Australian GP – THE POINT….by Gian Carlo Minardi

The racing season has finally started. The green light switched on and the curtain rose on the 2013 F1 world championship. The opening race met our expectations; the heavy rain affected qualifying (divided into 2 days) and the GP was dominated by the 5 top teams, with a disappointing McLaren and an amazing Force India.
Three world champions got onto the podium and four finished in the top five. That means that this world championship will be so difficult and competitive. Amazing race for Lotus and Kimi Raikkonen, who showcased they can manage tyres very well and finished the first race by pitting only two times in comparison with 3 pit-stops strategy of the rivals. The Finnish driver powerfully fitted into the struggle for the world title; his Lotus has the right stuff to bother the pretenders for the world title. They confirmed all the good things they showed during tests.
Good start for Fernando Alonso. Overtaking Hamilton in the first laps was the cherry on top. He showcased to have cold shoulder, self-control and to be clear headed. His racing speed during the race was like the one he kept up during the qualifying session. The Ferrari showcased to be very close to the top during the race, but the car fails a little bit in the single qualifying lap, in which Red Bull usually takes over. The Scuderia from Maranello handled a good race and pit-stop strategy. Massa’s fourth place allows the Italian team to start the season on top.
Force India is secondary teams’ leader, as Di Resta was able to lead the Q3 and both its drivers scored points. Good return into F1 for Sutil who, together with his teammate, drove a great race and scored points. Thumb down for McLaren. I would have expected Button to be much more performing than he was. He’s always driven a great race in Melbourne and has always managed tyres very well. The race car showcased some failures, which forced drivers to run a defensive race. Maybe the English Team’ choices for the 2013 racing season were driven by economic needs rather than by technical needs. At the end of the year the team will have to replace Vodafone, so this could be the reason why they chose Perez as a driver, giving the fact the Mexican enjoys the support of the richest man in the world. As a consequence Hamilton considered worthwhile to take a look around choosing Mercedes, a car company whose performances got better than in the past season. The car is good in the single qualifying lap, but it has to improve reliability and racing speed.
Grosjean closed up the top team and the score zone. The Frenchman drove a race like a team’s second driver. He didn’t want to take any risk at the beginning and scored one point.
Talking about qualifying again, I think that Charlie Whiting & C were too much precautionary. I think they should have been more respectful towards those people who paid the ticket to see qualifying. They had to wait many hours under a heavy rain.
In seven days drivers will be back on track at the Sepang circuit, in Malaysia, where they will have the use of different compounds (P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White Medium). Only after the first few races, we’ll have a clearer overview of the situation. After the Malaysian GP the season will have a three-week-stop before the Chinese race to be held in Shanghai, where the teams will display all their car developments.

Melbourne – Gara
1. Kimi Raikkonen – Lotus-Renault – 58 giri
2. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – +12″4
3. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – +22″3
4. Felipe Massa – Ferrari – +33″5
5. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – +45″5
6. Mark Webber – Red Bull-Renault – +46″8
7. Adrian Sutil – Force India-Mercedes – +1’05″0
8. Paul di Resta – Force India-Mercedes – +1’08″4
9. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – +1’21″6
10. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – +1’22″7
11. Sergio Perez – McLaren-Mercedes – +1’23″3
12. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – +1’23″8
13. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber-Ferrari – +1 giro
14. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Renault – +1 giro
15. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Cosworth – +1 giro
16. Charles Pic – Caterham-Renault – +2 giri
17. Max Chilton – Marussia-Cosworth – +2 giri
18. Giedo van der Garde – Caterham-Renault – +2 giri

