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F1: Silverstone GP Review

Last week’s British GP I thought was a really interesting race. It all came down to the start. Mark Webber got off the line fantastically well to get up the inside of Vettel. Hamilton was looking for a way to slot into second but went into the first turn too hot and slightly tagged Sebastian’s back right tire. That seemingly insignificant tap was enough to puncture the tire and wreck Vettel’s race.

From there Webber led a controlled and fairly comfortable race. Hamilton pushed him hard but in the end his pace just wasn’t quite there to catch Webber, and it was fairly clear to see that the red Bull had speed in hand. Jenson Button started 14th and after a fantastic first lap and a good pit stop strategy he finished off a great recovery drive to 4th.

Vettel was almost a lap down after he rejoined the race after a long slow lap on the punctured tire and a very early pit stop. He went to the end on the hard tire and overtook most of the grid before finishing 7th. The overtake on Sutil for that position was very aggressive and could have ended badly but he just about got away with it. It was a great recovery from a terrible situation but 7th is still not where he thought he would be.

Other notable performances include both Williams cars getting into the top 10. Barrichello proved again that the team are making good progress with their car and he was unlucky to not have stayed in front of Button after the stops. Hopefully they can keep improving or at least maintain these steady results.

Nico Rosberg had his third podium of the year and shows that Mercedes are still there and this season is only half way through, so people shouldn’t be writing them off yet at all. Michael Schumacher was less impressive in 9th but he will likely continue to improve.

It was also another impressive display from Kamui Kobayashi who followed up his 7th place in Valencia with a 6th at Silverstone. He’s really starting to show the form he had at Toyota last year in those couple of races he had in Timo Glock’s place and is justifying his seat at Sauber. Pedro De La Rosa is still struggling but hopefully he’ll get the reliability and speed back in the next race and get into the points.

The next race is coming up this coming weekend from Hockenheim in Germany. I don’t know much about that track so I’m excited to see how the layout is for F1.

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Miscellaneous

F1: Turkey, Canada and Europe GP Reviews

I haven’t written a GP review for a while but I just wanted to catch up now and take a look back at the last few races, as well as look ahead to Silverstone this weekend.

Turkey

This race was to me the handing of momentum from Red Bull to McLaren. Red Bull won in Spain with Mark Webber in dominating fashion. They then went to Monaco where he drove another dominating and controlling race. You would think that Turkey would suit McLaren more than Red Bull because of their straight line speed. In the end, it was close throughout the race but Red Bull were able to keep ahead of both McLarens without too much trouble.

That was until Webber was instructed to turn his engine down a bit to save fuel and the engine itself. Vettel got a big slipstream off him in the back straight and pulled out to the left to overtake. Mark stayed central on the track to hold his line. He didn’t weave to defend his position and was fair in his actions. Vettel then got alongside and still quite a way before the corner he turned right, straight into Mark’s car. This sent them both spinning and off the track. Mark was able to keep going but Sebastian had damaged his car too severely. You could argue that Mark should have realised that Vettel was faster and let him go, or at the least give him some more room, or that Sebastian should have not turned in so early when he didn’t need to.

Both drivers were at fault and it handed McLaren a 1-2 finish. Who knows if they would have held off the McLaren drivers all the way to the finish without the crash, but you would think that they would have. Even if not, Vettel cost himself a possible win or high place finish. In the end he walked away with nothing to show for his weekend’s work.

Canada

The circuit Gilles Villeneuve was expected to be a very McLaren suited track with long straights and slow speed corners. This proved to be the case as they ended up with another 1-2 finish. In qualifying The McLarens and Red Bulls were all close at the front of the grid. Lewis took pole. Webber second, Vettel third and Alonso managed to just get ahead of Button in fourth. Jenson seemed to not be able to get the tires working as well as lewis.

In the race, Webber and Vettel both couldn’t keep their 2nd and 3rd places and slipped back. This was mainly due to tire strategy as well as the track not being suited to them. The final reason would be that as with most races, McLaren’s race pace was stronger than their 1-lap pace and while Red Bull excel at qualifying speed, in this track they couldn’t use the qualifying advantage to keep them challenging for the win. They did however pick up good points in 4th and 5th so it wasn’t a disaster by any means.

