Category: Lotus Renault


The Chinese Grand Prix, now in its ninth year as a Formula 1 venue, is host to plenty of talking points this weekend (Image | providingnews.com)

The Chinese Grand Prix, now in its ninth year as a Formula 1 venue, is host to plenty of talking points this weekend (Image | providingnews.com)

Two rounds down, seventeen to go, and the 2013 Formula 1 season is already shaping up to be a rather intriguing, and at this stage utterly unpredictable, affair.

There are already a great number of talking points following the curtain-raiser in Melbourne and last weekend’s eyebrow-raiser in Sepang, but we’ve taken four to examine and highlighted the three teams in most turmoil up and down the grid…

1) Are team orders still acceptable in Formula 1?

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As Sebastian Vettel slides past the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne on the run down to Turn 4, the yellow flag indicators can clearly be seen showing on his dashboard, either side of the timing screen. This would seem to suggest that the pass is illegal, which could result in a penalty for the German. (Video | YouTube)

This is the moment which could ruin Sebastian Vettel’s hat-trick of Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship crowns.

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A horrifying crash at La Source removed Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean on the first lap but Jenson Button steered clear of chaos to win (Image | Sutton/Corbis)

Jenson Button returned to winning ways at the Belgian Grand Prix at historic Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, notching up his first victory since the season’s opening round in Australia with an utterly dominant lights-to-flag display. Managing to run a one-stop strategy following the opening lap carnage, Button’s incredible consistency helped him preserve both his tyres and his healthy lead for the duration of the 44-lap race.

I had intended to post a ‘Five Questions’ article ahead of this weekend, but I plain ran out of time between work and writing other pieces, so I’m flipping the script. Here, instead, are my five observations in the aftermath of a highly entertaining afternoon’s racing.

1) Is there a better circuit in Formula 1 than Spa?

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Coming up on the rails | Kimi Raikkonen‘s metronomic consistency, combined with a forthcoming major upgrade for Lotus, could see the Iceman become a serious title contender over the second half of the season (Image | AP)

Somewhat overlooked due to the Olympic Games, the Hungarian Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton record his second victory of the season to reignite his title bid, but the result observers should have been more wary of was the second place of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen.

Raikkonen’s second place was his fifth podium of the season and although a win still eludes the Iceman (and Lotus), he has only failed to score points on one occasion this season – a record eclipsed only by championship leader Fernando Alonso. What’s more impressive about Raikkonen’s performance at Hungary is that he finished just over a second behind Hamilton, with the victor even admitting that had the race been at a circuit where there are more overtaking opportunities, he would have struggled to keep the blistering pace of the Lotus at bay.

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The shadow of the Hockenheimring of old is still visible through the treeline, but the circuit’s new identity has proved just as entertaining (Image | f1techincal.net)

Formula 1 returns to one of its most prestigious events this weekend at the 59th championship edition of the German Grand Prix. The famous Hockenheimring hosts the event for the 33rd time since its debut in 1970.

It’s an event steeped in history and has been won repeatedly by some of the greatest names of the World Championship era – from Alberto Ascari and Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s through Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Ayrton Senna, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost and into the modern era, with Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton all multiple-winners of the event.

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Flying high: Red Bull’s Mark Webber became the sixth different race winner this season after holding off Nico Rosberg to take the chequered flag. (Image | The Daily Mail)

Mark Webber took his second victory on the streets of Monte Carlo to become the sixth different winner in the opening six races of the 2012 Formula One season. Webber, who was granted pole after Michael Schumacher was demoted to sixth, drove faultlessly as he held back Nico Rosberg of Mercedes. Fernando Alonso took the final podium place and surprisingly leads the championship ahead of Red Bull duo Sebastian Vettel and Webber, something few in the paddock would have predicted before the first race in March.

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A fire in the Williams garage, which began over half an hour after the race ended, will be the lasting memory of the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix (Getty)

Pastor Maldonado achieved a memorable first win in seven and a half years for the long-embattled Williams F1 team, but the occasion was marred by the hospitalisation of four team mechanics – and five more, four from Caterham and one Force India member – following the outbreak of a horrific fire in the team’s garage following the race.

Reports soon emerged from sources such as BBC.co.uk and Autosport.com that the fire had been caused either by a KERS or fuel explosion, possibly linked to the retired car of Bruno Senna which had been recovered to the pits after stopping out on track. Thick black smoke engulfed the pit lane as fire-trained mechanics from several teams rushed to join the firefighting effort.

The event cast an unhappy shadow over what should have been a memorable day for Williams, whose founder Frank Williams had his entire family at the race to celebrate his 70th birthday. Williams, who has been in a wheelchair for over 25 years following a car accident, was in the garage at the time of the fire but was reportedly evacuated safely.

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Once again, the Circuit de Catalunya will play host to the first European round of the F1 season

After four rounds of touring one traditional venue (Australia) and three events added to the Formula 1 calendar since 1999, motorsport’s premier series returns to the Circuit de Catalunya for an event which has been a near-constant on the F1 tour since 1967, and the 21st Grand Prix run at the Barcelona circuit. And rarely has the circus arrived in Spain with more questions and points of debate hanging over it than this season.

The early-season flyaways completed, the Championship stands extremely finely balanced with ten points separating the Red Bull and McLaren drivers and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, and four different winners from the first four GPs. Add in the impressive form of Lotus-Renault and the renaissance in full swing at Williams, and 2012 is shaping up to be a spectacular season for F1.

Following today’s two practise sessions, here are the five big questions still unanswered ahead of Sunday’s race …

1) At what point this weekend will Mercedes be able to focus on the grand prix?

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The beautiful Sepang circuit, opened in 1999, is known for its twin straights, twisting corners and highly unpredictable weather (MotoGP.com)

There are many talking points around the Formula 1 paddock ahead of this weekend’s second round of the season in Sepang, Malaysia. Last weekend’s curtain-raiser in Melbourne provided F1 fans with a couple of surprises – McLaren out-qualifying Red Bull caught most casual fans by surprise, while the struggles of Ferrari have heaped more pressure on Stefano Domenicali and his technical team. So what should we be looking out for as the teams prepare to go racing again?

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Raikkonen returning to a different world

“The Iceman cometh back”, screamed the headline of the October issue of F1 Racing. I picked my subscriber’s copy straight off the doormat and flicked through to the relevant article. I was mildly disappointed to read that it was probable the Finn would be signing with Williams. That would mean his glacial press conferences would be much more commonplace than his lightning speed.

Raikkonen is returning to Formula One for the 2012-2013 season.

Then Renault – sorry, Lotus – had a dreary end to the season, and someone at Genii Capital who’s probably never watched any F1 decided that neither erratic Russian Vitaly Petrov nor Brazilian Bruno Senna, who in fairness has yet to display anything other than good character and strong qualifying, had done enough to warrant a new contract. With Robert Kubica still resting the team’s future, and his part-severed right hand, following last year’s rally mishap, the French – well, English-French-Swiss now – outfit have plumped for Romain Grosjean (a questionable move) and Raikkonen (brilliant).

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