2016 Hungarian & German Grands Prix Review

Hungarian Grand Prix

Driver of the Day (Kimi Raikkonen- 6th, Ferrari)

After yet another strategic blunder by the Ferrari pit wall in qualifying (*sigh*), the Iceman took matters into his own hands, dragging his recalcitrant SF16-H from a lowly 14th to a respectable 6th. If it wasn’t for Max Verstappen’s dubious defensive moves, an extra two points for fifth would have been emphatically justified for Kimi, who has recently signed a contract extension for 2017.

Reject of the Day (Jolyon Palmer- 12th, Renault)

Oh Jolyon. Just when the Briton finally appeared to be turning around a stinker of a debut season, Palmer inexplicably spun on the exit of Turn 4. A valuable point for 10th evaporated within a blink of an eye and perhaps his chances of a 2017 seat.

German Grand Prix

Driver of the Day (Daniel Ricciardo- 2nd, Red Bull)

After a few humbling performances by his tyro team-mate Verstappen, in which many believed the tide to be turning away from the Honey Badger, Ricciardo silenced his doubters with an exquisite run to 2nd. The Australian was able to translate his raw qualifying pace into genuine race pace and impressed many with his ability to latch onto the slides invoked by his supersoft Pirelli tyres as his stints wore on. Max, contrarily, had an average race by his standards but his stock still remains astronomically exorbitant.

Reject of the Day (Esteban Gutierrez- 11th, Haas)

It may appear contradictory to nominate a driver who has shown an upturn in form and is beating his highly-regard team-mate Romain Grosjean on all-round speed, but the Mexican’s inability to obey blue flags is almost bordering upon parody. How Gutierrez has escaped the sanctioning of penalty points upon his superlicence is something that is beyond common sense.

OTHER SPECIAL MENTIONS

List of FIA proposed rules that were swiftly scrapped this season

New Elimination Qualifying- SCRAPPED AFTER BAHRAIN

New Radio Rules- REVERTED TO OLD RADIO RULES PRE-2014

New Stricter Track Limits- REVERSED

WHAT ARE FUCKING JEAN TODT & CO DOING?!!!!

Oh and please show some consistency in your application of your penalties for contentious track limit incidents, such as how you’ve punished Rosberg twice for Austria and Germany, but refused to punish Hamilton for Lap 1 incident at Canada when he pushed the aforementioned driver off the track and ruined his race there and then.

Actually, we all know the word “consistency” doesn’t exist in your dinosaur age dictionary.

Ferrari

So a team that is desperately in need of developing creativity and innovation in its chassis design parted ways with James Allison. After losing the incredibly ingenious Aldo Costa to Mercedes in 2011, it appears the halycon Schumacher era remains a forgotten age that will not return for the immediate future. Absolutely pathetic, and don’t get me started on the incident where Vettel felt best to ignore team orders during the race at Hockenheim.

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2016 British Grand Prix: A Sport in Disarray

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Max Verstappen

REJECT OF THE DAY

F1 Authorities

It is safe to say the start of yesterday’s British Grand Prix was farcical. In spite of the brightening skies and an abrupt end to the downpour prior to the parade lap, Charlie Whiting ordered drivers to meander behind the Safety Car for the first five laps. So one must ask, what is the point of the full wet compounds? Within two laps of the restart, the majority of the field barring the Mercedes and Red Bulls switched to intermediates. The decision to start this year’s Monaco Grand Prix behind the Safety Car was wise; the heavens had completely drenched the track and rain continued to sprinkle after the Safety Car had withdrew. In a circuit surrounded by uneven armco barriers, a potential pile up was always a likely scenario, however, at a purpose built venue such as Silverstone, a similar situation was a much less likely eventuality.

When the track inevitably dried quickly, the multiple dry compound rule was annulled, allowing many to run the remaining thirty laps on the medium compounds. This meant viewers were treated to a less than thrilling race by 2016 standards.

This year’s race will be remembered for Max Verstappen’s extraordinary overtake around the outside on Nico Rosberg at the exit of Maggotts and Becketts; such precocity is leaving believing his ability to dominate F1 for the next two decades and overhaul Michael Schumacher’s seven WDC. Unfortunately, it will also be remembered for the radio ban rearing its ugly head once again; after debacles surrounding the struggles of Hamilton and Raikkonen concerning their car settings in Baku, Mercedes panicked and leaked illegal assistance to a struggling Rosberg, who had gearbox gremlins. It was draconian of the stewards to add ten seconds to Rosberg’s race time, costing three valuable points and leaving Lewis Hamilton just a single point behind his firm nemesis. Hamilton drove impeccable throughout this year’s race; he only a opened a four second gap to the car behind when required and conserved his car expertly throughout.

