Thursday, March 28, 2013

Red Bull Rivalry: Vettel Wins Malaysia Race in Defiance

Photo Credit: Nissan/Infiniti

The Red Bull Racing team left Australia with some minor head-scratching. After a front row domination in qualifying resulted in pole sitter Sebastian Vettel leaving with just a third-place result in the Australian Grand Prix, the Austrian-based Formula 1 juggernaut debuted as a more vulnerable organization. For teams like Scuderia Ferrari, Mercedes AMG and Lotus F1 Team, the Red Bull-Renault race cars' weak performance could be the moment where a new front-runner would emerge. Arriving for the Malaysian Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing was determined to displace any buzz that the team would be easily beaten in 2013.

The second race of the 2013 Formula 1 season, afternoon rain soaked the Sepang International Circuit drawing teams to start on intermediate Pirelli race tires. Taking pole in Saturday qualifying, Sebastian Vettel sat on the front row beside the Ferrari of Felipe Massa. Behind Vettel's Red Bull-Renault, 2012 Formula 1 world championship rival Fernando Alonso enters his 200th grand prix as the reigning event winner. As the start lights went off to signify the beginning of the race, the 56-lap Malaysian Grand Prix would quickly turn horrific for one of the top three grid position holders.

Starting on the wet surface, the entrance into turn one proceeded well for many of the 22 Formula 1 drivers. It was into the second corner that the race changed for defending Malaysian Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso. Following the Red Bull-Renault of Vettel, Alonso was caught off-guard by the closing rate. Alonso's Ferrari collided with the rear gearbox cover of the Red Bull-Renault race car. The end result was the Ferrari F138 of Fernando Alonso receiving serious harm to the vehicle's front wing. Despite the obvious impact damage, Alonso was able to maintain leader speed through the race's first lap. However, a choice to stay on the track rather than tend to repairing the wing on pit road proved costly. Just as Fernando Alonso sailed into his second lap, his Ferrari's front end structure broke and launched under the race car. Launching the Ferrari F138 off the ground for a second, Alonso slid off the track through the turn one gravel trap. After the spectacular failure, the car came to a safe rest. Fernando Alonso promptly retired from the Malaysian Grand Prix. Ferrari's focus from the rest of the race was on their sole-remaining entry driven by Felipe Massa.

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service

Though race cars started on treaded intermediate tires, a quick-drying track prompted teams to quickly opted for slick Pirelli tires. Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa were the first car to stop for medium compound tires on lap 5. An early pit stop made by Mercedes AMG driver Lewis Hamilton was among the more amusing moments of the early season. When pitting for slick tires on lap 7, Hamilton stopped in his former team's service box. Driving six seasons for McLaren, the unexpected reunion was an embarrassment the Mercedes AMG driver hopes not to repeat. At least, for the remainder of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was able to correctly park to the attention of his Mercedes AMG team.

Another pit blunder came at the Force India garage. Not the fault of drivers or crew members, a new wheel nut on the Force India-Mercedes cars became a race-ending ordeal for both cars. Paul di Resta retired on lap 22 while Adrian Sutil was forced to park his vehicle five laps later.

Photo Credit: Lotus Cars USA

As the race progressed, Red Bull Racing was showing once again they're a force to be reckon with. Important to note is that the lead Red Bull-Renault was the #2 of Mark Webber for much of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Passing Jenson Button on lap 35 for the top spot, Webber controlled the pace of the grand prix through the last series of tire stops. Coming back out in the lead, Mark Webber's mirrors began to fill with the image of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull-Renault.

Intact to preserve a one-two finish in the easiest possible style, Red Bull Racing gave orders to drivers Webber and Vettel to maintain their positions. However, with top 10 remaining, Sebastian Vettel began challenging his teammate aggressively. In the first part of lap 46, Vettel stalked his teammate with increased attention looking for a way around the Australian Mark Webber. A side-by-side battle ensued briefly between the pair as their team in the paddock nervously watched. In turn four, Vettel gained an advantage on Webber. Sebastian Vettel cruised to his first 2013 victory of the season with the Red Bull RB9 race car. Finishing 4.2 seconds ahead of teammate Mark Webber, only about half the drama of the Malaysian Grand Prix occurred prior to the checkered flag.

