Thursday, September 23, 2010

CWG puts India in bad light for future international events

The handling of the Common Wealth Games is already tarnishing the brand India image with every international news and satellite channels reporting the mess it is turning out to be.

With each passing day there are news on the unhealthy conditions of the facilities for atheletes, the foot over-bridge collapse, star atheletes backing off etc., which has cast a doubt on India ability to organise an international sporting event in the country.

The comment by the general secretary of CWG Organising Committee that "foreigners have different standards of cleanliness", raises question of the mentality and approach of the committee.

When the committee boasts of organising an international event, the facilities should match international standards, and an excuse of different standards is like mocking at atheletes from other countries.

International sporting events like Formula One is coming to the Indian shores next season, Moto GP organisers are interested in having a GP in India, among others.

There is no doubt they would now hesitate before taking a final decision.

Though, F1 Chief, Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that he is confident in the organising committee associated with the Formula One GP, others sporting associations would think twice.

Formula One and Moto GP doesn't require an infrastructure and facility as huge as that in CWG, but the fact remains that if the CWG is postponed at the last minute or fails, it would be huge black mark on India.

International sporting events are not just about sports, but it also boost travel and tourism for the countries invovled in a huge way.

Hence, it is important that the government interferes and limit any further damage to the country's global image in sports and tourism sector.

Who will win - It's pace versus consistency

With just five races to go, and five drivers still in with a fight to win, let us analyse who stands the better chance.

It no longer depends on who has the best car, as all the three teams are bringing upgrades at every race.

Pace wise, Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel are quicker than Button and Webber.

However, pace alone will not be the factor at this crunch moment, as smart thinking, consistency and control would be the deciding factor.

Here is a graph showing the performance level of each driver so far:

From the above, if we take out the Webber's one and Button's two races where they didn't finish due to external factors affecting and no fault of theirs, they show the best consistency level.

While others have been showing lack of temperament at crucial moments in races that has led them in to committing vital erorrs in judgement.

Fernando Alonso has surprisingly made more mistakes this season than he might have collectively done in the last two seasons.

Determined to win the championship in his maiden year at Ferrari, he tried a little too much out of anxiety which led to mistakes and crucial juncture viz., crashing in Monaco practice, that made his miss the qualifying and forced him to start from the pitlane, then again losing control at Belgium GP, being the few most notable of the lot.

Sebastian Vettel was surprised by the form of his veteran team-mate this season, whom he comfortably beat last year. While he lost points, Webber calmly collected them, and surged ahead.

This unsettled the young driver, forcing him to take undue chances in races leading to mistakes, though he has faster at qualifying.

Returning from a leg injury last season, Mark Webber was outpaced by Vettel, but this season, the fully-fit Aussie has shown the youngster that pace alone cannot be the determining factor.

Coming to Lewis Hamilton, many F1 pundits believed that Lewis would beat Jenson hands down, but the 2009 champion has proved them wrong.

He made brilliant strategic decision in times of crisis viz., the tyre choice at Australia, the F-duct set-up choice at Monza etc., thus showing that his smart thinking makes up for his lack of pace.

As the season progressed, with pressure mounting, Hamilton showed cracks in his driving temperament, when he over-drove his car at Hungary and an unnecessary overtaking bid at Monza on Felipe Massa that took him out of these races.

The fight now being so close with every point crucial, there is every chance that the likes of Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel might yet again succumb to pressure making crucial errors.

Mark Webber and Jenson Button meanwhile made sure to cruise along collecting points at races where they were disadvantaged, while racing aggressive at tracks that suited, thus making most of it.

Hence, the mental composure and consistency levels of these two guys will make them gain the maximum at this very important juncture of the championship.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Preview - F1 Singapore GP - Only rains gods could stop Red Bull

With Alonso and Button on podium at Monza, the championship race has opened up with all the five contenders viz., Hamilton, Webber, Alonso, Button and Vettel with a possibilty to win the driver's crown.

Next up is the night race at Singapore street circuit, and it would be interesting to see how teams fare at this slow-turning track.

The Circuit

Singapore is a unique circuit with it's twist and turns.

The average speed on this circuit is around 175km/h, while the top speed goes up to 297km/hr, making it one of the slowest circuits.

