Filtering by Category: Formula 1

Cheaper by the injury


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Cheaper by the injury
Every injury that kept drivers out of Formula 1 since 2000
Jonathan Simon | February 12, 2019

The Simon Racing Report - Sports Journalist
The last time I wrote a column in February 2018, Lewis Hamilton was a four time world champion, Arsène Wenger was still the father of Arsenal, DeMarcus Cousins wasn’t on the Warriors, Porzingis and Luka weren’t something, iRacing still had a world championship grand prix series, Stephen Hawking and Mac Miller were still alive, and, House of Cards was still on the air.
That was just under 12 months ago. Since then, Sebastian Vettel is still a four time world champion, Éric Boullier paid his staff with chocolate Freddo Frogs, there was a period where Kimi Räikkönen was astonishingly Ferrari’s last race winner, pole position sitter, podium finisher and world champion, and still is three of those things, no Alonso and F1, Kubica is returning, Ricciardo is at Renault, Leclerc at Ferrari, and Force India went into administration. This meaning Vijay Mallya has to leave his virtual pit wall at home, to his lounge room for life’s next challenge of avoiding extradition.
It’s the first week of content for the year, there will be columns, there will be podcasts, there will be analysis videos, tutorial videos and SO SO SO, MUCH, MORE.
On a different note, I recently had shoulder surgery this past week to repair an injury and it got me thinking, what were some notable injuries in Formula 1 this millennium that kept drivers out of action? The most dramatic, life-threatening, ridiculous, odd or funny injuries, conspiracy theory injuries, fake injuries – all since 2000. What’s the worst way to kick off my column for 2019? A category countdown list. So let’s do it…

The linkages (injuries linked to other notable events)

Eddie Irvine (Austria 2000) and Luciano Burti (Belgium 2001)
Nothing to write home about, but there’s a connection here between these two. Playboy Eddie Irvine pulled out of the 2000 Austrian Grand Prix with appendicitis – surprisingly, not an STD. And of course, this led to the debut of Luciano Burti. Burti had a slew of incidents over his F1 career leading up to next year’s Belgian Grand Prix, where ironically both he and Eddie Irvine crashed spectacularly at Blanchimont, Spa. It’s one of those incidents you can have a laugh at while sim racing, but never in real life.
Burti thankfully survived the crash however suffered serious injuries and was replaced by Tomáš Enge.
The Ralf Schumacher concussions (Testing/Italy 2003 and USA 2004)
Two consecutive years, two concussions, not healthy. Few remember Ralf Schumacher’s accident during testing ahead of the 2003 Italian Grand Prix. Ralf attempted to qualify the car at the race weekend just weeks later, but was replaced by Marc Gené due to after effects from the concussion. I’m unsure how strict the FIA is with allowing drivers to race these days. It’s hard to find the regulations as there isn’t much of an NFL concussion protocol implemented by the FIA. I doubt Schumacher would have been allowed to race knowing the dangers of his injury.
2004 though was the beginning of the end for Michelin. Both Fernando Alonso and Ralf suffered tyre failures at Indianapolis in consecutive laps. Ralf’s incident was quite jaw dropping at the time. You sat there, glad to see him moving slightly, especially since the radio was destroyed so there was no communication to the pit wall. He ended up missing the next six races, there’s a chance he missed those races waiting for the marshals to attend to the car, but I think it was most likely for concussion. When you watch the race back, it was seriously over a minute until the first marshal got to the car, hilarious.
Once again, he was replaced by Marc Gené. Where does Michelin fall into all of this? They were out of the sport by 2007, with rock bottom occurring at the 2005 United States Grand Prix. Does anyone need reminding? 6 non-Michelin cars started the race out of 20.
Timo Glock (Japan 2009)
The odd thing about Suzuka is that you find places to crash that you didn’t think were possible. The circuit is that narrow. Those with open wheel experience will understand how loose the car becomes at the final corner under power application – downhill portion of the circuit. Add to the fact you’re trying to minimise lap time to the line. The accident kept Glock out for the season with injury, paving way for the debut of Kamui Kobayashi, one of my favourite drivers of all time.
If you think carefully, what if Toyota had stayed in the sport for 2010? Or what if Stefan GP actually funded and ran Toyota’s 2010 cars? Much akin to Brawn GP and Honda’s 2009 cars. Were those 2010 cars quick enough to win the championship? Would Kobayashi, Trulli or Glock be a world champion? What a world that would have been.
Sergio Pérez (Monaco 2011)
There’s a hidden story from Sergio’s 2011 qualifying crash in Q3 that sidelined him for two races with concussion. This crash led to the beginning of Lewis Hamilton’s poor 2011 season. An abysmal season that has most certainly taught him lessons into now becoming one of the greatest drivers of all time. McLaren’s Hamilton led Q1 and Q2, this was a point in time where no ‘non-Red Bull’ driver had taken a pole position that season. You could feel it, Lewis magic was coming, he was feeling it, he was on it that day, it was the typical ‘Lewis on fire’ day that we still see today. It happened though, a Lewis mistake when it mattered most just killed my hopes. Then came the Pérez crash.
Qualifying was red flagged for over 30 minutes, meaning track conditions worsened. Just over two minutes left, nobody improved their times. Hamilton started from 9th and was involved in what I like to call ‘the Ali G race’. It was all downhill from there for 2011.

The conspiracies

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Canada 2001)
Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen was at the tail end of a rollercoaster F1 career when injury leading up to the 2001 Canadian Grand Prix forced him out of his seat for the race. This wasn’t the end, we mentioned he raced for Eddie Jordan right?
So that comes with controversy, including disagreements between the pair amidst Jordan’s struggles to keep the team financially afloat, even though Eddie once said he’d never argued with Frentzen, I call bullshit. The biggest life lesson I’ve learnt listening to Eddie Jordan ramble? Never open your mouth. I’m pretty sure he’d confirmed Frentzen would stay on for the 2002 season just weeks prior, then he was fired ahead of his home race at the Hockenheimring.
I love a conspiracy. I’m still not sure what happened in those weeks, maybe one of the two should’ve slept on something they shouldn’t have said. Maybe Eddie had a dream one night that Ricardo Zonta would win a race for Jordan and bring in Brazilian sponsors. At the end of the day, it was a short burst of a fracas that was quickly forgotten.
The Juan Pablo Montoya shoulder injury (Bahrain 2005)
Ever had that ridiculous injury by a work colleague that sounds too ridiculous to be true? Or their grandfather died for the 9th time that year? How about Shinji Kagawa having his stomach pumped after eating too much and missing a match? Enes Kanter eating too many burgers on cheat day and being out with ‘illness’ the next day? Sammy Sosa missing weeks to injury due to sneezing. This next one, I hope, will be untouched at the top of the list of the stupidest F1 injuries of all time.
Juan Pablo Montoya always lacked fitness and that could have been one of the necessary competitive advantages he needed in Formula 1. Picking up tennis to improve his fitness was a fun choice. Fun enough for me to make fun of how ridiculous the injury sounds. But we all love Montoya’s sense of humour, he even admitted that "it sounds kind of dumb". Just to think if this was ever a question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with Jeremy Clarkson.
Clarkson: “Juan Pablo Montoya missed two races in the 2005 Formula 1 season, after injuring his shoulder doing what?”

a) Playing tennis

b) Slapping another driver in the face after free practice one

c) Driving to the circuit, reaching into the backseat for a Subway 6 inch meatball sub

d) Bumping into a camera man in the paddock
It might even have to be the million dollar question. It’s that difficult to answer.
Jacques Villeneuve / Robert Kubica switch (Hungary 2006)
Michael Schumacher and Robert Kubica both made similar debuts. Incidents kept the driver they each replaced out for multiple races. If I told you Bertrand Gachot and Jacques Villeneuve were both replaced by the two respectively, but one was an on track incident and the other was off track, no, the off track incident wasn’t Jacques.
Villeneuve felt concussion like symptoms after his crash during the 2006 German Grand Prix and decided to sit out the following Hungarian Grand Prix. After Kubica impressed, this turned out to be the last moment of the 1997 world champion’s career. You know, Villeneuve and Lewis Hamilton’s first three years were so similar, I was a little concerned heading into 2010 for Lewis, but the two careers took a completely different fork in the road for sure.
Christian Klien / Sakon Yamamoto switch (Singapore 2010)
Yamamoto allegedly had food poisoning which kept him out of the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix. But the conspiracy remains unsolved. This probably had more to do with funds and sponsorship than it did anything else. Yamamoto returned to his seat for Japan one round later, however Klien again replaced him for the final two rounds of the season. Does anybody care to solve this conspiracy? No.
Kimi Räikkönen’s back surgery (USA 2013)
Another conspiracy theory incoming? The Kimi/Lotus relationship soured in his last races with the team. A vulgar radio exchange at India, with story braking out that Kimi hadn’t been paid his salary for most, if not the entire season. The funny thing is, once they came to a temporary agreement, Kimi elected to have back surgery and miss the rest of the season. Whether or not the surgery actually occurred is probably not what I’m focusing on. But Shaquille O’Neal did the same thing once, waiting until the season began to elect for toe surgery. Shaq “got hurt on company time, so [he’ll] heal on company time.” Interesting decision Kimi.
Fernando Alonso (Testing 2015)
Fernando Alonso’s second McLaren stint just never worked did it? I believe Alonso’s count of the story whereby he remembers the incident, the steering column failed, a Rosberg “gust of wind” sent him off the race track, and that he had been given medication that caused him to lose consciousness. Oh and that he didn’t wake up thinking it was 1995 and he was a little boy karting, trying to make F1. It would’ve been easier to tell the truth of course. That truth being that he actually had a dream that involved Ron Dennis upon impact. Alonso may have dreamt he woke up in his hotel room with Ron snug and cuddled up, trying to make amends for 2007. Much like Steve Martin and John Candy. That would frighten me.
And that’s my conspiracy theory that you shouldn’t take seriously because it’s probably ... well ... definitely not true at all.
Pascal Wehrlein (Race of Champions 2017)
Pascal injured himself at the Race of Champions after this bizarre mistake. Paul Smith and I discussed on a podcast at the time that maybe Pascal was sitting out from driving the Sauber that year to avoid driving such an awful car. You know what, I’m still on the Pascal Wehrlein bandwagon. My fantasy F1 team name last year: “Pascal Wehrlein 2021 Bandwagon”. I even told him that while he was leaving the track one year at Australia where he just smirked back. I’m going to ride and die on the bandwagon, even if it doesn’t work out.

The who cares?

Takuma Sato (Malaysia 2005)
Remember when Takuma Sato missed the 2005 Malaysian Grand Prix due to a fever? Nobody does. Remember when both BAR cars were banned for two races in 2005 due to regulation issues? Yes. Remember when Takuma Sato won the 2017 Indianapolis 500? FUCK YES.
Nick Heidfeld 2005 (Testing/Italy 2005)
An accident during testing kept Heidfeld out for two races. As he was supposed to return for the Brazilian Grand Prix, he was involved in a cycling crash that injured his shoulder. Hey! That’s my injury, and I feel his pain… Heidfeld has a valid argument to be in the top 3 drivers of all time to never win a grand prix.
Paul Di Resta replaces a sick Felipe Massa (Hungary 2017)
Who cares. I’m just going to plug this column, and leave this at that.
Ralph Firman (Hungary 2003)
I remember racing at China once online when someone dislodged my rear wing. I had no clue the wing wasn’t attached and I screamed into the barriers as fast as this Ralph Firman crash in 2003. We’re glad nobody suffered life threatening injuries, I’m glad I was racing online. Ralph missed two races and had a fractured heel. I guess it healed well as Zsolt Baumgartner replaced him for a couple races until he returned. And no, that’s not the guy who jumped from space to earth.


Which 2019 driver is the most likely to injure themselves next?
Imagine yourself running the “I’m likely to injure myself anonymous” meeting on a Wednesday night. Let’s go around the table at our shortlist of drivers who attended this meeting.
Lewis Hamilton: “Hi, I’m Lewis Hamilton. I like to ski, try extreme sports, travel, do things that that will likely injure myself, but I do it to have fun.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Bwoah, I’m Kimi. Ewqbewqnewgwewe lot of shit. Webewguewu my kids reyerbwqvqwev maybe step on the lego thing.”
Kevin Magnussen: “Hi, I’m Kevin. I get into a lot of arguments and fights. I’m intense. I once punched a guy at a bar for bumping into me but nobody knows about it, and I’d appreciate it if it didn’t get out of this meeting either.”
Max Verstappen: “Hi, I’m Max. I was sent to this meeting to complete my community service after shoving some idiot at Brazil last year. I don’t want to be here.”
Take your pick. I choose Kimi. How he hasn’t injured himself doing what he does on a daily basis I will never know.