Photo Credit: Nissan/Infiniti

A visibly angry Mark Webber had few words for his Red Bull Racing teammate. Frustrated for electing to defy team orders, the mood throughout the podium ceremony was far from celebratory. In post-race Mark Webber stated, “I think Sebastian has respect for me and I have respect for him, but the situation today was not handled well". Webber stood on the podium with Sebastian Vettel and third-place finishing Lewis Hamilton with clear frustration.

Some time after the trophy presentation and champagne shower, cooler heads within the Red Bull Racing squad appeared to have prevailed. The winner of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel left the race with few supporters from his team for this victory. While proud of the achievement of a first win for 2013 and a run that collected maximum constructer points, Red Bull Racing's team principal Chris Horner delivered a diplomatic but critical response. "Unfortunately drivers’ interests can sometimes come into conflict with the teams’. Sebastian decided to take things into his own hands today and race Mark, thankfully making a clean pass and switching the order to the flag. It’s frustrating." said Horner.

Perhaps hungry for a 2013 win on the Formula 1 circuit, comments from Vettel in post-race appeared to have realized a mistake he made against his Red Bull Racing team and teammate. “I messed up today. I would love to come up with a nice excuse as to why I did it, but I can’t. I can understand Mark’s frustration and the team not being happy with what I did today; I owe an explanation to him and the whole team. I will try to explain to them later. We talk about this situation happening many times and what we will do if and when it happens and normally it doesn’t, but today it did and I should have translated the call into action. I got the call and I ignored it". Rumours have swirled that the Red Bull Racing drivers have been icy; however, Mark Webber is not willing to let this race fuel any long-term fires of resentment "There’s a bit of history to this as well; my mind in the last 15 laps was thinking about a lot of things, but I was happy with the way I drove. I tried to isolate what happened at the end and we got something out of it today, but of course I’m not satisfied with the result. This puts heat on a few people and unfortunately there’s no rewind button. I know people want raw emotion from us after these situations and it’s there, but we need to remain cool. There’s three weeks until the next race, so time for us to work on things.” said Webber.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG
At the end of the race, Lewis Hamilton commented on his 2013 race team saying, "They worked so hard over the winter and to achieve a podium at the second race of the season is a nice reward, particularly here in Malaysia at one of our home races". Mercedes AMG team sponsor PETRONAS is headquartered in the country. A brief battle among Mercedes AMG teammates also took place in the grand prix is Hamilton bettering Rosberg by 0.5 seconds. "It was a great day for us as a team and we can be very happy of our performance here this weekend. It was a good feeling to be competitive and to be able to set fastest lap times during the race. Thanks to all of you at the team for all the hard work, results like these are very well deserved." said Rosberg. Stating in pre-season that Nico Rosberg was an underrated driver, Hamilton had very kinds words for his Mercedes AMG teammate in post-race. "I have to say big congratulations to Nico. He drove a smarter and more controlled race than me this afternoon and deserved to finish where I did. The team made the call for us to hold positions and we both respected that." said Hamilton.

Operating as the only remaining Ferrari in the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix, Felipe Massa brought his F138 chassis across the line in a lonely fifth place. Almost 10 seconds behind Massa was the Lotus-Renault race cars. sixth and seventh, Romain Grosjean got the better of his 2013 Australian Grand Prix-winning teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Scoring their first points of the season with new teams was Nico Hulkenberg in eighth for Sauber and Sergio Perez in ninth-place driving a McLaren. Perez's finish is the first championship points for McLaren. The second McLaren-Mercedes race car of Jenson Button was retired late in the event out of concern for the front suspension.

Climbing seven places from place starting spot on the grid, Jean-Eric Vergne grabbed the final race point with a tenth place spot for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

After starting the 2013 season with two-straight grand prix events, Formula 1 cars have been given a three-week break ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix on April 14th.

