Kvyat out, Max Verstappen in and even Jenson Button is skeptical

Max Verstappen Daniil Kyvat

Despite getting on the podium in 2016 Chinese Grand Prix, Red Bull racing have announced today that Daniil ‘The Destroyer’ Kvyat has been relocated back to his old spot at Toro Rosso to be replaced by Belgian-Dutch driver Max Verstappen. Former World Champion Jenson Button accused Red Bull of having ‘short memories’ as he took to Twitter saying: “Really? one bad race and Kyvat’s dropped, what about the podium in the previous race?”

Anyone would think Sebastian Vettel was still pulling the strings behind the scenes at Red Bull, masterminding a punishment for Kyvat’s silly driving in the Russian Grand Prix, which saw Kyvat drive into the rear of Vettel’s Ferrari not once, but twice, within the opening minute of the race.

Of course that’s not true. The decision to dump Kvyat is all about Red Bull retaining Verstappen for 2017 with the fear that Ferrari might try and snatch him with the attraction of a manufacturers seat – and loads of wonger. Oh, and don’t forget that team boss Helmut Marko always gets what he wants – and he’s wanted Verstappen with Red Bull Racing for a while.

It’s fair to say that the Chinese Grand Prix isn’t the first time Kvyat has smashed up his car. It’s also fair to say that Team Max Verstappen have been very aggressive in pushing Verstappen up the F1 ranks as quickly as possible. Perhaps daddy is trying to make up for his mediocre 9 year F1 career, which only saw him on the podium twice and a maximum points tally of 17. Verstappen has already tripled that in less than 2.

Is this the right move for Max?

For now, sure. At least until the end of the season. But if I were Max Verstappen I’d be keeping my options very open. There aren’t many manufacturer seats available, at least not in competitive cars, and a seat at Ferrari could seriously put him in a World Championship winning position in 2017.

What next for Kvyat

Well, the future’s looking a tad bleak for the Russian. First of all he better hope that he consistently out-qualifies his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr, who has been somewhat overshadowed by the hype of Verstappen but is no less talented. Toro Rosso is the lead in to the Red Bull F1 program and there are lots of people queuing up to take that seat. Unless Kvyat can show some real talent for the rest of the season (and keep his nose clean) it’s possible this could be the final year for Daniil Kvyat in Formula One, at least for the foreseeable.


Fernando Alonso reacts angrily to Johnny Herbert retirement plan

Fernando Alonso reacts in anger at Johnny Herbert

Fernando Alonso told Johnny Herbert exactly what he though of Herbert’s suggestion that the former World Champion should retire prior to the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix.

During a live interview prior to FP3, Cheeky-nando Fernando Alonso approached Herbert, muttering something off microphone before saying “you ended up as a commentator because you don’t know how to be a World Champion”.

Well, that was awkward. I don’t think Herbert will be getting any exclusive interviews with Fernando anytime soon. Rachel Brookes was also clearly feeling the tension. Watch the clip below:

Watch: Fernando Alonso rips Johnny Herbert live at Bahrain GP


F1 will move exclusively to Sky Sports F1 in 2019 so what are the options?

Sky Sports F1

Sky Sports F1 announced on 23rd March 2016 that they will own the exclusive rights to broadcast Formula One in the UK as of 2019. That’s a bit of tough luck for fans who only receive terrestrial TV.

The news has resulted in much whinging from those who can’t afford – or are too tight – to pay for Sky Sports F1. Some of the so-called “dedicated” fans of F1 have said that they’ll “be looking for another sport to follow” and blame Bernie Ecclestone for the deal. But is that fair?

Most sports in the UK have moved to pay TV. The majority of football, rugby union, MotoGP, UFC, NBA is broadcast on the pay TV channels of BT Sport and various other sports, including Golf, have moved to Sky TV. Why? Well the answer is simple: terrestrial channel providers such as the BBC and Channel 4 simply can’t justify the cost from their ever dwindling budgets.

