Tifosi Marciello é in arrivo

March 19, 2014 in F1

This article comes from Nathan Hine. 

 

As another thrilling season of GP2 and GP3 drew to a close, post season testing at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi was about to begin at sunset last November. 

One of the main faces at the test was Racing Engineering’s Raffaele Marciello: the 18-year old Italian racer who won the FIA European Formula 3 championship in 2013.

As well as setting the fastest lap time on the second day of post-season testing. This prompted in Marciello being awarded a GP2 drive with Racing Engineering for the upcoming 2014 GP2 season.

What is truly special about this Italian racer: he is just another young hopeful wanting to make another step along the Motor Racing ladder in pursuit of Formula 1 isn’t he? Well let’s find out.

It is the 13th May 1950 and the brand new era of Motor Racing is about to begin as the first ever F1 grand prix is about to begin at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. This is with Nino Farina in his Alfa Romeo 158 taking pole position that afternoon and as the Italian craze was ever- building at Silverstone F1 was about to commence.

Farina guided his beloved Alfa to victory for the first ever F1 grand prix. This makes Italy pretty special doesn’t it?

Fifty-six years later at sultry Malaysia for round two of the 2006 world championship and Giancarlo Fisichella guided his Renault R26 to a charismatic and proud victory on 19th March 2006. This was the last time an Italian racing driver ever set foot on the top step of the F1 podium to date.

This for me is sad because Italy being such a key motor racing country. This is with Italy being able to produce stars such as Nino Farina, Alberto Ascari, Michele Alboreto and Giancarlo Fisichella.

This is on top of having the biggest team of them all competing at the forefront of F1: Ferrari which thereby makes the lack of Italian drivers in F1 a disgraceful attribute for F1 and motorsport in general. Therefore, up until now Italian racing drivers’ have had nothing to embrace ever since Fisichella’s last podium at Spa Francorchamps in 2009. Rather I say that they didn’t up until Marciello arrived.

The speedy, bright and youthful racer will make his first ever appearance in the GP2 series at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain on the 4th-6th April 2014 for his first weekend in the F1 feeder series: GP2.  This was due to Marciello proving his worth and showing immense talent in the junior categories up until now.

Marciello needs to continue to show his profound ability behind the wheel, as being a Ferrari young driver as part of their academy he needs to show that he very much is part of the next generation of Ferrari F1.

This confidence is shared by his new employers Racing Engineering when the president of Racing Engineering Alfonso de Orléans- Borbón, gave this quote:

“I am proud of the choice to race with Raffaele this year and confident that his past experience and support of the Ferrari Driver Academy will be a benefit for Racing Engineering in our targets for the season. This confidence is also a result of the efforts and great amount of work that this team has been producing during these last years.”

“With this, we are very happy to have among our ranks the current European F3 champion for the 2014 season, something that will motivate us even more to equal, if not improve, the results in GP2 that Racing Engineering had last season”

This shows that not only Ferrari and Italy believe that he could produce huge success in Motor Racing now and for the future in F1. As well as this Racing Engineering (his new employers for the 2014 season) have faith that Raffaele Marciello could be the next Fernando Alonso.

This is as Raffaele’s impressive performances in F3 last season on his way to the world championship have shown to his new employers his driving potential and the performances he is able to deliver ahead of the following season. Also, with Marciello having the advantage of being backed by the Ferrari young driver’s programme, if he is able to prove himself in GP2 it will only be a matter of time before Marciello wears red in the big arena and drives for the prancing horse for the very first time.

Marciello’s speed, accuracy and precision is ever improving because time and time again he shows that he can adapt to every situation: whilst he was under-pressure at the post-season test last November he was able to set a blistering pace as well as providing his new employers with consistent and reliable data in a Formula and on a track that he has never driven before. The young Swiss-Italian’s response after the test in Abu Dhabi was as follows:

“Testing in November went really well, even though I had no previous knowledge of the car, the track or the tyres. I immediately felt comfortable in the car and the track and I was competitive. On top of that, right from the start I got on well with the team, so in general I am very pleased.”

