Italian GP – UP & DOWN

The Italian GP was won by an amazing Sebastian Vettel. Let’s grade drivers.

Sebastian Vettel 10 – We have to applaud an amazing Red Bull and an extraordinary Vettel. They were flawless all through the race week end. The team made remarkable upgrades. I had the opportunity to see the new wing and I have to admit it was a real masterpiece. No doubt they have the edge over their rivals who will barely beat them. Only bad luck can slow them down.

Mark Webber 8.5 – The Australian drove a good race, even if he feels the weight of the upcoming end of his career in F.1. He held a very interesting press conference at Monza and, even if he was overtaken by Alonso, he attacked the Spaniard for all the time.

Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa 8.5 – Nando’s overtaking on Webber was stunning. Felipe drove a very good race, as well. The Brazilian took an excellent start and showed to be a faithful supporting driver. In the case Ferrari hasn’t taken a decision about the Brazilian’s future employment as a Ferrari racer, yet, the already-mentioned characteristic can be in his favor.

Nico Hulkenberg 8 – He drove an excellent qualifying race and a very good official race. He was one of the GP’s main protagonists. Sauber confirmed to be at ease in Monza, where last year he finished second ahead of Alonso.

Nico Rosberg 6 – Mercedes had probably hard times to run on the long straights of Monza circuit; however the German driver was very good at scoring points.

Daniel Ricciardo – Toro Rosso 7.5 – They were very performing both in qualifying and during the race. Both cars finished in the top 10. Ricciardo finished 7th, after fighting tooth and nail.

Lotus’s drivers – It’s hard to judge their performance. Their qualifying race was not so good, while Kimi set good chronos during the race, recovering positions. If we analyze the race after the accident, we would give them more than a passing grade; however, because of an awful qualifying race and a contact with Perez at the beginning of the official race, they only deserve a passing grade.

Lewis Hamilton 6 – The official race was ruined by a negative qualifying race. He recovered several positions during the race. That is a clear proof of how important a qualifying race is, especially on those circuits where the time gap between teams is only few tenths.

Jenson Button 6.5 – Despite his car is still not competitive; he managed to score one point.

Gian Carlo Minardi “Domenicali cares about keeping tranquility inside the team”

The summer is almost over, but the temperature in F.1 is still so high not only for what concerning the attempt to run-up to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, but also for what concerning the drivers’ market. As it has happened for some years, Massa’s seat is still red-hot and everybody is taking a watchful eye on Ferrari. We’ve heard many rumors about Raikkonen, who is supposed to team up with Fernando Alonso, who just replaced the Finn few years ago.

In a recent interview Stefano Domenicali has stated that the Brazilian F.1 racer is still at the top of the list for next season “I think that Domenicali is caring about keeping calm inside the team. That is the most important mood to continue to chase after Red Bull”, says Gian Carlo Minardi “ in this moment, except for Raikkonen and Button, there are no drivers whose level is as high as Massa’s or even higher. The Finn has got his best results alongside Lotus, as he is not under pressure like he was as a McLaren and Ferrari’s racer”, continues the manager from Faenza “I don’t want to bring into question Kimi as a driver, who is one of the best drivers of the Championship, what I bring into question is his character, which is so particular and difficult to handle.”

“So, if Felipe becomes more performing by the end of the season, he will continue to be a Ferrari’s driver. That could be the right choice in order to not to destabilize the team. I still think that at a certain point an experienced driver should team up with a rookie driver”, ends Minardi “but I don’t feel like disapproving Ferrari and Domenicali’s choice.”

Fernando Alonso has announced that he will “tweet” some news in the next days.

Gian Carlo Minardi: “Silverstone test days are Ferrari’s keystone”

We saw a very performing Ferrari at Spa-Francorchamps. Fernando Alonso poured out all the determination and anxiety gained over the past weeks on the Belgian track, displaying all his qualities.

Red Bull’s advantage on the Italian team is still big (46 points), but the Maranello-based team is going to the right direction. Silvertsone testing can be considered as the keystone, as Gian Carlo Minardi tells us “I hope that at Monza Ferrari will be as performing as it was at Spa. Last Sunday we had confirmation of the F.1 hierarchy, Red Bull is ahead of all other teams and Ferrari is determined to run after the Austrian team. The driver test run by the rookie test driver Davide Rigon, have given further evidence of how important tests are for a F.1 team. During the three-day-testing, all data gained by the three main divisions (track, simulator and wind tunnel) were ordered.