There are deals to be had

Sky are forever advertising offers for Sky packages in various forms. Whether it’s with a free TV or additional Sports channels inclusive. Last year I managed to get Sky TV, Sky Sports F1 and Sky movies for £46 per month including Unlimited broadband using a voucher on the MoneySavingExpert.com website. That’s a great price even if you hate the Murdoch empire. Of course there are genuinely people who can’t afford to pay for Sky and they’ll have to resort to alternative methods such as finding a local pub which broadcasts races, going to a friends house or using one of the numerous (technically illegal) online streaming website out there.

Don’t forget about NOW TV

Now TV, a division of Sky, offer day passes for £6.99 a day. That means you could watch the entire race weekend (including Qualifying) for £14.98 which is an average cost when compared to some of the pay-to-view sports broadcast such as boxing. At times, Now TV offer a 20% discount on Sports which can bring the cost down even more.

Watching Sky Sports F1: the current options

Method Equipment Cost Notes
Sky Sports F1 subscription Sky box/subscription From £45 HD option available plus additional options such as Sky Go
Now TV Internet connection and compatible computer/TV £6.99 No HD. Only a 24 hour pass. Requires internet
Local pub None The price of a drink Could be noisy. Pubs showing the races will be in short supply
Streaming Computer or Smart TV Free Infringes copyright, poor image quality, tends to buffer, potential malware from various “adverts”
Go to a race Loads of money From £150 Direct action, could be expensive, requires travel, only one race
RTL Satillite equipment Free (after around £79 outlay for equipment) Will be in German. Equipment needs to be pointed at Astra satellite at 19° East, and can be received with a 60cm dish




Fans walk out of F1 Qualifying early as new rules cause major dissapointment

Fans file out of Australian GP Qualifying. Credit: Scott Langers // Facebook

Fans walk out of F1 Qualifying 5 minutes early at the 2016 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying session after the new regulations appeared to leave fans disappointed with the on-track action.

Fans file out of Australian GP Qualifying. Credit: Scott Langers // Facebook
Fans file out of Australian GP Qualifying. Credit: Scott Langers // Facebook

The FIA introduced new Qualifying rules a few weeks prior to the GP designed to see teams using the whole session to set times and provide fans more action and excitement. However, the result was the opposite.

With just over 5 minutes of time left on the Q3 clock, Vettel and Raikkonen were already out of their cars after Hamilton and Rosberg set +1 second times and it seems that the same predictions as the 2015 season will apply this year, also. Mercedes turned up their power unit during Q2 which had already shown fans that this year is going to be much of the same at the front of the starting grid. The fans were clearly disillusioned and began to file out of the stands in their droves.

Despite this, Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen managed to qualify 5th with his Mercedes-powered car; evidence that the increased speed of the Toro Rosso over winter testing was here to stay. Many Formula 1 fans will be watching Verstappen and his teammate Carlos Sainz as they put pressure on Ferarri and Williams.

There was disappointment for fans of Mclaren Honda, who despite showing promising form in Q1, ran out of tyres leaving Button and Alonso unable to set a more competitive time.

Speaking to Sky Sports after Qualifying, former World Champion Jenson Button said “nothing has changed”. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff described the new format as “rubbish” while Sky F1 pundit Johnny Herbert said the anti-climax finish had been “embarrassing”.

Early results of a pole carried out by Sky Sports suggest that 93% of fans don’t like the new format and team bosses are due to meet on Sunday to discuss the new system. The question on everyone’s mind now is this: will the FIA reverse the new system before the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix?


Is Pascal Wehrlein the future replacement for Nico Rosberg at Mercedes GP?

As it was announced that Manor had signed it’s first driver for the 2016 season, Pascal Wehrlein, it left many followers of F1 wondering if Mercedes are lining him up to take over a seat from Mercedes GP drivers Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg; and a betting man’s money would be on Rosberg who has persistantly failed to win the Drivers Championship.

Pascal Wehrlein, who is of German-Mauritian nationality, is a talented young driver who has a decent record of race wins in ADAC Formel Master, Formula 3 and DTM. Most importantly for his future career prospects is that he has links to Mercedes, a company for which he drove in DTM for the HWA team that develops and builds vehicles and components for Mercedes-AMG. The move to F1 is said to have been “engineered” by Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, and Manor will be using a Mercedes power unit in 2016. However you look at it, there’s a strong Mercedes-Benz link in Wherlein’s career.