“This year will be my first season in GP2 and I expect to be up against a lot of strong and very experienced drivers. I will have to get that experience and learn new tracks. My team is very strong and thanks to the work I’ve done with the Ferrari Driver Academy I am sure I can do well.”

Raffaele Marciello at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi

Racing Engineering rookie Raffaele Marciello at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi at pre-season testing on Wednesday 12th March 2014. Photograph taken by Malcom Griffiths

This will let Marciello do what he does best: perform at his absolute peak in a really fast racing car. So, Nasr; Coletti; Evans be prepared as Marciello is on the prowl and is surely ready to fight for the GP2 championship this season.

Whether he can prove himself and master GP2 is another question altogether. As many who have mastered F3 before him, have struggled at the final hurdle.

After supreme backing from Ferrari has helped guide him to GP2, and after Marciello has been provided with a car, in red that Marciello could potentially fight for the title in. Can Marciello overcome the final hurdle and go to the big arena to try and claim the championship in red there too, which would send the world wild as the last Italian to win a grand prix was n 2006, never mind the championship.

But this boy has the potential to rewrite the history books. So, Marciello… the world is watching YOU..!

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Nasr: karting kid to Williams test driver

March 12, 2014 in F1

Felipe Nasr Bahrain Williams 2014

 

Image courtesy of www.felipenasr.com 

This article comes from Nathan Hine

Felipe Nasr has just been signed with Williams Formula 1 team as their test driver for 2014. He is one of few racing drivers that I have seen in person and truly believe that Nasr has championship winning potential after watching his performances over the duration of his career. 

Despite the Brazilian’s mediocre performances in GP2 over the past two seasons, he is certainly one of few men who knows how to drive a Formula car to the ragged edge, having the British F3 and Formula BMW championships to his name. This is as I uncover Nasr’s motorsport journey as this boy certainly knows how to drive!

He is one of the new, exciting talents that emerged out of GP2 last season. The Brazilian racer who I have watched intently over his career so far one of the most exciting and charismatic racers out there.

The Brazilian driver learnt to drive karts at the age of 8, where he competed in the Brazilian karting championship. This was before he decided to carry out his F1 dream in Europe.

He decided to establish his F1 ambition by making his way up the Motorsport categories into the established F1 feeder series: GP2. Felipe has come some way from his karting days in Brazil but can he finish the job by making the step into the men’s game: Formula 1?

In 2008 Felipe Nasr competed in the BMW formula Americas’ championship and during two races of competition he finished 11th in the championship. The Brazilian’s charisma, talent and compelling race craft was rewarded with the 2009 Formula BMW championship.

This was the start of his F1 dream as Felipe only got his Motorsport journey underway following this triumphant success with BMW.

In 2010 he got an offer from one of the most established European series to date – British Formula 3. This is where new talent is relinquished at every step; driver development and future ambition are realised or disproved.

At this stage each and every driver which Felipe will now compete against could be a F1 world champion of the future. Can the young, eager Brazilian superstar handle the pressure as the competition gets tougher with every stride that he takes?

As his hopes and dreams of replicating this fellow Brazilians: Felipe Massa; Rubens Barrichello; the great Ayton Senna and Emerson Fittipaldi by taking his place on the F1 starting grid. But the 2010 season was a mighty tough test for him, and was able to suffice the challenge by finishing the season in 5th place in the British F3 championship that year. This was prior to his championship winning year in 2011 which clearly demonstrated to the international Motorsport community that Nasr was here to stay in his F3 Carlin car.

His career so far, shows to me that for sure Felipe Nasr is an upcoming and aspiring Senna with having mush success with the Formula BMW glory on top of the British F3 triumph. Personally, Nasr’s dreams are only being realised because he has real talent to become a premier-class F1 driver for the future.

The Brazilian did compete successfully at the F3 Macau race at the end of the 2010 season to claim a more than respectable 5th place and to help enforce his esteemed reputation which he was able to gain from F3 competition that season and helped him to perform ahead of the 2011 season.