Monza and Singapore will be decisive for the season’s goals to be set “Ferrari has to make a great effort in order to decrease the disadvantage with its main rivals. The Italian audience can support the team in doing its best. The Italian team has returned to be the World Championship’s second team in Belgium, but it’s still behind Red Bull and Mercedes in the constructors’ championship. At this point, Massa’s contribution is needed”, ends Minardi.

Gian Carlo Minardi “Hamilton-Rosberg, the best pair”

Gian Carlo Minardi has supported Mercedes’s choices since the beginning of the championship, saying that the German team has the best driving pair in F.1. Among the top team only the German team has been able to bring both its drivers to the top step of the podium: Rosberg sealed a double win (Monaco and Great Britain) and Hamilton scored a win in Hungary, as compared to Ferrari’s double win scored by Alonso (in China and Spain) and Vettel’s 5 wins sealed in Malaysia, Bahrain, Canada, Germany and Belgium. Lotus’s Raikkonen sealed an only win in Australia.

After eleven GP and before the Italian GP, Mercedes is second on 235 points in the constructors’ championship; Red Bull is on 312 and Ferrari on 218 “Hamilton and Rosberg represent the well-matched driving pair of the whole Championship. Nico is a very fast driver, so he’s as good as his team mate Hamilton. Nico has managed to incite the Englishman into doing what is within his means”, says Minardi “the team made its choices and now Rosberg has to score as many points as he can for the Championship.”

It won’t be easy for Ferrari to threaten Mercedes and Red Bull only with Alonso “If Massa doesn’t wake up, it won’t be easy for Ferrari to take the second place or even threaten Red Bull who can now only rely on Vettel to fight for the win. Webber has unconsciously lost the strength needed to strive for top positions.”

After the win sealed at Spa, Sebastian Vettel echoed Minardi’s statement saying to the Bild that the two Mercedes’s drivers complement one another.

Belgian GP – The Report Card

After the Belgian GP, which was won by Sebastian Vettel, followed by a great Fernando Alonso and by the poleman Lewis Hamilton, let’s grade the main protagonists along with Gian Carlo Minardi.

Sebastian Vettel 9.5 – It’s not a 10 because he didn’t get the pole which was taken by Hamilton. Apart from that, he ran a flawless race. His car can’t be easily defeated, however he delivered good performances by himself. The difference between him and Webber is remarkable. He made the difference once again.

Fernando Alonso 9 – His race was flawless, however, the mistake he made in qualifying and, above all, his behavior, which makes the team feel more and more nervous, is disadvantaging him. In this moment we don’t need a sulky Alonso, especially after a good race such as the Spa GP was. That kind of behavior doesn’t suit my idea of racing. He doesn’t have to demonstrate anything to anyone, for sure, however I prefer on-track results rather than words.

Lewis Hamilton 8.5 – He did an excellent job in qualifying, going from zero to hero. He played his trump card in Q3. He did a great job along with Vettel, as they both managed to run one more lap. He suffered his car’s issues during the race.

Nico Rosberg 8 – He did what he had to do, that is scoring important points for the team. Thanks to the points he scored the team has secured the second place in the Championship. He was behind Hamilton at the beginning and set excellent laptimes. He suffered his car’s issues, too.

Mark Webber 5 – His mind is already on holiday. He’s now less aggressive and determined than he was in the past or at the beginning of his career in F.1. He’s about to end his career in F.1. Personally I don’t like that kind of statement at the beginning of the season. Perhaps he’s unconsciously less focused on racing.

Jenson Button 7 – He had a very good hard tyres management once again. The team’s strategy was very good. He’s a world champion and maximized the team’s resources in the best way.

Felipe Massa 6 – This mark is to encourage him. It would be necessary to know how technical issues affected his race. He was very good at overtaking Grosjean, but there’s a huge difference between him and his team mate in terms of performances.

Romain Grosjean 6.5 – Perhaps he felt the influence of the past season. He managed to score points although the week end was not so happy for Lotus.

