Monaco GP – Preview

I’ve experienced so many races in Monaco in my whole life, but unfortunately I’ve never experienced Montecarlo’s night life. I spent my days and nights at the box, as we used to have dinner with friends and sponsors in our Motorhome on the harbour.

The F1 GP in Monaco has always been an exciting racing week end both for specialists and for enthusiasts, who have the chance to be so close to cars. The atmosphere you have the chance to experience in Monaco is never experienced anywhere else. Despite the crush barriers that make you feel like being inside a cage, you feel you can touch cars with your own hands. You just tremble with the engines. People have the chance to get so close to teams’ Motorhomes and see their idles. It’s really incredible.

This racing weekend has many unknown matters, which are mostly linked to soft and super soft tyres and to the absence of a leader. Many drivers will make us live an interesting racing weekend. Ferrari showed to keep a faster pace during the race, but the team will have hard times if it doesn’t have a good qualifying race, where it’s so easy to make some mistakes. On the other side we have a Mercedes which is so good in qualifying on soft tyres. If they manage to get the pole, they’ll drive a good race at least until the first pit-stop. I’ve heard they almost solved long run issues. Then we have a very competitive Lotus and a Raikkonen who could be a dangerous threaten for rivals. We don’t have to forget Red Bull even if it complained about Pirelli tyres so much. I don’t agree with Pirelli’s decision to change rubber just in the middle of the racing season. I do agree with Lotus and Ferrari. Common consent would be needed to change technical regulations.

Among outsiders, the most dangerous is Force India. The Indian team could score some important points. McLaren hasn’t displayed its maximum potential, yet. Due to its features, the Montecarlo street circuit requires a high downforce level, while a car’s total weight is less important since the most important thing is to finish the race. Cars will be modified to prevent clashes.

Let’s hope weather won’t affect on track performances. At this point of the season teams are working hard to get ready for the second half. 2-3 pit-stops are expected. It’s a short track and the asphalt is non-abrasive and neat. Pirelli tyres performance has always been so good in these circumstances, even if one of the most important things will be to choose the right moment to pit.

Spanish GP – Up & Down

Together with Gian Carlo Minardi, let’s take some votes on the Spanish GP.
Fernando Alonso: 10. – No doubt he’s top of the class. He prepared for the event by analyzing GP2 races and taking a walk around the track. He made an excellent pass which will go down in history. He’s a step ahead of any other driver and won the Spanish GP, driving a car which has a good potential during races but it’s not the best car in the Championship, yet.
Kimi Raikkonen: 9. – He drives his car in an excellent way and has a very good tyres’ handling. His cold-heartedness makes him be the driver who has to be defeated.
Felipe Massa: 8. – He was seriously penalized in qualifying. He scored a podium finish starting from 9th and he drove an exciting race. He will help Ferrari so much. He’s leaving hard times behind him.
Nico Rosberg: 7.5- 8. – In qualifying he kept Hamilton behind him for the second time. He finished 6th driving a hard race which was affected by tyres’ delamination. Let’s hope they’ll manage to sort out problems as soon as possible.
Paul Di Resta: 7.5. – Both him and the team are handling an excellent racing season and the fifth place in the constructors’ championship is a clear proof of the Indian team’s brilliant performances. They’ll have to go on like that.
Daniel Ricciardo: 6.5. – Good race, Toro Rosso is getting better and better to try to defend the 7th place in the constructors’ championship, but it won’t be easy at all.
Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber: 6. – When not all the pieces of the puzzle are in their right place, the team doesn’t handle a good strategy and the drivers lack that leadership power to guide the team. Anyway, they deserve a 6 because they’re so fast during practice.
Jenson Button: 6. – He’s so comfortable on hard tyres, just like his McLaren.
Sergio Perez: 6. – The Mexican driver has improved his performances over the past two races. He’s recovering, this is the reason why he deserves a 6.
Esteban Gutierrez: 6. – He deserves a 6 even only for setting the fastest lap during the race. Even when he raced in the GP2 Championship he alternated good races to on-track mistakes. We have to let him work. This is the reason why I always point out the importance for young drivers to take pre-season testing. He didn’t have the chance to prepare for the season at best. It would be unfair to vote him down without giving him the chance to show his potential.
Pirelli: NC. –  It’s time to revise the project. 80 pit stops per GP are too many. It’s also a matter of safety. 6-7-8 pit stops per car per race are really too many. Pit Stop time to change tyres is too short.