The worst and memorable

Felipe Massa (Hungary 2009)
I vividly remember this as I didn’t see it live. I had no TV access while the session was taking place, nowhere else to watch the qualifying session, so I had to resort to following text updates on F1’s live timing screen. The text updates didn’t do Massa’s accident justice, and neither did the accident itself. It’s bizarre that a loose spring kept Massa out for the rest of the season. Which brings the halo discussion back in action. Every time I think of the halo, I don’t think about how safe it is, or how it looks like a thong, I think about this Massa crash from 2009. And how the halo would never keep a driver safe from most loose objects. But it’s better than nothing right?
Robert Kubica (Rallying 2011)
Technically, I’m including this because Kubica was supposed to race in that 2011 season for Lotus. Would Robert have won the races Kimi had won for the team in 2012/2013? What if Kubica had raced alongside Alonso at Ferrari? Would Robert be a world champion by now? The knock on effect of how this would have changed the driver market could have been dramatic. Maybe Hamilton and Kubica are teammates now at Mercedes? What if Hamilton stays at McLaren because Mercedes grab their hands on Robert for 2013? The domino effect.
Fernando Alonso (Australia 2016)
This was my first red flag experience at an F1 race in person. It was odd, weird, but I tell you what? When you’re standing for hours on end not wanting to leave a good spot you found on the circuit, a red flag period in person is so much better than watching on TV. It’s like half time of a football game, enough time to find water, food, get to the bathroom, sit down and not worry about missing any action.
The injury from this raced paved the way for Stoffel Vandoorne to make his Formula 1 debut (and score points) at the next race in Bahrain. A guy I’d raced against in 2012 in sim racing, glad to see him on the world stage, but also glad to see Alonso was back in action the race afterwards.
María de Villota (Testing 2012)
Poor Maria de Villota later passed away from complications of her injuries sustained in this crash during testing. I’m not going to divulge on what happened, but this is an incident that could easily have been avoided, regardless whether or not the investigation implied that she was at fault or not. Why was a truck allowed anywhere near a running F1 car anyway?
Jules Bianchi (Japan 2014)
Along with Maria, the most sombre of anything in this column. I never thought we’d ever have another driver death again after Senna in ‘94. What Bianchi should and could have achieved, will ironically live on through Charles Leclerc I guess. The crash, the gloomy weather, the Ted Kravitz tone of voice running to the incident, the fact you didn’t know Bianchi was even in the incident, you were wondering why Sutil’s car was there the whole time, the no champagne on the podium, the broadcast concluding. I’d never experienced a race weekend with a driver death before. The closest experience I had live was MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli in Malaysia 2011.
I didn’t know what was going on with Jules. I thought he was fine. I told everyone I knew who didn’t watch Formula 1 that it was safe, drivers can’t die anymore. You couldn’t die if you tried. I just wish we could have this one race back, he was going to be such a promising talent.
This one really got to me when it happened.


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Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.

Sim Racing: 'The Transaction'


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Sim Racing: 'The Transaction'
Is this the biggest, smartest or strongest team acquisition in sim racing? Or all three?
Jonathan Simon | February 28, 2018

The Simon Racing Report - RaceSpot TV Commentator

For the first time in quite a while, I’ve been shocked, swirled, excited and nervous. The simulation racing silly season is back. That’s if you really consider there to be a sim racing silly season – it’s basically 365 days a year. FA Racing G2 Logitech G (a G2 Esports subsidiary) has made strong moves. They’ve made a sturdy case for ‘longest name to say’ (the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series (iWCGPS) wins this award). They’ve also assertively taken advantage of an unregulated sim racing driver market.

The most notable impact is to CoRe SimRacing. This is a team that didn’t even have a stake in the iWCGPS 12 months ago. Isaac Price and ineX parted ways and Sebastian Job moved out of home from Apex Racing UK. Cem Bolukbasi – young, fast and glamorous for sponsors. Don’t forget Pashalis Gergis, who wasn’t initially offered an Apex Racing UK main team seat until it was too late. He left the Apex Academy and all four drivers fell right into the lap of CoRe SimRacing. Lucky for CoRe, but smart to pick them all up.

The team built a strong foundation in 2017 with some promising yet robust highlights:

  • P6 Race – Round 3 @ Montréal (Cem Bolukbasi)
  • P6 Race – Round 4 @ Road America (Cem Bolukbasi)
  • P7 Race – Round 7 @ Imola (Isaac Price)
  • P7 Race – Round 9 @ Spa-Francorchamps (Isaac Price)
  • P4 Qualifying – Round 9 @ Spa-Francorchamps (Pashalis Gergis)
If you’re a CoRe SimRacing fan, I warn you to look away from the next paragraph. Salt will be rubbed on the wound.
The fairytale was set. Frederik Rasmussen, Job, Price, Bolukbasi, Gergis. A young team, all obsessed with sim racing, all hard workers, all with time on their hands. Yes, the veteran presence isn’t there – the mind that keeps these young men in check. But it didn’t matter. They had the speed and a well-built team ready to take on those at the top of the iWCGPS standings. They were placed to start 2018 as the third best team in the series, with potential to fight VRS Coanda Simsport and Team Redline for the top spot on the podium.
It was a cool cast of five, potentially six with Joni Törmälä (let’s talk about that later). A formidable squad with brotherly love, one that would’ve created success with a sim racing reality show. Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Ball In The Family, and now The CoRe Four with Two More. Another reality show cancelled mid-way through season one for controversial circumstances. Gergis being Greek, is in perpetual financial difficulty. Isaac Price as a good friend, develops the setup to an elaborate bank robbery keeping Pash out of debt. Conducting the robbery are Frede, Cem and Joni, leading themselves into the bank and out into the getaway car. The show is then cancelled at the end of season 1, after getaway driver Sebastian Job crashed coming out of a city chicane. Flipping the car upside down, killing all inside.
Here’s what’s really happened now. G2 Esports have pulled off a bundle of great signings. It’s not a Martin Krönke, but it’s enough to establish themselves as a competitor in the sim racing world. A REAL competitor – not that the Fernando Alonso name already did.
They’ve done nothing wrong, nothing unethical, but used all the leverage they had to negotiate. They’ve convinced some of the world’s best sim racers to join what should be a strong FA Racing G2 team. It’s all speculation remember. As successful as G2 are, they have yet to prove themselves in the iWCGPS world, let alone the sim racing world. There’s the ‘Miracle on Ice’, Michael Jordan’s ‘The Shot’, ‘The Curse of the Bambino’, ‘The Trade’ with Wayne Gretzky. This move will go down in the deep history of Wikipedia as ‘The Transaction’. It’s like Bitcoin, it’s going to be good, but it’s all on speculation at the moment. We need to wait until they prove themselves, but it’s going to happen.
Positive SimRacing (PSR) has been one of the biggest victims of this. They’re a team that constantly loses home grown talent and most of the time, it’s poached away. I know, I was one of those. I came to PSR unknown, but they took a chance on me, provided support, as they’ve done with countless other drivers. I was from Australia, not even sure which other driver's country was closest to me. I was young, almost completely unknown, but they took a risk on me as their top choice rookie, using their 'first round draft pick'. I wasn't Giannis Antetokounmpo, but thankfully I worked hard to ensure I wasn't the Darko Miličić draft bust. At the end of the day, because PSR is unable to keep just a single one of all the talents they helped nurture, they’re unable to establish themselves as a top competitor. Once that offer came to me from a more established team, I moved. As all drivers would.
Ask Javier Álvarez. The name branding of top teams would easily snatch drivers away from developing teams. Reputation also has a great effect on a driver’s decision to join a new squad. The most important influence however, is what teammates you’ll be joining at your desired destination. If they’re quicker than you, a slower driver will join knowing they’ll obtain access to quick setups and the faster driver’s telemetry. If you’re the quickest, you join other top talents. If you’re a developing team, it takes a whole lot of luck and skill to preserve prospering talent. All that talent needs to arrive at the EXACT same time.
CoRe had it perfectly timed with a smidgen of luck. Now it’s gone.
Think of Mitchell DeJong’s iRacing Road Pro Series stint with the Orion Race Team. The most dominant Pro Series driver of all time was then smartly snapped up by Coanda, who in turn guided his already developed talent into a race winner. Think of it in other sports. If Orion drafted DeJong number one overall in a Pro Series draft, they’d have him nailed down for at least three or four years. In this event, Orion didn’t even get a single race out of him and lost their number one pick.
Evolution Racing Australia (now Evolution Racing Team) also had the same dilemma with Riley Preston a couple years back. That’s motorsport for you. Sim racing simulates the off-track stuff as good as what’s on track. Think of Arsenal’s potential if valuable contributors had remained at the club over the past few seasons. Cesc Fàbregas, Samir Nasri, Robin Van Persie, Alex Song, Gaël Clichy,
Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen, Alexis Sánchez, and the best of all, Olivier Giroud. All gone. The difference here, Arsenal IS a name brand. By the way, am I the only person to proudly own a Giroud jersey?
The politics in sim racing is as fun as what’s on track. I remember sometimes being more entertained by the forums than the testing and racing!
But in sim racing, talent and budget win over a less established, well structured team. It’s just the way it goes. As one of the most well run teams in Formula 1, Force India still won’t win a championship without talent and budget.
But then when talent moves to a less established team? You improve, you win. Think LeBron James taking the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2015, with the Cavs coming off a forgettable 2014 campaign which earned them the number one draft pick. Think Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. They left the BBC and still found success for Amazon Prime. It works in a variety of ways.
It is what it is, G2 Esports played the market. Well played.
According to the rumour mill, Joni Törmälä to CoRe Sim Racing was a done deal. FA Racing G2 was also rumored to have swooped in at the list minute, taking the two time iWCGPS race winner along with three of the nests eggs. He’s surely spoken to both teams. In the middle of that, it was also speculated that he’d join one of sim racing’s rising teams in Vendaval Simracing.
He was a hot free agent after departing ineX Racing. I remember his surprise victory at Round 1 for the 2016 iWCGPS. To me, that was as surprising as Brawn GP’s dominance at the start of the 2009 Formula 1 season.
I had suggested in a previous podcast that if FA Racing G2 had signed Cem Bolukbasi, why not just sign the entire CoRe SimRacing iWCGPS team? A young team, appeals to the eSports audience, no boring drivers on the team and great chemistry. Importantly, most drivers on the team had embedded or established themselves in the CoRe SimRacing heart and soul. They hadn’t been around long enough for this to be an emotional exit either. It wouldn’t be a controversial transaction if it was done.
It’s done. Signed, sealed, delivered. Now it’s onto the next chapter.
Each driver has established their niche and what they bring to a sim racing team. Because if you don’t have talent in sim racing and you don’t have a specialisation you bring, what good are you to major players and teams?
Top teams in the world championship want to know who you are. If you’re a mid pack to back of the grid driver and obtain a world championship license, where else are you going to contribute to the team? Are you a setup guru? The chemistry guy? The fun one on the TeamSpeak servers? The strategist? The leader? What’s your niche if you’re not fast?
Every one of these drivers are either fast, or have that niche.
The problem with specialising in multiple skills in the modern day, is that someone who can get four extra hours a day on you, with their mind focused on one skill, will eventually come out on top. It takes a crazy Kobe Bryant-like work ethic and mentality to develop expertise with one skill. Unless you’re the Childish Gambino of sim racing of course, that’s a once in a generation talent. That’s where you can write, act, do stand-up, rap and more, all at an elite level.
Pashalis Gergis though, hasn’t been signed. He’s been left to die as the only iWCGPS driver on the CoRe SimRacing squad for 2018… for now. Will they go after rookie Moritz Löhner? The rookie only just recently secured a world championship license for 2018. From Heusinkveld CORE Motorsports to CoRe SimRacing? Red Sox to Yankees? Duke to North Carolina? Arsenal to Tottenham?
Pash, Joshua Rogers and Löhner are working together to begin this season. Along with help from CoRe SimRacing's Carl Winkler. He's a man who adores setups, CoRe have smartly found a use for him where he won't only support Gergis, but the other two as well. When drivers end up testing together as these three are, there's a high chance they'll end up on the same team after a few months. CoRe SimRacing get a free look at the other two behind the scenes. How they work, interact, their character and more. Don't be surprised if Josh Rogers and Moritz Löhner are permanently at CoRe SimRacing by June.
Maybe Gergis will focus on the Blancpain GT Series with new teammate Ricardo Castro Ledo? A duo with a formidable season ahead. What if Gergis is the forgotten one? Everyone thinks of The Transaction at G2 ESports, but what if Gergis turns out to score the most points of the lot in 2018?
That was like the Paul George – Victor Oladipo trade. Everyone forgot Victor had a chance to put up career high numbers in Indiana. But he did. Let’s not look into this too much, it’s motorsport, not a sports league. We discussed that.
It’s time for Gergis and Castro Ledo to take ownership of CoRe SimRacing. They need to make the most of this opportunity. How will the team bounce back? Patiently aggressive moves will lead to success.
One last thing. FA Racing G2 is one of the first proper eSports teams we’ve seen in the sim racing business. Think of your manufacturer vs. customer teams in Formula 1. Now think of your ‘sim racing’ teams vs. ‘eSports’ teams. Something I discussed with Nick Rowland in the recent podcast linked earlier (Episode 53).
With early success, this could also reel in other eSports teams who may want to jump on the bandwagon. They’ll compete with sim racing bled teams and aim to field in contending race winners. Do we implement a teams’ championship? Driver limits on teams? Rivalries?
FA Racing G2 is in a strong position with the squad they’ve developed. I’d place them third in the pre-season power rankings behind VRS Coanda Simsport and Team Redline who are first and second respectively. Wait a minute, are Team Redline even going to race in 2018?
Let’s wait for a thrilling round one where Martin Krönke will continue his historical win streak.
Summary of FA Racing G2 Logitech G’s signings:

Frederik Rasmussen (Previous Team: CoRe Sim Racing)
  • Age: 17 (18/06/2000)
  • Danish
  • iRacing Blancpain GT Series (2017 Champion) and 2018 iWCGPS driver
  • F1 Esports finalist

Sebastian Job (Previous Team: CoRe Sim Racing)
  • Age: 17 (22/03/2000)
  • British
  • iWCGPS driver (2018 will be his third season)
  • Winner of the JMR Scholarship, securing a fully funded season in Formula Ford

Isaac Price (Previous Team: CoRe Sim Racing)
  • Age: 24 (04/01/1994)
  • British
  • iWCGPS driver (2018 will be his fifth 'official' season), best result was P2 at VIR in 2014
  • F1 Esports finalist

Joni Törmälä (Previous Team: ineX Racing)
  • Age: 21 (15/08/1996)
  • Finnish
  • Previous iWCGPS driver and two time race winner (five career seasons)
  • F1 Esports finalist

Nestor Garcia (Previous Team: Iberica Racing Team)
  • Age: 26 (19/11/1991)
  • Spanish
  • iRacing Blancpain GT Series driver and F1 Esports semi finalist
  • 2014 GT Academy national finalist (Spain)


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Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.