Adrian Sutil 7 – He managed to score points thanks to a good performance just when finishing in the top 10 is getting more and more difficult.

Daniel Ricciardo 8 – He ran an excellent race and was supported by a very competitive Toro Rosso car. He didn’t make any mistake. He managed to make an excellent overtaking over Perez, even if the Mexican was not always correct. He’s showing great things, so he deserves to be a Red Bull driver.

Kimi Raikkonen 7 – He had troubles with the left front brake. He sorted out that problem in an excellent way, that’s why he’s a world champion. He gave up only at last, so he deserves to be rewarded.

Hungarian GP – UP & DOWN

After the Hungarian GP and the first win sealed by the Mercedes’ driver Lewis Hamilton, let’s grade the protagonists.

LEWIS HAMILTON 10 – He drove a perfect qualifying race. He had a perfect tyre management during the race, attacking and defending in the right moments.

KIMI RAIKKONEN 8.5 – Unfortunately his qualifying race was not so good, this is the reason why he doesn’t deserve to get a higher grade. He deserves a high grade for the race he drove, which was excellent. He pitted only twice and had an excellent tyre management. What a pity for the qualifying race.

ROMAIN GROSJEAN 7 – He deserves a high grade, I think he was penalized too much. If he had been another driver, the commissioners would have been more benevolent.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL 7.5 – He was confident to take the pole so he was a little bit nervous during the qualifying race. During the race he attacked Raikkonen in vain, accusing the Finn of being unfair. Considering Webber’s result, he would have given much more.

MARK WEBBER 8.5 – Despite bad luck always picks on him, he drove an excellent race; he recovered and scored important points.

FERNANDO ALONSO 6 – He barely gets a passing grade. To be honest, I didn’t expect him to make those pre and post-race statements. He managed to get a good result in an unlucky week end for Ferrari, but, you win and lose together with your team. He managed to score important points, but he doesn’t get a higher grade because of his statements. Massa doesn’t get a passing grade.

JENSON BUTTON 7 – He was able to manage a not-so-performing McLaren in the best way.

PASTOR MALDONADO 7 – In a very difficult day, he was able to score the first point. At this point of the Championship, it gets more and more difficult to get the points zone, as the five top teams (Red Bull, Mercedes, Lotus, Ferrari and McLaren) don’t want to give away anything. Second-tier teams will have to try to take advantage of each chance available, just like Pastor did, taking advantage of Rosberg’s withdrawal.


Hungarian GP- PREVIEW

With the Hungarian GP, the F.1 World Championship enters the hot part of the season. There are only 9 GP left after the Hungarian racing week end. Each of them is really important. After the summer break, with the Belgian and Italian GP to be held in Spa and Monza, standing could be outlined.

The Budapest-based circuit looks like a kart track, where overtaking is really a difficult task, even if there will be two DRS zones. Every single mistake is paid twice at the Hungarian circuit. The Hungarian GP will be run after the three-day-test session at Silverstone and new tyres will make any prevision even harder. The Pirelli will provide all teams with tyres which have 2012 season tyre shoulder and 2013 compound. I don’t think it will change anything in terms of forces involved, anyway it will be a further matter of uncertainty.

As we saw in Silverstone, the Red Bull continues to deliver strong performances, but also Ferrari ran lots of km and gained important data to develop the F138. Rigon did a great job and Massa delivered good performances. Mercedes did a good job, as well. The German team could be one more challenger for the victory.

Qualifying will be very important in Hungary, anyway many factors can influence the race, so we won’t have a foregone conclusion. The laps to run are so many and drivers will probably have to pit more than expected because of high temperatures. A sort of lane is usually created on the track and drivers will have to try not to go outside that in order to avoid losing grip. Strategy will play a key role, so it will be necessary to drive a perfect race to get good results.

We’ll see which team has been the best to try to bridge the gap with Red Bull, which delivered excellent performances even at the Nurburgring. The more the Championship goes ahead, the harder it will be for the second-tier teams to enter the top 10. This was clearly displayed by the German GP standing.

German GP – Up & Down

Even the ninth round has finished. Let’s take some votes on the German GP’s main protagonists.