F.1 – Brazilian GP: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

FAENZA – One of the most enthralling World Championship of the last three years came to an end. The Brazilian track hosted an exciting race, which was so difficult to run from a technical point of view.
When weather changes so quickly, sport and technical staff are always put to the test. No doubt we have to praise Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull for winning the third World Championship. Three world titles are never won by chance. It was a pity, because, besides the value that no one wants to deny, luck played a key role again. Even yesterday, those drivers who were involved in the accident at the beginning, had to quit the race, while Vettel was able to restart and cross the line despite a little damage occurred.
As we pointed out several times, McLaren and Lotus played the role of Championship arbiters, even if their roles were so different. Considering the final result, the zero points scored by a “guiltless” Alonso at Spa and Suzuka, had a heavy impact on the Spaniard’s racing season. In a 20 races Championship, 3 points advantage can be as many as nothing. Ferrari had many technical issues, anyway the team was able to handle each race in a very good way, managing to bring both racers on the podium, fighting against the dominance of Red Bull and McLaren. Until the Safety Car got on track, the gap between Button and Alonso was so big, this proves that Ferrari still has so much work to do, especially with the 2013 racing season nearly around the corner. The gap with the World Champions is so big and McLaren will be fighting for the World title until the final race next year. Massa’ good performance should also be noticed. Thanks to his last three good races, the trust put in the Brazilian driver by the “Scuderia”, was finally rewarded. He’s the racer Ferrari needs to have to win the Constructors’ Championship again. He finally succeeded in leaving the fear behind and, in my opinion, he found himself again. Having regard to his good shape, it’s a pity that the racing season came to an end, however, when a driver find the right path again, it is difficult for him to make the same mistakes.
Hulkenberg handled an excellent race, too. He left the team in the best way. I think Sauber made a good choice as Nico is a young emerging driver, but he was a little too aggressive and impetuous during the race. He was very performing at the beginning, just like Button, when he decided to keep on running on slick tyres, instead of switching to medium like other drivers. I do not agree with the penalty imposed to him. More and more passes are requested and more and more means are invented to facilitate them, but, as soon as someone try to make passes in hard condition, he’s penalised because he causes a car clash.
Last GP for Michael Schumacher who greeted the world of F.1 after handling a very good race and showing his great talent by scoring the last points of his career. We have to praise Kimi Raikkonen who finished third ahead of Hamilton, completing all races. At the beginning of the racing season this result was almost unpredictable for Lotus.
Gian Carlo Minardi

F.1 – GP USA: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

FAENZA- The first Austin GP was amazing both for the track layout and for overtakings. According to forecast, we saw a very performing McLaren on hard and medium tyres and a Hamilton so determined to have an impact on the team before leaving it.
Sebastian Vettel was extremely competitive over the weekend but he will have been afraid to have the same technical issue which forced his teammate to quit the race. Once again the Ferrari and Fernando Alonso optimized both the strategy and the result, getting a valuable third place finish which allow the Spaniard to play it well for the next race in Brazil. It won’t be an easy task for sure, especially if we consider the points gap with the 2 leaders. What is more, we should also consider that in the last few seasons Interlagos didn’t bring good luck to the Italian team.
Given the very short time between the last race and the next one, I don’t expect big technical amendments to be made on the cars. Tyre compounds and weather will have a deep impact on the final result. The Ferrari should improve its downforce while, unlike Red Bull and McLaren, its strength is reliability. Beyond a little mistake made on Saturday when trying to make an all-out effort on used tyres, the Ferrari didn’t make any mistake over the last few races, demonstrating to be the best team. The Red Bull issues come from an extreme downforce. Anyway, the Austrian team won the constructors’ championship on Sunday. With only one race to be run and a wide points gap between Alonso and the Red Bull driver, the zero point scored by the Spaniard because of car clashes caused by other racers weigh against the “Scuderia”, especially if we compare them to Vettel abandons due to his car technical issues.
Praises have to be conveyed to Felipe Massa who, after accepting the team orders, jumped up to 4th, finishing just behind the Spanish teammate and setting the second fastest lap of the race. That is the Massa the Ferrari needs to have; on the domestic track the Brazilian will probably creep up the 13 points gap between Vettel and Alonso.
Good weekend for Lotus; both Lotus drivers finished the race in top 10. Raikkonen is fighting against Hamilton and the Williams, to preserve the third place. Unfortunately the Sauber lost another chance to attack the Mercedes to get the fifth place in the world championship. One more disappointing weekend for the German team which scored no points.
With a view to the final race in Interlagos, Raikkonen and the McLaren will probably be variables in favor of Ferrari. The Scuderia is now less performing than the rivals.
Gian Carlo Minardi

