Early Form Guide for the F1 Season

March: I have to admit that before the Melbourne GP, I was very sceptical about this year’s F1 season. It really looked like Red Bull were in a class of their own, not only after winter testing but also on Friday after the first free practice sessions. They never looked like they were trying particularly hard during the tests and when it came to the first race weekend, the pace they showed straight out the box was very ominous for the rest of the pack and indeed for everyone watching.

The common consensus on Sunday afternoon was that if the two Red Bulls got to the first corner first, then nobody was going to see them again but on lap 3 we had a bit of a eureka moment. Felipe Massa set the fastest lap and it became clear that the Ferrari’s had genuine pace in the race. By lap 6, Kimi started to close on the leaders and all of a sudden, the Melbourne Grand Prix and indeed the 2013 F1 season came alive !

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The Circus gets Ready to Roll

February: The new season is nearly upon us. All across the globe, motorsport folk are heading backing to school as the winter break draws to a close.

Paddocks in Spain, Florida and Portugal are filling up with teams doing shakedowns and pre-season tests. Drivers are scrambling to get their deals done. The ones that have the deals in hand are sorting out their calendars, getting their kit organised, booking flights and finishing their last big push of winter fitness training. Engineers and designers are looking at their newest creations with nervous excitement – will the car be reliable, will it be gentle on its tyres, will the car be consistent, will the setup window be big enough for all circuits and most importantly, will the car be fast ? Mechanics are learning the nuances of their new cars – the spanner sizes they need are a bit different, the wiring looms need to be installed differently, the bodywork doesn’t quite fit, the driver’s need new seats to be made. Elsewhere, marketing teams are making their plans, PR guys defining their strategies and the sponsors are working on new ways to leverage their tie ups with the team. Truckies are making sure that all the new equipment will fit in the transporters. Team managers are ensuring that the motorhomes are in good condition and the new catering teams are prepared for the season ahead. So much to do… and time ticking away so quickly !

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A busy off season

January: For most racing drivers season normally finishes in October/November, be it F1 or WEC or Indycar. This is the time where we drivers get some time off to recover from the past season and plan ahead for the next year of racing as well as fulfill our commitments to the media and the sponsors. However for the first time in many years I found myself racing in one of the intriguing events that I have ever participated in. The Race of Champions is a unique concept that pits some of the best drivers in the world against each other in different cars. This was the first time that India has been invited for the year ending event and was fantastic experience for both Narain and me. Winning the ROC Asia was harder work than we thought to be honest but that made it more satisfying. It came to a point where every race was a decider and crucial to the final outcome. The biggest challenge in the ROC was jumping out of one car and straight into another. It required us to be able to quickly reset their brain and re-focus into a new driving style.

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Crazy end to a crazy season - Brazil

November 27, 2012: What a crazy end to a crazy world championship that was !! Brazil has thrown up some crazy races in the past and the world championship has had some crazy deciders but last weekend's race has to be one of the best. Mind you, i still think Bernie was sitting with an on-off switch for the rain to make it entertainment...

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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

November 07, 2012: The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was one of the best races of the year ! I was on commentary duty for Espn - Star Sports over the weekend and have to say i needed a bit of a lie down after that race. The circuit facilities in Yas Marina and the organisation of the event are second to none but the circuit itself isn't the best layout for racing, or a particularly outstanding layout to drive. The previous races haven't really been classics for overtaking or racing but this year's race fully made up for that !

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Momentum is such a valuable thing

October 10, 2012: Winning a championship in any form of motorsport requires speed, consistency, reliability and a slice of luck. There are plenty of uncertainties that come up, plenty of unpredictable events and enough twists and turns that make it hard to predict the outcome. One thing is certain though – momentum can go a long way to helping a team or driver secure a championship.

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Seb’s turn for a slice of luck

September 26, 2012: There’s no doubt that Sebastian Vettel’s second win of the season was largely thanks to the gearbox failure on the Mclaren that was 3 seconds up the road from him on lap 23, but after losing a pretty well assured victory in Valencia a few months ago, you couldn’t really begrudge him of this bit of good fortune.

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Mclaren on a roll

September 11, 2012: Lewis Hamilton’s win in Monza was utterly dominant. A word we have probably used only once before this season – at Spa when his team-mate Jenson Button cruised to victory. Three wins in a row at high, medium and low downforce circuits show that Mclaren are clearly the team on a roll at the moment. The two British World Champions locked out the front row and if not for Jenson’s non-finish, looked set for a 1-2 in the race as well.

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What might have been !

September 6, 2012: The Belgian Grand Prix further built the case for what is one of the most confusing World Championships in F1 history ! Four races ago, Jenson Button was in the midst of a real slump. The 2009 World Champion was struggling for pace in qualifying and even in the races where his tyre management skills should’ve been helpful, he looked like he was in big trouble.

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The Hungarian Grand Prix

August 3, 2012: The Hungarian Grand Prix wasn’t the all action thriller that we’ve been spoilt with this year on numerous occasions, although to be fair, the Hungaroring isn’t really renowned for overtaking in the dry anyway ! I remember having a GP2 race where I went from 14th to 6th on lap 1 and then that was it for the rest of the day….

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The German Grand Prix

July 27, 2012: The German Grand Prix was a bit of a hark back to the ‘pre-Pirelli era’ with the top guys locked in a cat and mouse game under supreme pressure but without the dramatic peaks and drops in performance that we’ve seen at other races. It was great to watch three top drivers with 5 World Championships between them perform at their best – and I do believe we saw all three of them at their best this weekend.

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The Le Mans 24 hour event

July 6: The Le Mans 24 hour event is unlike any other in the world of Motorsport. The big story may be all about the final two days but in reality, it’s a fortnight of work building up to a very long twenty-four hours at the end of it.

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