Europe

Valencia was a tale of mixed fortunes. Sebastian Vettel got Red Bull back on track with a win, while Mark Webber had a race to forget. A horrendous start where he lost around 8 or 9 places followed by a horrific crash after an early strategic stop to get clear air. He approached Heikki Kovalainen on one of the straights. He stayed in the slipstream for too long when you consider how much faster he was than the Lotus. Heikki breaked considerably earlier than Mark normally does on that corner and therefore was taken by surprise and couldn’t avoid the back of the Lotus. He then got launched into the air, hit an overhead ad-board and then flipped back onto his wheels before taking another huge impact into the tire wall. It was incredible to see him throw his steering wheel out and get out so easily. The safety of these cars is absolutely incredible.

While Red Bull had a surprising win on yet another track they weren’t expected to do well at, McLaren had a contrasting qualifying session with Hamilton 3rd behind Webber. Button could only manage 7th after a mistake on his hot lap. In the race, however, he made up 4 places to finish on the podium.

Kamui Kobayashi also had a fantastic race. He pitted very late and somehow made the strategy work. On the last lap he overtook Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Buemi with his fresh set of tires. It was a great result for Sauber. Unfortunately Pedro De La Rosa was hit with a time penalty that put him outside the points. He was one of quite a few to receive this punishment.

Looking Ahead

I’m definitely very excited to see how the season pans out from here. I hope that Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault can really start to catch up and challenge McLaren and Red Bull for wins. Having said that, of course I’d like to see all the teams to do better. Williams I think have potential in their car after a solid performance from Rubens in Valencia. Toro Rosso and Sauber also have room for improvement.

The new teams I would like to see catch up to the back of the established field and start shaking up the Q1 results more. I hope they can remedy their reliability problems that they’ve had with hydraulics and other niggling issues. Maybe one or more of the new teams can get a point before the end of the season, but it’s definitely going to take incredible driving, great reliability and a lot of luck as well, but it’s certainly not impossible.

Practise at the improved Silverstone Circuit starts on Friday as usual. I’m really excited for a great race with more teams challenging at the top.

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Miscellaneous

F1: Turkey GP Preview

This weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix is shaping up to be one of the most truly competitive races for a while, and very likely of this season so far. We’ve had competition in wet conditions in a few races but in the dry ones, it’s really been all about Red Bull, whether they actually win like they should, or fail to because of reliability problems.

In Istanbul this weekend though, McLaren look to be right on the tail of Red Bull for the first time in dry conditions. Yes, Vettel probably would have qualified second ahead of Hamilton had he not suffered a problem with his car during Q3, but even so, on race pace, McLaren should be able to challenge Webber and Vettel at least and maybe even get the win.

With those two teams taking up the first two rows of the grid, it seems likely that it will be a two team show tomorrow. No one else I would imagine will be able to challenge them. Mercedes are the most likely other team to join in the fun but I don’t think their pace is going to be good enough to get them a podium unless there are some major incidents or reliability problems.

Ferrari you would think would be strong, but the development of their car doesn’t seem to be good enough to keep pace with the others and Fernando Alonso has stated that he thinks they have fallen behind the other 3 top teams and maybe even Renault. Alonso Qualified in 12th and Massa 8th, signalling that they have lots of work to do.

As far as the midfield goes, Williams are having a torrid time at the moment and can’t seem to get a break. After suffering two big crashes in Monaco, they couldn’t make much of an impression in Q2, ending up 15th and 17th on the grid with Barrichello the furthest forward.

Sauber were surprisingly good with Kamui Kobayashi reaching Q3 where he qualified 10th. Pedro De La Rosa was 13th. They just need to convert their positive qualifying results into points. Petrov was the other surprise in the top 10 while Adrian Sutil who is normally around the 10th spot just missed out on Q3 in 11th. His team-mate Liuzzi was the lone driver for one of the established teams to go out in Q1 with the 6 slower cars. He has been struggling recently and it’s unfortunate to see because I was impressed with his when he first joined Force India. Paul Di Resta is eyeing that seat up still so he really needs a good race tomorrow to keep hold of it for the rest of the season and beyond.

Lotus were once again the fastest of the new teams. Bruno Senna managed to qualify ahead of another team for the first time with Lucas Di Grassi behind him on the grid.

Coverage starts at 12:10 on BBC ONE tomorrow afternoon. The race itself starts around 1pm.