2013 Formula 1
Malaysian Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
3 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
4 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
5 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
6 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault
8 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
9 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
10 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
12 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
13 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
14 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
15 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
16 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
17 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
18 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
18 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
19 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
20 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
21 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
22 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sebastian Vettel is Sepang Singing After Qualifying in Malaysia

Photo Credit: Nissan/Infiniti

The Formula 1 season started in Australia one weekend ago. The Lotus-Renault of Kimi Raikkonen pulled off a smart start to the 2013 season by saving tires enabling him to conduct one less pit stop during the event. Pre-season favourites Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing were on podium but clearly wanted more when inaugurating their 2013 competitive tour. After the unpredictable start of the 2012 season which saw seven unique winners in the first seven races, its hard to revise any predictions heading into the second round of this young Formula 1 year.

Held at the 5.543-kilometer Sepang International Circuit, the 15th annual Malaysian Grand Prix started with practice. Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber posted fastest time in the first session on Friday. In the second practice, Kimi Raikkonen was at the top of the speed chart eager to prove that the victory for the Lotus F1 Team in Australia was not a fluke. Webber's three-time World Champion teammate Sebastian Vettel was quickest on Saturday concluding three practice sessions with no obvious clue to a dominating driver for either the Malaysia Grand Prix or the 2013 Formula 1 season.

Unlike the Australian Grand Prix where intense rain in Melbourne succeeded in delaying qualifying to hours prior to the main event, the full time trial wrapped up as scheduled. However, similar to opening round, weather would play a key part in the outcome of Saturday.

In the Q1 session, Adrian Sutil claimed the advantage on time around the Sepang International Circuit. Though the strength of Sutil's Force India-Mercedes was impressive, attention for many Formula 1 observers was directed deeper in the Q1 session order. Running on harder compound Pirelli tires in the early stage, the Red Bull Racing cars of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were on the edge of transferring into Q2. The Red Bull Racing organization's goal through qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix was to preserve tires for race day; This strategy would work out unexpectedly as qualifying at Malaysia continued.

Repeating the chorus heard during qualifying for the first 2013 Formula 1 race in Australia, rain began soaking the Sepang International Circuit course. Making a noticeable impact in the second-half of the Q2 session, several drivers ended the 10-minute time trial in a precarious position. Force India driver Paul di Resta, struggling to break into the top-10 late in Q2, spun his car as his slick tires skated on the wet track. Undamaged, the Force India-Mercedes continued but was unable to crack the Q3 into the finalists.   

On intermediate compound tires, the final Q3 session proceeded. The wet race track slowed the ten remaining Formula 1 cars by roughly 12 seconds from their fastest time in the previous Q2 round. Final seconds of Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying would decide the outcome for the second 2013 Formula 1 race's starting grid. After the Red Bull Racing team's slow start to qualifying, Sebastian Vettel would fly forward to claim pole. Repeating a feat he accomplished in the opening 2013 qualifying session, Vettel captured his 38th career Formula 1 pole with a time of 1 minute, 49.674 seconds.

Over nine-tenth of a second slower than the Red Bull-Renault racecar, the Ferraris claimed the next two spots for the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix start. Felipe Massa recorded a faster time than Fernando Alonso for the front row start for Sunday's main race. For Mercedes AMG, Lewis Hamilton was the previous year's pole winner on the Sepang International Circuit. Mark Webber sits fifth on the race starting grid joined in the third row by the second Mercedes AMG car of Nico Rosberg.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Kimi Raikkonen is demoted from seventh place to tenth when race stewards ruled he impeded a hot lap of Nico Rosberg during qualifying. The judgement allows drivers Jenson Button, Adrian Sutil and Sergio Perez to leapfrog the Lotus-Renault on the grid.

A 56-lap event, the Malaysian Grand Prix is set to roll-off at 4 PM local time (4 AM in the Eastern time zone).