Why would Mercedes ditch Nico Rosberg?

Despite being an excellent contender in the Mercedes GP team, Rosberg has failed to win a World Drivers Championship in his 10 year career and has been beaten by teammate Lewis Hamilton to years in a row. For sure, Rosberg showed formidable driving towards the end of the 2015 season but this was after Hamilton had already clinched the title; many commentators suspect that Hamilton was just easing himself into the winter break. Rosberg also seems to find it increasingly difficult to keep his cool when things aren’t going his way and at time his relationship with his team have appeared fractured.

If Rosberg fails again to win the WDC and is unable to keep a solid relationship with his team, and if Pascal Wehrlein repeatedly impresses, expect changes at Mercedes GP by 2018.


The signing is good for Wehrlein and Manor

Some might say that Manor were lucky to sign a talented driver like Pascal Wehrlien. Others might say he is lucky to drive in the greatest motorsport in the world. Whatever your view, there’s no doubt the signing is mutually beneficial for both parties.

From Wehrlein’s position, driving for a slower team such a Manor is a good way to introduce him to the sport. He’ll feel less pressure than if her were perhaps to driver from a team such as Toro Rosso. In addition it will allow him to cement his links further with Mercedes-Benz.

Fans of Manor probably won’t appreciate me referring to them as a “slower team”, but 2 points in 4 years speaks for itself and even with last years Mercedes power unit, it’s unlikely that the team will find the seconds per lap that they need to become truly competitive. Nevertheless, the signing brings a young and enthusiastic driver whom the team can mold.

Look out Nico Rosberg. There’s a new kid on the block. And he wants your job.


How a modern F1 power unit works

F1 power unit

Formula 1 has always been the world leader of advancements when it comes to engine technology and this continues with the modern F1 power unit. No longer are F1 cars referred to as having ‘engines’ (although they still do) but a power unit which consists of combustion and electronic motors to power the car, along with a highly complex energy recovery system.

The power train consists of a number of components, including the combustion engine, an MGU-K, and MGU-H, the Energy Store (high-powered battery packs) and a turbo charger; all of which is controlled by a highly technical control electronics.

Let’s discuss all of this components in detail.


The combustion engine

The power plant features a 1.6 litre V6 internal combustion (IC) engine fitted with a turbo charger which is limited by the sport’s regulations to 15,000 revolutions a minute (revs). The combustion engine is responsible for supplying energy to the transmissions but, unlike previous F1 engines, it also helps to supply heat energy (which will be recycled by the MGU-H discussed further on in this article) and the MGU-K (also discussed later on).


Turbo charger

Just like the turbo charger on a road car, the turbo is responsible for forcing more oxygen into the cylinder which allows more fuel to be burned creating a ‘bigger bang’ in the cylinder. The bigger the bang the more power is created. The turbo on a modern F1 car can spin up to 100,000 times a minute.


Energy Store

The Energy Store and high-powered batteries which are able to charge and discharge incredibly quickly.



The MGU-H (Motor Generator Unit – Heat) converts heat from exhaust gases into electricity to be stored in the Energy Store or to the MGU-K until required.



The MGU-K stands for ‘Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic’ is an incredibly cleaver piece of equipment fitted to the modern power train and serves two purposes. It is connected directly to the crankshaft of the combustion engine.

It’s first job is to collect energy converting as much of the kinetic energy generated under braking into electricity as possible (rather than it escaping as heat). It acts as a generator.

However, it can also switch ro a motor under acceleration, and when working correctly assists the internal combustion engine to accelerate faster and supplying up to 120kW (approximately 160bhp) power to the drivetrain from the Energy Store. Without the MGU-K, Formula 1 cars will lack acceleration and will be easily overtaken by competitors on track which was a huge problem for Mclaren-Honda in 2015.