On Easter Monday of 2011 I remember sitting at Oulton Park at Knickerbrook corner and I was blown away in amazement by the new superstar Felipe Nasr. This was my first experience of hearing racing cars at full pelt blasting next to me. I knew he would be a well-established young star for the future and so far ferocious Felipe has become true to my anticipations showing his mighty consistency in GP2 in 2013.

What a star he is! So, there I was recalling my first proper racing experience and one name roared louder than them all; Felipe Nasr and there I knew that he would be a potential star of tomorrow!

It’s 2013 and at the Sepang international circuit in Malaysia plays host to round 1 of the championship. In his second GP2 season Felipe Nasr needs to raise his game and show to the world what he could and should be able to deliver.

Unfortunately so for Felipe, he was completely out-classed at DAMS when he finished 10th in the GP2 standings. This is whilst team-mate Davide Valsecchi took the championship glory and the team were able to maintain the momentum derived from the drivers and claim the double in 2012. Was this pure Felipe at his peak? Or was the pressure of being one step away from the big time getting too much for Nasr?

In 2013 Nasr needed to be a more decisive and consistently perform at the top throughout the season in both races. This did come true of the feisty young and decisive Brazilian driver through the first half of 2013 with podiums in Malaysia; Bahrain; Spain; Hungary and in Singapore.

Therefore, this rewarded Felipe in a Williams F1 test driver role, and as a fan who has watched Nasr from the British F3 days, I am really excited for Felipe’s F1 journey as the race- ready Brazilian fights for a race seat for 2015. This is progress for Felipe with 2 seasons of unexceptional performances in the F1 feeder series: GP2 and in his 3rd season with Carlin he hopes he can pursue the 2014 championship in order to further his F1 hopes for a race seat in 2015.

Williams Founder and Team Principal Sir Frank Williams said;

“Felipe has a strong track record of success in his career so far and we have been watching him closely for a while. We have a track record at Williams of bringing through new talent and giving them a chance to show what they can do on the world’s biggest stage. By driving in five FP1 sessions this season, Felipe will have the perfect chance to showcase his skills and I’m confident he will be a strong addition to our driver roster.” This shows that Nasr has matured to such an extent that established F1 names such as Williams are showing interest and certainly has huge talent to showcase himself on the world’s stage.

This young Brazilian is going to shock the world as I cannot wait for when Nasr and Massa go wheel to wheel as what I have seen of Nasr is that it will certainly be a fight for Felipe senior. This is because I guarantee there is definitely a bright and talented future ahead of the mighty Brazilian. So… be prepared!

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Formula E: A new era begins.

March 4, 2014 in F1

This article comes from Nathan Hine

Motorsport: the fast, flowing and vibrant sport that grasps the attention of millions of people across the globe in a given weekend in the pursuit of speed. 

The new adventure for a sport that we humans can’t get enough of is about to take the most radical change in its recent history; the electric endeavour is about to commence.

Formula E is motorsport’s latest exhibition, with a cast of extravagant and revolutionary cars taking centre stage in the FIA’s first proper international Electric Motorsport category.

When the first race begins on the 13th September 2014 around the streets of Beijing, as a brand new extraordinary era is going to get underway. But the question is whether the international motorsport community will endorse Formula E; or whether the roar of petrol power will continue to prevail.

In all reality, we have to accept that the face of Motorsport will be turned on its head sooner or later. This is as teams preparations ahead of the 2014 Formula 1 season as they face the biggest rule change in the modern era. Read the rest of this entry →

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F1: The journey begins

February 19, 2014 in F1

This post was written by Nathan Hine

In 2014 Formula One faces not only the biggest rule change to deal with since the 1980’s, but also the trials and tribulations of raging rookies taking on the status quo. 

F1 has the most youthful and inexperienced grid of the modern era: the young Dane Kevin Magnussen will compete in his first grand prix at Melbourne for McLaren-Mercedes, while GP2 and GP3 stars Daniil Kyvat and Marcus Ericsson join F1 teams Toro Rosso and Caterham-Renault ahead of their 2014 racing campaigns respectively.