Spanish GP – Preview

The first European GP has always been very interesting, because all teams bring to the race many technical upgrades. The Barcelona GP will be raced after a three-week-break, during which teams had time to analyze all data gained from the first four GP.
Pirelli will make the Spanish weekend even more interesting by bringing to track a new kind of hard compound, which will be so similar to the one used in the final part of the past racing season. Since it’s a brand new compound, teams didn’t have the chance to test it during winter testing, so suspense will increase. As an exception, teams will also have an extra super hard tyres set at their disposal during free practices, so they can run more laps and test new upgrades.
I’m expecting to see Red Bull-Ferrari and Lotus fighting for the win. If Alonso hadn’t had a drawback in the last race, he could have fought for the first or second position. Lotus has been handling Pirelli tyres in a very good way, the car is so competitive and the Finnish driver is very good at managing it. Much attention should be also focused on McLaren and Mercedes. The Walking- based team handled good races on hard tyres, especially Button. They are this start of season’s little disappointment and I think they worked hard over the last few weeks to try to sort out problems.
Force India, which is ahead of McLaren in the overall standing, shouldn’t be underrated, along with Toro Rosso. They’re surpassing Williams which is in trouble at the moment. Even the Faenza-based Team will bring several upgrades to the race.

Spanish GP Schedule
Friday May 10th
10:00 – 11:30 Free Practices 1; live on Sky Sport F1 and Rai Sport 1
14:00 – 15:30 Free Practices 2; live on Sky Sport F1 and Rai Sport 1
Saturday May 11th
11:00 – 12:00 Free Practices; live on Sky Sport F1 and Rai Sport 1
14:00 Qualifying; live on Sky Sport F1 (13:00) and Rai 2 (13:45)
Sunday May 2nd
14:00 – Spanish GP: live on Sky Sport F1 (12:30) and Rai 1 (13:10)

GP Bahrein – UP & DOWN

Besides my personal support, the GP in Bahrein was stunning and exciting in every way. It was featured by exciting battles, overtaking (even between drivers of the same team), punctures, recoveries, technical issues and a lonely win.

In other word, a bit of everything happened in a hot Sunday where Sebastian Vettel gained ground and Lotus achieved the second place in the constructors’ championship, thanks to its two drivers who finished second and third. It was also a revenge race for McLaren and Lotus’ second drivers and Di Rasta’s performance won the audience’s applause and pushed Force India to the fifth position, ahead of the Walking giant. It was also a race during which Fernando Alonso showed his great strength again, recovering several positions despite lacking the DRS.

Given this premise, let’s grade drivers:

Fernando Alonso – vote 9. The two laps he ran with the DRS open were excellent. Despite DRS malfunction, he drove an amazing race, as well. He could have fought for the victory against Vettel. Despite the issues, the Ferrari’s driver scored four more points in comparison with the past season; this makes us hope for the best.

Sebastian Vettel – vote 8. The German driver took an excellent start, getting the better over Alonso and Rosberg. He started driving a successful race since the first few laps. Then he drove a “lonely” race, not being disturbed by rivals.

Paul Di Resta – vote 8. He knew how to make the most of his Force India and he will be soon in the hunt for a podium. He’s helping his team to make step forward. Thanks to him Force India classified 5th in the overall standing and it is the first among secondary teams.

Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean – vote 8. They finished behind Vettel, taking home important points for the Championship, without making any mistake and making the most of the material made available. They are playing gooseberry in the hunt for the title.

Lewis Hamilton – vote 7.5. His teammate got the better over him in qualifying. He recovered during the race showing talent, determination and experience until the last lap. He finished fifth.

Nico Rosberg – vote 7.5. He drove a super qualifying lap. His Mercedes continued to wear out tyres, this doesn’t support his on-track determination, causing long run issues.

Sergio Perez – vote 6. Surely we had fun seeing his shootout against Button, but in the next races he will have to calm down and clarify with Jenson. Some actions were on the edge of the fair play.

Mark Webber – vote 5. He was not determined on track and seeing what his teammate is able to do, finishing seventh is not so much.

Felipe Massa – NC. Two tyres’ punctures are too many. Punctures’ causes should be analyzed  and so much work still has to be done for the future.

GP Bahrein – Preview

Chinese GP – UP & DOWN

The Chinese GP in Shanghai was featured by overtaking, battles, car collisions between drivers and several mistakes made especially by Red Bull. Ferrari and Fernando Alonso scored the first win of the season, recovering from the Malaysian weekend; Lotus and Mercedes finished on the podium thanks to Raikkonen and Hamilton.