PIRELLI 7 – After last week’s great issue, the supplier was able to find a solution to a ridiculous technical situation. They hadn’t any problem this time. However I’m still skeptic about the changeableness of tyre behavior; I can understand the difference between different types of compound, but I cannot understand the reason why tyres behavior changes so much whenever the temperature of the asphalt changes a little bit. I don’t think it’s the right way to make a GP more spectacular.

Sebastian Vettel 9 – There isn’t much more to say. He can always make the most of an excellent car and he was able to recover from Silverstone’s whitewash. Webber was very clever, as well. The Australian was able to respond to the problem he had during pit-stop in a very good way. He recovered several positions and scored points, showing he can make it onto the podium.

Raikkonen 8.5 – Excellent GP both for him and for the Lotus.

Romain Grosjean 8 – He was a good aggressor and team man. He gave way to his team mate.

Fernando Alonso 7.5 – This mark is only for Alonso, not for the Ferrari team which is in trouble at the moment.

Jenson Button 7 – He showed he is able to give the best of himself, making the most of his McLaren which is not yet at the top. The team can be a dangerous outsider also in Hungary, where temperatures will be so high.

Sergio Perez – Nico Rosberg – Nico Hulkenberg – Daniel Ricciardo 6 – The racers who deserve this mark the most are the Toro Rosso’s driver Ricciardo, who drove a very good qualifying race and the Sauber’s German driver who scored one point.

German GP – Preview

The German GP, to be held at the Nurburgring in the coming weekend, will be run in the season’s crucial moment, only a few days after the British GP at Silverstone. It will be so difficult for the teams to make upgrades. In Germany the Pirelli will bring new compounds which will have unknown results. No doubt it wouldn’t have been possible to use the same tyre used at Silverstone, because of their technical issues and I’m sure the Italian supplier will supply teams with the already-tested tyre which were used in the past season (Soft and Medium), even though cars development has been remarkable in the last few months, especially from the point of view of the downforce.

The Ferrari will have to reverse a difficult situation both in qualifying and during the race, as, besides Alonso’s talent and good performance in the last GP, the performance gap between the Italian team and Red Bull- Mercedes was still remarkable, as shown by Webber’s recovery. The Red Bull still remains the reference car and the car to defeat. Red Bull and Mercedes will fight for the pole and I think the Ferrari can achieve good results, as well.

Great attention will be focused on two outsiders such as the Toro Rosso and the Force India, who showed to be able to take some important points off the top teams. The Lotus will have to take a step backwards after the introduction of a new damping, which has given the team the same competitiveness it had at the start of the season. As far as the weather is concerned, in Germany temperatures are usually low.

MEMORIES. The Nurburgring reminds me of great moments. We took part in the F.2 covered-wheel final race and we took an amazing 2nd place with Nannini, after a beautiful bagarre with the BMW-March. In that race Nannini crossed the line having only 3 tyres left, because of a clash which drove him off track.

In a difficult 1999 F.1 season, we managed to take a 6th place with Mark Gené. We would have achieved a double success, as, thanks to excellent strategies, flawless pit-stops and weather changes, Luca Badoer was making a fantastic comeback, so he deserved the podium. Unfortunately just few laps before the end, a gearbox issue caused an oil leak, forcing him to stop his car trackside. It was one of those races in which we went from hero to zero. It would have been a great result and maybe we would have changed the history of the Minardi Team.

In its 600th GP the Williams almost scored its first points, finishing 11th and 12th. To be honest, I hoped they finished in the top 10 to make that day even more special for them. I want to congratulate Frank on his efforts to develop his team. I wish him to become again one of the F.1 Championship main protagonists.

Hands off the Young Driver Tests

It’s Gian Carlo Minardi’s reprimand toward the people who want to replace the three-day rookie test session scheduled for July 17th to 19th at Silverstone, with a tyre test session.

After the blow-outs which affected the result of the British GP, the F.1 main actors thought about replacing the three-day- rookie test session with a session dedicated to tyre development.