2018 Formula 1 Streaming Service Wishlist


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2018 Formula 1 Streaming Service Wishlist
What I hope is introduced for Formula 1's over-the-top streaming service for 2018 and beyond
Jonathan Simon | January 23, 2018

The Simon Racing Report - RaceSpot TV Commentator

Coming to a home near you in 2018 is Formula 1’s dedicated streaming service. It’s one of the most overdue features in a sport that is still recovering from the death of Bernie Ecclestone. A presence such as Bernie with traditional views would never have thought of such a service. Something beneficial for fans and potentially detrimental to TV revenue. Even if he did conjure up the idea, it would be priced as much as a high-class Rolex. Remember, young-kids can’t afford them. Then again, this is the internet – and that Hublot ad makes so much more sense now.

Now it should read: “see what people will do for an overpriced F1 streaming service." VPN’s at the ready…
The service is something the sport should have begun to develop ten years ago. From the minimal news and comments we’ve heard, I think they’re on the right track with what’s been touted on paper so far.
The potential Formula 1 has at their hands here is sky high – a chance to lead all sports in streaming services, functionality, features and offering. In a sport that correlates success with finance, this isn’t Moneyball. This is sandbox mode. An exciting venture for Liberty Media.
Step one was to create everything as an in-house service and they’ve done exactly that. Streaming services are now dominating how various sports are broadcasted to the everyday fan (as well as Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc., in relation to the entertainment industry). Many sports and associations are now starting to figure out that fans are willing to pay for ALL of this. All the coverage, features, on demand, EVERYTHING. Fans are intrigued into watching what they want, when they want, wherever they want.
One concern though, Liberty Media were first involved in the sport in late 2016. Is that enough time to develop a fully functional streaming service? Will it be more of a pain consuming the service or dealing with Romain Grosjean radio complaints? Perhaps F1 was developing this service before Liberty Media came into the picture. That’s still potential though. It’s like Steve Kerr’s Liberty Media is taking on the already developed Mark Jackson Golden State Warriors.
I’m a big advocate of streaming services. And because I couldn’t fill in F1’s recent survey on the matter, I’m going to chime in on what Jonathan Simon would want. Let’s hope someone from F1 uses this – call it a ‘wishlist’ for F1’s Streaming Service in 2018.

No advertisements

I’m going to keep this first one short because most of us will agree, we don’t want ads. Especially since you’ll be paying for a service that was taken away from free TV anyway.
Now if there are intermissions in broadcasting there are a number of ways to counter this. Let the race flow on in the background with trackside microphones. It’s the soothing ambient peace of a screaming race car along with the session footage – where you won’t miss a beat for three minutes. If it’s before or after the race? Play an overtakes package, grill the grid video, or a mid-week interview we might have missed.

Choice of cameras

This would work really well with the 360° onboard cameras that F1 is introducing soon. It’s your choice really. I’d have the world feed as the biggest camera on the left-hand side of my screen, adjoined with a pit-lane camera at the top right-hand side of the screen, along with another driver’s onboard camera on the bottom left. If there’s a section of the race track the world feed isn’t focusing on, flick to that particular corner or sector of the race track and enjoy.
Imagine going onboard with Fernando Alonso for the start and rotating around with the 360° onboard camera with your mouse. Couple that with virtual reality and you’ve got yourself a sport that can take advantage of the VR experience. Definitely more than any other competition out there in the world.

Classic races and historical footage

It’s probably been the most requested feature of the bunch. F1 showed promise last year when they released the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix for 19 days to celebrate 19 years at Malaysia. Now it’s time to release classic races from classic seasons. It would take some time, but if it’s the off-season and I’m crazy enough to binge watch a few races, the option should be there.
And should we enable some form of binge/child lock? The worst part about binge watching anything is that I never win. I always come back the next morning thinking my three 30 minute episodes in a row was a world record. I’m then KO’d by the bingemaniac, who confesses to their 17 episodes in a row, struggling to stand – tired and ashamed.
My biggest fear is having to pay extra for classic races/seasons. It could happen for sure, but at least the option for it will be there.
Historical footage should be at our fingertips. I have a secret fascination for unreleased footage of Juan Manuel Fangio. Everyone compares him to the greats, but that’s off those five world championships alone. I want to see the man at the wheel doing what he did best. I want to see how unsafe and insane we used to be in the 1950’s in relation to safety. We know the footage is there somewhere, fans have waited long enough. There’s no need to mine the internet to find the same clips redistributed on YouTube. And when you can’t find it there, you know you’re deep diving when you’re on Vimeo. And if you’re REALLY deep diving, you may ended up searching F1 on PornHub. Much similar to when Kanye West’s ‘Life of Pablo’ was uploaded there. While searching for F1 clips, for the first time you’ll have a good reason to make a quick-pit stop and watch some porn.
You would have to be a lucky soul to be left in the Formula 1 film room with access to pieces of history millions of fans would kill for. Can I request to sit down with a driver and record a podcast in there? We’ll watch classic footage and ramble on about the bravery of those that conquered the sport in the mid-20th century.
Classic races and historical footage will also provide an extra incentive for fans to subscribe to the streaming service. Especially during the off-season or summer break. It will act as an incentive for us to pay for what will be an overpriced service anyway, so might as well add it in.

Hire Will Buxton and a dedicated team

This was an idea I suggested on my podcast with Nick Rowland in November 2017.
Buxton is was as big a free agent to the F1 journalist world as LeBron James was for the NBA in 2010 (and will be in 2018 when he leaves the Cleveland Cavaliers). Liberty Media should hire and build a dedicated F1 presenting team for the streaming service. Last year, Buxton’s interviews on NBC coincided with the official F1 channel. You know what you’ll get, so have him present and interview for F1 in house.
Good news though, Buxton along with James Allen, Johnny Herbert and Rosanna Tennant are all close to being confirmed for the 2018 line-up.

Functionality and Devices

Basically, this service needs to work. It also needs to be dynamic and function on more than just a computer. The McLaren Honda was quick at times, but the car never worked.
Create a tablet and phone app. Provide a TV app for those who want to broadcast races on TV when the mates are over. Don’t make us purchase Apple TV or Google Home to access the TV app. Make it available for all smart TV devices.
Another thing – don’t include all features on the computer version, then port the app to tablet at 50% of what’s offered. If I have the ability to rewind a race by 10 seconds and 30 seconds on a computer, I don’t want one bulk 30 second option for the tablet app. If I can select live timing on a computer, the tablet should have the same functionality.
For all you gamers, that was the old Electronic Arts (EA) trick when the PS3 and Xbox 360 came out. They decided to develop a game that was sublime for the new version of the console. Afterwards, you were given the washed up Washington Wizards MJ version that was ported for the PS2, Xbox and PC.
What did you have against PC EA? This was as much of a sin as Apple confirming they purposely degrade the performance of old iPhones.
Going back to my concern on the development of this service, it’s critical to understand how much time and resourcing has been allocated by Liberty Media. Are they pushing all their chips into this one service?
One risk, is the potential for the initial service to be extremely incompatible, slow and horrible. All coinciding adjectives for the start of Lance Stroll’s career. The basics shouldn’t be skipped (functionality, devices and interface) and then new and ongoing features should be introduced year after year. Don’t rush, don’t skip steps. We’ve already done that to Lance Stroll. The F1 streaming service has a few potential options here to start its career:
Lance Stroll: A few hiccups and crashes in the first few weeks of testing. Everyone eventually gets accustomed to the service. Everyone loses hope in it towards the end of the first season.

Fernando Alonso: The service shows promise in the first year. F1 then take some time behind the scenes to develop new features. The service returns in upcoming seasons, new and improved.

Lewis Hamilton: Everything is bang on fast, reliable and strong from the get go. Great servers, the same way Lewis had a great car. This is coupled with reliability and consistency, with plenty of flair and features.

Rewinding, Markers and a Timeline

This may seem silly, but it’s one of the most underrated features of any streaming or video service out there right now. Think of the exchange when you’re interrupted by the wife, friend or family, most likely for a question that could wait or didn’t need to be asked at all. It goes a little something like this:
Spouse: “Are you working tomorrow? It’s 11:30pm on a Sunday night and you’re still watching the race. When will it end? The kids are asleep and the TV’s on.”
It’s agony – the vital seconds you lose with a question you’re unsure how to answer. That’s also called ‘the suffering of an F1 fan in Australia with late night Sunday night races’. As an F1 fan, every second matters to us – every tenth. Never panic of course. Here’s where you simply rewind those 15 seconds and not have to worry again. There are too many streams out there with the lack of a rewind feature. This has to be a simple feature to attach.
Something I haven’t seen incorporated anywhere is a custom rewind feature. It’s a feature that rewinds at a rate we desire. If I constantly find myself rewinding 7 seconds because that’s what I tend to do, let me set a custom button to 7 seconds in order to do that. Instead of clogging up the user interface, have one or two rewind buttons and then let the user set their own third custom button. I’ll take 75% of the profits if someone implements this. Please forward the cheque using the contact tab above on this website.
In accordance with this, it would be great if there were ‘markers’ for overtakes, incidents, pit stops and other notable race events. If you missed Sebastian Vettel’s slow pit stop a few laps earlier that cost him three positions, there’ll be an online marker on a timeline noting when it all happened. This includes what lap, as well as the option to rewind and view that particular portion of the race.
It’s an especially perfect feature for reporters trying to review a race for a feature, article, column or podcast. You’ll have the ability to view all overtakes of a single driver, just click a marker to view it. Think of when a leading driver qualifies poorly. They shuffle their way through the field on that trademark young Lewis Hamilton / Max Verstappen charge through the field. That’s another instance where markers will be put to good use.
Markers could be mapped automatically through the live timing system too. If an overtake occurs on track and live timing notes the position changes, it can be seamlessly coded by the system and in turn, a marker is created.
Think of a driver entering the pit-lane, everything will be mapped with lead in and lead out times. I’m a bit concerned as to how Pastor Maldonado’s incident timeline would’ve been represented. Crash here, pit stop there, markers everywhere. All his crashes would ironically crash the app.
The service could then map these to driver profiles. There’s a lot of potential to extract here. Click on Sergio Pérez for example and you’ll have the ability to review all of his overtakes for an entire season through one quick menu.

Testing Coverage (Pre-Season and Mid-Season)

Unless you’ve been to the race track in person, coverage has been minimal for many F1 fans. Live commentary was the best way to follow testing on websites such as or Coverage started to ramp up with Ted’s Notebook for Sky Sports F1 and Will Buxton’s Paddock Pass for NBC the past few years. At the moment, Paddock Pass won’t be returning in any format for 2018. Formula 1’s dedicated YouTube channel began uploading highlights for each day of pre-season testing in 2017, but that’s only good for those looking for that bite sized news in person.
Having a dedicated F1 testing stream would be great. It could act as a 9-hour radio show, with multiple hosts subbing in and out. Think of the US sports talk shows and morning radio shows. I’d watch it much similar to how I do Friday practice sessions. You have it on in the background while getting some other work/errands done. Or some home exercise of course. Friday practice commentary is like listening to a video podcast. Every now and then, you would peak at the screen to see important events.

Advanced Live Timing Package (that isn't an extra add-on cost with the service)

Live timing is a staple in motorsport and this time, it shouldn’t cost F1 fans. I remember years ago when it was free, easy to access and far from troubling. F1 have attractively upgraded the timing app over the past few years. The feature which enables live timing on a time delay is a saviour. Believe me, a REAL saviour. That shitty Australian internet, everything is always out of sync. Damn.
The track map is a great feature, along with tyre history and an abundance of other options that are tremendous and beneficial for F1. For the crazed fans, this could get out of hand. Multiple TV’s, a few monitors hooked to a single computer, and your tablet for those ‘take a shit from lap 17 – 22 breaks’.
Oh, let’s quickly nip something in the bud. Liberty Media, it’s great to give the fans a voice and I enjoy reading some of the comments, but please keep any random twitter comments or tickers disabled by default. At least give us the option to disable it. Those post-race twitter feed comments that pop up in the waiting room ahead of the podium ceremony are as obvious and bland as Michael Owen’s football analysis. No I don't want opinions from other fans clogging up my race, no I don’t want an Instagram post of a duck shitting on a kerb, no I don’t want to hear Sebastian Vettel is driving well. I can see he’s driving well, he’s in fucking first place. I think we can make that judgment for ourselves. When I want to see what fans have to say on a particular incident, I’ll load up my own twitter feed and search for #F1. It’s manageable.
Let’s now add team radio to the mix. The service could give us the option to play radio calls of particular drivers we subscribe to during the race. If I’m subscribed to Fernando Alonso (because you’d be silly not to), commentary will fade out and Fernando will be given his 10 seconds of fame to rant away.
Access to telemetry would also be a great addition to pre-season testing. Just recently, Sean Bratches (Managing Director, Commercial Operations – F1) stated that Formula 1 were working on providing data both for casual and hardcore fans. YES!
This additional coverage can provide throttle and breaking inputs, steering angle through certain corners, tyre temperatures and more. You can live the life of Vijay Mallya – locked up in your own home with a virtual pit wall.

Ability to choose different broadcasters and commentators

The first guy I’m turning to when Max Verstappen is having a race of the ages is Olav Mol (Ziggo Sport).
The passion and flair in his commentary is uncanny, yet brilliant. For example, I love Mike Breen called NBA finals and love Jeff Van Gundy’s rants and crazy ideas during games. Some hate them, some love them. I’ll sometimes listen to Jeff Van Gundy called NBA games in the background just to wait for that next hilarious rant or anecdote.
If David Croft and Martin Brundle are unfavourable, then choose Ben Edwards and David Coulthard. Perhaps even BBC Radio 5’s Tom Clarkson and Jack Nicholls. Jack being the best current motorsport commentator in the business, I'd love that. So let’s switch between different broadcasters in Formula 1. Various languages can also be provided to accommodate for the wide world.
I prefer watching live races with the Sky Sports F1 team. During the week though, I might want to watch the entire race again and choose the Channel 4 team instead. I might learn something a little different from the broadcasters. Then I’ll choose another duo when I rewatch a third time a few days later. Just put the race on in the background if you’re in the mood, run some other errands while it’s on.

Bonus Packages: Support Series, Season review, Interviews, Press conferences, Off-track features, etc.