2013 Formula 1
Malaysian Grand Prix
Starting Lineup

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
2 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
3 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
4 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
5 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
6 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
7 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
8 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
9 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
10 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault
11 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
12 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
13 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
14 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
15 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
16 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
17 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
18 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
19 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
20 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
21 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
22 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Raikkonen Rockets Lotus to F1 Season Opening Win

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/Lotus F1 Team

After a thriller of a 2012 tour, the pre-season prior to the 54th year of Formula 1 competition has set high expectations for several drivers and teams. Will Sebastian Vettel defeat his reign at the top of the driver championship for a fourth-straight driver’s title? Can the Fernando Alonso-led Ferrari squad wrestle series honours away from Red Bull Racing? Will 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton promote the Mercedes AMG team to regular Formula 1 front-runner? Those questions were a sample of inquiries set to be answered over a 19-race, 2013 grand prix calendar. Hosting the premiere of the 2013 Formula 1 season, the Albert Park circuit’s Australian Grand Prix is a 58-lap initiation of veteran and rookie drivers.

Though the weather and hospitality is often inviting in Australia, The 5.303-kilometer road course in Melbourne presents an opening round challenge that can be outright hostile. High-speed areas combined with heavy braking portions of the track have drivers and teams fighting to balance reliability with performance. With 22 newly reengineered racecars, the Australian Grand Prix weekend tested competitors during Saturday qualifying. Rain soaking the Albert Park race course caused a multitude of on-track incidents of hydroplaning Formula 1 cars. The wet track eventually rendered the FIA to delay the remaining time trials to hours prior to Sunday’s race. 2012 World Constructor’s champion team Red Bull Racing conquered the first qualifying session of the new season. With Sebastian Vettel on pole and Mark Webber in the 2nd highest starting position, the Red Bull-Renault’s place at the top of the 2013 Australian Grand Prix grid sent a strong message; Red Bull Racing was ready once more to fend off rivals. However, 58 laps of the opening grand prix would see if the strong Austrian-based team would stand true to their message.

Photo Credit: Nissan/Infiniti

At the start, Sebastian Vettel rocketed to an early lead of the 2013 Australian Grand Prix. Conversely, Vettel’s front row-starting teammate Mark Webber had a dreadful start. Falling to seventh place in the opening laps, this initial stint was not the run Webber wanted in front of fans in his home country. After the Australian Grand Prix, it would become documented Mark Webber’s Red Bull-Renault endured several technical problems including a telemetry issue and a lack of the KERS power boost.

Benefiting from Mark Webber’s lethargic launch were many competitors. Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, the Mercedes AMG car driven by Lewis Hamilton as well as Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus-Renault inserted themselves into prime positions. Raikkonen moved from seventh to fifth place on the opening lap.

Early pit stops made by leaders of the Australian Grand Prix swapped supersoft Pirelli racing slicks for medium compound rubber. Jenson Button pitted from in the middle of the field on lap 4 and Mark Webber would follow suit on the next lap. Sebastian Vettel pitted his Red Bull-Renault on lap 6 turning to lead of the race over to Felipe Massa. As the 2013 Australian Grand Prix progresses, tires would become a significant deciding factor for race victory.

When the Force India-Mercedes, driven by returning Formula 1 pilot Adrian Sutil, and the Ferrari of Massa relinquished the lead, the top spot of the Australian Grand Prix became the possession of Kimi Raikkonen. The Lotus name never won a grand prix in Australia under the sanctioning of Formula 1.

Despite the opening Formula 1 round’s history for causing larger than normal retirement lists, the Australian Grand Prix was a rather tame kick-off to 2013. Only four cars would be classified out of the 2013 race in Australia. First out of the grand prix was Nico Hulkenberg who retired his Sauber-Ferrari on the opening lap due to a fuel system issue. Williams-Renault driver Pastor Maldonado left the race on lap 25 when his car spun into the turn one gravel pit. Two laps after Maldonado’s dramatic exit from the Australian Grand Prix, the Mercedes AMG car of Nico Rosberg would settle at the side of the track in between turn 3 and 4. Daniel Ricciardo would be the final DNF retiring his Toro Rosso-Ferrari on lap 39.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas 