Life in F1 is rather straightforward when you’re driving the fastest car in ideal circumstances, as everyone else struggled and Williams and Ferrari have both taken gradual steps back as this season has progressed. It appears not only are their strategic decisions are flawed, but the outright pace of their chassis are falling behind where they were in regards to their standing in the pecking order last year post-Silverstone. Red Bull appear to be Mercedes’ closet rivals now, but frustrations from Daniel Ricciardo’s side of the garage could light a bitter feud between himself and Verstappen.

On the whole, it appears most of the paddock is already focused on 2017 with more than half of this year’s Grands Prix still yet to commerce.

2016 Austrian Grand Prix Review

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Max Verstappen (Red Bull-TAG Heuer) 2nd

56 laps on the softs and holding off seasoned veteran Raikkonen is testament to the natural intuition and perseverance of the young Dutchman. Max may not be the quickest over a qualifying lap, but his racecraft resembles that of a multiple world champion.

WINNERS

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1st

In truth, the Briton had an average race. His complaining on the radio about the choice of soft tyres in comparison to Rosberg’s super-softs for the final stint did his reputation no favours. However, the turn 2 incident on the final lap was definitely not Hamilton’s fault.

Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 3rd

The Iceman did his best under difficult circumstances, thanks to more questionable strategic errors by Ferrari. Whether Kimi could have won if he took a two stopper is unknown, but for Ferrari the timing his pit stop dropped him from 2nd to 5th, leaving him stuck behind the slower Red Bulls.

Jenson Button (McLaren-Honda) 6th

A magnificent qualifying lap placed Jenson in a shock 3rd place. To no-one’s surprise, Button dropped down to 9th, but his stint on the soft compounds was a throwback to his previous prosperous days at McLaren. In addition his overtakes dazzled the fans and Button never put a wheel wrong.

Pascal Wehrlein (MRT-Mercedes) 10th

On a day which Wehrlein’s compatriots blundered in a varying circumstances, the DTM champion came of age. A scintillating qualifying lap placed his Manor 12th and his patience and intelligence allowed the German to quietly scheme his way to his first points finish and Manor’s first point for two years.

REJECT OF THE DAY

Nico Hulkenberg (Force India-Mercedes) DNF

The Hulk’s reputation as the best driver F1 has seen to fail to score a podium continues, but a disastrous start dropped him rapidly down to 13th. To exacerbate his agony, a five second time penalty was applied for speeding in the pitlane. Eventually, Hulkenberg pulled up in the pits on a day which should have delivered so much more.

LOSERS

Ferrari

Make the same mistake twice is a sign of carelessness, but to do so thrice is a sign of growing insanity. A rearrangement of Ferrari’s pit strategy team is urgently needed, but the Scuderia’s hierarchy is not heeding the warnings. In addition, Vettel’s tyre failure shows a worrying lack of ability from the engineers to analyse issues and solve them effectively.

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 4th

Nico, my friend, watch a replay of that final lap incident and you will see that you didn’t even attempt to aim your car’s nose towards the apex whatsoever.

DofD

Grosjean X2 Rosberg X1 Magnussen X1 Verstappen X2 Ricciardo X1 Bottas X1 Perez X1

RofD

F1 Authorities X1 Williams X1 Vettel X1 Kvyat X1 Mercedes X1 Sauber X1 Rosberg X1 Hamilton X1 Hulkenberg X1

2016 F1 Post-Baku Mid-Term Report

THE CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS

Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 117 points) Mercedes 7.5/10

Before the season even kicked off, Hamilton was attracting controversy over use of a phone to take a selfie whilst on a motorcycle in Auckland. On-track, the Briton has been hampered by reliability issues, as well as clutch issues at start of races. However, his many collisions with other drivers has tainted his 2016 thus far and his radio outbursts in Baku will not aid his bid for a fourth WDC.

Nico Rosberg (1st, 141 points) Mercedes 8.5/10

The elegant German has had an exemplary start to what is his eleventh season in F1. Despite claims of nepotism, Rosberg has done what has been asked of him. However, his troubled run in Monaco, where his brakes were unresponsive, and his error-strewn performance in Canada, have left his critics doubting his true WDC credentials.

Sebastian Vettel (3rd, 96 points) Ferrari 8.0/10

The effervescent German has performed consistently, but has had a deeper struggle in his start to his second season at Maranello. Most of issues have stemmed from strategic decisions from the Ferrari pit crew, who need to up their game. Otherwise, 2016 will be a wasted season for the four-time world champion.