Providing support series such as Formula 2 and Formula 3 is something that Liberty Media have already discussed. There’s two weeks between most races, although this gap is reducing due to the 21 race 2018 calendar. Picture off-track features released during the week, such as pole laps and race starts analysed, etc. It would be a great subliminal educational platform for fans. Imagine hiring Mark Webber to do this for certain races, Di Resta for other races, Anthony Davidson for the rest. Sign me up. I’d love hearing Webber rave on about how shit a decision was. Or how a driver made love to the wall at Tabac and crashed. That’s the Mark Webber lingo we like to hear.
If you missed a press conference on Thursday, the streaming service can let you play it on Friday morning while you’re cooking breakfast before work. PERFECT. Press conferences should also be downloadable mp3’s, it’s what I do for every race instead of sitting in front of a screen, watching others sit and answer questions.
And please, do NOT focus on local drivers in corresponding markets. Or at least give us the ability to disable it much like the social media function that will probably be developed. I watch F1 because I enjoy F1, not for my own nation’s drivers. I’m not against patriotism, but I tend to loathe Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo at times just due to the hype by the local news here. Rubens Barrichello was always a god in Brazil and this would get on the nerve of some Brazilians, same so with Lewis Hamilton and the UK.
On that note, can we please purchase what we want for the service? This is a bit of a long shot request, but if I only want to watch live races and don’t need off-track features, have an option to untick that when purchasing your deal. Think of all those cable TV deals. You only want the sports and movie channels but 28 other lifestyle and cooking shows are bundled in and never used. I only ever want to flick on ESPN and Fox Sports. Daily cooking shows and home renovation programs. Why the fuck do I need that? But I’m forced to subscribe to it.
F1 could also release their season review footage to fill in the slow news period of December, exclusive interviews and loads more. This could be the bonus optional package you’d like to subscribe to.
There’s a load of potential for the F1 Streaming Service – with enough potential to lead all sports streaming services available. Whilst they’re doing a great job so far, let’s not stuff it up Liberty Media.


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Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.

Sim racing: champions develop consistency and adaptability


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Sim racing: champions develop consistency and adaptability
Can inconsistent sim racers ever break out of their unwanted accolade?
Jonathan Simon | January 10, 2018

The Simon Racing Report - RaceSpot TV Commentator

Here’s a question asked profusely. Would you rather have pole position on Saturday, or a podium on Sunday? Without the blink of an eye, I want the points. I need the points. Do I want to be remembered as a qualifying specialist or a race distance connoisseur? If you’re a savant at making smart decisions, championships only come with points and points only come on Sunday. Race winners are streaky, spontaneous and for some, lucky. Champions are consistent and create their own lucky opportunities. There are habits we can create and habits we can break to develop ourselves as a consistent and adaptable driver, otherwise known as your champion.

Sebastian Job’s recent retirement at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps – round 7 of the 2017/18 iRacing Road Pro Series adds to a small history of unforced errors for the young Brit. Sebastian, Patrik Holzmann, as well as Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola all have the speed to contend for a world championship, but I've observed a common trait the trio share. There are certain drivers that ironically, endlessly can’t find an end to their consistency woes. If we knew why, the issue would be solved. Lewis Hamilton was known earlier on in his career for his inconsistent, balls out driving style. However he adapted to the modern day style of driving, saving tyre life and finishing races for strong points. It’s never too late for a driver to reduce their ‘Did Not Finish’ (DNF) troubles. History says though that this generally doesn’t happen and most drivers are stuck with a weakness and accolade none of them want to their name. Included in this list is myself.
Consistency is different when it comes to sports and sim racing. If you’re consistently monotonous – euphemism for consistently shit, you’ve already failed. Consistency is success and hard work at a routine level. The biggest commonality I’ve observed of successful people and organisations is that they have the ability to ‘show up’ consistently on a day to day basis. Sim racers need to be adaptable and drive out of their comfort zone, getting a feel for uncharacteristic things they wouldn’t expect or predict, but would’ve at least prepared for.
The modern day mould of a successful sim racer has evolved over the past ten years. Your average test session ten years ago included an abundance of hotlapping specialists with a lack of race practice. Now, up and coming racers understand that consistency over a full race distance is of championship winning importance. We all learn from the previous generations.
Total iWCGPS Starts vs DNF's

Season Total Starts Total DNF's DNF %
2010 594 157 26.43%
2011 614 206 33.55%
2012 496 152 30.65%
2013 551 187 33.94%
2014 525 123 23.43%
2015 545 107 19.63%
2016 492 82 16.67%
2017 394 65 16.50%

Throughout the years, the percentage of drivers not finishing races has decreased. This is due to the evolution of consistency and approach as mentioned, along with improvements to latency and the move to the McLaren MP4-30.
Of course, driving styles have also had to adapt to different eras of motor racing. The 2010’s has been associated with tyre management, scoring important race points, lack of celebration and care for pole positions or good qualifying performances, the drag reduction system (DRS), push to pass and more. Motor racing has evolved the same way every sport undergoes evolution. Basketball’s reliance on small-ball lineups and three point shooting has taken precedence in the modern day, taking over the slow and tall post-up ‘bang them down low' Pastor Maldonado style of play. Baseball has too shifted slightly towards a significant focus on pitching and away from big bat hitting.
Patrik Holzmann and Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola, both talented and quick, have had plenty of success and failure at both the world championship level and other major events. They are two of the top sim racers I’ve ever seen. Matter of fact, I truly thought Aleksi was going to win the 2015 iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series (iWCGPS) after the opening few rounds. Have a look at their numbers below when it comes down to starts and DNF’s. If unforced errors could also be tracked, a driver would find it impossible to exonerate themselves from the harsh reality of this. These drivers fail to finish races as much as an average level driver. The difference is, they have enough speed to contend at the front in and around world champions, so expectations increase.
Starts DNF's DNF %
Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola 58 16 27.59%
Patrik Holzmann 31 8 25.81%
Sebastian Job 22 6 27.27%

In a total of 285 starts between iWCGPS world champions Greger Huttu, Hugo Luis and Martin Krönke, they have each failed to finish a race 6 times for a total of 6.32%.
All three are also insanely quick in qualifying, but have suffered from a number of issues in a race. On average, the trio lose around 4 to 6 positions from their starting grid slots when they receive the chequered flag. Although not all of these DNF's are entirely their fault. They've also all suffered from some form of a technical issue, whether it's connection or wheel/pedals.
Regardless, the modern era has also put further emphasis on drivers applying super smooth inputs through the steering and pedals. Easily degradable tyres are to both praise and blame, whether you like it or not. A smooth style keeps the rubber in check and rewards drivers the further a race progresses. It’s also coincided with drivers understanding that championship points for most series are only handed out on race day and not qualifying. Developing a setup that will position you well on the grid isn’t the ‘do all end all’, especially in a virtual sport where overtaking is much easier than the real world counterpart.
I was lucky enough to spend a couple months with Patrik when I joined GhostSpeed Racing back in my FSR World Championship days (when the series was last credible and good – just barely). He is by far the most deadly teammate I’ve ever had over a single lap – insanely swift and quick. Although our time was short together on the team, there was a common trait I noticed which also hindered me as a driver.
Patrik is renowned for being a hotlapper. Certainly not in a negative way – just that he’s able to string together a blisteringly quick pole lap that would break a virtual sound barrier if it existed. With all the world records he has set in Codemasters F1 video games in the past and present, this taught me a valuable lesson on feel, driving style and how you conduct practice. Park this thought for a second, we'll make sure not to get hit by the medical car in the next couple paragraphs (Taki Inoue) and come back to this discussion soon.
In my mind, every driver has an ‘error prone range’. Your maximum qualifying pace is 100% of your total effort and no driver can give more than 100% effort into a lap. The average driver is error prone when putting in effort at a range between 80% and 100%. This means once they start pushing past 80% of their skill level and ability, there is a dramatic exponential increase in the amount of errors made. From my experience racing in the FSR World Championship, the world’s best sim racers are capable of keeping an ‘error prone range’ of around 95% to 100%. For someone at the skill level of a Martin Krönke, Greger Huttu or Bono Huis, they’re generally within the 98% to 100% range. Just remember that nobody’s perfect, it’s how CLOSE to perfection you can get.
When a driver hotlaps, they develop their own overall pace, ability and skill. This raises how quick you are at 100% effort. However the more you hotlap, the more your ‘error prone range’ increases. Just remember, if a 100m sprinter starts running marathons, it decreases how quick they are in the short run. Vice versa for a marathon runner. To improve pace yet reduce errors, it’s about coinciding skill, experience, time spent in practice and instinct.
The medical car didn’t hit us, so back to talking about hotlapping. Better yet, how to improve consistency. One of the first things I would do during testing for a new track/round was put in a rough estimate of a full race fuel load, then lap around for as long as I could without spinning, crashing or making mistakes. I would try to find the limit of the car. Lewis Hamilton’s latest video of him lapping around the Nurburgring is the best example of this.
Lewis experiments with the car, learns the track, finds the limit, goes beyond it, backs off, then pushes slightly harder again. Bwoah, this is art. If you find yourself relishing when finding the limit as Lewis does, expect to go places in racing. The video also cements that perfection isn’t easy to come by. The worst thing you can do when focusing on improving consistency is worry about lap times from lap one. Drivers who post a screenshot of a remarkable stint, where laptimes are within a tenth of a second of each other every lap doesn’t necessarily indicate they are ultra-consistent. That’s the same person who hits the gym, runs for ten minutes then uses Instagram to post how puffed they are from an intense breathtaking workout.
A car changes from one lap to the next and as we mentioned before, consistency is adaptability. Consistent lap times fluctuate due to shifting conditions and an abundance of other variables. Once you’re used to adaptable long run pace, setting consistent laps, as well as consistently improving your pace too as you’re learning the track, you then start playing around with the basic package of the setup.
Setup adjustments were never made on the first day for me, with the exception of some basic braking, gearing and aero adjustments to make sure I was getting a feel for the most dramatic changes of the car. Once 7th gear and the wings were set up to max out at the end of the longest straight, I would pursue other setup avenues. This would include experimenting with different downforce packages to see which was quicker over a long distance and most of all, seeing which package you were most COMFORTABLE with as a driver. This is only day one, I wouldn't touch any other aspect of the car until at least day two.
If you’re the driver who mindlessly clicks on a setting and says “hey, that’s faster!” you’re not the only one. We’ve all done it, even the pros. I’ve never figured out how to ideally setup ride height and packers for example. I've tried reading MoTeC, using logic, it's certainly not the easiest part of the car to setup. I always stole the best setting from other teammates. Not understanding what you’re changing however, reduces your warm snug comfort with the car.
There’s two ways to go about a setup, the quickest option or the safest option. It also depends on how skillful you are at driving the ‘quick’ setup you can produce. That setup option may be a tenth or two quicker than your ‘safe’ setup. The catch: you’re susceptible to making errors as you’re not especially comfortable with it. Figured it out yet? Apprehensiveness with a car reduces consistency.
Michael Dinkel was an advocate for this – mentioning on my podcast that despite a quicker setup being faster over a single lap, you aren’t driving on rails for the entire race. You’re not a robot, at least not until 2050, when driverless cars will be taking over Formula 1 to everyone’s chagrin. You’re more prone to making mistakes every few laps and this increases overall lap time more so than a slower setup.
So how does this relate to consistency? By incorporating long stints into your practice sessions, you’re making calculated and comfortable setup adjustments. This results in greater consistency while also developing overall driving skill and most importantly muscle memory.
Further developing consistency are the long rhythmic stints. The more laps you complete, muscle memory is improved and in turn, the greater your consistency. Think of Tom Brady’s throwing motion that he’s mastered over and over and over again. All those long nights in Foxborough, staying late until 9:30pm at the New England Patriots practice facility trying to master his arm. It’s a carbon copy motion every single time.
I used to think the two weeks of practice between each race was sufficient enough to build muscle memory. After a while, I realised not every traction zone was the same at each circuit, neither was grip, corner radius and so on… While they share similar characteristics, muscle memory in sim racing relates to the steering and pedal movements in the body that you can replicate picture perfect repeatedly. The biggest eye opener for me was while playing a different sport. My free throw percentage in basketball was not based off of two weeks of practice. It was off a lifetime of constant failure, adjustments and then success.
Two weeks of practice is not enough to develop consistency and adaptability. So don't treat each circuit like a new venture.
Back on topic, comfort is what you’re trying to achieve to be consistent and that’s what hotlapping doesn’t achieve. Take 4 hours of hotlapping over 3 days. Roughly two of those laps would satisfy me and as a result, I’m dissatisfied, uncomfortable and far from snug in the car. As a driver, I would lose the serenity and sanity to adapt to constant changes to the weight of the car as the fuel decreases, tyre wear increases, etc. Worst of all were the random lock-ups that would occur, especially when you’d never experienced that in the two weeks of practice leading up the event.
To take a trip back memory lane, let’s go back to my rFactor 1 days. The tyres in a particular amateur league I raced in (the mod was created by the league itself) would turn to ice at a random corner around 79% of wear. As a result, you would spin in an instant, before the grip returned to normal at around 78% of wear. Realistic? No – but you have to adapt to the circumstances given to you. That’s consistency right? I wouldn’t have known the tyres turned to ice without at least lapping long stints in practice. To counter this issue, I took it easy when the tyres would get to this certain point of wear, then start to push again once the issue was long gone. Hotlapping and making setup adjustments for a low fuel qualifying setup would have put me in turmoil. I made most of my setup adjustments with around 50% of fuel load in the car.
Another quick anecdote – I vividly remember my Logitech G27 waking up the whole house at 3am in the morning after I locked the brakes in the early laps of a race. Thanks rFactor 2. The flat spot on the tyre allowed my wheel to have a voracious orgasm until I waited for my scheduled stop 15 laps later. I certainly never practiced that and rightly so. Do I want to foot a repair bill for a new wheel, broken table, new computer, desk, hospital bill for the amount of vibrations that were sent through my body? Get the fuck out of here.
My greatest lesson learnt on sim racing, consistency and racecraft, is to do a Bill Belichick. Prepare for every situation before it occurs. When the Patriots were down 28 – 3 in Super Bowl LI, the Patriots later tied the game 28 a piece before winning in overtime. You could tell they had prepared for this situation before, no panic whatsoever. I would intentionally lock up in a practice stint to understand how the car would react. Only for a couple laps of course…
If you’re going to struggle to qualify near the front and have an untroubled and super consistent race, then practice adaptability.
There was a common theme with team owners and managers that I noticed while racing. They were always impressed and respected talent who had the ability to couple quickness with consistency. Having one over the other wouldn’t razzle or dazzle anyone in the virtual paddock. Having both would not only impress team owners but would come out in the wash – the championship standings. I once heard from a dentist that the biggest thing that attracted them was a guy who had clean teeth. Think of dentists as team owners/managers and clean teeth as consistent adaptable sim racers. Don’t ask, I’ve hit on a dentist before.
Sebastian Job has a fork in the road mission on his hands. Become the future world champion he has the potential to turn be?
Maintain the high qualifying, DNF filled results due to mental errors. Can inconsistency ever be developed with a sim racer or will they forever be inconsistent? So far Holzmann and Uusi-Jaakkola haven’t managed to overcome this dilemma, next to prove the theory wrong is Job. Can he do it?
Don't forget, that Patrik and Aleksi have still had incredibly successful careers so far, even without Krönke's adaptable consistency.
It’s not a ‘young and dumb’ thing either. Just remember that Bono Huis was a world champion at 16 years of age without inconsistency issues. But there are still plenty of other young sim racers who have snapped out of being an inconsistent juggernaut.
The one lap qualifying specialist is a 100m sprinter, always quick over one lap and unstoppable in qualifying on the Saturday. Your race winners and champions are marathon runners, maintaining strong consistent pace over a long distance. Adaptable in all places, conditions and circumstances.