FERRARI – Alonso: vote 10. The weekend was flawless in all respects. A concentrated Fernando Alonso delivered an excellent strategy and pit-stop performance, as usual. He was calm and didn’t give anything to anyone. He put pressure on Hamilton since the beginning and overtook the Englishman on the fourth lap, delivering an offensive strategy. Massa: grade 6. This is a consolation mark for the performance delivered during free practices. The Brazilian driver tries to imitate his team mate but he always finish behind him. He only managed to finish sixth on 40 seconds. He has to do more than he did.

MERCEDES – Vote 8: last season the German team scored its unique win at Shanghai Circuit. After finishing third in Malaysia, Hamilton scored a podium finish again. Vote 8 to the English driver who is in a very good shape. He started from the front row and delivered an excellent performance during the race. The car is extremely performing on a single qualifying lap, but has to improve in the long run and has to improve tyres’ handling, as well.

MCLAREN – Vote 7 to the team and Jenson Button. The Englishman said that the Chinese GP would have felt like something of a reboot of the start for the team. He finished fifth which is a good start of season. He couldn’t do anything more. He has to take on the responsibility of the Team’s development. Vote 4 to his team mate Perez. Besides being in troubles with the car, his on-track behaviour was extremely incorrect. Especially with regards to Kimi; the Mexican driver should have been penalized by FIA commissioners.

RED BULL – Vote 5 to the team: weekend full of mistakes maybe caused by the diatribe aroused after the Malaysian GP. Vettel made strategy mistakes in qualifying. Vote 6 to the German driver. Gasoline mistakes for Webber. This is the second time. This is totally unacceptable for a team who won 3 constructors’ championships. The Australian driver lost a wheel, so he was penalized at the pit-stop. Vote 7 to him because he managed to handle such a negative situation in a good way. Unfortunately I think hard times are not over and it will take so much time before harmony will be restored inside the team (if it will ever be restored).

LOTUS – Vote 8. After scoring a win in the first GP, the team scored a podium finish again thanks to Raikkonen. Vote 9 to the Finnish driver. He was stunning. Despite car issues caused by a car collision with Perez, the Finnish man was able to hold his ground against Fernando. He will be a troublesome driver for his rivals and an aspirant to the world title. Grosjean scored two points, vote 6 to the Frenchman who helped the team to preserve the third position in the overall standing. He although suffer a very fast Kimi.

TORO ROSSO – Vote 8: the Italian team is the Chinese weekend’s big surprise. Q3 in qualifying, Ricciardo finished 7th and the team classified 7th in the overall standing. Let’s go on like this. The team can also strive for the 7th place in the constructors’ championship which I think is the aim of the Team from Faenza.

FORCE INDIA – Vote 7. The Team has the same points of McLaren, but the budget available to the Indian team is lower than the one made available to the English Team…The season started in a good way. This bodes well for the future. Sutil was unlucky throughout the weekend, but Di Resta didn’t give up and managed to take home some points. Vote 6.5 to the Scotsman who was a bit too much aggressive towards his team mate.

SAUBER – Vote 6. The team managed to take home one point, but the team still has to work hard if they want to revert to the level of the past season. Hulkenberg is alone, as Gutierrez still has to work hard if he wants to help the team. Vote 4 to him.

WILLIAMS – Vote 5: the team is going lower and lower. It doesn’t work like this. Expectations were different at the beginning of the year. Drivers and team are not able to move up the standing. Three races, no points scored; they still have to work hard to improve performance and reliability. Vote 6 to drivers as a consolation mark.

As far as MARUSSIA and CATERHAM are concerned, they progressed, but they still have so much work to do. Jules Bianchi tries to perform miracles with the car. He‘s gaining experience for the future.

Chinese GP– Everyone in a chase for Red Bull

The countdown for the Chinese GP, where the third race of the F1 world Championship will be run, has already started.  Almost three weeks after the Malaysian GP, teams and drivers worked hard in the factory to get well prepared for the Chinese challenge and try to get the better of Red Bull whose drivers finished the Malaysian GP on the podium, along with Lewis Hamilton who made it onto the podium for the time.

While Helmut Marko says that “we won’t give team commands any more”, the Scuderia will have to try to forget about the Malaysian weekend, where it only managed to finish fifth thanks to Felipe Massa, after Alonso’s premature withdrawal.