Kimi Raikkonen (4th, 81 points) Ferrari 6.5/10

In a season where the Iceman needed to counter his doubters, he has justified their scepticism. Strong runs to 2nd, 3rd and 2nd in Bahrain, Russia & Spain suggested a return to form, only for his crash in Monaco followed by anonymous performances in Canada & Baku, where tyre degradation and fuel consumption issues affected Kimi more than Seb, have left many calling for his retirement form F1.

Daniel Ricciardo (5th, 78 points) Red Bull 7.5/10

Oh Daniel, what could it have been? Three consecutive fourth places in the first three races was testament to the perseverance of the Honey Badger, but a lack of foresight into Red Bull’s pit decisions at Barcelona & Monaco costed him almost certain victories. The past two races have seen a dip in form, but the Perth driver’s solid racecraft and aggression will surely see him succeed big time soon.

Max Verstappen (6th, 54 points) Red Bull 7.0/10

At the tender age of 18, the flying Dutchboy became F1’s youngest race victor at Barcelona, albeit thanks to the Turn 4 incident between Hamilton and Rosberg. It fully justified his surprise promotion to the senior Red Bull team, but the pressure to deliver is firmly on his shoulders. His defence of 4th place at Montreal, ahead of an impatient Rosberg, was a wonder to marvel. However, he needs to cut out sloppy inconsistencies, such as his willingness to run too close to the barriers at Monaco.

THE MIDFIELDERS

Valtteri Bottas (7th, 52 points) Williams 6.5/10

Hmmm. Two seasons ago, everyone was raving about the tenacity of this young Finn, who impressed with solid runs to second places at Silverstone & Hockenheim. The past eighteen months, however, have seen glimpses of Bottas’s potential, but nothing exciting. The first eight races of 2016 have seen the Williams pit crew struggle with pit strategy, but one is left wanting more when analysing Bottas’ performances thus far.

Sergio Perez (8th, 39 points) Force India 7.5/10

The mercurial Mexican has often left pundits urging more of him throughout his F1 career, but it appears a change of attitude is finally reaping rewards. Previously maligned by his bosses at McLaren, Perez has shown a cool head and intelligence in the chaos at Monaco & Baku to deliver two more podiums to his resume. Rumours of a seat at Ferrari have abounded and it would be tough to rule him if his form continues.

Felipe Massa (9th, 38 points) Williams (6.0/10)

The Brazilian veteran blows hot and cold in tandem to the manner of his overall F1 career. Despite beating Bottas in the first three races, the best days of Massa are beginning to leave him behind and he has recently admitted this season is likely to be his last at Williams.

Daniil Kvyat (10th, 22 points) Toro Rosso 5.5/10

The reticent Russian has not recovered since his shock demotion from the senior team. Kvyat impressed many with his run to 3rd at Shanghai and his subsequent refusal to be intimidated by a disgruntled Vettel, but his double collision with the illustrious German provided amble reason for the trigger happy Helmut Marko to ditch him immediately. Kyvat has struggled to combat Carlos Sainz’s raw pace and commitment, leaving many to doubt whether the Ufa born driver has a future in F1.

Romain Grosjean (11th, 22 points) Haas 7.5/10

In a move which some saw as career-threatening, but others applauded for its audacity, Grosjean has made his decision to join Haas to pay off to huge plaudits. It may be a cliche, but the Frenchman and America’s new F1 team pulled off the dream start with 6th and 5th places in Australia and Bahrain. They further consolidated their championship position with 8th place in Russia, enabling Haas to sit in an impressive 8th place in the WCC. However, a slight dip of form lately has hindered Grosjean, but his struggles are vindictive of an experienced driver helping a new team to learn the ropes of F1.

Nico Hulkenberg (12th, 20 points) Force India 7.0/10

It is difficult to assess Hulkenberg’s start to 2016 in lieu of mechanical problems and bad luck, which have become a pattern of the German’s results recently. Many are astonished to think that Nico has not still not achieved a podium result to date in F1, but a few are growing sceptical of his true credentials.

Fernando Alonso (13th, 18 points) McLaren 7.5/10

“The Jacques Villeneuve of his generation” may be harsh to describe who many consider to be pound-for-pound F1’s best driver, but his results are mirroring a similar flow to the outspoken French-Canadian later F1 career results: frequent non-points finishes with an occasional top five result. Is his motivation still there? Does he still enjoy F1? Judging from his performances at Sochi & Monaco, it appears the answer to those questions is almost yes.