F.1 – GP Abu Dhabi: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

We saw an exciting GP, with the 4 World Champions occupying the first four places. Fernando Alonso ran a good race; once again the Spaniard was able to make the best use of his car’ s potential; Raikkonen finally made it onto the highest step of the podium with his Lotus.
As we pointed out last weeks, Kimi and Hamilton can play the role of killjoys in the Championship, even if, once again, the McLaren Englishman was deceived by the reliability of his car. On the contrary, reliability still supports the “Scuderia” and helped the Italian team to recover from a difficult weekend. Fernando couldn’t do more than he did. He had a very good start and the strategy was characterized by a lower down-force. The Spaniard was very good in managing the car since the beginning, with the car filled up with petrol. He didn’t make any mistake and the laps he ran looked like “qualifying laps”. He made three points up, which is so important with the racing season coming to an end. He finished second, behind a very performing Raikkonen who scored the 18th good result to preserve the third place in the standing. A good performance also for Sebastian Vettel who, after a big mistake made by his team ( or made by the engine supplier), was able to recover, supported by a very performing Red Bull, but also by luck. Thanks to the safety car two re-starts, the German driver was able to recover from his pit-lane start and managed to finish third. If he had pitted one lap later, everything would have changed. What is more, some cars which were just ahead of him and could have hindered him, got off the race. Therefore, we don’t have to forget the alliance with the “Scuderia Toro Rosso” who made overtaking easier for him.
The closing stages will be exciting, with two drivers technically in the world championship battle. For sure, Fernando will have to make no mistakes and will rely on other drivers’ mistakes. The two Red Bull were weak under pressure. The English-Austrian team has a better car, but, as far as reliability and team management are concerned, it is second to the Ferrari cars. The Ferrari had many problems in bringing tyres to the right temperature. In re-start and qualifying, the Ferrari gives something to rivals, but later it was able to set some fastest laps In the last lap the Italian car was overreached by Vettel on soft tyres.
We missed the two second leaders, Webber and Massa. The Australian had a messy start and wasn’t able to recover. The Brazilian made a mistake after a clash with the Red Bull driver. He didn’t have enough sangfroid to manage the situation. Webber should have left that position to the Brazilian to avoid penalty. He could have given Vettel a rough ride , as well.
One more disappointing race for Mercedes, out of the score zone, while Williams, Sauber and Force India ran a very good race. Despite a KERS problem, Maldonado ran a very good race. Senna was involved in an accident during the first laps, so he dropped to the bottom of the standing. Unfortunately Perez made some mistakes because of which the team didn’t score important points.
The next two races will be hard to foresee. Drivers will play it hard until the end and those out of the championship battle will act as the balance of power.
Gian Carlo Minardi

F.1 – GP India: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

Waiting for some technical checks to be carried out on the car driven by Sebastian Vettel, the Indian GP gave an important signal. Once again the Red Bull demonstrated not to be 100% reliable, but luckily, checks will be carried out on Webber’s car, not on Vettel’s.
We saw an amazing Fernando Alonso who needs the support of a car which is still seeking 5 tenths in qualifying but is able to limit the damage during the race. Anyway, we still don’t know the real potential of the Red Bull, since Vettel was never put under pressure. The end of the season will be exciting, with 75 points still up for grabs. The last lap demonstrated how difficult it is to understand the current racing season, with Vettel, Alonso and Button setting the fastest lap. By now, the fight is between two drivers even if, as Alonso said few days ago, the Spaniard of Ferrari is mainly fighting against Newey. We cannot ascribe any fault to the Spaniard. He’s focused and resolute. The Ferrari has to find new solutions, which is not easy to do with a racing season now at an end. It will be quite hard to make 13 points up, but not so impossible.
The order of arrival represented the existing potential of teams, with the Red Bull ahead of Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus, even if the distinction between them is not as sharp as in the last few years. The Ferrari has reliability on its side. That allows the car to maintain a second place and the McLaren is getting more and more performing on hard tyres, thanks to which it scored some wins during the current racing season. Hamilton sought to attack, who encountered a KERS problem, while Alonso tried to put pressure on Sebastian Vettel. Raikkonen had to be satisfied with a 7th place, behind a performing Massa. By now, it looks like the top 6 belongs to the first three drivers. Thanks to his steadfastness, the Finnish driver preserves the third position in the general standing, but it won’t be easy to hold off the assaults of the Australian driver.
Thanks to Grosjean’s ninth place, both Lotus cars come in the top 10 and, along with Williams, Force India and Sauber, they’re all “second class” teams who are trying to get a place in the sun. Both Sauber drivers have experienced a harder weekend, anyway its fifth place seems to be untouchable. Perez’ race was ruined by a tyre puncture caused by a brush with a rival’s front wing, which I consider too large. I think it’s a matter of discussion, as wings don’t avoid wheels brushes. So, I think they’re too large and they can easily ruin the race of the drivers concerned.
In seven days drivers will race at Yas Marina. The Ferrari will have to find the right technical solution to allow Fernando and Felipe to shorten the speed gap with Red Bull in qualifying and demonstrate the similar speed to Vettel in race. In the last few GP the German driver was never put under pressure and was able to exceed the record of laps run as a leader, held by Senna.
Gian Carlo Minardi