“In the first two races we kept up a good pace on both kind of rubbers – explains Ferrari’s Technical Director Mr. Pat Fry to website – but our qualifying performance it’s still not so good, so it’s to this direction that we’ve focused our work. Until now, we’ve focused on long-run so much, even though this year they’re not as long as they were before because of the increasing number of pit-stop during each race. The qualifying performance has not been put to the side, but we know that we can still make improvements to that direction. There are still many aspects we have to understand about the new car and we’ll try to make the most of it.”

When he’s asked to evaluate the opportunity the new F138 has to be successful in the next GP, Mr. Fry’s reply is cautious: “The circuit of Shanghai is a mix of different corner types and a 1.2 km straight. Will the track get on well with our car? It’s too early to say it, as there are too many unknowns to make an objective evaluation. For example, this is the first weekend we’ll use the Pirelli soft compound, along with the medium. I think we’ll have a clearer picture only at the end of the race, as we’ll have more details about how all the tyres compare to one another. So to some degree, Shanghai will be another learning weekend for all teams , as everyone will get new feedbacks for the first time, but I’m not concerned, giving the fact our pace, relative to the other teams, was ok on all the tyre types we tried so far.”

“Even if we’ve done only two races so far – says Felipe – it was clear that the car was more competitive than last year. This means that the work we did on the F138 during over the winter has taken us to the right direction. The car has much more potential. I always want to be fighting for the win and, even though in the first two races it didn’t work out, our race pace was excellent. All I can say is that there are definitely more than two teams that are capable of fighting for the wins and the championship and our team is one of them. I’m so pleased to see that the car is moving forward in the right way and it’s delivering results on track that we expected when looking at data in the wind tunnel and in the stint at the simulator. We’re all well prepared for the next GP – reckon Felipe – all the updates we planned to bring to Shanghai after working on the simulator last week will be made available. I hope this translates into a further performance improvement on track. Shanghai is a very nice track with a variety of corner types and fast straights, so you definitely need a car that works well in the fast sections, but you also need it to have plenty of downforce to deal with the tighter turns. We can expect to see quite high tyre degradation, especially on the fronts, so strategies will deeply affect the final outcome. Massa’s high expectations regarding the third race are the following: “The aim is not only to fight for a lot more points, but also for a podium and hopefully to get on the higher step of the podium. The season has started in the right direction and it’s so important to set oneself higher targets.”

Great attention will be paid to the car manufacturing company from Stoccarda which just one year ago scored its first win with Nico Rosberg, after 57 years: “I have good memories her in China. I like this track so much and I have positive feelings going there with the car that we have at the moment. The team has been working so hard to develop our car. We’ve had a strong start to the season and I’m confident we will keep pushing hard. I hope to score good results in China and Bahrein.”, says Nico. It’s the same for his teammate Hamilton: “The first two races have been so interesting, we’ve got more than we had expected. We should keep pushing hard and work hard on car development. We have several upgrades to bring to China.”

Jenson Button’s start of the season was not so easy. The British driver hopes that the Chinese GP feels like something of a reboot of the start for him: “The Chinese Grand Prix almost feels like something of a reboot of the start of my season. Taking home two points from the first two races obviously wasn’t what we had in mind at the beginning of the year, but I think everybody in the team has picked themselves up and really attacked the task of addressing our car’s issues. We know where we’re losing performance, so I think we’re actually all looking forward to seeing just what we can achieve in Shanghai. As far as the circuit goes, I’ve always enjoyed racing here: our car has always performed well around this circuit and we’ve always seemed to be able to find a good balance between the slow stuff, the high-speed changes of direction and the drag-loss needed for the long straight. It’s a pretty good place for racing, too, because that straight offers such a good opportunity for slipstreaming and overtaking. I think we can have a pretty good race. The important thing for us is to hone our strengths and increase our understanding of the car.”

“In Australia and Malaysia – says Jonathan Neal, the managing director – we’ve made upgrades and we’ve shown to be capable to keep the pace of the first teams; we made more upgrades to be brought to China, some of them had already been planned, some of them were made to try to solve the problems found. Free practices will be so important, as through them we’ll have the opportunity to check the package’s feature. Anyway I think we’re going in the right direction, even though we’ll have a clearer picture only after the race. Although we had some problem at the beginning, I think we’ll be able to fight for the title, ok, there is still a lot to do, but I think we have to trust in our potential.”

The Australian and Malaysian races were two different races for Lotus and Kimi Raikkonen, aiming for getting high positions: “Foreseeing what is going to happen in the next GP it’s always difficult. The car has different behaviours on different tracks. The E21 will have new elements to be brought on the Chinese track; it will be interesting to see what it’s going to happen in the dry. In Australia everything worked perfectly, while in Malaysia everything was much more complicated, even because of a car collision at the beginning of the race.”