Control electronics

The control electronics of a F1 power unit control all of the items above. They are programmed to decide when certain functions will occur and when. For example, they may switch the MGU-K from generator to motor. They can also be adjusted by the driver selecting different ‘modes’ during a race such as fuel saving mode or extra power.


F1 paddock sighs with relief as Pastor Maldonado departs the sport

Venezuelan racing driver Pastor Maldonado will not be entering the 2016 Formula One season after failing to secure a deal with Renault Sport Formula One Team, purchasers of what was left from financially beleaguered Lotus F1.

Maldonado, who was given the nickname “Crashtor” after demonstrating an erratic driving style and causing several accidents throughout is Formula One career, was a controversial figure within the sport. In particular a lot of attention was focused on the money he bought to Lotus F1 through sponsorship. Many fans of the sport believed that Maldonado didn’t earn a place based on merit but instead was given a driving seat based purely on money he bought through sponsorship from the PDVSA oil company. This may be a somewhat unfair opinion given that Maldonado won the 2010 GP2 Championship driving for Rapax and won six races in one season, a record at the time.

Fans of Maldonado will say that he won the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Fernando Alonso whilst driving for Williams Renault. However, this was only his third ever points scoring finish in 24 races and neither Maldonado, his team, or anyone else in the F1 paddock quite understood how he managed it. Further more, there was a fire after the race in the Williams garage which some sceptics suggested was deliberately caused by Williams to hide foul play with Maldonado’s car. Of course that theory is flawed as Maldonado’s car wasn’t in the garage at the time. It was, in fact, team-mate Bruno Senna’s car which was damaged by the fire.

Maldonado’s legacy

Pastor Maldonado became the subject of many internet memes such as this
Pastor Maldonado became the subject of many internet memes such as this

Despite becoming a high-profile figure within Formula One, Maldonado is likely to be remembered mainly for his controversial style of driving. FIA stewards found him responsible for causing many accidents. These included side-swiping Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren Mercedes during qualifying for the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix, causing an avoidable collision with Sergio Pérez during a practice session of the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix and then running into the back of Pedro de la Rosa’s HRT during the race, the 2012 German Grand Prix where he was penalised for causing an avoidable collision on Force India’s Paul di Resta, the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix where Maldonado was deemed to have caused a collision with Marussia’s Timo Glock after jumping the start, the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix where he collided with Esteban Gutiérrez after making a pit stop which caused Gutiérrez’s car to roll over, the 2014 Grand Prix where he caused a collision when trying to pass Marcus Ericsson (and received points on his Super Licence)…there’s a lot more and I won’t bore you with the rest. Lots of crashes, lots of penalties, lots of damage to cars…and his career.

What next for Pastor Maldonado?

At this time no one knows. It’s possible that he will enter a different area of motor racing, perhaps stock car racing [sorry, I couldn’t help having a little dig]. However, with oil prices at the lowest in over a decade, sponsorship cash is likely to begin to dry up and there won’t be many teams looking to take on a driver with a poor track record when it comes to crashes and, frankly, dangerous driving. PDVSA have already failed to pay their bills to Renault which Maldonado says is the main cause of his F1 exit. If he was as good a driver as he thinks then surely Renault (or Haas) would have snapped him up.

Perhaps he’ll travel with his cousin, Manuel, who has entered Italian FP4 at the age of 15. Let’s hope that Pastor doesn’t give too much advice away to Manny, hey…



Understanding Formula One: A Guide to Common Terms and Phrases

Understanding Formula One and some of the terms and phrases used can be confusing for new spectators of the sport. This blog attempts to explain some of the most common.


12829230_f1024Downforce is the downward pressure that air places on a vehicle when moving, particularly at high speed. Formula One cars have a number of wings, just like an aeroplane.

Whereas an aeroplane directs air to lift it, and F1 car has wings to push it down and into the ground. This allows the car to corner considerably better than a normal car – as if is is being pushed into the ground – providing my better grip and traction.

So when you’re thinking about an F1 car think about it as a kind of upside-down aeroplane. The faster it goes, the further it’s pushed into the ground.