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Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.

How to improve the Formula One World Constructors' Championship


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How to improve the Formula One World Constructors' Championship
The Simon Racing Report's guide to improving the least interesting championship in F1
Jonathan Simon | January 5, 2018

The Simon Racing Report - RaceSpot TV Commentator

When was the last time you had celebrated a Formula One World Constructors' Championship victory? I’m hardly ecstatic about it – even less so than Mark Webber, especially when Christian Horner would rub it in his face on the team radio whenever Red Bull Racing would win a constructors title. Christian, we love you, but Mark never gave a damn. Apart from finding out who is the most successful team for a given season, the constructors’ championship is used to determine areas such as the entry fees (Appendix 7, Formula 1 Sporting Regulations), prize money and other minuscule details.

Now I know what you’re asking, didn’t you say you were going to write this column a few months ago? Well if Williams can delay their driver decision until January, I can exponentially do the same for this column. But regardless of that, here it is… The Simon Racing Report’s guide to improving the Formula 1 World Constructors’ Championship.

Penalty points replace grid penalties

Finally, an improvement to the sheer stupidity that grid penalties are starting to become. Whilst Liberty Media and Ross Brawn are already planning a reasonable fix for grid penalties, let’s now tie that in with a coinciding improvement with the spectacle of the constructors’ championship. This is one of the major on-track issues that currently needs to be addressed within Formula 1 – for some it ruins the spectacle. We should be penalising drivers places on the grid for racecraft errors, unsportsmanlike conduct, not team or car faults. Trying to reach a wider, newer audience in Formula 1 with 2.4 million place grid penalties a round does nothing to help ease the flow of the sport.
Quantum physics or F1 grid penalties, both incredibly difficult to explain to your kids. The absolute fuck up of a conversation this would create. What’s rougher, talking to your kids about sex or explaining why a Honda powered engine suffered 825 total grid penalties from 2015 to 2017?
The solution – penalise constructors’ championship points for every major grid penalty. Once a team reaches zero, apply fines or go to extreme lengths such as negative points, even at Honda’s expense. The only hesitation for negative points is the chaos this would cause with a McLaren Honda and soon to be, the 2018 McLaren Renault.
Reliability will have an ever increased factor in the constructors’ trophy and will be pivotal to the success of reliable or unreliable teams. Your fast car is your offence, reliability is your defence. You want to compete for titles, even at the risk of a little reliability. The NBA's greatest offences generally win titles but they're not always necessarily ranked the highest in defence. They're also not ranked last either. Think about it in baseball now, sometimes fielding and especially pitching can be your greatest success, but you won't get nowhere without hitting. If anything, the NFL has shown us with the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and 2015 Denver Broncos, along with the NBA's 2004 Detroit Pistons, that defence can win titles.
McLaren's rapid MP4-20 and MP4-27 in 2005 and 2012 respectively should have claimed titles for Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton. With all the offence of a fast car, no defence and injuries of unreliability, they turned into the mid-2000's Mike D'Antoni/Steve Nash led Phoenix Suns. An engine failing could cost a team potential points gained but also leave no lead unprotected. For those unaware of the rule/article, here it is:
Article 23.3 b) Should a driver use more than the numbers set in Article 23.3 a) of any one of the elements during a Championship season, a grid place penalty will be imposed upon him at the first Event during which each additional element is used. Penalties will be applied according to the following table and will be cumulative:

The first time an additional element is used = Ten grid place penalty.

The next times an additional element is used = Five grid place penalty.
Here is a system I’ve created that could work with constructors’ points penalties accounted for:
The first time an additional element is used = Ten grid place penalty, and six constructors points penalised.

The next times an additional element is used = Five grid place penalty, and three constructors points penalised.
I say let teams go into negative points. Can’t get a reliable power unit to finish a race? Tough luck, drink a cup of shell oil and harden up.

Bonus points for fastest pit-stop

This is interesting and borderline silly, but with the emphasis, detail and money put into improving the performance of pit-stops, why not reward the team with the fastest pit-stop with one bonus constructors’ championship point.
This would apply to the first stop only for each car, preventing teams from pitting 15 times in the final 15 laps to potentially win a championship off of a quick pit-stop. It’s Formula 1 and everyone will be looking to take advantage of this, so we’ll need to implement some other house rules. Bonus points for a pit-stop would also only work so long as there is no refuelling involved. Teams would deliberately fuel short to win the bonus points at certain races and this would occur if you’re in no contention of scoring valuable points, if any at all. Most likely if you’re involved in a first lap incident or if you were a 2010 HRT driver.
If I gave out 25 points for each fastest pit stop, Williams and Mercedes are so good they would have the potential to win the constructors championship on pit-stops alone.
This measure would make 'box-ing' more interesting, more error prone, faster and certainly more entertaining.

Teams get a choice of garage position each race weekend

Pit-lane position is critical for a number of reasons. Ensuring you don’t lose time entering and exiting a pit-box can save crucial tenths of a second on pursuit to victory. If it’s a wet qualifying session, getting track position ahead of the green light for Q1 could save you 18 minutes of stress and angst. Picking a garage that’s ergonomically efficient for your team in the paddock, all these little things pile up in Formula 1.
So why not reward the previous year’s constructors’ standings with choice of garage position in order of finishing position? Mercedes could pick first, then Ferrari, etc. My only concern is that this would be more of a hindrance administering than it would be beneficial for the show. These little incentives pile up though and could incline teams to fight for critical positions in the championship, regardless if they are challenging for first or tenth.

Cost multiplier based on team spending

Would it be overcomplicated in introducing a cost multiplier into Formula 1? Based on how many points a team scores, along with the total amount spent from the previous season’s end of financial year, to the date of the final race/grand prix weekend of the current season. Yes there would be overlap, to prevent teams from overspending, or tanking their spending to benefit one season or another. The accountant will be FIA employed and approved – that’ll put an end to corruption... Probably not, but anyway.
Example: 1st July 2017 – 25th November 2018 (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix) would be used to calculate the total costs per team used for the 2018 season.
Now the complicated part. The total of all teams in the championship is calculated, and let’s say Mercedes had accounted for 40% of the total budget of all teams, their adjusted constructors’ championship points would be 300 points * (1 - 0.40) = 180 points. If Haas scored 45 points and only used 5% of the total budget of all teams, this would be calculated as 45 points * (1 – 0.05) = 42.75 points
Let’s have a look at the constructors’ standings for 2015 and 2016, along with team budgets. Note that 2015 figures are in EUR and 2016 in GBP, but the calculations stay consistent. I’m not sure what time period these figures were calculated on, but they’ll do for now.
In terms of points with the cost multiplier, there is a difference in the scale and amount that each team has scored, but the rankings stay the same. No team climbs or drops in the standings at all. If we however based the constructors’ championship on a ‘cost per point basis’, look at how a team such as Force India would climb up the standings both years. Though the champion would still win based on the dominance of the amount of points they have scored – that’s the way it should be.
This is a much more effective way at calculating the points, a cheap team still wouldn’t win, but would be rewarded for being as well run as Force India. However teams who don’t score points would still struggle. It basically means if you splash the cash within reason, you win. However the balance is still there, rewarding teams who are wise with their money or in five years’ time, Bitcoin and Ripple. An alternative to the budget cap!

FIA / FOM mid-season test for teams in lower half of standings

The teams who finish in the bottom half of the constructors’ championship will be rewarded at a test session of their choice, whereby FOM fund up to 75% of money spent on the test, or a maximum of $3,000,000 for each team. $3,000,000 is a large guess, the FIA/FOM would come up with something better. For the bottom end of teams, this incentive would help limit expenses in a sport where the correlation to success and money is positive.
This looks like your typical knee surgery insurance scheme, think of it as a ‘heal and repair’ for those teams struggling at the bottom end of the budget pool.

Luxury Tax

I had to do some math on this hence the spreadsheet below. I promise it’s not as confusing as it looks, but I’ve mapped out an extremely basic luxury tax for the purposes of this column.
The tax threshold is 10% of the total budget – I chose this number randomly. I’ve calculated the total budget for all teams at the end of 2016 which is £1,720,000,000. Using the tax threshold of 10% stated earlier, if any team now exceeds this value, they must pay a set amount of tax based on the gap they are over 10%. In this case, four teams are over the 10% threshold which include Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren. We will set a fixed fee of £3,000,000 if over the tax threshold, and £1,000,000 per 1% over the threshold. Based on these calculations, you can see the amount of luxury tax paid by the four teams. These funds are then distributed evenly amongst remaining teams not under the tax threshold.
What does this have to do with the constructors’ championship? Not much. I was celebrating the idea as much as Felipe Massa’s family when he crossed the line to win the championship in 2008, only to stop celebrating, realising towards the end of my idea that it really didn’t have much to do with improving the constructors' championship spectacle at all.
However... We could finally see more teams pushing for excellence with a minimal budget. This is a great alternative to a budget cap and has been suggested before. Of course with a more advanced, calculated and researched method that is different from mine, the constructors’ championship could get interesting.
How embarrasing for McLaren... Paying luxury tax in a season where they finished 6th and only scored 76 points. The luxury tax helps promote improved organisation and team management skills. It's why Force India would be a title contender each season if they were on a similar budget to the big teams, such a well-run organisation. Someone suggested that they were the New England Patriots doppelganger, I truly think Force India are the San Antonio Spurs of Formula 1 whilst McLaren are slowly becoming the New York Knicks.

Time finished behind leader is now part of the Constructors' Championship

This is possibly the stupidest idea of the bunch, and at risk of ending this column like Lewis Hamilton’s 2007 season, I had to shoot the shot.
Let me explain with an example of course. After the first grand prix weekend concludes, Lewis Hamilton scores 25 points for a win, Sebastian Vettel in second place scores 18 points and finishes +7.675 seconds behind, Valtteri Bottas finishes third with 15 points and +10.405 seconds, Kimi Räikkönen fourth with 12 points and +27.898 seconds.
Jolyon Palmer finishes 3 laps down.
Mercedes would lead the constructors’ championship with 40 points and 11 seconds, Ferrari is second with 30 points and 36 seconds. Points take precedence over time. So if two teams were tied on 30 points, whoever has the LEAST amount of time would lead. We also round ‘up’ the seconds off to the nearest integer, so Vettel’s final time would be 8 seconds, Bottas 11 seconds, Räikkönen 28 seconds.
Now what happens to Palmer who finishes three laps down? We set a baseline penalty of 30 seconds + (the fastest lap of the race * laps finished behind leader). If the fastest lap time of the event was 84 seconds (again, rounding up), Palmer’s total would be 30 + (84 * 3) = 282 seconds and 0 points for Renault’s total.
This would discourage teams from avoiding retirement during an event. For a DNF, it would be the same calculation. If you’re 56 laps behind, well get ready for a face full of seconds, minutes and hours on the constructors’ championship standings.
Think of it like Mario Party, your points are your stars, your seconds are your coins.
A little confusing, but definitely would make things more intriguing for the current constructors championship. The drivers’ championship wouldn’t be affected by this.
Nothing is worse than Bernie Ecclestone’s medal idea, or did I just top it?


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Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.

Tweaking the Yas Marina Circuit


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Tweaking the Yas Marina Circuit
A well overdue makeover for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Jonathan Simon | December 17, 2017

The Simon Racing Report - RaceSpot TV Commentator

Hermann Tilke was the mastermind behind what is a dull Yas Marina Circuit layout. Whilst the circuit facilities are world class, it’s the racing spectacle that us Formula 1 fans care about. What springs to mind first when I think of the circuit’s history? The underground pit-exit, the championship battles that have gone down to the wire, Kimi Raikkonen’s famous description of the circuit and of course, Fernando Alonso’s infamous inability to pass Vitaly Petrov. DRS has been a blessing for the circuit, but what if we could improve the layout to further compliment the on track action?

With recent talks of tweaking the circuit, I thought I’d attempt the same. As a young kid, I would always draw different race tracks on a blank sheet of paper and attempt to redesign lacklustre layouts. Today, I ‘almost’ get to attempt the real thing.