The track needs high downforce, and is quite punishing on the tyres with heavy braking.

The circuit also has very low level of grip, which though, once rubbered in nicely, is not of much worry to drive.

The track offers hardly a chance to overtake, hence qualifying higher would be of prime importance on every team's mind.


Red Bull are the favourites and looks set to steal the top honours.

The reason being, it has the best aerodynamic design and diffuser set-up which is of utmost importance on a track filled with turns (needing perfect balance) and higher downforce.

Red Bull's low power Renault engines, which is a disadvantage at the high-speed, straight line tracks like Monza, are spared here, due to the slow nature of the circuit.

The team that could closely challenge them should be Ferrari.

Ferrari currently has the second best diffuser set-up and balance, after Red Bull, that works around smoothly on turning tracks.

They did well at the Monaco GP, which has a similar style circuit layout.

Hence, now, with the team strategy finally gelling perfectly, Fernando Alonso would be favourite behind the Red Bull drivers to stand on the podium.

McLaren are disadvantaged, with their design so far giving optimum performances on straight and high-speed track, thus facing a hard task ahead.

Hence, they can be slotted as the third best team, behind Ferrari, to go on this track.

Renault, who had missed their first pole position by a whisker, when Sebastian Vettel snatched it from Robert Kubica at Monaco, might spoil the party of the front runners.

Their upgrades have been the quickest to give results, and there is every possibility of this team giving Ferrari and Mclaren a run for their money at this track.


Singapore is experiencing scattered thunder storms currently, and there are chances of rain hitting the circuit next weekend.

Red Bull, in particular, would be praying that it doesn't happen, since they have struggled for pace at every wet race of the current season.

A wet Singapore circuit is, though, a dangerous proposition for every driver, who need to be extra cautious, as the the track is surrounded by concrete barricades, and even a small error might end their race.

In all, except the thrill to watch cars zip past in the floodlights, Singapore offers a dull race which is more of a procession from start.

However, with the championship fight being tightly contested, it would be a test on the temperament and skills of these drivers and their teams on who has it what it takes to perform best under pressure.

It is the only thing that would keep the interest level up of every f1 enthusiasts at this GP.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What is Michael Schumacher up to?

The return of the King of Formula One, as his loyal fans refer him, the legendary, Michael Schumacher, has fell far too short of expectations of every racing fan.

The great Schumacher is not only nowhere in picture fighting for the championship with the likes of Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel, but struggling to match his own team-mate.

With rumours of Schumacher retiring, on the back of his poor performance, it seems perfectly logical to most, that he doesn't want to put or risk further damage to his records and reputation.

So, is he really set to retire?

That's a big question, and the only one who knows the answer to this is none other than Schumacher himself.

However, known to be a extreme workaholic, Schumacher is not new to struggle after success.

Coming to Ferrari as a world champion from team Benetton, Schumacher struggled hard. However, as we know, success soon followed him, which is testimony of the fact that Schumacher is no quitter.

One can argue that age is presently not on Schumacher's side as it was earlier.

However, with his experience and past performance, there is no better person than he himself to judge where he is standing, the demands of modern F1 and if can turn things around.

There are many reasons that has contributed to his laclustre performance.


The singlemost reason why a formula one team fails boils down to the car.

Though last year, Brawn GP had the quickest car on the grid, the new rules of no-refuelling, that demanded a bigger tank, and narrow front tyres for the new season, meant reworking the basic design of the car from scratch, and the Mercedes team fell short in this aspect to match other teams, which resulted in this year's car lacking balance and pace compared to it's rivals.

To make matter worse, the ban on in-season testing has not helped the cause too. The technical team is struggling to get the upgrades working quickly, as the only real testing days left are the free-practice sessions on fridays, which are, however, dedicated to working on setting up the car for race days.


On Schumacher's part, the fact that being three years away from formula one has rusted some of the finess of the old master, that needs spending some real good time behind the wheels to get oneself back in to the groove and get acclimatised to the technological changes that has been incorported in the car post his retirement.

With the winter testing curtailed, and no in-season testing means lesser and lesser time spent on fine tuning one's driving skills and efficiency of the car's set-up.