F.1 – GP Korea: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

The Korean GP was marked by the Red Bull’ flag. At this point some powerful harpoons are needed to follow them. Two powers are emerging, with Red Bull and Ferrari leading the group. Massa has confirmed he got out from the deep crisis, but the Ferrari team will have to make something up.
From free practices to race, the Red Bull imposed its supremacy. They didn’t have any problem and handled tyres very well, imposing a pace that was so hard to beat by anyone. Alonso and Massa took a great advantage of their potential, however rivals proved to be an edge over.
Ferrari got the second place inside the World Championship, but that is not the main goal for the team, as they want Fernando to win the Driver World Championship. At the moment, I find it hard for the Italian team to find a right solution to balance the technical gap with Red Bull Team in terms of speed performances. The two zeros, which were due to external faults, now weigh heavily on the Italian Team. What is more in India ( where a GP will be run in 2 weeks ) there will be some customs problems, so it will be so hard to get an important car structural updating. Hard GP to Hamilton who was in trouble since the beginning of the race because of tyres consumption. The McLaren is losing its strength and it’s not a threat to the Austrian Team. They could hold the balance of power , but at the moment, they’re out of fight. Unfortunately Button was put out of action after few metres, whereas Hamilton will have to get at least the third place occupied by a high-performing Raikkonen, who continues to grab points. It is hard for the team to have a good performance on soft and super-soft tyres. If they use hard tyres, they’ll probably regain their competitiveness.
A very important fifth place for Lotus and Raikkonen. We don’t have to forget that they’re not the most competitive ones among top teams in terms of budget. The Finnish driver took advantage of his car’ new structural updating and confirmed himself as the third power of the Championship.
After getting onto the podium seven days ago, Sauber had a hard weekend in Korea. The Swiss Team tried to set an extreme strategy but bad luck was at its side. Koba was immediately involved in an accident and lost several positions , whereas Perez tried to fight until the last lap to score a point over Hamilton. The two Toro Rosso had a good performance as they were able to get into the score zone , after taking a hard start. I’m glad to see three drivers on the podium who started their career in Faenza, some of them were part of the Minardi Team (Alonso and Webber ) and Vettel was a driver of the Toro Rosso Team. The Force India, along with the Swiss team are 2012 racing season real discovery. In the last few GP they were in the top 10 and, although the teams have problems, they can take advantage of their technical potential.
Mercedes will have to roll up its sleeves. Rosberg got immediately out and Schumacher’ 13th place is a proof that the German Team still have so much to do. No doubt market operations are a sign of growth. Unfortunately the spirit is so bad and even Hamilton’ declarations ( he says it will be so hard to win a GP) leave us hopeless. It seems to me that the Englishman doesn’t have much confidence on the programme.
Gian Carlo Minardi

F.1 – Japanese GP: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

This year Championship is deeply conditioned by outsiders and “second rows”, as proven by Massa and Kobayashi’ podium finish. It is clear that the supremacy shown by Red Bull during the race, make us think about 5 hot GP and make it clear that the fight is between Alonso and Vettel.
It’s a pity that Ferrari scored zero points, even if in this way, all the negativities experienced by drivers during the racing season will be well balanced. Starting from the next race in Korea, a mini-championship made up of 5 races will start.
In Maranello there will be so much work to do, because Vettel’ overwhelming power is alarming. Historically speaking, the Japanese track has never be hostile to the Italian team, as proven by the Brazilian driver’ second place. The Spaniard could have gained many more points. It will be so important to regain the way to victory. Naturally, Alonso is not free from being responsible for what happened, but Kimi would have never been able to pass him in that point. I think responsibility should be shared to 50%. They’ll have to roll up their sleeves. If you start from a front row, it will be harder for you to get involved in accidents.
Four points ahead are few, but they’re enough to maintain the leadership. During the last two-three races they’ve seen their advantage going down and down, so now it’s time to keep on working hard. Massa’ performance was very good and he scored important points. He has proven to be on the rise, creating hardship to Ferrari team who, in my opinion, is thinking about a long-range solution which could go beyond the 2013.
On the contrary, McLaren is backwards. When so important changes occur during a racing season’ hot phase, destabilizations can be created. Probably, Hamilton’s choice has created problems inside the team. The clarification made by the English team after qualifying may sound as a wake-up call. Hamilton and Webber are now out of contention for the World title, even if the Englishman will have to try to regain points to get at least the third place inside the Championship.
The Australian driver’ race was ruined by the umpteenth “Grosjean-style” accident. I just can’t understand where he was trying to go. If he hadn’t found Webber on his way, he would have definitely gone off the track…….Despite all the amendments, he just keeps on making the same mistakes. He’s a fast driver, but the mistakes he makes are too heavy both for himself and for the team. The Lotus may fight for the third place. The Lotus is proving to be the thermometer of the Championship, even with regard to negative events.
Sauber’ great season continues. Unfortunately, a trivial mistake made by Perez at the hairpin, avoid the team to score further points. This car’ performances are so good and Kobayashi wasn’t able to withstand Button’ attacks, getting a podium finish for the first time, in front of his own audience. After Toyota, Honda and Bridgestone’ retreats, Japan needed to recapture that nationalistic spirit on which it can cheer..
Great race also for Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso. Maldonado didn’t make any mistake and Ricciardo withstood Schumacher’ attacks. In the next GP, Sauber and Lotus can become part of the points sharing and, obviously we don’t have to forget about McLaren.
Gian Carlo Minardi

