That was an incredible season of F1. Incredible that it even got going during the Coronavirus pandemic, let alone getting to the finale in Abu Dhabi. It is testament to the FIA, Liberty media, F1, the circuit organisers, the teams and drivers that we even had a season of F1 in the first place after the Australian Grand Prix started but never went ahead after two McLaren team members tested positive for the virus and the first 8 races were cancelled.
The season eventually got underway in July, 217 days after the 2019 season finale; the third longest gap between seasons in F1 history as the 70th anniversary season started. It was historic as Michael Schumacher’s win record (91), podium (155) were beaten and his seven World Championship were equalled by Lewis Hamilton [Feature image above from formula1.com]. read more
Formula One returned from its four-week summer break with a back to back of power-hungry circuits beginning with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps; the longest circuit on the calendar followed the weekend after with the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
The first of those resulted in tragedy with the death of F2 driver Anthoine Hubert following a horrific incident in the Feature Race. Juan Manuel Correa is still in an induced coma and hopefully, he can recover from his injuries. It was a big loss in the paddock especially for Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly on the F1 grid who grew up with Hubert. Both put in strong performances in the circumstances but for Leclerc, he produced a stunning performance to win his maiden Grand Prix win and the 108th different race winner in F1 history.read more
Spa Francorchamps is a true racers circuit loved by both fans and drivers with challenging turns such as Eau Rouge and Blanchimont but it also marks the beginning of the second half of the F1 season. Traditionally, the teams bring engine updates and all the manufacturers did in 2019 which resulted in several grid penalties. There were a few driver announcements as the 2020 grid behind to take shape (two of these I have already commented on) but there was also a tragedy.
The F2 feature race ended with a horrific incident on the second lap involving Guiliano Alesi, Anthoine Hubert and Juan Manuel Correa I did not watch the incident live but the clips I have seen of it; horrific does not do it justice. I will not be describing the incident though as I don’t feel it proper to describe it here. However, while Alesi was passed fit by the medical team, Correa is still in intensive care but tragically, Huber succumbed to his injuries at the age of 22.read more
After four weeks of no F1 racing, the action returns with the traditional starter for the second half of the campaign. Situated in the Ardennes Forest, it’s the true racers circuit; Spa-Francorchamps. With nine races to go between this weekend and the end of the season in Abu Dhabi, there is still a lot that can be decided but there are also interesting developments worth discussing. The first of those is the big development at Red Bull during the summer recess…
Gasly dropped, Albon promoted
The big news of the summer was Red Bull’s decision to demote Pierre Gasly to Toro Rosso with Alexander Albon being promoted the other way to the Red Bull team. Gasly has not had the best of seasons at Red Bull and his future has been the subject of speculation leading into the four-week break. The decision though came as a surprise considering what Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.read more
In 2018, we have already had the euphoria and emotions of what turned out to be an amazing month of football in Russia. The domestic league seasons have started up again and now they have reached the first break in the season. That means the return of International football. Normally, European sides will begin their qualification campaign for the next major tournament but instead, they will be embarking on a new competition in the UEFA Nations League.
The Story behind the Nations League
The UEFA Nations League has its beginnings seven years ago, at the 2011 UEFA Strategy Meeting in Cyprus. This is when the discussions and consultations began regarding having a third major tournament to go alongside the European Championship (EUROs) and the World Cup. The discussions continued through meetings at the Top Executive Committee (TEP). It was not until March 2014, at the XXXVII UEFA Ordinary Congress in Astana, Turkey where the tournament was unanimously adopted.read more
Formula One’s summer shutdown and four-week break is nearing an end. The title race commences at Spa-Francorchamps in the Ardennes Forest, Belgium. That is followed by the temple of speed, Monza in Italy the following weekend in yet another Grand Prix double bill. However, before the racing restarts, let us remind ourselves of the season so far…
Australia:The season kicked off in Melbourne and having taken a commanding pole position, Lewis Hamilton’s pace in the Mercedes is negated by a computer glitch that allows Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari undercuts them to the win having pitted behind the Virtual safety car. Winner: Vettel read more
What a month of football we had this summer! 736 players representing 32 nations and 64 matches later, the 2018 World Cup was spectacular! It was expected to be a heavily politicised tournament but apart from the Pussy Riot pitch invasion in the final, that did not happen. It was expected to be shrouded in racism, it wasn’t. Video Assistant Referee (VAR) played its part but the football did the talking as records and titans fell while as a nation, we unified, daring to dream that ‘football’s coming home’. Eventually, it was France who triumphed in Russia after one of the most memorable world cups in living memory.
The story of Russia 2018
After Robbie opened the World Cup, it was down to the hosts to start the tournament against Saudi Arabia. The two were the lowest ranked sides of the tournament but that did not show for Russia as Yuri Gazinsky headed in the opener, a Denis Cheryshev brace including a stunning injury-time set the hosts on their way to a 5-0 win which was rounded off by an Aleksandr Golovin free-kick!read more
Football could have been coming home this summer but it was not to be. Instead, when Russia hosts Saudi Arabia, they will kick start the 2018 World Cup. 736 players representing 32 nations from five continental football federations will be competing on this, the biggest stage in football and after a mammoth month of football (64 games between 14th June and 15th July), 23 players will have played their part I crowning their national side, World Champions!