Carlos Sainz, Jr. (14th, 18 points) Toro Rosso 7.0/10

Emerging out of Verstappen’s shadow, the son of his eponymous former World Rally Champion father is finally making a name for himself. It is no surprise of journalists circulating rumours of a Ferrari move, but it is perhaps too soon for this radiant 21 year old hotshot. Five point finishes is solid start thus far and his beating of more experienced Kvyat is further enhancing his status of Spain’s next World Champion.

Kevin Magnussen (15th, 6 points) Renault 6.5/10

It’s tough to judge a driver who is driving in a solidly lower-midfield car, but it’s even tougher to judge his true credentials in comparison to other youngsters when it is indisputable that Magnussen’s teammate Jolyon Palmer is a dud. The Dane’s drive to 7th at Sochi was a great calling card of his defensive skills, but Renault’s focus on 2017 will leave many uncertain of what he can achieve when given a fully developed car.

Jenson Button (16th, 5 points) McLaren 6.0/10

The Frome veteran remains an ever-present in the midfield of F1’s grid, but it is hard to judge how good or bad Button has been when he is driving such an underpowered car. The truth is that his performances suggest Button to be performing at an acceptable but not particularly outstanding level. Three points finishes is okay, but when a young Belgian hotshot is eyeing your seat, it’s not or never.

Stoffel Vandoorne (17th, 1 point) McLaren N/A

Deputising for a stricken Alonso, who was still recovering from his Melbourne horror crash, Vandoorne displayed an awe-inspiring performance at Bahrain, even overtaking Perez without DRS (!). Alas, a few rookie errors costed him a higher finish, but much is expected of him. No marks have been awarded due to no other race appearances, so Stoffel will be focusing on Super Formula in Japan.

THE NON POINT SCORERS (Thus far)

Esteban Gutierrez (18th, 0 points) Haas 4.0/10

Why has this driver been awarded a THIRD season in F1? It begs belief to see such a lacklustre “talent” persist so long in the top tier of single seater racing, especially when real diamonds such as Vandoorne are forced to watch from the sidelines. However, the Mexican has outqualified Grosjean of late, but it remains to be seen whether this is a changing trend or a blip. Most likely the latter.

Jolyon Palmer (19th, 0 points) Renault 2.5/10

Many GP2 fans have lamented the exclusion of previous champions such as Davide Valsecchi & Fabio Leimer from F1, with many believing such an achievement automatically merits a seat in Grand Prix racing. Unfortunately, the most recent British GP2 champion is doing everything to undermine their argument. Rarely ever close to Kevin Magnussen’s pace, Palmer’s race performances have been erratic, none more so than his cringeworthy crash at Monaco whilst circulating behind the safety car. This added insult to his already tarnished record, where at Shanghai, Palmer joined Hans Hermann and Narain Kerthikeyan on the list of drivers to finish last in races where all starters saw the chequered flag.  A serious improvement is needed, because only a Herculean amount of sponsorship could lend a second season for this struggling rookie.

Marcus Ericsson (20th, 0 points) Sauber 5.0/10

The heavily remunerated Swede has turned the tables on his Brazilian teammate Nasr, but their relationship is souring rapidly. That comical collision at Monaco, which was a culmination of Ericsson’s frustration over Nasr’s refusal to allow him past, has been a harbinger of Sauber’s accumulating financial issues, which threatens the careers of their drivers and their existence as a team.

Felipe Nasr (21st, 0 points) Sauber 3.0/10

This time last year, everyone was speaking highly of this Brazilian’s performances, where he was lying in 10th in the WDC and Sauber flying high in 7th in the WCC post-Canada. Fortunes have turned dramatically this year and talk of Nasr taking his sponsors elsewhere have already begun.

Pascal Wehrlein (22nd, 0 points) Manor 5.5/10

The prognosis of Wehrlein’s true potential will be displayed as this season progresses, but he has been at the end of his less-than-well-regarded teammate Haryanto outqualifying him. His run to 13th at Bahrain promised much, but it appears the learning game was very much on with his embarrassing crash in qualifying at China being proof of the German’s lack of experience. At Baku, however, launching his car into 9th albeit by running longer than others, is vindictive of a giant-killing he may pull off later in his career.

Rio Haryanto (23rd, 0 points) Manor 3.5/10

Has he impressed? No. Has he performed above expectations? Yes, but only marginally. The perpetual state of austerity is a never-ending theme for backmarkers in F1, so the inclusion of drivers of this quality is mandatory. It is rumoured that the Indonesian’s sponsorship money only stretches as far as Hungary, so it is likely a new teammate for Wehrlein will appear at Germany. At least Haryanto can point to his qualifying lap to start 16th at Baku as a highlight of what is likely to be a heavily-truncated F1 career.