Will the youth and inexperience help or hinder the F1 field as Melbourne approaches?

Magnussen, the Formula Renault 3.5 series reigning champion, makes his F1 debut with a team that celebrated their 50th birthday last season. They have enjoyed success from the very best drivers’ of them all such as Ayton Senna and Alain Prost to accumulate 12 Drivers’ and 8 Constructors’  Championships, but McLaren experienced their worst ever season in 2013.

Can Kevin really take the pressure and recapture F1 glory in 2014? Well, Martin Whitmarsh Former McLaren team principal certainly thinks so as he added: “Every time he’s tested our Formula 1 car, he’s been very quick and very methodical, and his feedback has been first-class.”

Another man who lies amongst the very best competitors is Daniil Kyvat: the Russian racer who will make his debut for Toro Rosso in the STR9 at Melbourne in March.

The 19 year old established his right for F1 competition on the world stage last November at Abu Dhabi when driving for Arden Racing. He claimed the FIA GP3 World drivers’ Championship by winning the Saturday race. This young rookie has huge speed, talent, charisma and is for sure a story to watch- seeing how young Kyvat fares against his French team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne in 2014.

The arrival of these newcomers coincides with the many rule changes at the pinnacle of motorsport for the upcoming season, there are new powertrain drive systems; ERS, turbo chargers; Automated Energy Recovery System and new aerodynamic configurations. The challenge begins for these new, developing and exciting stars in the making ahead of a brand new era for F1.

Young rookie racers don’t always hit the ground running and before they know it they’re fired. Take Kevin’s Father Jan Magnussen who drove for McLaren-Mercedes as a stand-in driver at the 1995 Pacific grand prix.

Before this race Magnussen dominated the field in the British F3 class with 13 race wins in a season (a record that still stands today) but was overshadowed by the F1 field in his 2 full seasons with the Stewart GP team in 1997 and 1998 as well as the 1995 Pacific grand prix where he finished 10th. In his 2 years at motorsport’s highest level in a car worthy of winning grand prix he managed to accumulate 2 points.

Consequently, the young stars of 2014 with the world’s media watching them – Magnussen Junior, Marcus Ericsson and Daniil Kyvat – may find that trying to mix it with motorsport’s finest athlete’s in the world’s most prestigious machinery is a step too far.

It is one thing making a step in the right direction proving yourself in the junior categories (Formula Renault 3.5, GP2 and GP3.) However, it is another prospect altogether making your mark at the world’s centre stage. Do these young men have what it takes to score big and establish themselves as F1 champions in the making?

This prospect is one which will be debated between now and Melbourne when a true picture will begin to emerge. But, with Kevin Magnussen posting the fastest lap of the test at Jerez in his brand new MP4-29 has not done his future any harm.

The F1 journey has been a bit subdued for the other two; Daniil Kyvat and Marcus Ericcsson both had limited running due to due to problems affecting all Renault-powered teams at Jerez.

One thing is for sure: these three feisty youngsters are taking on 19 of the best tracks in the world with completely different rules and regulations for 2014. The question still remains how good are these 3 rookies ahead of the upcoming season?

“I’ve arrived in the team I always dreamed of” says Kevin Magnussen. Will the boyhood dream fly the flag of success or end with nothing more than trackside sorrow?

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Are Formula One’s shoes just too big?

February 5, 2014 in F1

This post comes from Nathan Hines. 

Formula 1- the fast, flowing and expensive sport that photo shoots the likes of Nico Rosberg in his Monte-Carlo yacht. In reality is the world of F1 where all 11 teams have a ton of disposable cash swimming around the paddock? Or is Bernie’s bountiful empire just over-bubbling..?

In 2013, for the first time ever, at the Abu Dhabi grand prix Lotus F1 team were in the depths of an economic dilemma- thereby demonstrating the ever present pressures of running a F1 team at the very peak of the sport. This resulted in a very hacked-off Kimi Raikkonen because the Lotus F1 team had only partially paid Kimi’s salary prior to that race at Abu Dhabi because of their £114 million (James Allen) debt.