It's no wonder that Schumacher voiced his opinion in favour of lifting the ban on in-season testing when he stated last month that formula one is the only major sport in the world that prohibits practice.

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn has been the most vocal compared to other team-managers in lifting the ban on in-season testing. However, with the FIA seemingly not interested, the rule is set to stay for next year.


In such a scenario, with only five races to go, and no immediate development in sight, it would be in the best interest of the team and Schumacher to concentrate on the next season.

The positive aspects in looking forward to the next season for both are: -

First, there are no radical changes in terms of car design for 2011, unlike in the current year, that needed a completely new design, the track performance of which could only be assessed during the winter testing phase.

This year the team can straight away work on the flaws from the data gathered so far and be much more confident on it's performance on track.

With the base design remaining the same, the team can utilise the remaining races to testing new upgrades, which could be then incorporated in the new car for next season.

This will give them a head-start on it's rivals, who are busy concentrating in their fight for the championship.

Schumacher, on his part, can use the available racing weekends to test and fine tune the grey areas of his driving and give valuable feedback, which can be used to build a car better suited to his needs, unlike this year, where the car was basically designed for his predecessor, Jenson Button.

Knowing Brawn and Schumacher's quality of thinking ahead of rivals, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Mercedes team is already on this course, and we would be witnessing a resurgent Mercedes F1 team that would be challenging for the top honors next season, with the King in his supreme best

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Should Force India sign Karun Chandhok?

Force India is currently placed sixth on the constructor's championship, just above the Williams F1 team. However, there is a mini-crisis building up.


Firstly, a few of their important technical personnel are set to join rival team Lotus F1 in the next season

The team's main sponsors, Kingfisher airlines are currently undergoing financial loss.

Their closest rival, Williams F1, are threatening to overtake them in the championship points, with the English team's latest technical upgrades on the car (blown diffuser) working well.


Team's lead driver, Adrian Sutil, has been looking for a drive in a top team, and currently the rumours of him joining the Renault F1 team seems pretty strong, as Renault has still not confirmed their second driver.

If this happens, Force India would lose a good driver, who has improved with every outing with this Indian outfit. Sutil is currently 9th in the driver's championship, one above the legendary Michael Schumacher.

It's second driver, Vitantonio Liuzzi on the other hand has not had a great season so far, and is currently 14th, behind Vitaly Petrov of Renault (13) and Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber (12).

Here is a comparision of their performance so far.

Though it could be said Liuzzi has been unlucky in one or two races where he got involved in crashes with no fault of his, he has been inconsistent and lacked pace on the whole, as his qualifying figures reflects.

In modern F1, with tracks offering little overtaking opportunities, qualifying position matters a lot, and Liuzzi is struggling on this aspect.

In this scenario, with techical team leaving, paucity of funds, lead driver rumored to move, while second driver not performing, Vijay Mallya's hands seems currently full.


Karun Chandhok is someone who has been on Mallya's mind since quite some time, but he has been hesistant so far to go by emotions.

Chandhok's performance too has been inconsistent in his pre-formula one (GP2) days, which has been prime reason Mallya didn't consider him.

However, since his debut this season in formula one, he has proved that he can be solid behind the four wheels of formula one car.

He has consistently done better than his team-mate, Bruno Senna, in team HRT, that has won praises from all quarters.

This should instill confidence in Mallya to consider him for driving next season, along with other possibility of Paul Di Reta.

Paul Di Resta has been impressive in his outing with Force, during a few practice session, and is also currently having a great time at DTM racing series.

However, in comparision to Di Resta, Karun would not only be just a driver for Force, but his presence in an Indian outfit in F1 would attract good sponsors, which would provide a financial breather to Mallya.

If, Sutil leaves, the best option for Force would be Chandhok and Di Resta, but if not, it would be only one of these two.

Considering the advantage that Chadhok has viz., being a current F1 driver and possibility of bringing good sponsorship money, choosing Chandhok looks a better bet for the team in the long run.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Alonso has a different edge over his rivals

Alonso would have sighed a heave of relief hearing the World Motor Sport Council's verdict of no further penalties for Ferrari with regard to the alleged team orders carried out at the German GP.

Though Ferrari and Alonso were confident that WMSC would consider their case, there were doubts that the council might take away all the points earned by team and drivers at the German GP.