In the second half of the race deciding the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, it came down to a different tire strategy. Most contenders believed a three-stop plan to the winning move. Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton would commit to the strategy pitting after lap 36. Acting against that wavelength of thought, the Lotus F1 Team and driver Kimi Raikkonen engineered a two-stop race for their intent to claim victory. The veteran Formula 1 driver was able to manage his Pirelli tires to the point his extended his second stop to lap 34 of the event. Taking the lead on lap 44, late track position for Kimi Raikkonen and his Lotus-Renault racecar was enough for the first checkered flag of the 2013 Formula 1 season.

Previously winning the Australian Grand Prix with Ferrari in 2007, Kimi Raikkonen pulled off a second victory in four races for the Lotus F1 Team. Raikkonen’s win at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix revealed that the Finnish driver was still an accomplished Formula 1 pilot. For Lotus F1 Team, this is their first Australian Grand Prix victory (excluding team history as Benetton and Renault F1). The only other time a Lotus branded vehicle was carried to success at a grand prix in Australia was in 1968 when Jim Clark won in a non-Formula 1 sanctioned race at Sandown.

In second place but unable to catch Kimi Raikkonen at the end, the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso was 12.4 seconds longer crossing the finish line. A reasonably satisfied Alonso stated,
“We can claim to have started this season on the right foot, immediately in the fight with the best.” For the Ferrari F138 car, Alonso’s second place and a fourth by Felipe Massa gave the Italian race team an early lead in the constructors’ points with 30 points.

Photo Credit: Ferrari North America

Claiming the final podium spot for the 2013 Australian Grand Prix was Sebastian Vettel. Third-place Vettel admitted, “We had a good day today with a pole and a podium – but in the race we were a little too aggressive with the tires and lost the front and the rears, while others did a little better“. Despite troubles for the second Red Bull-Renault at the start of the race, Mark Webber salvaged a sixth place run contributing to his team’s in early third-place spot in the constructors’ championship hunt.

Sandwiched between Felipe Massa and Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton soldiered to a fifth-place debut with his Mercedes AMG team. Mercedes-Benz power was also behind the double point finish for Force India. On a two-stop strategy, Adrian Sutil in seventh place was able to preserve a 3.4-second advantage over teammate Paul di Resta. Jenson Button captured ninth place for the 2013 Australian Grand Prix. Button and new teammate Sergio Perez struggled to find speed in their McLaren racecars through the weekend. McLaren assures the poor showing at Melbourne will not be repeated in the future 2013 Formula 1 races. The second Lotus-Renault driven by Romain Grosjean collected the final point with a tenth position run.

Following the Australian Grand Prix, Formula 1 tour is setting course for the Sepang International Circuit for the Malaysia Grand Prix.

2013 Formula 1
Australian Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault
2 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
4 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
5 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
6 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
7 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
9 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
10 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
11 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
12 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
13 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
14 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
15 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
16 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
17 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
19 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
20 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
21 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
22 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari

Saturday, March 16, 2013

More of the Same? Vettel Takes Pole for F1 Opener in Australia

Photo Credit: Nissan/Infiniti

After nearly four months of off-season preparations, the 2013 edition of the Formula 1 racing tour kicks off its 19-race schedule Down Under at the Albert Park circuit in Australia. A track known to be a true test of drivers and car equipment, 22 well-prepared Formula 1 entrants will face additional complications of brand-new combinations. Entering time trials to set the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, the season-opening event would deliver another challenge. 

The first qualifying session of the 2013 Formula 1 season took roughly 17 hours to complete. Delayed around 30 minutes on Saturday due to wet track conditions, the initial Q1 session was a rude awaking for drivers. The wet Albert Park circuit proved unforgiving as cars were barely able to stay on course in the timed session. Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Charles Pic would damage their cars during in qualifying attempts on the wet track surface. As time ticked down on the Q1 session, newcomer Esteban Gutierrez wrecked his Sauber-Ferrari in a trying area of the track. Nico Rosberg for Mercedes AMG claimed the fastest time on track at 1 minute, 43.380 seconds.
After Q1 ended, race conditions on the Albert Park circuit worsened. The FIA, eventually, elected to move the remainder of qualifying to Sunday morning.

