F1 season this year has been unpredictable with 7 different winners for 7 races, unlike previous F1 seasons. The new 2012 Pirelli tyres is the main contributing factor to this exciting season where almost every driver has a chance to be on the podium.
The next race will bring us to Valencia Street Circuit which is famous of its lack of overtaking opportunities like in Monaco except that Valencia Street Circuit is not so tight compared to Circuit de Monaco with quite a number of run off areas. Since the inaugural race in 2008, there were only 4 recorded overtakes overall with no overtakes in 2009. So, qualifying pace has a more important role in the race. The teams have to come up with the right race strategy to get the maximum championship points.
P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tyres will be used in Valencia. The teams are able to work on the tyres easier given that the circuit’s high temperature and high speed nature. However, most of the teams are still unable to crack down the mystery of the new tyres after 7 races and control the degradation. The performance of the teams are still not consistent and there is a possibility that the 8th different winner will be on the podium in Valencia.
Mercedes has prioritized to solve Schumacher’s reliability problems. He managed to complete only 2 races out of 7 races, which 5 of the races is due to technical failure. We have seen his solid performance in Monaco’s Q3 and if his car does not suffer any technical problems in Valencia, he might make his comeback next weekend.
Here are the results for the previous races this season.
So, what do you think? Vote in the poll and make some comments below.
Click here to read our analysis on the new 2012 Pirelli tyres.
The main thing I feel unhappy about is everyone has to drive well below a driver’s, and in particular, the car’s limits to maintain the tyres. I just question whether the tyres should play such a big importance, or whether they should last a bit longer, and that you can drive at normal racing car speed and not cruise around like we have a safety car. I’m not happy about the situation, let’s see what happens in future. If it was a one-off car issue, you could say it’s up to us to deal with it. But basically it is everybody, with maybe one or two exceptions, and if it is 80% of the field that has this problem, then maybe the tyre supplier should think about that. – Michael Schumacher, 2012
In 2012 F1 season, Pirelli has introduced new tyres with squarer profiles, increased grip, and softer, more competitive compounds with consistent degradation. Their objective is to ensure entertaining and unpredictable races all the way down to the chequered flag, with two to three pit stops per race, a stronger emphasis on team strategies, and reduced performance gap between compounds. Tyres are now playing a more important role in F1 races than ever before.
Formula 1 teams agreed that improving strategy calls will be the key factor to make the most out of the current Pirelli tyres. Teams have to understand the nature of the degradation, wear-based or thermal-based and make their race strategies work for them. Drivers are now more important in calling for a pit stop because they are the sensors in the car and they can sense when the tyres are past their useful life. Ferrari’s head of race operations Diego Ioverno says that the biggest complication this year is trying to time the first stop of the race because of the dangers of getting trapped behind slower traffic. Due to the reduced performance gap between compounds, the field has become more compact and it is impossible to not fall behind traffic now.
Getting the tyres into the right operating window is now more essential for success this year. Swiss commentator and former F1 driver Marc Surer said, “It’s been a question of who can make them work, and that is depending on a number of factors.” McLaren’s team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, agreed that exploiting the tyres is now more important than delivering improvements to the cars as Hamilton and Button struggled to match the pace of Red Bull and Lotus in Bahrain. Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane says they are still trying to understand how to exploit the tyres this year and make them last for as long as possible because there are still performance differentials that do not make sense. In Bahrain, the tyres appeared to be working for them and Red Bull.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery says that the tyres allow the best engineers and drivers to shine and produce exciting races. “The season so far has been fantastic. We’ve had four different winners and four different championship leaders. So the competition has never been closer and part of that is down to the fact that everyone has exactly the same opportunities and challenges with the tyres.” In response to the heavy degradation issues, he said “At the end of last year we had huge criticism for conservative choices and the races were boring. Make your mind up. We are doing what is asked.”
Quotes from teams :
McLaren’s Jenson Button : “We know we were slow (in Bahrain) but we don’t understand why.”
Mercedes’ Norbert Haug : “The challenge is how to use the tyres, how to set up your car.”
Red Bull’s Christian Horner : ”I think this year the tyre has dominated performance and I think it’s crucial to understand how they work.”
Lotus’ Eric Boullier : “It’s clear that the key for performance is the tyres.”
Former HRT driver Vitantonio Liuzzi : “The tyres are not blowing up, they are not blistering and it’s always a challenge for both drivers and engineers to set up the car properly and get the maximum out of them.”
So, what do you think about the new 2012 Pirelli’s tyres? Are they making races more exciting or just limiting the performance of the cars? Let us know!
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Tyre Trouble? by Podium Finish
The 2011 Grand Prix, due to be held on 13 March, was cancelled on 21 February because of the 2011 Bahraini protests. The race was canceled for 2011 after drivers including Damon Hill and Mark Webber protested. World champion racer Damon Hill called on Formula One not to reschedule saying that holding the race in the “blood-soaked” kingdom would be on a par with sporting tours that chose to play in Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.
In Bahrain, people have been protesting against the 2012 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Bahraini protests were initially aimed at achieving greater political freedom and equality for the majority Shia population. Bahrain’s Shia majority has often complained of receiving poor treatment in employment, housing, and infrastructure, while Sunnis have preferential status. Bahraini youths described their plans as an appeal for Bahrainis to take to the streets on Monday 14 February in a peaceful and orderly manner in order to rewrite the constitution and to establish a body with a full popular mandate to investigate and hold to account economic, political and social violations, including stolen public wealth, political naturalisation, arrests, torture and other oppressive security measures, and institutional and economic corruption. However, following a deadly night raid on 17 February 2011 against protesters at the Pearl Roundabout in Manama, protesters started calling for an end to the monarchy of King Hamad. Since then, Bahrain has been bitterly divided. A year on, protests still occur daily in Shi’ite areas, often ending in violence.
