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Dhananjay Khadilkar
Saturday , April 28, 2012

Mugello test could spice up this F1 season


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The first set of fly-away races has produced great results with four different drivers emerging as winners. Unlike last year when Sebastian Vettel was running away with the championship right from the beginning, this season's race is more tight with only ten points separating the top five drivers in the drivers' points table. Yes, Vettel is leading the championship again but only marginally. More importantly, McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus have been as strong as Red Bull. The scene will now shift to Europe starting with the Spanish GP in Barcelona. Though there is a three week gap between the race in Bahrain and Spain, a lot of action will be taking place on the three days during this time. From May 1 to May 3, the track at Mugello will be playing host to the in-season testing session, the first since such tests were banned from....


Tuesday , April 24, 2012

Lotus starts smelling success again


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The 2012 Formula One season is turning out to be a statistician's dream. History was created at the Chinese GP after Nico Rosberg's first career win. Similarly, it was the first for Mercedes Benz as a works team since 1955. Sebastian Vettel notched up his 22nd win, thereby equalling former world champion Damon Hill's record. Vettel's win meant that in the four races so far, there have been four different winners, the first time since 2003. It was the first time since 1998 that a French driver had occupied a podium finish when Romain Grosjean finished third in a Lotus car. And Lotus itself occupied a podium place for the first time since 1988. Prior to the race, the talk was only about politics and protests that had picked up momentum in the build-up to the race. However, on Sunday, the race did the talking as Vettel....


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A special week for Formula One


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This week has been special in Formula One. Nico Rosberg won his first race in six years. There was plenty of reason for Mercedes to celebrate as Rosberg's win meant that the Silver Arrows works team had a win in Formula One after 57 years. However, celebrations were also due for the legendary Frank Williams, the owner and founder of Williams F1 team, who turned 70 on Monday. He must have been delighted by the performance of his drivers, Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado (7th and 8th), at the Chinese GP on the eve of his birthday. However, until 15 years ago, Sir Frank would not have been too impressed with this performance. After all, Williams was the most dominant team for the better part of 1990s, winning four drivers and five constructors championships between 1992 and 1997. Interestingly, three of the drivers who became champions during this time -....


Sunday , April 15, 2012

Finally, Rosberg does it for himself and Mercedes GP!


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In cricket, the number 111 known as Nelson's figure, isn't considered to be auspicious. The famous on-field hop of umpire David Shepherd, when the team score reached 111 or its multiple, has become a part of cricketing folklore. For Nico Rosberg though, number 111 has been his luckiest so far. The German driver registered the first win of his Formula One career at the Chinese GP in what was his 111th race. The 27-year-old, who is the son of the 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg, has had to wait for six years for his first win. And what a win it was! Starting from pole, he led the race from the start to finish, barring loss of lead to Jenson Button due to a different pitstop strategy. While the other drivers and teams were constantly adjusting their pit stop strategies due to traffic and performance issues, there was....


Thursday , April 12, 2012

Who will win Chinese Checkers?


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The thing that struck me most about the Shanghai track which I visited in 2009, was the long straight and the two gigantic structures that house media and hospitality centres. In fact, the Shanghai track has the distinction of having the longest straight (1.3 km) among all the circuits. Also, the Chinese Grand Prix facility was the most expensive at the time of its debut in 2004. The track, which is located on the outskirts of Shanghai, has witnessed only one double champion so far. The remaining six races have had six different winners. In addition if the prediction of rain comes true, it will make the race even more unpredictable and therefore interesting. Similar to Malaysia, we may see the emergence of an unlikely hero. So, who could it be? Looking at the performance in Malaysia, Sergio Perez ought to be the hottest driver to bet on. However, there....


Saturday , April 07, 2012

Can we have more wet races please?


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One of the complaints about Formula One has been that it has become predictable as far as the podium finishers are concerned. In any given year, there are two or three teams that are title and inevitably, these teams share the podium places throughout the season. Needless to say, the contenders are those with the biggest budgets. This has become particularly predominant over the past decade or so. Big spenders like Ferrari, Renault, McLaren, Red Bull have dominated the sport in recent times. Even Brawn GP were an evolution of the big budget Honda F1 team. The Malaysian GP result therefore becomes more significant. The second-placed finish of newcomer Sergio Perez in an unfancied team like Sauber F1 has come as a breath of fresh air. To watch a driver in only his second year from a team that has been in the midfield at its....


Thursday , April 05, 2012

F1: It's Bahrain time again


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The debate on Bahrain has now become an annual feature in Formula One. Last year, despite attempts by Bernie Ecclestone to stage the race (by changing the dates), the teams refused to go to Bahrain citing unrest. There were many (former and current drivers, Human Rights organisations) who opposed an F1 race in this Middle East kingdom last year because of the alleged high handed manner in which the government had tackled citizens' pro-democracy protests. Despite postponement and aggressive PR by the hosts, the team's refusal to go to Bahrain resulted in the race being cancelled. It's that time of the year again when the Bahrain issue has come to the fore. With just a few weeks left for the race, noises from both the sides have started emanating once again. As expected, Ecclestone is saying that the race would be held as scheduled on April 22 and has....


Thursday , March 29, 2012

In Sergio Perez, a star is born


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It has been a while since Formula One witnessed such a dramatic race in which the hero was someone from a team other than the established names like Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull. In fact, the last such race that comes to mind was the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix (GP), where Giancarlo Fisichella scored a sensational second-place finish for Force India behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. Then there was the rain-affected 2008 Italian GP which was won by the then relatively unknown Sebastian Vettel driving a Toro Rosso. This race marked the birth of Vettel as Formula One's latest star. The race in Malaysia could very well do something similar to the 21-year-old Sergio Perez. It is hard to believe that the Mexican driver is only in his second year of F1 racing. The maturity and talent he has exhibited under difficult conditions has already impressed many. Particularly, his ability....


Thursday , March 15, 2012

Why winning the Australian GP is crucial for title chances


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Paris: Yesterday was history, tomorrow's a mystery... Red Bull Racing and the other title contender teams would be reminding themselves of this adage ahead of this weekend's season-opening Australian GP. Though Red Bull have won consecutive championships in the last two years, it would be wrong to presume they will be runaway winners (they are certainly the hot favourites). In fact, in 2010, they barely managed to scrape through to a title win. In 2011, Sebastian Vettel was in sublime form. Yet Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso managed to outperform the German driver in some races. The challenge that McLaren and Ferrari will pose to Red Bull Racing isn't a matter about their drivers. Both Button and Alonso are the best in the business - In the last two seasons they performed remarkably well despite having an inferior car when compared to Red Bull. It is the performance of the....


Sunday , March 11, 2012

Watch out for the Lotus team


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The time for talk is over. In a week from now on, the action that will speak louder. The 2012 Formula One season starts from next Saturday at Melbourne with a hope for other teams and fans in general, that Red Bull won't run away with the championship like they did last time. There's some indication that this year's championship could be a lot closer. The start of the season is going to be crucial. Last year, Sebastian Vettel was unstoppable from the word go. He rattled off a string of victories/top 3 finishes in the first half that left the chasing pack trailing way behind. By the time, Button and Alonso figured out a way to leash Vettel, it was too late as far as the championship was concerned. What was played out in the second half was a mère formality. Button and Alonso, were the best 'other' drivers....


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More about Dhananjay Khadilkar

Formula 1 writer

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