Photo credit: Sauber Motorsport AG

On Sunday, 16 Formula 1 drivers and cars concluded the Q2 and Q3 sessions of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. On a dryer 5.303-kilometer Albert Park circuit, qualifying times improved over the saturated track on Saturday. At the front of the first 2013 Formula 1 season starting grid is an unsurprising victor. Sebastian Vettel in the new RB9 Red-Bull-Renault grabbed pole in Q3 with a 1-minute, 27.407-second lap. The top spot is the 37th time in Vettel's career he will start a Formula 1 race at the prime place on the starting grid. Showing true strength of the 2013 RB9 race car, Mark Webber took the second spot on the 2013 Australian Grand Prix with a lap time roughly four-tenths of a second slower than Sebastian Vettel.

In his first qualifying outing with the Mercedes AMG race team, 2008 World Driving Champion Lewis Hamilton has placed his race car in the third starting spot. Hamilton overcome a rough Saturday Q1 session as well as a challenge from the Ferrari F138 race cars. With the Ferraris in fourth and fifth place on the 2013 Australian Grand Prix grid, it was Felipe Massa prevailing over teammate Fernando Alonso by less than a tenth of a second.

Charles Pic driving a Caterham-Reanult was the only driver not to qualify within the set 107 percent time rule. Missing the mark by only one-hundredth of a second on the outside of the criteria, it's likely the Formula 1 race stewards will allow the second Caterham to participate in the first grand prix of the season.

The 2013 Australian Grand Prix will start at 5 PM local Melbourne time. For the Eastern time zone, the start time translates to 2 AM Sunday morning.  

2013 Formula 1
Australian Grand Prix
Qualifying Results

Pos # Car # Drive Team Engine
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
3 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
4 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
5 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
6 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault
8 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
9 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
10 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
11 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
12 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
13 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
14 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
15 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
16 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
17 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
18 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
19 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
20 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
21 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
22 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The 2013 Formula 1 Grid: Prospects and Promises

Photo credit: Sauber Motorsport AG

The 2013 Formula 1 season starts this weekend. The 2013 Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit is a heavily-anticipated opening round not only fans but for the teams will are striding to better the grid through off-season engineering and testing. New look teams and race cars will assemble eager to clamor for the unclaimed glory of the unwritten season.

Teams are aware of of completely new car building regulations scheduled for the 2014 season. Therefore, 2013 will be the last time Formula 1 cars will likely for powered by naturally-aspirated V8 engines. For the few three years, the consistency in the race formula has placed increased emphasis in gaining advantages in other aspects of competition. Cars built to exploit the edge of legality and driver changes are popular ways to set a team up for winning grand prixs. Sponsorship also plays a part under the axiom of "money buying speed".

Presented below is our 2013 Formula 1 grid: 

Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Chassis: RB9
Engine: Renault

#1 Car: Sebastian Vettel
#2 Car: Mark Webber

2013 Formula 1 Season Prospect: Accepting a new team inviting Nissan's luxury brand Infiniti as a stronger sponsor partner, everything else to the team structure remains the same for the 2013 season. Infiniti Red Bull Racing enters another Formula 1 as defender of the constructor's championship. Reigning world driving champion German superstar Sebastian Vettel once again wheels the team's first car. In the second Red Bull-Renault again in 2013, Mark Webber may rest in Vettel's shadow but should not be underestimated. The 36-year old Australian has shown repeated instances of potential title contention. Either sameness will be a blessing for Red Bull Racing or it potentially leaves a chance for the competition to overhaul them.

