beaten in the championship by Trulli in 2011 but it was normally him that would be running higher in races, and would usually be the unlucky driver within the team.

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The team changed their name to Caterham in 2012 but the results were no better.  In fact, he was struggling to keep the Marussia drivers & teammate Vitaly Petrov behind him, and in fact finished the season behind them in the standings.  However midseason, he was linked to drives in bigger teams, including a return to McLaren or even a Ferrari drive.  However neither of these came to fruition.  It also became apparent near the end of the season that Caterham weren’t keeping him.  He would be out of F1.

Mike Gascoyne implied in an interview that it was a shame that Heikki was leaving the team.  However he also was quoted to say:

“Heikki is a very talented driver, but last year his management did not handle him very well and he has not done himself any favours. It is a tough environment out there for everyone. He has had three years with Caterham, was paid well, and he should have shown more respect about that.”

If what Gascoyne said is true, its a shame that Kovalainen & his management team couldn’t have respected Caterham more.  It could have even meant another year at the team to prove himself against a young gun in Charles Pic.  But alas, its not to be.  Yes the Caterham drive is still available, but its common knowledge that the drive will either be given to Vitaly Petrov, Giedo van der Garde or Bruno Senna.  Kovalainen finds himself on the outside looking in.

Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain,  Tuesday 21 February 2012.

So What next for Heikki Kovalainen?  Is this the last we’ll see of the popular Finn?  Can he repair his career that had so much promise? It would not surprise me to see him take up a third driver role with someone in 2013, and if he puts in the effort and impresses them and doesn’t take anything for granted, it could lead to a 2014 race seat.  If he doesn’t get a role in F1 in 2013, then maybe he’ll look elsewhere for a drive, perhaps in America in the Indycar series.

Whatever he does, he needs to put his full attention into it, and then maybe, just maybe, Formula 1 will come calling again.

Magic Moments of Formula 1

Can you think of times in Formula 1 where you’ve cheered? Where you jumped up and down with joy? Where you smiled from ear to ear? I’m going to share some of the moments that I’ve seen in Formula 1 where I thought, wow.

1 – Olivier Panis winning the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix
My favourite race of all time, wet to start before drying, 6 cars out on the first lap, two drivers (Damon Hill & Jean Alesi) retiring while comfortably in the lead, and my favourite driver of all time, Olivier Panis, winning for Ligier Mugen-Honda, the last win for the French team and the only win for the French driver. Only 3 drivers saw the checkered flag, Panis, David Coulthard & Johnny Herbert. Everyone else either spun out, crashed or had mechanical issues.  A race to remember for me.

Panis-Ligier-GP-Monaco-1996-436x291

2 – Nigel Mansell & Ayrton Senna – Circuit de Catalunya 1991
Seeing two legends of the sport, side by side, inches apart, sparks flying, is just amazing. Mansell got a run on Senna off the last corner, and got alongside. Just amazing racing.

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3 – Rubens Barrichello wins the 2000 German Grand Prix
The very likeable Brazilian took his maiden Grand Prix win in the changeable conditions of the old Hockenheim circuit, staying out on dry tyres when everyone else around him pitted for wets. It was the first win in F1 for a Brazilian since the death of Barrichello’s mentor & friend, Ayrton Senna, and the win was cheered for up and down the pit lane.

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4 – Nigel Mansell wins the 1989 Hungarian Grand Prix
Hungary doesn’t have a reputation for many great races, but Mansell’s charge from P12 on the grid to victory on a track notorious for the lack of overtaking, was amazing. He passed Alain Prost & Ricciardo Patrese earlier in the race, before coming up behind Ayrton Senna. While coming up behind the slow Onyx of Stefan Johansson, Senna got baulked, and its Murray Walker’s voice I remember most. “And Mansell goes through, oh fantastic!” Just brilliance from Nigel.

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5 – Mika Hakkinen vs Michael Schumacher – Spa 2000
Amazing pass, just amazing. McLaren vs Ferrari, Hakkinen vs Schumacher, Legend vs Legend. One lap after just failing to pass Schumacher, Hakkinen tried again, getting a tow from the Ferrari driver and then using backmarker Ricardo Zonta to his advantage. Schumacher went one way, Hakkinen the other. Hakkinen got passed, and went on to win the race. Amazing.

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6 – Jacques Villeneuve vs Michael Schumacher – Portugal 1996
No one thought it could be done. Around the outside of the final, fast corner of the Estoril track. No one told Villeneuve it couldn’t be done. In fact he told his bosses he could do it if he got a chance. And he got a chance, and it was against Michael Schumacher of all people. Very daring, very exceptional. Villeneuve at his very best, going onto win impressively.

7 – Takuma Sato vs Fernando Alonso – Canada 2007
The underdog vs the favourite, and the underdog prevails. The little Super Aguri team didn’t have much to cheer in their short F1 life span, but this was their stand out moment. Taku came up to and passed championship contender Fernando Alonso and took sixth place off him. Was an amazing thing to see.

8 – Jenson Button wins the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix
Jenson Button was in every position at some point during this race. Yet when the dust settled, he had won. He forced long time leader Sebastian Vettel into a mistake and pounced. One of the best races of Jenson’s career. And one of the best races of all time, full of action.

9 – Gerhard Berger wins the 1988 Italian Grand Prix
Ayrton Senna had this race in the bag, he was miles ahead in his McLaren MP4/4, perhaps the greatest car of all time, and was cruising. However he was to end up beached on a Kerb. Jean-Louis Schlesser was standing in for an ill Nigel Mansell for Williams, and was being lapped. However Senna misjudged where Schlesser was and was pitched into the spin that ended his race. Ferrari drivers Gerhard Berger & Michele Alboreto took a famous 1-2 in front of the Tifosi, the first Italian GP after the death of team founder Enzo Ferrari. Very emotional victory.

10 – Sebastian Vettel wins the 2008 Italian Grand Prix
We all know what Vettel has accomplished since, but his first Grand Prix victory is one to cherish. In the unfancied Toro Rosso, he first of all put it on pole position (still their only one!) and then dominated from start to finish in difficult conditions to win the race (again, their only victory). It was the first real sign of the talent the Red Bull family had unearthed.

These are just a few of the many memories I have of Formula 1 since I began to watch it in 1988, and are just my opinion. Feel free to let me know the memories of F1 that have made you smile over the years.