F.1 – Singapore Gp : THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

The fight of Alonso and Ferrari against McLaren, Red Bull and Lotus is the leitmotiv of this year racing season. One by one, the rivals of Ferrari aim at going off with points. Reliability plays the main role again and today bad luck has been at Hamilton’s side, while in Monza was at Vettel’s side.
It’s so positive to escape unharmed from a race such as the Singapore Gp, which was featured by many accidents . It’s positive especially if you get a third position after spending an uneasy weekend start. Maranello has to seek after some tenth to support Alonso, as the Italian team can’t always rely on miracles. We still have four contenders to the world title and Ferrari is on 29 points over Vettel, so, positioning could be enough, even if they have to improve performances and research.
Talking about feelings, the Singapore Gp didn’t keep up with the racing season we’ve been experiencing, even if we saw some fights concerning tyres changing and accidents, especially the one involving Schumacher. The weekend was in Hamilton ‘ hands, the only driver who was able to tackle the overwhelming power of the Red Bull’s German driver. After tackling Vettel’s supremacy, driving an amazing lap in qualifying, the Englishman was leading the race. If he hadn’t had a hydraulic problem, he surely would have won the race. To keep up with the English driver, Vettel was risking a lot. Massa handled a good race. Unfortunately, if a driver starts from a bottom row, he is likely to run into a car clash. After getting back on track in the last position and changing strategy, he was able to get up to the 8th position, making also good passes. The Brazilian driver is probably getting back to his old self again.
I would have expected something more from Lotus running on soft and super-soft tyres, but maybe the car’ performances are better when on medium. The team saw its two drivers positioning in the top 10. Grosjean was Raikkonen’s second guide. The Finnish driver holds the world standing’s third position although he hasn’t score a win yet. We have many outsiders such as Di Resta and Maldonado who, relying on competitive cars, may act as a balance for points distribution. The Sauber has got us used to its ups and downs. The Swiss team showed to be more competitive on hard and medium tyres. Using that kind of tyres you can even afford to deploy more risky strategies which sometimes can pay off with good performances.
A honest race for Rosberg who leads Mercedes towards the 5th place. This fact should give us pause. If the team had “two Rosberg”, it could strive for the first four places. The reaction of Technicians toward Schumacher’ mistake was meaningful, so I think It’s time to change, even If Hamilton shift to Mercedes will be so difficult. Over the last three years, the McLaren team has been the one who got the greatest number of successes. If the three-pointed star team wants to improve, it will have to support Rosberg with a promising young driver ( i.e. Di Resta) or take a look around.
Gian Carlo Minardi

F.1 – Italian Gp: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

italia.jpg'The week-end in Monza was so “stressful” both for Ferrari and Fernando Alonso. After jinxing, saying that the Italian team had run 23 flawless Gps, we just have to admit that the last seven days have been so hard for Ferrari, starting from the Gp in Spa, going through free practices, qualifying and race in Monza.
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F.1 – Gp Belgium: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

belgio.jpg'Unfortunately the Gp of Spa has been distorted by the accident caused by Grosjean who, just few metres after the start, has taken away the key players. This is not the first time things like that happen in Spa and it’s not even the first time the Frenchman do that. I think that the penalty imposed on him is so fair, as it’s not possible for a driver to make seven mistakes on twelve starts. I think that judges should have taken measures even before this happened.
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F1 – Gp Budapest: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

hamilton.jpg'For the first time from the beginning of the season the Gp we saw yesterday in Budapest wasn’t as exciting as the other ones. Everything was so predictable, only two or three overtakings were really dominant, just like the one handled by Alonso on Raikkonen at the beginning of the race, which probably denied the Finn to score a win and the one handled by Maldonado, which cost him a penalty. I think we’re going too far! We want drivers to overtake but even after a slight clash, they are penalised. I think FIA is exaggerating.
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F1 – Gp Silverstone: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

silverstone.jpg'Another amazing week-end for Ferrari, even if Red Bull’s car was the best on track. The Spaniard of Ferrari team scored important points and I think he did his best in qualifying. In fact he was the leader throughout the race and his standing is getting more and more interesting.
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