However, with 141 points in total, he is still 41 points adrift from Lewis Hamilton, who leads the championship table at 182 points, and with only six more races to go.

Though there is a whopping 150 points to win, one cannot expect Alonso to win every GP from now on. Especially, when the car is still not on equal pace with the Red Bull.

However, Alonso has a different kind of advantage that none of his title rivals have, which is total and exclusive support from his team, and now, from his team-mate, Felipe Massa too.

Whether team orders or not at German GP, it is clear that Felipe Massa would be in the supporting role for the rest of the current season.

This also ensures that the team would be focussing entirely on Alonso and giving him the best possible technical / strategic help in his quest for the championship title.

With both, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel vowing to fight for the championship, their leading team-mates viz., Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber, have to deal with this aspect though.

It also restricts both the teams, McLaren and Red Bull, from putting their entire focus and backing their current leading driver, for the championship.

Ferrari can also use Felipe Massa to put a spanner in to his rival's race strategy, like slowing them down etc., on track, when in front.

Fernando Alonso would now hope that there are no further strategy error from Ferrari, like Spa, which saw him qualify behind top 5 grid position, and the technical upgrades keeps his car, if not on par, at least closer the Red Bulls.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Preview F1 Italian GP - Ferrari hopes for a good show

With just a handful of races remaining, the championship battle is still open with Red Bull leading both the championship, Mclaren following a close second and Ferrari hanging on with a possibility in the Driver's championship.

Here is a review of the high-speed Monza track and the chances of the title contenders at this year's Italian GP.

The Circuit

Monza is currently the fastest circuit on the calendar, with an average speed of 250 km/hr.

The circuit consist of harsh kerbs, hence requires precision driving and control on every lap.

The circuit has a few heavy braking zones that would be testing the car's brakes and putting pressure on the softer compound tyres.

Fans can look forward to witness powerful engines running at full speed, with ample scope of overtaking opportunities on the circuit.


Red Bull have qualified on pole position in 12 out of 13 races, and hence it makes them the favourite at the qualifying day.

The circuit overall demands a good aero efficiency from cars, and the Red Bull, with the best car on the grid, would have an added advantage amongst the top teams at Monza.

However, their Renault engine might lack more power on straight line speed, and the heavy braking zone is not to their car's liking.

McLaren lines up second favourite with Lewis Hamilton in great form after his recent victory at Spa, Belgium.

The McLaren has the unmatched power of mercedes engine and would be having an upperhand at full speed run on the straights.

McLaren's innovative F-duct would be of little help though as the track being of low-downforce nature, the effectiveness of the F-duct would be minimal.

The team has hence decided that they might do away with the F-duct at Monza.

However, the F-duct being an integral part of their car, it would be challenge for the team to get optimum performance in it's absence.

A disheartened Ferrari F1 team, who are favourites behind the Bulls and Mclaren here, are looking forward to positive results at their home GP in Monza this weekend.

Ferrari has good aero package and their tweaked engine is on par with that of mercedes engine in terms of power.

Ferrari have also been comfortable with heavy braking, and unlike Mclaren don't lose much running without their F-duct solution.

The biggest hindrance to the Italian outfit's challenge would be to lay out the best strategy, which has let them down at crucial juncture this season.

During the last GP, they released the drivers for the flying lap at qualifying just when it started to drizzle, that saw Alonso qualifying out of the top 5 grid position. Then, later during the race when Barrichello of Williams crashed in to Alonso, the team put on the intermediate-tyres when he pitted, in anticipation of rain, which never came, and Alonso had to pit for a second time.

Ferrari needs to tighten their grip on strategy and close all loose ends if they are serious about challenging for the championship this season.

Of the remaining teams, Force India, who finished 5th on the grid at Spa, can count on their mercedes engine power and a stable car for a chance to get their first podium finish this season.

Renault has been so far the best improved team of the season, and though the engine comparatively lacks power at this high-speed circuit, their fans can vouch for a good result from it's lead driver Robert Kubica.

Mercedes lacks aero-efficiency, but can make up for with their powerful engine, and it remains to be seen how Michael Schumacher performs at one of his favourite tracks, as there would be many Italian fans cheering him on.