Photo Credit: Nissan/Infiniti

Scuderia Ferrari
Chassis: F138
Engine: Ferrari

#3 Car: Fernando Alonso
#4 Car: Felipe Massa

2013 Formula 1 Season Prospect: The Scuderia Ferrari team was dogged by two concerns during the 2012 season. The first hovered around the early season performance of the Ferrari race car. In 2013, a completely new F138 chassis holds a lot of promise for the coming year. The 2012 Formula 1 campaign also held the future of Ferrari's second driver Felipe Massa under a microscope. Confidence from the team and improved on-track performance through last season has allowed Massa to safely reclaim his seat in 2013. Leading Scuderia Ferrari will be Fernando Alonso who missed the driver's championship by just three points. The 2013 Formula 1 tour could be prosperous fight if minor tweaks and luck runs in favour of the team.


Photo Credit: Ferrari North America

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Chassis: MP4-28
Engine: Mercedes-Benz

#5 Car: Jenson Button
#6 Car: Sergio Perez

2013 Formula 1 Season Prospect: Though Vodafone McLaren Mercedes did not have a terrible 2012 season, the British Formula 1 team struggled with reliability during races. Jenson Button returns for his fourth season with McLaren taking the #5 car for 2013. Biggest news for McLaren is the acquisition of Formula 1 driving prospect Sergio Perez. The McLaren MP4-28 car is said to be heavily revised car incorporating an entirely unique component list compared to the 2012 predecessor.

Lotus F1 Team
Chassis: E21
Engine: Renault

#7 Car: Kimi Raikkonen
#8 Car: Romain Grosjean

2013 Formula 1 Season Prospect: The Lotus F1 Team showed consistent podium-contending performance last season. Lotus F1 Team's 2012 season was highlighted Kimi Raikkonen pulled off a mild upset victory at the Abu Dbahi Grand Prix. Consistency from Kimi Raikkonen concluded with a seven podium results which played a pivotal part to the team's fourth place in the constructor points. Although fast on track, Frenchman Romain Grosjean's 2012 season was riddled with controversy for questionable moves made during races. Grosjean returns to the second Lotus-Renault race car with many expecting improved consistency and better decision-making in competition. Most of the team's troubles have been positioned off-track as financial concerns for parent company Group Lotus leaves the future in question.

Photo Credit: Lotus F1 Team/Renault Sport

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Chassis: W04
Engine: Mercedes-Benz

#9 Car: Nico Rosberg
#10 Car: Lewis Hamilton

2013 Formula 1 Season Prospect: In 2012, Nico Rosberg won the first race for the Mercedes-owned Formula 1 organization since it returned to the sport in 2010. After the early season victory for the Mercedes team in China, drivers Rosberg and the new-retired Michael Schumacher struggled to finish races due to reliability problems or on-track incidents. The Mercedes Formula 1 race team ended the year unable to score a constructor point in five of the final six races. Losing their provocative double DRS system layout in 2013, the W04 race car is still designed to maximize aerodynamic flow. Popular 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton joins the team after spending his entire Formula 1 career with McLaren.

Sauber F1 Team
Chassis: C32
Engine: Ferrari

#11 Car: Nico Hulkenberg
#12 Car: Esteban Gutierrez

2013 Formula 1 Season Prospect: Sauber F1 Team has underwent various changes in personnel on and off the track. Monisha Kaltenborn assumes command of the team for the first full season. The driver line-up for the Sauber F1 Team has also been resorted for 2013 with Nico Hulkenberg joining the organization and 21-year old Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez arrives as a Formula 1 series rookie. Using last year's C31 race car as a reference, Sauber's C32 chassis has been refined for more intentional airflow for better performance. New livery will also see the Sauber F1 Team do away with their white/black colour scheme for a richer black and red.


Photo Credit: Sauber Motorsport AG

Sahara Force India F1 Team
Chassis: VJM06
Engine: Mercedes-Benz

#14 Car: Paul di Resta
#15 Car: Adrian Sutil

2013 Formula 1 Season Prospect: For the past few seasons, the Sahara Force India F1 Team has been effective in scoring points is still fighting to reach the next level in Formula 1. With the all-new VJM06 chassis, the race car includes more adjustments for tuning race weekend performance. Losing Nico Hulkenberg to Sauber F1 Team, Force India has recalled German driver Adrian Sutil to team to drive alongside Paul di Resta.