We don’t have to forget that the test days dedicated to the young drivers were born with the aim of testing and valuing the most promising young drivers, putting them to the test behind the wheel of a F.1 car on a top-tier category’s track. That is a very important stage for all the drivers who strive for the F.1 and fight every weekend to win a race or a Championship in the preparatory series “ The situation we’re living today in F.1 is a consequence of the few tests made and tyre approval only after few tyre test sessions under weather conditions which were so different from those we’re experiencing in this period of the year”, says Gian Carlo Minardi “That being said, I don’t agree with the request of replacing the rookie test with tyre tests. In this moment we cannot afford to lose the chance to see young drivers in action behind the wheel of a F.1 car only because some regulation’ mistakes have been made to bring the cost down”, warns the manager from Faenza who has built his career supporting young drivers’ professional development “How much does  the “tyre-gate” cost in terms of image and economic loss? Maybe more than some tests planned to support single-seater and tyre development”

As an answer to some teams’ request, Charlie Whiting has said that the proposal will be taken into consideration. The FIA and the Pirelli have arranged a meeting for Wednesday to find a solution before next race, to be held at the Nurburgring (in 7 days).

Sunday’s blow-outs are a very important signal for safety. A tyre’s blow-out at 300 km/h can cause bad consequences for a driver and Adrian Newey points the finger at those teams which didn’t want to change compounds “In this moment teams are blaming each other about their influence on Pirelli’s decision to continue to use the same compound. I think Pirelli, one of the biggest tyre manufacturers all over the world, had informed on time the FIA about what was happening and all the problems to be faced. At that point the FIA should have automatically approved new tyres to ensure safety. In this way, all the arguments about the matter would have been called to a halt and the unanimous approval to proceed would have not been necessary”, ends Minardi.

British GP – UP & DOWN

With the end of the British GP, let’s take some votes on the GP’s main actors.

English Audience 10 – The English audience was fantastic throughout the weekend. I think that English people set the seasonal record attendance. They behaved in a very good way and always clapped their hands to the race leader.

Nico Rosberg 9 – After getting the first row on Saturday, the German driver managed to treasure each chance: from the yellow flags to the safety car. It took a bit of fortune to take the win. It always takes fortune in every race, so that will be the icing on the cake.

Sebastian Vettel 8.5 – He was one of the main protagonists until the gearbox failed. He took a great start.

Lewis Hamilton 8.5 – The Mercedes’ Englishman drove an excellent race after taking a stunning pole. Unfortunately he was one of the tyre blow-out victims.

Fernando Alonso 8 – He didn’t become discouraged after the problems he had throughout the weekend, finishing a hard-fought race. He got an unhoped third place after driving an unlucky qualifying race.

Mark Webber 7.5 – He made a fantastic recover, but he took an unlucky start.

Felipe Massa 7 – This is not his ideal season. After taking an excellent start, a tyre issue ruined his race. He didn’t lose heart and scored important points for the team.

Drivers of Toro Rosso and Force India 7 – They drove an excellent qualifying and official race. They confirm to be excellent outsiders and preserve their position in the standing.

Lotus 5 – They made a heavy strategy error again, which deprived the team of scoring points. No doubt Kimi would have deserved to get a better result.

FIA and Pirelli 3 – The vote could even be lower. It is always said to take care of safety, but in this case, there was lack of safety. The Federation has the right and duty to intervene when safety is jeopardized. There was lack of safety on Sunday. Vergne’s accident at 300 speeds per hour could have had dramatic consequences. Pirelli has to protect its image and drivers’ safety in a better way.

Webber to qui F.1 at the end of the season

A few hours before the Silverstone GP begins, people are working hard to get the cars well prepared to make Friday’s free practice session to officially mark the beginning of the F.1 Championship’s 8th round. Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes are favourite to win, but also Lotus and Force India shouldn’t be underestimated, as they are such good outsiders, ready to seize every single chance.

Over the past few hours Mark Webber has announced that he will quit F.1 and Red Bull at the end of the season to join Porsche’s new Le Mans sportscar project LMP1 “It’s an honour for me to join Porsche at its return to the top-tier category in Le Mans and in the sports car World Endurance Championship and be part of the team. Porsche has written the history of motorsport as a car manufacturer and stands for outstanding technology and performance at the highest level.”

The Australian made his debut in F.1 in 2002 alongside the Minardi Team, driving the Minardi PS02. In his homeland he finished 5th, getting all the Minardi Team’ fans very excited.