A month later after the cancellation of the 2011 Grand Prix, the Bahrain International Circuit fired twenty-nine employees who were suspected of sympathizing and supporting the protesters. Some employees said they were beaten and tortured by Bahraini police. 1600 government workers were also dismissed without any reasons. Bahraini police have been firing tear gas to the demonstrators and arresting them. According to statistics from Wikipedia, 64% of detainees or 1866 individuals have reported being tortured and at least 5 individuals have died as a result. As of 24 March 2012, the uprising resulted in about 86 deaths. The number of injuries is estimated to be 2908 on March 2011. The government is responsible to at least 34 deaths due to excessive use of tear gas.
Activists have intensified their campaign to push Formula One to cancel the Bahrain round of the world championship, slated for 20-22 April 2012 at the Sakhir, south-west of Manama. “We object to holding a sports race that belittles the sacrifices of our children and ignores our suffering and wounds. Do not tarnish the reputation of the respected auto sport with the blood of Bahrain victims.” On Twitter, a whole campaign has been launched against the return of the Grand Prix to Bahrain. “Stop, my blood is flowing” and “Race over blood,” were two slogans posted by activists on Twitter, where hash-tags like “BloodyF1″ and “NoF1″ generate scores of tweets.
Bahrain International Circuit chairman, Zayed R Alzayani, believes the return of Formula One to Bahrain will bring new hope and improvements to the region. Despite that, he said: “Whatever story we have tried to put out has always been overshadowed by conflict or political issues in the country, with people getting arrested, killed or injured, or whatever. But the worst is behind us now. There’s a genuine move towards progress, getting the country back on track. Everybody has suffered in Bahrain – the citizens, the businesses, and it’s time we find some hope, build on it and move back to where we were.”
After a visit to Bahrain in December, former Formula One driver and soon-to-be Sky Sports commentator Damon Hill is urging the return of Bahrain’s F1 race and acknowledging positive changes in the country’s government. “I listened to a lot of people there, including eye-witnesses and I believe they are making changes to become better. I understand the substantial economic significance of the GP for Bahrain and one could imagine the GP being a great fillip for Bahrain on the road to recovery.” However, with under 2 weeks to go, conditions do not seem to have improved, from the reports in newspapers, social media and on Al Jazeera TV. Hill emphasised he was not calling for the race to be cancelled – just for the F1 authorities to think about whether holding it was the right thing to do. “You don’t get 100,000 people risking their lives in protest for nothing.” Defending champion Sebastian Vettel and seven-time winner Michael Schumacher lately supported the return of F1 to Bahrain.
Bernie Ecclestone, the chairman of Formula One, says this year’s event, scheduled for April 22nd, will go ahead as planned although there will be no increase in security during the week of the event.
***UPDATE*** UK Labour MP Richard Burden is the latest public official to call for the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix not to go ahead, believing the country isn’t yet ready for the sports return.
***UPDATE*** Bernie Ecclestone insists that the race will go on unless being cancelled by the national sporting authority in the country. Teams are counting on FIA to do the right decision.
***UPDATE*** FIA has confirmed Bahrain GP will go ahead.
As Formula 1 fans, do you wish to see F1 back to Bahrain or do you prefer the race to be cancelled?? Sound off your opinions below!!!
Sebastian Vettel may be on the verge of clinching his second world title, a feat he could achieve here this weekend, but the narrative thread of this Formula 1 season is a long way from complete.
In fact, in many ways, when the 24-year-old Red Bull driver finally clinches the title, it will change little – it has looked inevitable from very early on in the season.
But here under the spectacular night-time skyline of Singapore, plenty of issues remain to be resolved.
Read the full blog posting here.
Over the years car manufacturers have come and gone from F1, given the mass exodus we had in 2008/9 with Honda, BMW and Toyota all leaving and with Renault downscaling to engine supply, you could be forgiven for thinking that we were entering another manufacturer free period, similar to that that existed in the 1970s when only Fiat (via Ferrari) and Ford (via Cosworth) were involved.
However we have recently seen a new phenomenon with car manufacturers such as Proton’s Group Lotus and Nissan’s Infiniti entering F1, not as constructors or even engine suppliers, but as sponsors. This is an interesting shift and one which seems to suggest a changing business model for the manufacturers in F1. It may be that both Lotus and Infiniti will become more involved, but currently they have decided the acquisition of a team or building, or badging, their own engine is not the way to go. Perhaps we will see more partnerships of this kind between car manufacturers and F1 teams – watch this space!
From Italy to India, David Goldblatt examines the ever changing face of Formula One.
At the Monza Circuit in Northern Italy, David discovers the triumphs, tragedies and the nostalgic old style glamour of a past motor racing era in a town that has been hosting the Italian Grand Prix since long before the arrival of Formula One. But now a global super brand, Formula One has changed.
David also visits the embryonic circuit on the outskirts of Delhi, which in October 2011 will become Formula One’s latest hi-tech venue.
In the ever evolving world of motor sport he questions whether Europe will be able to financially support the sport in the future and whether it matters that a country such as India, with a negligible history of motor sports, has been chosen to host Formula One?