Williams F1 Team
Chassis: FW35
Engine: Renault

#16 Car: Pastor Maldonado
#17 Car: Valtteri Bottas

2013 Formula 1 Season Prospect: Last year was the first time since 2004 when a Williams F1 car scored a Formula 1 race victory. Pastor Maldonado's Spanish Grand Prix win was a crucial step for an organization who claimed nine constructors' championships. Despite the impressive win from pole, Williams F1 Team enters 2012 still searching for the performance to keep itself consistently in point-scoring positions for 2013. Maldonado returns to a Williams-Renault seat. Veltteri Bottas joins the Williams F1 Team's race weekend roster after three years spent as test driver. William's FW35 chassis is said to be largely new with focus on weight redistribution.

Photo Credit: Williams F1/Renault Sport

Scuderia Toro Rosso
Chassis: STR8
Engine: Ferrari

#18 Car: Jean-Eric Vergne
#19 Car: Daniel Ricciardo

2013 Formula 1 Season Prospect: Existing as a mid-mark race team in Formula 1, the Scuderia Toro Rosso organization has excelled at contending for the lower point-paying positions in grand prix events. Preserving the driving lineup from the 2012 season, the efforts of Scuderia Toro Rosso was immediately positioned in the development of the STR8 race chassis. The STR8 race car is designed with emphasis on resolving aerodynamic and weight balance issues.

Caterham F1 Team
Chassis: CT03
Engine: Renault

#20 Car: Charles Pic
#21 Car: Giedo van der Garde

2013 Formula 1 Season Prospect: Caterham F1 Team is one of two surviving organizations originally existing as a group of four constructors entering 2010. Caterham F1 Team is still chasing an elusive constructor point in a Formula 1 grand prix event. It is the goal of the team for the CT03 chassis to be the vehicle meant to claim that most important honour. Since introducing the 2013 race car, Caterham has been forced to redesign their exhaust system after the FIA ruled it to be illegal. In 2013, the Caterham F1 Team employs an all-new driver lineup consisting of sophomore year Formula 1 Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.

Photo Credit: Caterham F1 Team

Marussia F1 Team
Chassis: MR02
Engine: Cosworth

#22 Car: Jules Bianchi
#23 Car: Max Chilton

2013 Formula 1 Season Prospect: In past years, Marussia F1 Team has been fighting to climb from the back of the Formula 1 field. The 2012 season showed some promise for the race organization as their Cosworth-powered cars collected a pair of 12th place finishes. The MR02 chassis is said to be extensively-shaped with CFD technology. The latest Marussia F1 race car will also incorporate a KERS unit in accordance with 2013 Formula 1 regulations. The team's driver line-up consists of two young pilots making a debut in Formula 1 for the 2013 season. Max Chilton is promoted from the job of team test driver to the number 22 car while Frenchman Jules Bianchi arrives with a resume containing references to years of formula car and GP2 Series participation.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

2002 Molson Indy Toronto

Chris Nagy Jul07 2002 Toronto Indy Race da Matta celebrates poleChris Nagy Jul07 2002 Toronto Indy Race da MattaChris Nagy Jul07 2002 Toronto Indy Race photo 1Chris Nagy Jul07 2002 Toronto Indy Race photo 2Chris Nagy jul07_02 Mario DomínguezChris Nagy Jul07_08 2002 Toronto Indy 33 tagliani

2002 Molson Indy Toronto, a set on Flickr.

Collecting a great amount of automotive and motorsport-related images for over a decade, I have had some regret that I have not found an opportunity to share many of my favourate moments. While I included numerous images in my articles, other great pictures (or least images I felt happy to snap) never fit a story I have written.

In attempt to share my vast portfolio of photos, I have created a Flickr account where I'm in the process of adding some of my better pictures as several events. This assortment was taken at the 2002 Molson Indy of Toronto. Snapped with my first digital camera (a 1.3 megapxiel HP device), these images are also a product of someone who was still developing his photographic skills.