I knew about Mark’s decision to quit F.1, we had already announced that in our website. I think he quits F.1 in the right moment. Taking part in the LMP1 races alongside Porsche doesn’t mean he will be downgraded, on the contrary, it’s a good prize to his career. He has always demonstrated to be an excellent driver and I think he will continue to demonstrate it even in this new adventure. They will have to pay attention to Audi and Toyota. The 2014 season will be full of sport challenges”, says Gian Carlo Minardi.

After scoring 2 points alongside the Faenza-based team, Webber moved first to Jaguar then to Williams and Red Bull, where he arrived in 2008. The English team will celebrate its 600 GP starts at Silverstone and Pastor Maldonado feels confident of scoring his first points: “I’m proud to be part of this historic moment for my team. Silverstone is one of my favourite circuits. It has a lot of character. Low temperatures will play a key role on front tyre degradation, so it will be very important to set a good strategy. We have also to consider that the new part of the track is with fewer grips. Our goal is to finish in the points zone and make this event even more memorable for the team”, says Pastor Maldonado.

Ferrari’s Team Principal is confident and ready to recover. In the past season Alonso sealed a win in Silverstone “Our goal is to bridge the gap with the top position in the next races. I think we’ll be very competitive in Silverstone: we’ve been competitive here also in the recent past, but we know that many causes could play an important role. Tyres? Tyre management will depend on weather conditions and temperatures. The team is well concentrated: we know we have to get a good result, but we’ve already accustomed to this kind of pressure.”

In the run for the pole position, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg can bother Sebastian Vettel “It’s always special to race at Silverstone. It’s my home race. We’ve had a long break between the Canadian GP and the British one, so I’m looking forward to get back behind the wheel. I like the British track very much and I think that, since there are high speed corners, it will be very important to find the right pace”, says Hamilton “We’ve made some steps forward and are working to the right direction. We look forward to a great weekend.”

“Silverstone is our home race, so we love this weekend. The track is completely different from the one at Monaco and Montreal, here there are many quick corners. I don’t know how our car can react, what is sure is that tyre will undergo weather influence. The atmosphere you live is always special at Silverstone and it will be so good to share the motorhome with the other drivers. We’ll arrange a big barbecue”, says Nico Rosberg.

Williams – Sauber, from outsiders to bit players

After a 2012 satisfactory season, in which they finished sixth and eighth, Sauber and Williams were expected to be the 2013 F.1 season most challenging outsiders. In the first part of the 2013 Championship they didn’t fulfil expectations and soon turned to be bit players.

After 7 GP, the Swiss team has scored only 5 points and has taken the eighth place in the standing (thanks to Hulkenberg’s eighth place in Malaysia and China) behind Force India (51 points), McLaren (37) and Toro Rosso (20). The English squad and its drivers Maldonado and Bottas are ninth; they have scored no point, so far

“ When you’re a second-tier team fighting on the edge of few tenths to try to finish in the points zone, it’s so easy to pass from running an exciting season, as it was last year, to deliver less exciting performances”, says Gian Carlo Minardi “In my opinion, the Hinwil-based team has suffered Perez’ change to McLaren in terms of financial resources rather than performance. What is more the team lost some technicians.  All these circumstances led the Sauber to fight for lower positions in the standing. Williams is experiencing a very important re-organizational stage. So, I think it will take one year time for them to recover. They’ve chosen a young driver like Bottas, who gave the team the second position in Canada. He’s a performing driver, however he still needs more time. Talking about Maldonado, there is to say that, even though he makes fewer mistakes than his team mate, he’s not 100% performing, yet. Furthermore, I don’t know how much he can be helpful to the team for car development. The news expected for the next season don’t help, as it will be so difficult for them to carry out the 2013 project and the 2014 one at the same time. Next season is getting closer and closer”.

What is more, the great development of two second-tier teams like Force India and Toro Rosso, makes the situation even more complicated “The Indian team is preserving the fifth position in the standing, giving hard times to McLaren and Toro Rosso. The team showed its competitiveness both during the official race and in qualifying, finishing almost always in the points zone”, ends the manager from Faenza.