This shows that not only the rear of the F1 grid are struggling for cash, but the big boys are also suffering the economic pressures- trying to keep their bank balance in check too. The Telegraph reported that “Lotus F1’s $56 million loss is motorsports’ biggest”.

This demonstrates that Lotus is in deep trouble trying to carry on funding their Formula 1 team in order to revive the success that they have had in the past.

As you may or may not recall this Enstone based former Renault team helped to propel newcomer Fernando Alonso to two F1 world championships in 2005 and 2006, which is just a wakeup call to the likes of Red Bull that their time may come to feel the economic pressures, with devastating consequences.

The world of F1 is so expensive because of the cost of development in order to be competitive.  For example according to The Financial Times each F1 team spent US$2,808,48000 in 2005.

This shows with all the latest technologies (e.g. simulators) involved in competing at the pinnacle of motor racing, you need finances as well as intelligence to be competitive in modern-day F1. As a consequence we are moving into an age where corporate teams simply won’t survive as you need a way and a means of obtaining surplus funds.

For instance Red Bull Racing, defending drivers’ and constructors’ championships, need a total budget of £235.5 million (Bleacher Report) per year. This is an extraordinary figure compared to that of Caterham who spend barely £65 million (Bleacher Report) in total per year.

This shows the extreme contrast between a team who have such extensive resources like Red Bull and a small team like Caterham who are both competing for the same goals.

This is one of many strange aspects of the world of F1; is it fair that a team with a total budget of £235.5 million competes with Caterham who spend so little money in comparison? Just what can be done in the future to ensure everybody gets an equal chance of claiming the championship whatever their circumstances..?

I conclude that even with the FIA enforcing a cost cap for the start of 2015, amateur teams who choose to enter F1 as well as Caterham and Marussia will find themselves stuck at the back at the grid. This is because they won’t simply be able to grasp enough funding and even if they do succeed, bankruptcy will be almost inevitable. So, F1 needs to back down and allow smaller amateur teams to thrive in a world where economic problems are ever existent and allowing a healthier and more competitive field of F1 for the future of the sport.

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Women racing drivers: time for change

January 20, 2014 in F1

This post and image comes from Nathan Hine. Alice Powell Oulton Park

Alice Powell after she has just won the first race of the British F3 championship at Oulton Park.

It is 2014. Some say that we are living in a world of equality; and sexism in the 21st Century may be on its way out, living in an age with women bishops and the like.

The issue, as a keen motorsport enthusiast is whether women will be able to compete at the pinnacle of motorsport: Formula One.

This is essential for F1 to become a sport of equality: I want to see women “petrol heads” to step into their cars. Therefore, it is necessary for women racing drivers to be able to compete in grand prix in the near future.

The thing which strikes me when it comes to this topic is that you hear people who have a renowned motor sport reputation proclaiming about why it is a bad idea for women racing drivers to compete in F1. Whereas, I believe that if a woman has the speed, precision and race craft to compete in F1, why shouldn’t they?

One man in particular who this concerns is Sir Stirling Moss (multiple grand prix race winner and member of the BRDC at Silverstone) says on a 5-live radio documentary discussing this issue: “women have the physical strength to compete in F1 but not the mental attitude to become a competitive figure in F1”.

However to my dismay McLaren-Mercedes team principle Martin Witmarsh added that “women have the mental strength, but not the physical strength to compete as for instance braking at a hairpin bend at full speed would undergo 6G of force on the body, which no woman could withstand.”.

This made me think that the “key” male figures of F1 do not want to see any females competing in F1 as the male drivers who finish behind the females’ would be seen as weak or incapable F1 racing drivers.

This is, in my opinion, a load of absolute rubbish as it should be the best racing drivers in the world who should compete at the pinnacle of grand prix racing- F1- not the best male racing drivers’ in the world.

British racing driver Alice Powell finished 2nd in the 2013 British F3 cup as the sole woman to compete in the championship.