Shanghai has a sad record: it was in China that in 2005 the long history of the Minardi Team into the world of F1 came to an end. The Team raced 340 GP over 20 years “In 2005 in China our long adventure in the world of F1 came to an end, after 340 GP. It was a very sad moment but there were no conditions to go on with our racing adventure,” says Gian Carlo Minardi.

GP China – Preview

In less than one week spotlights will be switched on the F1 world championship again. The Shanghai venue will be the third round of the season and it’s going to be an interesting racing weekend from a technical point of view.

In Shanghai we’ll see the Pirelli soft tyres (P Zero Yellow) making their debut in the championship. Soft tyres will be tested for the first time in different weather conditions if compared with the first two venues. Besides soft tyres, drivers will also use the already lapped medium tyres (P Zero White) to be used on a track which usually alternates dry conditions with wet ones. Teams have had two weeks to analyse the strategy, learn how to make the most of the Pirelli compounds and compare all data collected during the first two races.

As far as tyres are concerned, the Pirelli is willing to strengthen the tyres compound in order to extend their duration. As we saw during the Malaysian GP, pitting three times per car it’s too much and it’s so difficult to avoid making mistakes. Pit-stops are getting more and more dangerous, especially if we consider the pit-stop time which is shorter and shorter. Teams and mechanics are subject to a remarkable level of stress.

The car designed by Adrian Newey still remains the reference car, but they’ll have to sort out a problem regarding drivers’ management. I’m expecting the Ferrari to undertake an offensive strategy. The Malaysian event has to be quickly forgotten and they have to try to regain the lost ground.   Historically speaking, the car from Maranello has always been at ease with both compounds. We’ll see if Mercedes will deliver a good performance again or if the result achieved in Sepang was a bolt from the blue. It was just in China that one year ago Rosberg scored his first win.

Little reassuring voices are heard about Lotus, due to the critical economic situation. So, I hope teams will soon sign the new Concorde Agreement. The situation is quite critical and the 2014 is just round the corner. The debut of turbo engines will cause a remarkable increase in costs.

Those could be the ingredients for a weekend full of suspense, which will hopefully help us to better understand the quality of each squad.

Malaysian GP- Un & Down

During the Malaysian weekend we saw not only beautiful struggles between drivers and team mates, but also many pit-stop mistakes and much more…. Let’s try to analyse drivers’ performances and see who is up and who is down, before the Chinese GP.

RED BULL. The Austrian team has to deal with an inner problem, so they will have to be determined if they want to avoid bad consequences throughout the season. When a driver disregards a command, he has to be ticked off immediately. Positions had already been fixed. The command was clear. It was not the first time Vettel behaved like that. The team has a broaden concept of the race and, what is more, the point of the track where he overtook his teammate was very dangerous, considering also the fact he went beyond the white line which defines the track. I wonder what it would have happened if Bianchi, Bottas, Pic, Chilton or Grosjean were in the place of Vettel and Red Bull………..Would have everything ended up in oblivion or would have they been penalised? We will see during the season. I think the team took advantage of the weather condition.

MERCEDES. They made a great step forward. They finished 3rd and 4th, getting a result that only 8 days ago was absolutely unpredictable. They jumped up to the first four places of the overall standing. Brawn’s command makes us understand that the team has a good team spirit, so did Rosberg’ post-race statement.

MCLAREN. Their performances at Sepang blanked out the Australian hard weekend, showcasing that Button can get excellent results on hard.

FORCE INDIA. Unfortunately they had technical issues, because of which they couldn’t achieve good results. They can have the same issues even in the future, as pit-stops are getting faster and faster (the average time is 2 seconds). In such conditions it’s very easy to make mistakes and have issues. Anyway, the car behaved so well in qualifying and in the first part of the race.

LOTUS. Their performance level got down just a little bit; by the way both drivers scored important points.

FERRARI. It’s difficult to make an evaluation. Supposing that it was a driver’s decision, the team had to take over and command Fernando to pit. A wing has only a certain load resistance, so it was impossible for it to withstand all the laps required to avoid a further pit-stop. It’s a long championship and every single point scored is very important.  It was necessary to pit and try to recover.

SAUBER. The team recovered a little bit in comparison with the opening race. Hulkenberg delivered good performances, but we’ll see their further step.

 WILLIAMS. The team has too many issues. It’s non-comprehensive at the moment.