With this being Russia’s first hosting of a major international football tournament, a number of new stadiums were built. With Russia spanning 17.1 million square km and two continents, it is mostly concentrated in European Russia (West of the Ural mountains) with the exception of Ekaterinburg that will see football. From St. Petersburg in the north to Sochi in the south on the Caspian Sea, from Yaketerinburg in the east to Kaliningrad in the west, the world cup spans a diameter of 7.1 million square miles. The tournament spans four different time zones and has 12 stadiums being used from 11 cities with the capital, Moscow the only city to be using two stadiums.read more
Well, 2017 was an entertaining year in Formula One and was certainly tenser in terms of the Championships. That was in no small part down to Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari who took the battle to Mercedes. However, it was Mercedes who won both titles for the fourth successive year as Lewis Hamilton won his 4th title in a record-breaking year!
Vettel’s claim to the title began when the overcut worked well in Australia. Ferrari keeping him out longer than Hamilton allowed them to leapfrog the Mercedes to their first opening-round victory since 2010. Victories in Bahrain and Monaco left Vettel in a commanding position in the standings. Despite Grand Slam victories in China and Canada, Hamilton was still a fair way behind the German which was contributed to by the stir caused by Valtteri Bottas. The Finn took pole in Bahrain as well as victories in Russia and Austria to keep Hamilton earnest. Vettel still had the upper hand after F1’s crazy weekend in Azerbaijan. The German had steered into Hamilton behind the Safety Car prompting the stewards to give him a 10-second penalty. Hamilton though had a headboard issue to deal with meaning Vettel finished ahead as Daniel Ricciardo picked up his only win the season. It seemed luck was not on Hamilton’s side. Hamilton stormed to a fifth British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone and closed the gap down to a single point after a late puncture for Vettel saw him drop to 7th. Vettel came back with a victory in Hungary with Raikkonen either unable or not allowed to overtake his teammate.read more
Yes, it is yet another post previewing a Formula One Grand Prix without actually reviewing one. Due to time constraints, I have been unable to review the three last Grand Prix (Hungary, Belgium and Italy) so will provide a brief outline of what happened in these race weekends.
• Sebastian Vettel won the final race before the summer break from pole position despite suffering from a steering issue in the race. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen could not get close enough to pass or was not allowed to by the pit wall (decide for yourselves) as they secured their first 1-2 race result in Hungary since 2004. • Mercedes had no answer for Ferrari at the Hungaroring. The team’s pit wall allowed Lewis Hamilton to pass Valtteri Bottas in the second stint of the race as he was faster. He could not pass the Ferrari’s and subsequently and admirably handed the place back to the Finnish driver at the final turn of the race. • The Red Bull drivers came to blows on the opening lap as Max Verstappen understeered into his teammate Daniel Ricciardo at turn 3 of the opening lap. Ricciardo’s race ended there while Verstappen climbed all the way up to 5th and close to the podium despite serving a penalty. • On a track where power and straight line speed is not everything, Fernando Alonso was eventually able to showcase his abilities in the McLaren-Honda as he got the better of Carlos Sainz in a race-long duel for 6th. Stoffel Vandoorne finished 10th for his first point of the season and first double points finish for the team. • Hungary also saw the very brief return of Paul Di Resta to the cockpit of a Formula One car as he filled in for the unwell Felipe Massa. Despite not driving the 2017 Williams car in vein prior to Qualifying, he did not qualify last and gave a solid account of himself in the race all considering before he was forced to retire from the race ten laps from the end.
• Lewis Hamilton marked his 200th Grand Prix by matching Michael Schumacher’s pole position record of 68 with an incredible qualifying performance in which he was in a league of his own. He set the new track record at Spa-Francorchamps three times on his way to pole. Then, after some great defensive driving to hold off the Ferrari of Vettel on the opening lap and then again after the restart, he went on to win the race becoming only the fourth man to win his 200th Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg are the other three. • The Safety Car was brought out by a collision between the two Force India drivers on the run down to Eau Rouge on lap 29. Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon had already come to blows on the opening lap but did so again. On the second occasion, Perez seemed to cut in front of Ocon and suffered a rear right tyre puncture. Ocon suffered front wing damage but managed to recover and finish the race 9th. Perez failed to finish. Post-race, Vijay Malaya spoke of introducing team orders to avoid a repeat having previously allowing his drivers to race freely. • Daniel Ricciardo secured his 6th podium of the season in opportunistic fashion with a daring move on the restart from the Safety Car. On the climb up to Las Combes, the Australian made a double move to pass Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen to claim third place. He was able to hold on to that position until the end with Raikkonen finishing 4th and Bottas 5th. • Max Verstappen however, experienced the all too familiar sinking feeling as he pulled up on lap 7 having lost power in his car. This was his 6th retirement of the season and all of them have been due to mechanical issues. • The Haas F1 team could have been on for their second double points finish with both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen in the top 10 during the Safety Car period. However, Magnussen braked too heavily at the final turn upon the race restart and required a fresh set of tyres which dropped him down to 15th.The main beneficiary was Carlos Sainz who finished 10th and scored 1 point.It proved more painful for Haas as the two sets of points would have made their Championship position stronger.Nico Hulkenberg finishing 6th for Renault meant the French they closed the gap to them in the battle for 7th in the Constructors Championship to one point.read more