Turns 5/6/7

I’ve never understood the point of the left-handed turn 5 and then the following turn 6. Maybe Tilke needed to slow the cars down a little in order to create a grandstand section and therefore not have to provide an extra 100m of tarmac run-off. Regardless of this, I’ve come up with a solution! Stuff turn 5 and 6, have the cars scream down into a slightly remodelled hairpin using a piece of tarmac that for some reason has never been used in Formula 1. You'll be able to visualise the modifications using the red lines. There’s plenty of run-off accompanied for behind as the section now becomes a high-speed braking zone and most of all, the corner complex now becomes a legitimate overtaking spot.
Turns 567.jpg
The previous hairpin was very poorly used as it came off what Martin Brundle would call, a slow ‘mickey mouse’ left-right section. This new section promotes overtaking and liberates the drivers through the very frustrating and boring turn 5 and 6 complex.

Turns 8/9

If you're here for a solution to the empty grandstand, you'll be disappointed. The linkage between these two straights is conservative and blank. We always see drivers struggle to get a run out of turn 9 as there is a slight rise/bump embedded on the apex of the corner. This compromises the exit of a driver following closely behind, who is already lacking grip due to the dirty air effect. Imagine the battles with this modified turn, I would add some camber to the corner where possible to further spice things up.
Turns 8 9.jpg
Have a look at Felipe Massa’s telemetry on the throttle pedal. The two-time retired Brazilian is unable to get on the throttle early, despite a decent line through the corner and can only start planting his right foot down to the floor frustratingly later than he should. It's a very poor example of a video to use, as it shows some form of overtaking and makes me look like a moron. Being a DRS pass it's still classified as overtaking of course, no arguing with that, but that's not an overtake in 2010. This new section makes the area a little more exciting and quicker, removing the tight right hander along with its maddening bump on the apex.

Turns 11/12/13/14

Oh my, this might possibly be the ugliest aspect of the layout. We also have to take into consideration that whatever we remodel here will also be the first corner of the alternative 'second' layout.
Turns 11121314.jpg
I’ve gone for a little Suzuka International Circuit flavour, with a sweeping left hander into a difficult tight braking zone. This won’t ruin the excitement of the multi-apex turn 15/16/17 complex and will completely get rid of turn 14. Why the fuck did we ever have turn 14 anyway? The Kazuki Nakajima of motorsport corners, disappointing. It did nothing to improve the spectacle – if anything, made things worse. Comically, Hermann Tilke with calculation and poise places a run-off there as if drivers were going to use that at 50km/h. Let’s start petitioning for tarmac run-off areas at slot car events, Mario Kart, supermarket shopping isles – we won’t have any more dramatic trolley incidents in the dairy section at brisk walking pace.

Turns 20/21

Opening up the final couple of corners will help the spectacle through here. I would love to see a double apex final corner, much akin to the Red Bull Ring’s final corner. Modelling some elevation change so the final corner dips and then rises back onto the main straight would be electrifying and also help aid overtaking heading into turn 1.
Turns 2021.jpg
What also helps is the remodelling of turns 8 and 9. That allows us to open up the final corner a slight touch more than we could and should. I’m not an F1 circuit designer for a reason, this is actually hard.


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Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.

The ideal Formula 1 Calendar


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The Ideal Formula 1 Calendar
What would be F1's most supreme modern day race calendar?
Jonathan Simon | October 25, 2017

The Simon Racing Report - RaceSpot TV Commentator

The 2017 Global F1 Fan Survey Results indicated that just over 50% of Formula One fans preferred a calendar of 19 – 21 grand prix events per season, remaining by far as the consistent favourite over the years the survey has been conducted. Bernie Ecclestone has also been pushing for 20 races in a season as early as 2004, knowing the full benefit it would have for the sport, along with the humblebrag of having sagging pockets filled with wads of cash. The 19 – 21 range is a great balance between maximising revenue, entertainment and workload on teams and employees in the industry. If you think about it, only 20 weekends out of 52 in a year is just 38.5%, looking at it in that sense we’d probably want more!

However... The rare the better. I’d rather watch 15 top quality races than 30 weekends a year of a bore fest – we all would. But even so, if all races are entertaining and that becomes the norm, our expectations would rise and eventually fans would be less impressed with these races and ask for more. Sometimes those boring races give the edge of the seat events that extra edge.
Liberty Media are pursuing an attempt to make F1 a ‘Super Bowl’ each race weekend and based on Super Bowl LI between the Patriots and Falcons, that could be an intriguing future. It’s really not the show that captured me as an F1 fan, it was the quality of racing. If Liberty Media’s plan is to make every race a Super Bowl, let’s focus on the tracks we visit, the quality of racing, and what appeals to us as F1 fans in a season calendar.
So let’s go through my ideal 20 race Formula 1 calendar. Now, a few house rules on this – we can only use circuits that have hosted a Formula 1 Grand Prix previously, we have to consider the month they take place in, and finally, I have a good relationship with Jean Todt in this column which allows me to FIA approve any circuit and make amendments where needed.

Round 1 – Albert Park Street Circuit
Australia (mid to late March)

Let’s open the season up in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. Apologies Adelaide, I’m biased. Let’s also not pretend I don’t live near this circuit, along with almost getting fired from work every day for constantly gazing at the circuit 40 floors up and picturing Martin Brundle’s crash in 1996, the Mika Häkkinen-David Coulthard switch for the lead in 1998, Ralf Schumacher turning the front straight into an airport in 2002, the entire 2010 and 2012 races, 2013 and 2014 qualifying in the wet, and what more? The green parkland, abundance of space for the crowd to fill, hearing the roar of the fans over the new power units in 2014 as Daniel Ricciardo took pole position for 15 seconds (before Lewis Hamilton turned those cheers into jeers by snatching pole position from the home favourite). You open up the season with an interesting street circuit built around a great environment, passionate crowd and produce an event perfect for someone who may be new to the sport. Think about it, you switch F1 on for the first time as the new season is hyped up, you see what Albert Park can produce for Round 1, and you leave wanting more!
The city atmosphere is great, along with qualifying and the race taking place in the evening – working out well as you can go for dinner on the Saturday and Sunday evening and have ample time to hit all the bars, pubs and clubs after qualifying on Saturday night. That's always a good idea, until we once had to wake up red eyed for an early morning Sunday qualifying session in 2013. Although if a grand prix weekend can create memories to remember such as that, it’s a keeper.

Round 2 – Sepang International Circuit
Malaysia (late March) – back to back with Round 1

I’ve always been a fan of the back to back to start the season and Sepang is your streaky three point shooter that comes off the bench. Potential rain, unpredictability – with the 2001 race being the most famous example of the bunch. The season flows on from Round 1 and keeps fans on their feet for the Monday before preview articles, videos, podcasts and more, are all released from the Tuesday onwards for Malaysia. Even at its utmost worse, the race track is built to produce thrilling racing, along with an extremely challenging middle sector. The circuit almost didn’t make the list due to the resurfacing last year to improve draining, completely ruining or better yet, 'differentiating' the final corner. Although it’s unfortunate Malaysia will be off the F1 calendar after 2017, I think we're all willing to give the resurfacing another shot. I felt as if the resurfacing would grow on us the same way you hate an album the first time you listen to it, but the more you give it a shot, the more beauty you find in the product.

Round 3 – Kyalami Racing Circuit
South Africa (early April)

Am I the only person who envisions a duck when I look at the track layout of Kyalami? Why not fly to South Africa for the next race as we’re ergonomically heading to Spain straight after (spoiler alert). Needless to say, this circuit is a classic and despite the financial issues, I think it’s ready for a rebirth in the modern day. My only concerns are that the duckbill layout may not be ideal for overtaking at all, but we'll give the circuit a 3 year deal and if it doesn’t please, let’s bring the Bahrain night race back (spoiler again, Bahrain isn’t on this list) to the calendar to fill in the spot.

Round 4 – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Spain (mid April)

Why not the Valencia Street Circuit? Please.
How ironic that the Valencia Street Circuit’s best race was the year it left Formula 1. A circuit built perfectly for Pirelli tyres and DRS, to instead suffer from the costs of Bernie Ecclestone’s hamster wheel race deals. I wanted a Spanish race and so the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya wins this over the Circuito del Jarama. Here are my reasons for Catalunya winning this; yes it’s difficult to overtake but I believe the atmosphere built is perfectly to support the future God of Spanish motor racing, whoever that may be after Alonso, and as good as he is it’s not Carlos Sainz Jr. Don’t forget that this is also going to be our preseason test circuit, so we have to package in a deal for a race as well. Let’s bring back the old layout (Moto GP version) and re-model the beginning of the last sector to throw another huge grandstand in there, along with great overtaking opportunities. Barcelona opens the European season and the masses of upgrades as a result, quite fitting with it now also being the home of pre-season testing. That’s like the movie role where you’re killed in the first five minutes, never seen or mentioned again for the rest of film, but still proud of your appearance. That’s what the Circuit de Catalunya is to this calendar, but still good enough to make the top 20.

Round 5 – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari
Italy (late April)

Imola is definitely a circuit I’d look forward for Formula 1 to return to. We’ve seen that it can still produce exhilarating racing as it has in the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. So if it can do it virtually on a simulator, it should do it in the real world (as long as our wind tunnel models are big enough I guess?). There’s no more of that weird final chicane which will promote overtaking, the lap is fun to drive and let’s not ruin the already annoying Variante Alta by putting in some modern day sausage kerbs. Let the cars ride over the kerbs like Monza 2008 and enjoy the crowd roar throughout the weekend.

Round 6 – Dijon-Prenois
France (mid May)

I had a few options here. I got sick of Paul Ricard as there were too many combinations to choose from. The best combination I came up with was a figure of 8 section where the cars could smash into each other like your home built hot wheels circuit. I eventually realised there was a head on collision section as they were heading back the same way they came from and gave up trying to come up with something acceptable. The meme race for social media would have be entertaining though, as Kimi Raikkonen would find himself lapping around the tarmac run off areas, thinking he was on the racing line.
Anyway... No to the Magny-Cours unfortunately. This was a very tough decision, but it didn’t make it. Lovely circuit, good fun, but overtaking would be difficult and races could be progressive. So let’s head to the Fuji of France in Dijon-Prenois. Elevation change and constant undulation, wide flat kerbs with multiple racing lines and gravel run-offs. It’s a circuit that should be on the F1 calendar but isn’t.

Round 7 – Monte Carlo Street Circuit
Monaco (late May)

Come on? It’s Monaco. Good or bad, entertaining or boring, Monte Carlo stays as the 7th round of the season. Perfect logistical distance from Dijon-Prenois, with the Indy 500 taking place on the same day.

Round 8 – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Canada (mid June)

Now we’re really frenching it up! Three French speaking races in a row? Bonjour, merci beaucoup. A race track in a brilliant location on the Île Notre-Dame, as well as a circuit that produces consistently entertaining races year after year, fun laps to watch onboard, interesting strategies due to the surface of the race track and the toll it takes on the tyres, [BREATHE!] heavy braking zones and aggressive driving. Much like Albert Park, this is far from the ‘street circuit’ that it's classified as.

Round 9 – Red Bull Ring
Austria (late June)

I’d have this back to back with Montreal, but considering we’re flying to North America and back to Europe again, along with avoiding Le Mans the week after Montreal, I’d rather avoid both of those circumstances. More importantly, I’m going to pick the A1 ring. I quite like the modern day version of the circuit — compelling and enthralling to ride onboard with and it’s interesting having such a short and simple circuit on the calendar. Everything is still technical as well as an overall challenge for the drivers, but still succinct. This is a circuit you see in a racing game that looks simple, so you choose it when the girlfriend is over to impress her for the first time, only to realise you crash exiting the pit lane because looks can be deceiving. She then breaks up with you and it’s over. Wait, which male human being would ever play video games, I mean play racing games, I mean choose the A1-Ring in front of their girlfriend... right?


F1 has been my first choice topic of conversation, my fastball, that I use to repel women and most F1 fans remain single to this day for good reason.

Round 10 – Silverstone Circuit
Great Britain (Early July) – back to back with Round 9

As much as I love the trail braking thriller of Brooklands using the Arena section of the race track, the Bridge layout using the old pit complex satisfies me for this round. Copse as a first corner is essential — a necessity. An even wackier suggestion would be to have the new pit complex along with the Abbey chicane as a unique first corner. It’s not an entirely long run down to the Abbey chicane, but it’s not a completely slow corner either which would build exciting rhythm to begin the race as you progress under the bridge and so on. Wherever you place Turn 1, you win with this circuit and that’s the moral of the story. A high speed palace of corners with the lack of heavy braking zones, something diverse to the other race tracks on this calendar.

Round 11 – Donington Park
Great Britain (Mid July)

It is a sin against nature to not have two British circuits on an F1 calendar. Donington wins this slot over Brands Hatch due to its history. Donington is the former superstar, now overpaid veteran who gets the long term contract based on past performances. Ayrton Senna’s start alone excites me a lot and I would race at Brands Hatch over Donington any other day of the week, but there are seriously too many great British racing circuits out there and it’s why the UK has the best collection of race tracks in the world. I now know what it’s like to be The Bachelor – that guy wins no matter what the decision and that’s the same with British racing circuits.

Round 12 – Nürburgring
Germany (late July)

The final race before the summer break and we’re headed to the Nürburgring but unfortunately the entire Nordschleife won’t be used. I personally hesitated on this circuit, but you know what? There needs to be a bland race on the calendar each year and this one would balance things out.

Summer Break

Round 13 – Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
Belgium (late August)

One Belgian race on the calendar is enough and Spa defeats Zolder to this slot by a country mile. The Formula 1 paddock returns from the summer break and Spa has been a positive race track of note over the very long history that ghosts itself around the race track. I don’t mind the redeveloped final chicane, I think it’s really designed well to improve the racing heading into La Source and not necessarily for the corner itself to be the highlight of all battles. Everyone misses F1 for four weeks and what better way to resume the season than returning back to a circuit such as Spa. It’ll be like F1 never left.

Round 14 – Autodromo Nazionale Monza
Italy (Early September)

Monza has etched its name as one of the best motor racing circuits in the world for both racing and fan atmosphere. The podium ceremony alone could lock this round into the calendar, not to forget the 370kph (230mph) top speeds in modern day Formula 1. Couple that with the occasional wet race here, adjoined with support series such as Formula 2, Porsche Supercup and more, there is no question that Monza should be a perpetual lock on the Formula 1 calendar for eternity.