Gian Carlo Minardi: “I was deeply impressed by Alonso”

For Fernando Alonso the Malaysian GP, scheduled for the coming weekend, will not only represent the second race of the season, but also the achievement of 200 GP.

12 years have passed since that young Spanish driver (who was only 19) made his debut in the top category, thanks to Gian Carlo Minardi who, after seeing him racing, he wanted the Spaniard to run for his team. It’s just with the Minardi team that the Spanish driver made his debut into F1 at the wheel of the PS01: “I’ve always paid much attention to young drivers’ results, thanks to the support of a valuable staff. One of my contributors was Adrian Campos. After recommending me Mark Genè, who was a Minardi racer for two seasons, he made me focus on Fernando. I began to follow him and I was so impressed by his performances. It was clear that he was a step ahead of anybody else”, remembers Minardi.

In 1999 Fernando won the World Series by Nissan Championship and he had the opportunity to test a Minardi car at Jerez “As a tradition, my team usually raffled off a testing session to those drivers who won the most important Championships. That was the year of Fernando and other drivers. Despite the heavy rain, Alonso was able to do things a rookie driver had never done before. He just played with the car, so much so that in the third lap he had already set the best lap time, running 1.5 sec. faster than any other tester……At that point I understood that I was dealing with a completely different driver. So we negotiated for such a long time and, in the end, he finally signed a long-time contract with us.”

In 2000 he contested the F.3000 Championship with Astromega Team. He was successful, as in he finished second and scored a win in the last two races: “He began to work with us while he was contesting the F.3000 Championship. The most important test was at Fiorano, where he set incredible lap times so much so that he drew the attention of the Ferrari team. From that moment on, his reputation got better and better. Unfortunately we were in troubles and were thinking about selling the team. So we decided to put on the market Alonso’s registration which was offered to Flavio Briatore, as it happened before with Fisichella. According to the agreement, Alonso had to race either with the Minardi Team or with the Renault Team, he couldn’t race with other squads. In 2001 he contested 17 GP with us, running a successful season. The following year he was engaged by Briatore as a test driver.”

I immediately realised he would have become a successful driver and during his first season with us I stated many times he would have become the world champion. Now he’s about to contest the GP number 200, having two world titles under his belt. I hope he will win the third.

What’s Fernando best trait? “He’s always very concentrated and performing. His strength is to be able to run a race to the same level he runs in qualifying. That separates him from Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Webber. He has a broaden overview of the race, even without being supported by the radio or the timesheet. Happy anniversary Fernando!”, ended the manager from Faenza.  

Australian GP – Successful and unsuccessful drivers

The first race of the 2013 F1 racing season is over, now all eyes are on the Sepang International Circuit, where the second race will be held next weekend.

Teams and cars are on a trip to Malaysia, but we want to go back to the Albert Park and talk about drivers who deserved a glowing report and those who didn’t deserve it. We don’t have to forget that the Australian GP is an “anomalous” race; it’s a street circuit with nonabrasive asphalt and the weather can change within few hours. In fact, by mid-week the temperature was 45°C and cooled down to 15° on Sunday. Furthermore, since it was the “first day at school” for drivers and teams, they still have to learn how to use the new Pirelli compound. In the past season, it took seven races to see a double winner.

All the aforementioned items could have influenced the on-track performance. Only after some GP, we’ll have a more precise overview of the situation. What is certain is that we have 5 first actors who will strive for the world title and some outsiders like Force India and Williams, who can disturb their struggle.  We’ll see how many of them will continue to make car upgrades until the end of the season, considering that 2014 will be the year of the new turbo engine.

LOTUS (…and Kimi Raikkonen). They can drink Champagne, as they deserve it. Despite the car was less fast than before, the team managed to get a good result and made the most of the strategy. They’re not a surprise, considering also that during the past season they finished almost every race on the score zone. Kimi is a world champion, so he hardly misses points. The budget available for the team is lower than the one available to Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes. So, it will be interesting to see until when they’ll manage to make car upgrades.

FERRARI their objective was to finish on the podium in Australia. They’re now heading the world championship. Anyway, it is important to stay grounded. They’re very performing in the long run, even though they are not so good in qualifying. They didn’t miss a shot and I think we don’t have to blame Massa’s pit-stop. The chain of command inside the team has already been established. The second driver has to “sacrifice himself”, so the team’s strategy to delay Felipe’s pit-stop in order to make him pit only twice, it’s comprehensive.

RED BULL after holding the stage during free practices and qualifying, the situation suddenly changed. They were able to recover during the race, but later they slowed down their racing speed. Once again Webber had some issues in the starting stage. Team and driver will have to concentrate all their efforts to solve this issue.