DRS (Drag Reduction System)

Because downforce pushes an F1 car towards the ground, drag is created. This means that at very high speeds (such as on a straight) an F1 cars top speed is compromised.

The Drag Reduction System (DRS) is a letterbox type opening on the rear wing of an F1 car. A driver can press a button to open this, which allows air to pass more freely, creating less drag and therefore high top speeds on the straight.

A driver will never operate the DRS on a corner as the lack of downforce makes the vehicle loss grip and handle very badly.



Formula One cars don’t have a standard internal combustion engine, but instead use a very clever and advanced F1 Power Unit.



One of the most common phrases you might here is a commentator saying a driver has switched to ‘slicks’.

Slicks is a nickname for a type of tyre (tire in American English) a driver can chose from. It’s a smooth tyre with no cut tread (unlike a road car).

Once up to an ideal temperature, the flat surface provides considerably more surface area than a standard grooved tyre.



Wet tyres are very different to slick tyres. They are grooved and designed to disperse water. They are also designed to be used in a colder condition and drivers will often be seen moving onto the ‘wet’ line if a track begins to dry as overheating wet tyres makes them degrade very quickly and lose grip.


‘Intermediates’ or ‘inters’

Intermediate tyres are a type of tyre which can be used or wet and dry tracks.

However, used on a dry track they result in reduced lap times and wear out very quickly. Equally, if used on a very wet track they provide less grip than wet tyres (sometimes referred to as “full wets) and therefore provide less group; which can also result in reduced lap times.

It is vital a time judge just when to move from intermediates to slick tyres. Too soon and the wet track will make the slick useless due to the cooler temperatures and wet condition. Too late and other teams will already have switched and will be putting in faster lap times.


Virtual Safety Car (VSC)

Introduced formally to Grand Prix races in 2015, partly as a result of the death of Jules Bianchi, the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) is a system which means drivers must reduce their lap time to 35% of race pace. In addition a “VSC” sign will appear illuminated at the side of the track to warn drivers as well as on each drivers steering wheel display.


Change gear on the beeps

Sometimes you’ll hear a driver’s engineer tell them to “change gear on the beeps”.

Every driver wears a pair of headphone/ear defenders which allows them to hear their engineers over the team radio. As well as audio from their team, there is a small beep which is played to the drivers every time they should change gear.

The beeps can be adjusted. For example, if a driver needs to save fuel to make it to the end of the race, the beeps may be shorter to reduce engine revs and conserve fuel.


Speed Trap

In Formula One terms, as Speed Trap is the fastest point on the circuit. Generally towards the end of the longest straight and just before the braking point, the purpose of the Speed Trap is to compare the fastest speeds amongst drivers.

It may mainly be a function of the engine/car that one is driving but sometimes also the set up (high or low downforce etc) that could determine who is highest in the speed trap.


Strat mode 2, Multi 21, etc.

During a race you might hear an engineer tell a driver to “switch to strat mode 2” or “multi-21”.

There are two things that this usually refers to, either an engine mode (which the driver can change to using a dial or switch on their steering wheel, or a command to change strategy i.e. to let their teammate past to allow them to win.

A team might tell a driver to change their engine mode to save fuel. Equally, they might do the same to allow them an extra “burst” of power to overtake another car.


Renault Sport F1 unveil their 2016 car and it’s freakin’ awesome

Renault Sport F1 team were the first to unveil their 2016 Formula One car and it’s awesome. Well, it looks awesome, at least.

Revealed to the audience by drivers Kevin Magnussen (former McLaren driver who lost his race seat to Fernando Alonso) and Jolyon Palmer (2014 GP2 champion and son of former racing driver Jonathan Palmer) the car has striking colours of black and yellow. The two drivers were also joined by 2015 GP3 champion Esteban Ocon as its reserve driver and Carmen Jordá as its development driver.

But the question on every F1 fans lips is this: will the new Renault Sport F1 be faster than Red Bull Racing? Red Bulls relationship with Renault is somewhat fractured. And what about the new Ferrari powered Toro Rosso which Max Verstappen recons is 1 second a lap faster than last year.