Round 15 – The Old Hockenheimring (the good one)
Germany (mid September) – back to back with Round 14

Let’s bring back the old Hockenheim, and why not have it as the third low downforce race in succession. Teams will put extra emphasis on development for these three rounds, becoming meticulous on race tracks that require low drag. Teams without a strong engine or power unit will also be compromised, putting extra pressure on development and engineers to get all things right. I don’t know how many fans really care too much about the Formula 1 Constructors Championship apart from the teams, or as Christian Horner sometimes refers to it as the ‘Accounting World Championship’. So let’s in turn make it a little more interesting with these three rounds.
Circuit Park Zandvoort was also considered for this round and that was a real tough decision to leave out,

Round 16 – Marina Bay Street Circuit
Singapore (late September)

Singapore has been a success since Formula 1’s inaugural night race around the Marina Bay Street Circuit. The success this race has brought under lights is almost turning it into a staple in Formula 1’s race calendar. The frightening rain and dust to start the 2017 race, the physical challenge it places on drivers and of course, the glamour, which is part of the reason this race is a great fit for Formula 1.

Round 17 – Suzuka Circuit
Japan (Early October) – back to back with Round 16

Suzuka is definitely one of my favourite circuits in Formula 1, there isn’t a corner on this race track that isn’t challenging, thrilling or gratifying as you nail each apex around the figure of 8 layout. Notice the switch to these rounds that require high downforce, especially through the twisty ‘S’ curves. I’ll be honest, it was certainly tough leaving Fuji out, but Suzuka is to Fuji what Michael Schumacher was to Rubens Barrichello.
Should I have chosen TI Circuit Aida (now known as the Okayama International Circuit), no. Should I have at least considered TI Circuit Aida over Suzuka and Fuji, hell no!

Round 18 – Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
Mexico (Mid October)

Picture this for the third last round of the championship, close your eyes and imagine a driver dominating the season and wrapping up the title here in Mexico, with celebrations taking place in the Foro Sol (the baseball stadium located towards the end of the lap). But whether you choose the old layout or the new layout, you have to make a sacrifice when it comes to the final corner. Foro Sol and the podium ceremony, or an adrenaline charged Peraltada as the final corner. What a tough decision...
But what if you choose the Foro Sol for the podium ceremony and crowd atmosphere. Bring over Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton and have them hit a home run as the winner crosses the finish line, sell out those seats to the stadium. I would love to have both, but I can’t go full sandbox mode in this column, tough decision but I’m going with the modern day layout, with the old layout’s middle sector incorporated in there. Using the internet, the Autódromo Juan y Oscar Gálvez looks like a wacky circuit, but the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez blips it by a country mile for this spot on the calendar.

Round 19 – Watkins Glen
USA (late October) – back to back with Round 18

Watkins Glen,



Indianapolis Road Course,
First things first, Indy should always belong to IndyCar. Inviting your ex-girlfriend to your place once a year for some on track action is always screaming trouble, so IndyCar should keep their separation from F1 and claim the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their own. Sebring is bumpy and has that touring car / GT vibe – known for hosting events such as IMSA and the 12 hours of Sebring. COTA is relatively new and there’s hardly a Tilke-drome (1) on this calendar and it should be kept that way for good reason.

(1) Hermann Tilke is a circuit designer who has been criticised by many over the years for his bland designs.

So the full layout of Watkins Glen wins. It’s something unique on the calendar with its fast sweeping corners and long straights — Silverstone’s US brother. The circuit is quite a distinctive challenge that only certain drivers will succeed at, those becoming triumphant of this challenge are capable of sustaining high minimum speeds through each beautifully shaped and cambered apex. The penultimate round in the state of New York is sure to keep things electrifying and could make or break the championship challenge in the final rounds.

Round 20 – Autódromo José Carlos Pace
Brazil (Early November)

Don’t even question this. 2007, 2008, 2012, this is the true final round to the season to how Albert Park is always the true first round of the season, it’s where it belongs. When the Bahrain International Circuit hosted the season opener in 2010, we came to Albert Park and said “this is the true season opener” after a race that stimulated excitement for the season compared to the dull opening spark plug failure that Sebastian Vettel had at Bahrain (and most recently again at Suzuka in the 2017 season). The season finale does not and should not belong at the Yas Marina Circuit. With the perpetual chance of showers in Brazil during this period, you’re not playing the lottery to win the championship, every title will need to be truly earned by the greats.
What if Ayrton Senna's 1991 win around here sealed his 1991 title? What if? A catch phrase used by most in the Formula 1 paddock.

The Little Piggies That Didn't Make It Home
Race tracks that missed out on the calendar

Go and google Avus, that’s a circuit I would pick in a video game and chuck 150 cars on the grid, racing around for an hour or two. But that isn’t enough of an incentive to make the F1 calendar for good reasons.
Estoril and Shanghai made the shortlist along with Bahrain, with the night race changing the landscape of that race a little bit in recent years. But with a lack of feel for crowd and race atmosphere, it was crossed off the list. It would've been nice to put a Middle Eastern circuit on the calendar, but I wasn’t happy with Yas Marina too.
Now to end, let’s get rid of the elephant in the room. What is probably infuriating a lot of people is why Hungary is left off this list. I obviously wrote this column, it’s my choice, I don’t like the circuit but I don’t hate it. A twisty layout with a lack of on track action. If you increased the scale of the Hungaroring by 25%, it could potentially be one of the best tracks on the Formula 1 calendar.


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Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.

The ‘Paul Di Resta Strategy’ Theory


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The 'Paul Di Resta Strategy' Theory
Why Renault should buy into replacing Jolyon Palmer with Robert Kubica
Jonathan Simon | July 15, 2017

The Simon Racing Report - RaceSpot TV Commentator

Ku-bicka or Ku-bit-sa? That was in fact a genuine question to be answered by the Polish driver at the 2007 season opening Australian Grand Prix. At the time, he preferred Ku-bicka over the latter, not because it was correct but because “it made him sound faster”. Now it’s unknown whether or not he will perpetually remain on the list of 33 sole race winners in Formula One, along with Heikki Kovalainen, Pastor Maldonado, Jarno Trulli and Alessandro Nannini who also similarly injured his arm in a helicopter accident back in 1990, but let me just explain how desperate I am to write a column on something as significant a nature as of him returning to the sport.

I took an extra five minutes in the shower this morning day dreaming about why I need to get into contact and send a pioneering letter to the Renault Sport Formula One Team, missed a couple trains as a result of that, along with randomly texting a friend about this, along with randomly bugging our trusted Formula One expert on The Simon Racing Report in Paul Smith – just to publicise the shear irritation as to how Jolyon Palmer is still in that seat.

Now irrespective of the lackluster Formula 1 career that Palmer has had so far, any logical manager would understand that you need to give people patience and time to develop, but that should really only apply with signs of positivity, in which Jolyon has had no glimmer of strong results. Let’s use a trusty old friend in google and do a search for ‘Jolyon Palmer’. If you’re not already depressed scrolling down to the bottom of page one, I’d be baffled. Almost every piece found is in relation to a past negative, or his current dilemma of the precarious tight rope he walks in his current race seat. The closest thing to a positive is Jolyon labeling himself as the “master of 11th place” – or as Ayrton Senna would call, the tenth loser.
We’re all human and it’s rude to tell the team to kick someone out from their job for constantly being the tenth loser. You’re removing a person from their job, passion, as well as something they’ve done their whole life. But if I showed up to my job and was constantly the 11th person to finish work, if I was the eleventh guy to get a shot at the most beautiful woman at a club – or the eleventh option on an NBA team, I’d be laughing my way into the unemployment market faster than Valtteri Bottas’ recent ‘legal’ jump start at the Austrian Grand Prix.
That’s The Art of War by Sun Tzu, that’s the business of Formula One. That’s why Romain Grosjean was kicked out of Enstone at the end of 2009 and why he found his way back with future signs of positivity. There was minimal logical reason to keep him onboard at the time, but he worked his way back into the sport respectfully. Maldonado remained in the sport mostly due to monetary factors, but that sole race win was also a heavy influence as on the right day, he was one of the quickest drivers on the grid as a GP2 Champion himself.

But do I dare bring up Nelson Piquet Jr’s demise from Formula One? I guess the story is set… If Palmer is still in his seat after the summer break and he ‘accidently’ crashes at the Singapore Grand Prix, we’ll probably find Nico Hülkenberg somehow leading the race during the safety car period, before he is unfortunately taken out by Sebastian Vettel who claims his fellow German brake tested him going into the Singapore Sling. Palmer is then kicked out at the end of the year and Renault face the same discipline and wrath Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds had to endure. So why take that unnecessary situation onboard when there’s a low risk initiative of bringing in Robert Kubica?
I don’t want this column to be more toxic than the Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel volatile social media revulsion, but what I appreciate about Jolyon most is that he’s maintained reasonable professionalism for the abundance of criticism he’s received. However, do you really need to read between the lines and gaze into the pressure you can visibly see? Losing his cool talking to Jennie Gow on BBC Radio 5 live’s F1 preview show was a sign he could feel it, but most importantly, Palmer didn’t let himself go physically the way Davide Valsecchi has – whose recent passion in the Formula 2 commentary booth (and F1 Sky Italia) is still as fat as Juan Pablo Montoya at the end of 40 days of lent and food sacrifice.
Think about it, Palmer took four years to win the GP2 Championship and whenever it takes someone more than their rookie season to do so, it’s high likely (but still possible) that they won’t be achieving much success at the top level in Formula 1. Congratulations, you’re a 23 year old senior out of college who outplayed a 19 year old one and done freshman, but guess who’s getting drafted higher in the NBA draft?
Even Stoffel Vandoorne isn’t showing the most promising signs in a difficult car this season. He’s another example of someone who should’ve been a rookie champion if not for his abysmal first few rounds to his GP2 career after his win in Bahrain. The difference here is that he HAS shown glimpses of promise, positivity and potential. I’m all for any human on this planet having a successful career and life, it’s for the good of the world. But we’re starting to bottleneck at the top and as much as I’d love for Jolyon to succeed, Palmer’s ‘almost scoring points’ cliffhanger story each race, or the fact that he’s 26 years old leaves me desperate to tell Renault, what the fuck are you doing?

In comes Robert Kubica…
I can’t see much of a downside in comparison to the Palmer situation – if it works, you bring in one of the hottest talents from 7 years ago, becoming the New York Knicks of Formula 1 in a good way. If it doesn’t, you don’t face the #Wengerout bullshit and disloyalty, the public scrutiny the Los Angeles Lakers face for every decision they make in a high pressure market, because you took a well calculated risk and had all rights to do so. Palmer’s contract is off the books, you give Kubica another season in 2018 to figure things out and if it still doesn’t work, you bring in your test driver in Sergey Sirotkin to the seat who has been the hot 17 year old talent for six straight years already.
I would rather have a one handed Robert Kubica than Jolyon Palmer 100% on the right day. The risk vs reward situation is simple, if Kubica fails to perform, he has the ‘rust’ excuse of not being in Formula 1 since 2010, the same excuse overweight baseball players have used for years during spring training. If it does work out, it’s a future feature film directed by Ron Howard. You’ll get flair, speed, the occasional mistake here and there, but most importantly you’re getting the extra tenth or two you need out of Robert Kubica. Whereas the other side from Palmer? I cannot be bothered bearing through another race of the good old Paul Di Resta strategy, going on a one stop strategy in a four stop race, letting everyone constantly pass you by not battling with them and finishing 11th or 12th yet again.
Let’s now give “Paul Di Resta Strategy” a google search and here is my theory on it – the first result I find is a 2011 article from ESPN with Di Resta “thanking his team for an aggressive strategy”, quite the contrary to Di Resta’s career as aggressive strategies were far from his forte, but it proved that by trying something different against his then teammates of Adrian Sutil and Nico Hülkenberg, Di Resta gathered a decent points finish. Scroll down the page and you’ll see what I mean by the Paul Di Resta Strategy. It’s a lose-lose situation which Jolyon Palmer has found himself in, if it doesn’t work, you’re slow and uncompetitive. When it works, you’ve really only made places on strategy and not on pure pace, less impressive to other prospective teams. It’s an illusion because even pitting a pre-2011 Hamilton (who was abrasive on his tyres) against the Paul Di Resta strategy, his pace would far out supersede the need to go on conservative strategies regardless.

Rubens Barrichello also stated clearly in 2012, Williams should have had far more points than they had with Maldonado and Bruno Senna, the Brazilian stating that with his experience and speed they wouldn’t be in the situation they’re in now with their inexperienced drivers. You’re already scoring very valuable 11th places with Palmer, so what’s there to lose with putting Robert Kubica in the car (who technically has equal to more experience than Jolyon, although in older cars)? Robert also doesn’t have to worry about the British media constantly covering his every move and that will mean slightly less pressure and exposure to any movement he makes on and off the track.
So hey! Jolyon, like Nike says, just fucking do it. Forget the 11th place finishes, try something different this weekend at Silverstone, as well as Hungary, try and save your seat. Kubica, a realistic man stating he has an 80-90% chance of making an F1 comeback therefore means you have nothing else to lose. On the other hand, stay the same over these next two races, you’ll probably end up losing the seat. So trying something different, and whatever is ‘different’, is the job interview for your next F1 seat.
So hey! Renault, tell Palmer it’s time to jolly off this summer – and all Cyril Abiteboul simply needs to do is ensure he doesn’t sign four drivers to two race seats and find himself in a pickle, break off Palmer’s contract and send him to Le Mans or DTM (partnering up with his great strategic inspiration of Paul Di Resta) and bring in Robert Kubica. You announce the comeback three days before Friday practice ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix as everyone will just be returning from the piña colada and palm tree beaches, or maybe that’s just Lewis Hamilton.
Lewis will return to the paddock for his first interview, calmly and soothingly stating “It’s good to see Robert back in the paddock inspiring us all to keep fighting”, before being labelled rude and a cry baby by Formula 1’s entire social media and reddit page for his vicious, volatile and unprofessional comments. Win-win for Formula 1 and their new positive social media presence, win-win for Renault and Kubica.
Hülkenberg recently stated in the May 2017 edition of F1 Racing magazine, that he believes Renault will be at the front by 2018. The same reason Lewis Hamilton left McLaren in 2012, the same reason Hülkenberg left for Renault last year. Now it probably won’t be at the same whiplash effect of Mercedes, who had the backing and structure of Ross Brawn who set the team up for success, much like he did with Honda/Brawn GP for 2009 and the Schumacher/Ferrari era. In this instance however, if everything goes to plan, you set up a solid driver lineup that will succeed in the status quo, but not have to deal with the backlash McLaren receives for their lackluster performances either, as you were never competing for championships in the first place. It doesn’t help having a driver with as big a fan presence as Alonso, for all the talent you get, you have to live with the anger and publicity of being dug deep in a tough situation.
Hülkenberg has recently said he’s fully focused on the Renault program and with Kubica’s previous experience in F1, despite it being 7 years ago, his biggest challenge will be adapting to the physical fitness required to pilot this machinery.