FORCE INDIA they showcased to be the first among secondary teams, having enough strength to bother the 5 top teams, thanks to an interesting car. Along with Lotus, they played on the two pit-stop- strategy. They were successful in Q3 with Di Resta. On the contrary Perez didn’t manage to get the Q3.

MCLAREN the result achieved in Australia doesn’t mirror the team real skills. It will be necessary to wait until the next GP to see the necessary upgrades. In the past, Button showcased he could mange tyres very well. But it’s too early to judge their performances, as well as Williams’, which has many issues in terms of reliability and performance.

MERCEDES they still have many issues in terms of reliability. They moved team’s improvements to the background; Hamilton’s fifth place is good. The Englishman’s race was only compromised by the aggressiveness expressed towards Alonso. The Mercedes’ driver had to change his strategy as a consequence of tyres degradation. By the way, it has to be said that everybody has to look out for both of them, because Rosberg behaved like a leader.

This year championship will be a point struggle, so what is important is to seize every chance and avoid rivals to take over. This season is expected to be full of uncertainty, so let’s get ready to see some disruptions in terms of performance and winners.

Now, we’re heading to Malaysia, where the team will use a new rubber, the P Zero Orange hard, besides the usual medium. Weather conditions will be so different if compared to Australia; humidity and heat will change the situation. Sepang is a very fast track and the downforce level has to be higher than the one required by the Australian circuit (in Australia a low downforce was demanded). What is more, particular weather conditions such as high temperatures and showers will impact on everyone’s performance.

Bet on Melbourne – a winning Button

The first race of the upcoming season will start in a short time at the Albert Park. In few hours we will see the green light switched on at the Australian circuit, where the first of 19 GP will take place. In the past season, the McLaren duo, along with the Red Bull team started the racing season by getting a podium finish; Jenson Button won the race, Vettel finished 2nd and Hamilton 3rd.  The 2009 world champion was the first of 7 winners who would have won different GP throughout the season.

Even this year the English driver is considered to be successful at the wheel of the MP4-28. That is due to his way of driving, which is so respectful towards the Pirelli tyres, as declared by Gian Carlo Minardi to the website The manager from Faenza contested 21 world championships with his Minardi Team: “Jenson Button is the favourite driver among top teams, because in 2012 he showcased his ability in managing and using Pirelli tyres, especially medium and super soft, which will be used in Australia. I’m expecting drivers to pit at least 3 times. An exciting struggle will be undertaken by Ferrari and Red Bull to get onto the podium. The Australian GP will be full of uncertainty and in qualifying both Lotus and Mercedes could bring attention to them. After the first four races, we’ll have a more precise overview of the situation.”

The Australian GP meant happiness and regret to the Minardi Team, for the results obtained and for the ones missed: “For us, it was always an interesting GP, even because it was the last race before the beginning of the racing season. I have good memories, but sometimes bad luck was at our side like in 1989, when Martini qualified 3rd behind Mansell and Senna, after having had a wonderful warm up performance. Unfortunately our work was ruined by heavy rain, so we finished 6th, scoring one point. Before the Australian race we got important results, such as the 5th and 6th place in England, the 5th place at Estoril and set the best time at Jerez.

It’s a pity that only the first six drivers could score points. Maybe, things would have changed with a system like the one we have today…..For example, in 1985 – the year that marked the debut of the Minardi Team into F1 – we ended the season by finishing 8th at Adelaide, with the driver Martini. Nowadays it would have been a great result. Thinking about more recent events, in 2002 a budding Mark Webber finished 5th in the first race”, said also the manager.   

FOCUS Melbourne

Here we are. Winter is over, as well as the new F1 cars launch days and the 12-day-pre-seasonal testing. The teams checked the new changes to be brought on track for the upcoming racing season (or for the first races, at least), which is about to start at the Alberta Park in Melbourne.

While teams made all their evaluations and have all parts well checked, supporters and racing enthusiasts still have many unanswered questions: “How much gasoline was there in their tanks? What kind of tyres did they use? Did they push as hard as they could? And obviously……how is the new Ferrari F138?”

These are all good questions which are almost impossible to answer, as we think that teams played seek and hide with each other and tested all their upgrades separately. Sometimes they also raced on unbranded tyres and worked a lot on reliability.

Let’s start by telling some important points:

–          The new Pirelli tyres had a sudden and heavy degradation, so it will be very important to find the right moment for tyres change;

–          Compared with 2012, regulations haven’t changed so much and a technical programme has come to an end. That led teams to make their performance lever higher.