Women are making great progress – establishing their F1 ambitions and dreams in the quest to become a F1 racer, not only that but to make a true stance for women in F1 forever. This is because the popularity of women racing drivers is ever increasing.

In the history of F1 racing, only 1 woman has ever scored a point in F1; she was Italian racing driver Lella Lombardi at the 1975 Spanish grand prix, where she achieved half a point because the race was stopped and couldn’t be started again due to extreme weather being experienced that afternoon in Spain.

This means that in the future, women are not going to be welcomed into the sport with extreme enthusiasm because the women who did compete previously in F1 were not successful over the sport’s 64 years.

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Hungarian Grand Prix: Qualifying Report

July 27, 2013 in F1 2013, Hungarian Grand Prix

Hungaroring - pit lane

Hungaroring – pit lane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Red Bulls looked particularly dominant on Friday, topping the timesheets during FP1 and FP2, however failed to do the same in FP3 when Romain Grosjean finished fastest. 

It was not to be though, as Lewis Hamilton stole pole position from Sebastian Vettel after the chequered flag fell.

Prior to the start of qualifying there was a flurry of activity around the McLaren of Sergio Perez, as they worked hard to fix his gearbox which he damaged in a crash shortly before the end of Q3.

Q1 

Esteban Gutierrez was the first driver out on track aiming to get as many laps in as possible after only managing to put in a formation lap during FP3 thanks to an engine issue. His first timed lap of the session was a 1.23.998. Read the rest of this entry →

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Lewis Hamilton and Andy Murray Don’t Compare

July 10, 2013 in F1 2013, Lewis Hamilton

LEWIS HAMILTON

LEWIS HAMILTON (Photo credit: IDR)

Since Andy Murray won Wimbledon on Sunday there have been a couple of articles comparing the tennis player to Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton.

One in particular claimed that Hamilton still had time to follow in Murray’s footsteps to become an F1 Great.

Claiming that Hamilton needs to follow in Murray’s footsteps is baffling. The only similarities the two share is being champions in their respective sports and being managed by Simon Fuller.

Yes, unlike Murray Hamilton hasn’t recently won a championship but he’s still achieved a lot. Read the rest of this entry →

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FIA Confirm Silverstone Young Driver Test Conditions

July 9, 2013 in F1 2013, News

F1 Testing Jerez Day 1

F1 Testing Jerez Day 1 (Photo credit: CaterhamF1)

The FIA have confirmed and informed the teams of the conditions which next weeks Silverstone Young Driver Test will be run under. 

An FIA press release confirmed that the test will last three days, instead of four as rumoured, and will take place between the 17th and 19th July.

While the test was originally solely for young drivers to help teams test  news parts and allow young drivers to get more experience in the car, teams will now be allowed to use racing drivers as long as they have taken part in more than two races.

The news means that Mercedes will not be taking part in the test in line with the ruling from the Testgate Tribunal in May which saw them banned from the test.

Read the rest of this entry →

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Hamilton Takes Pole at Mercedes Home Grand Prix

July 6, 2013 in F1 2013, German Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes W04

Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes W04 (Photo credit: Motorclan)

Lewis Hamilton managed to take pole position away from Sebastian Vettel at the teams home grand prix, giving them their first pole position in Germany since 1954.

 

While the Brit had spent most of the weekend struggling with his car, the timesheets suggested otherwise as he took a hundredth out of Vettel’s time to take his second pole position in a row.

 

 

Q1

 

Paul di Resta was the first man out on track and set an uncompetitive timed lap of 1.41.226 as the Scotsman tried to warm his tyres up.

The combination of high track temperature and wind meant that a few drivers struggled for grip, which didn’t help the likes of the Williams which was already looking like a handful.

Some drivers were finding it harder than usual to get the heat into the Pirelli tyres which now have kevlar belts, so it was hardly surprising to hear Fernando Alonso’s engineer inform him that he would be setting three timed laps.

The Spaniard put in a good first timed lap doing a 1.30.709, which was the fastest lap at the time, though that’s not the kind of time we’d expect from the former world champion during a qualifying session.

Read the rest of this entry →

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