–          Talking about the Scuderia from Maranello, we have to say that the Ferrari team found a good match between the wind tunnel data and on-track data. This didn’t happen in the past racing season.

Let’s go step by step:

PIRELLI: as it already happened in the past season, the Pirelli tyres are the darkest horse of the upcoming racing season. During tests, tyres showed to have a sudden and heavy degradation, so drivers will probably have to pit many times each race. (according to the data collected in Barcelona, 4 or 5 pit-stops would be scheduled). Honestly, I’m wondering if it’s correct that all wind tunnel and on-track tests undertaken by teams in winter, were influenced by tyres degradation or performance.

FERRARI: they’re recovering from the past season shock. In fact, last year, timesheet data and car on-track behaviour were completely different if compared to simulator and wind tunnel test data. No doubt they progressed so much, but only in the first races we will see how much they progressed over rivals.

MERCEDES: they showed having their work optimised on a single qualifying lap and on super-soft tyres. Now, they have to demonstrate if they overcame the on-track and long run issues they had in the past season.

MCLAREN: it’s a balanced car. It is driven by a young driver like Perez and an experienced one like Button, who demonstrated to manage tyres so well in the past. This aspect could make the difference in the first GP and could be a winning surprise.

RED BULL: they’re the reigning champion; it’s impossible to decode feedbacks. This is the most scaring item. Their real potential is not the one displayed in Spain, and it’s also difficult to evaluate how tyres influenced car performance. Both drivers complained about tyres degradation, but this will be a common issue. They showed off self-confidence and set good times on hard tyres.

LOTUS: the new E21 is a top team car, for sure.  Raikkonen’ positive comments on the car mean that the Finnish driver appreciates his car potential so much. He will be one of the outsiders to struggle for the 2013 world title.

Besides the 5 top teams, a good struggle could be also undertaken by Sauber (which has the best car from a technical point of view), Williams, Force India and Toro Rosso to get that 6th place which is like the 1st for secondary teams. The Swiss team has to make a step forward thanks to Nico Hulkenberg’s contribution, even if Gutierrez is a “dark horse”. Finally, we have Marussia and Caterham; the Russian team has a slight advantage over the Anglo-Malaysian team.

After analyzing teams I would like also to analyse the couples of drivers who will give the best contribution to their teams, in terms of scoring.

HAMILTON/ROSBERG: they’re the best couple among the 5 top teams.  This is due to their long experience and the feeling between them. Nico and Lewis raced in the same lower formulas. Rosberg can cause problems for the 2008 world champion. They can be a good duo for the constructors’ championship.

ALONSO/MASSA: Fernando’s performances are like the ones displayed last year, so he will act in the same way even in the forthcoming season. Massa’s performances are getting better and better, as he showed in the final part of 2012 championship and in the pre-seasonal tests; they will aim for scoring important points.

VETTEL/WEBBER: this is the duo to be defeated. Thanks to them, Red Bull won three constructors’ championships. They demonstrated to be the two most prolific drivers of the world championship.

RAIKKONEN/GROSJEAN: they represent the biggest wild card. If the Finnish drivers demonstrated to be able to strive for the world title, Grosjean was able to deliver good but also tragic performances. He had good performances during winter testing, so the Frenchman’s progression can be decisive to score points for the constructors’ championship.

BUTTON/PEREZ: despite the Englishman great experience, even regarding tyres management, as demonstrated by winning three GP in the past season, the McLaren duo’ general performances may not be so good; the Mexican driver’s limited experience may not be enough to confirm their position in the championship.

MALDONADO/BOTTAS: among second-category teams, the Williams drivers will be the ones who will be able to score the most. They’re young and determined and, if Maldonado is able to make some steps forward, the team will probably be the protagonist of some race.

VERGNE/RICCIARDO: they have to confirm their potential. They can both rely on one more year experience. Running for an economically speaking sixth place team, they’ll have to make a double effort to express their potential. The car was built in such a good way and, to enable one of them to get Webber’s position, they’ll have to act like top drivers.

BIANCHI/CHILTON: I think Bianchi made a good choice running for Marussia. Although he doesn’t run for a highly competitive team, he will have the opportunity to progress, thanks to a good competition with his teammate. The first year in F1 is never easy. If he had signed a contract with Force India, he would have been much more under pressure, as he would have asked to get high results, besides the fact of being competitive towards an experienced driver like Di Resta.