Think about Herbert’s accident, Lauda, now add Kubica to that list. If everything plays out well, this comeback story will be up right up there depending on both results and Renault’s competitiveness – not mention how he fairs against Hülkenberg. It’s a common theme in life and sports, ‘what could have been?’ So rather than ask those questions, let’s bring Robert back when he’s ready and test this story out once and for all.
Let’s be realistic though, we all want this story to happen but there is minimal chance it will succeed. Formula 1 drivers are wired differently, 300km/h close to barriers without batting an eye lid, they know the consequences of motor racing, but they still race regardless. Give Robert a shot and if Renault don’t, Ferrari should instead give Roberto a shot once Kimi Raikkonen “bwoah’s” his way into retirement at the end of the year.


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Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.

F1 2007 or 2017?


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F1 2007 or 2017?
2017 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix Driver Recap
Jonathan Simon | March 29, 2017

The Simon Racing Report - RaceSpot TV Commentator

With only five total overtakes at Australia, it was the first time since the 2010 Formula One season that I could remember a race that had a perfect mix of strategy, drama, track action and boring periods. You see, the boring periods of the race make the rare entertaining moments extra special because you don’t expect it, like your jump scare in any Scream movie.

The 2011 – 2016 Pirelli tyres were much like the beginning of Heikki Kovalainen’s career, exciting at first but you got over it after that introduction phase. Whereas the 2017 Pirelli rubber is your red wine to the elegant steak that is a 2017 Formula 1 car.

This season also greatly replicates the 2007 Formula One Season's pecking order. The two horse race between Mercedes and Ferrari clones the dramatic McLaren and Ferrari dual in '07, along with the Red Bull to BMW Sauber comparison which is right there ready to clean up more errors than your defensive anchor at mid-field. Your mid-pack teams follow, along with the McLaren/Sauber to Super Aguri/Spyker clean up at the back of the grid.


Sebastian Vettel

A brilliant weekend from the German who returned to the blisteringly quick form he has shown throughout his illustrious career. After Kimi Räikkönen signed his contract extension in 2017, Sebastian looked out of place in a Ferrari that struggled to compete for victories against the dominant Mercedes FW07. I’ve always said that racing drivers sometimes need a reset/refresh epiphany to get back into rhythm. Whether that’s a pit stop for a fresh set of rubber, a new race or a brand new season, the German received that extra motivation heading in 2017 with the quickest Ferrari during his tenure with the team. He made the most of it, taking advantage of Mercedes’ early pit stop to blister into 2017 with a round one victory. As long as the dreaded finger doesn’t return, there are no issues.

Kimi Räikkönen

After showing he could still compete with four time champion Vettel last season after his contract extension, Kimi could play a solid number two role for Seb this season if he maintains the same pace he showed in Australia. Whilst Sebastian powered his way to a front row start, Räikkönen qualified over half a second off his teammate and this was further replicated in the race when he finished 22 seconds off the pace. Nothing to panic about though, let’s see if Kimi can challenge his teammate in the next few rounds, but Vettel will be pushed enough by the Mercedes of Hamilton as it’s now a two team fight for the title.


Lewis Hamilton

After Lewis notified the team of his lack of rear grip, I was concerned that the team had gone into panic mode and pitted the three time world champion too early. Sergio Pérez in the Force India was on an identical strategy to Hamilton, however as a leader Hamilton is expected to preserve the tyres longer and better compared to a middle of the pack car. His pit stop at the end of lap 17 was only a couple laps earlier than his scheduled stop on lap 19 and with Vettel allowing Mercedes no breathing room for error, I would’ve expected Mercedes to stay out until there was a clear track advantage. Instead, the few seconds they had behind Verstappen were obviously less than adequate. Maybe the team didn’t expect Lewis to find it so difficult to overtake in 2017? Regardless of this, the Mercedes is still the faster car of the two championship challengers but the team now has no margin for error compared to their previous years of dominance.

Valtteri Bottas

The Finn stayed quiet all weekend (both metaphorically and vocally), nonetheless to only qualify just under three tenths from his teammate in his first race in a silver arrows was a solid performance from the 27 year old. He was close to catching Hamilton for P2 towards the end of the event, although Hamilton was much quicker throughout the overall race weekend. Valtteri still has some pace to find, Hamilton’s poor strategy and the fresher tyres for the former Williams driver helped make him look a little bit better. Hats off to the man for being classy and stopping for every fan as he left the track late in the night in front of us, brilliant man behind the scenes with a shy humble smile.

Red Bull Racing

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel is possibly the hardest driver to judge this weekend, as both he and Max were extremely close together based on lap times throughout all sessions. We didn’t get to see the full race potential from the Aussie after his sensor issues during the reconnaissance laps. His mistake in qualifying was also a rarity, signifying that the 2017 cars are indeed much tougher to drive. That isn’t the first and won’t be the last time we’ll see the rear of the car snap unexpectedly like that. It happened to Jolyon Palmer towards the end of practice two and will generally occur during mid-speed corners where you’re able to apply and increase throttle application mid corner (the weight will rapidly shift to the rear).

Max Verstappen

An extremely underrated race performance from the Red Bull young gun this weekend. The team may have set the car up for longevity during the race, but with a two tier fight quiet visible at the top of the pecking order between Mercedes and Ferrari, Verstappen was 6 seconds away from snatching P4 from Räikkönen. This reminded me a lot of the 2007 Bahrain Grand Prix when Nick Heidfeld snuck himself past Alonso and up into P4 despite being in the third best car on the grid by a long mile. Max had brilliant long run pace and I’m looking forward to watching the RB13 tip toe around Monaco in a few rounds time.


Felipe Massa

He basically received a free Formula 1 car that he doesn’t have to give back, was beeping his way leaving the track as if Brazil had just won the world cup and also performed outstandingly well to give Williams some optimism this season. Not much to say about Massa, the start was crucial in terms of getting past Romain Grosjean in the Haas and the 2008 almost world champion runner-up achieved the best possible result he could’ve this weekend.

Lance Stroll

Whilst any smart team principal or sports coach understands that you need to be patient with young talent to develop, the opening signs with Lance Stroll are not optimistic. As stated earlier, the 2017 cars are a different beast to handle and jumping from Formula 3 to Formula 1 may not be as easy as it was in the past, but the sample size to prove this point is obviously small at the moment. Massa had a tendency to spin a lot and make an abundance of mistakes in his early years in Formula 1, however Lance has been completely demolished by his experienced teammate which doesn’t support his case as a future world champion. He also looks nervous in front of the press and whether that coincides with his driving or not is difficult to perceive. Let’s see if Massa’s leadership along with the ideal mentorship supports the Canadian through his rookie season. If Jolyon Palmer managed to get a second season in the Renault, we can’t give up on Lance after one grand prix weekend (And all the drama from testing, I know...).

Force India

Sergio Pérez

Pérez produced some thrilling overtakes this event, despite Force India going along with the same strategy as Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes (after the Mexican started from P11). His move around the outside of Carlos Sainz into Turn 3 reinforced the point that overtaking was difficult, but in a good way. By trail braking into the corner around the outside, he closed the door by only a whisker to get ahead of the Toro Rosso. It was a move that replicated Fernando Alonso’s around the outside of Lewis Hamilton during the beginning of the 2013 race. The aim is to now get ahead of Williams (and possibly Haas depending on whether or not Grosjean maintains his comfortability in the car this season) in terms of overall performance as it is extremely close in the mid pack.

Esteban Ocon

Points for the young Frenchman in his first race with Force India is a great way to leave Australia with some ever so slight confidence. Most other young drivers / second drivers struggled to match their teammates and this was the case with Ocon. However despite the gap in qualifying between himself and Perez, Ocon made minimal errors and the late race battle between himself, Alonso and Hülkenberg was the vital point of the race. If Hülkenberg had managed to come out top in the three wide battle, Ocon would not have a world championship point alongside his name. It’s most important that Ocon steps up his level of improvement before the midway point of the season. If Bottas fails to impress on his one year deal, Mercedes need to be comfortable in his replacement when its contract time come the end of the season.


Romain Grosjean

Grosjean may well have the Alonso factor to him in that he is one of the best on the grid in terms of extracting performance from a mid-pack car. P6 in qualifying and a potential P7 in the race before his retirement (due to a water leak) is mightily impressive for a team that enters their second season in the sport. A lot forget that the Frenchman was close to winning races and scoring consistent podiums in 2013 after rejuvenating his career from his miserable 2009 season, as well as his controversial 2012 campaign. If Haas can manage to avoid the brake issues they suffered in 2016, Grosjean in a comfortable car can score some good points in 2017.

Kevin Magnussen

A weekend to forget for Magnussen, even Mark Webber couldn’t put effort into caring about his clash at the start of the race with Marcus Ericsson. Not only did he qualify 11 spots down on his teammate, he’s also a driver who has critical experience in F1 which means there are no excuses for qualifying dramatically off the pace. Years ago I predicted a McLaren lineup in 2017 to consist of Magnussen and Vandoorne, fighting for the title. We obviously know that didn't pan out accurately. K-Mag has yet to get used to the Haas machinery, but so far he’s further cemented my analysis of the ‘first’ driver being far more superior to the ‘second’ in a team.

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz Jr

Quiet weekend for Carlos who mentioned he struggled with handling issues in the Toro Rosso this weekend. If that’s the case, it’s quite impressive he still managed to edge Daniil Kvyat who is yet to bounce back from his Red Bull to Toro Rosso demotion. These two drivers were the closest of any teammates this weekend from my analysis, swapping positions two times in the final stint as they battled for the bottom end of the points.

Daniil Kvyat

We will need to wait for the first few rounds of the championship to play out before we determine whether or not Daniil Kvyat has completely forgotten the depression filled Red Bull axing. So far he performed solidly at Australia but let’s assume Carlos wasn’t 100% this round and lacked pace, I doubt the Toro Rosso is finishing any higher than where they eventually ended up. Therefore Kvyat should be proud that he was driving around like a torpedo (probably to Vettel’s dismay) and scoring valuable points. He only scored 16 points last season when he switched into the Toro Rosso compared to the 42 points his teammate scored in their head to head battle. The Russian needs to ensure he isn’t on the back foot going into the European rounds of the season.


Nico Hülkenberg

Quite a disappointing round for Renault who just didn’t have the overall pace to compete for points at Australia. Hulk was at touching distance of the final point in the thrilling three wide battle with Ocon and Alonso. I was standing over at Turn 1 watching the big screen expecting a simple move from the Force India, when I turned my head to the track to see three wide action along with sparks lighting the track up. I was as excited for an overtake for the first time since the 2010 Bridgestone days.

Jolyon Palmer

Struggle city is the title of this chapter for Jolyon Palmer’s Formula 1 book. Shall we maintain patience with the 2014 GP2 Champion? We can be lenient with his mistake at the final corner of practice two, the car snapped away and looked a handful to drive. However Palmer wasn’t at ease with the Renault this weekend and his errors in Q1 means he goes back to the drawing board to figure things out for China. He was running well in P14 before his brake issues forced him into retirement as the team also apologised. That’s a frustrating weekend to forget for the Brit who is under pressure to perform this season.


Fernando Alonso

Do we potentially give Fernando driver of the day had he scored points? Even Fernando himself said this was one of the best race performances of his career. He has a history of saying this though and uses the phrase to let people know that ‘I drove my butt off and this car can’t do any better, so I’m going to hype up my performance to make myself look good’. Realistically though, it was impressive in comparison to the testing grief McLaren faced.

Stoffel Vandoorne

Yet again another number two driver completely demolished by their teammate. In all fairness to Vandoorne, although he finished last and behind the Sauber of Giovinazzi he still managed to complete 55 consecutive race laps in a car that couldn’t get anywhere near that mark during pre-season testing.


Marcus Ericsson

What more to say for Marcus Ericsson? Impressed the paddock by making it through to Q2 in a Sauber that was predicted to be the slowest car on the grid for 2017. Bill Belichick would be proud, the Swede basically ‘did his job’ this weekend and his contentions for a strong result were effectively over after the clash with Magnussen on the first lap, with his retirement on lap 21 the icing on the cake.

Antonio Giovinazzi

Initially Giovinazzi thought his race call up on Saturday morning was a joke, however his performance was far from that. To jump into the difficult 2017 machinery, let alone a Sauber and qualify only a couple tenths off his teammate is a solid performance to say the least. Pascal Wehrlein will obviously step back into the car for the rest of the season, however teams will now keep an eye on the Italian in the circumstances where there is a potential mid-season driver switch. The first seats to look at here are the McLaren seat of Alonso (if he leaves the sport) as well as the Renault of Palmer (if his performances decline further, as well as Giovinazzi’s financial situation).


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Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.

Italy’s Spanish Brother | Why Fernando Alonso had to leave Ferrari


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Italy's Spanish Brother
Why Fernando Alonso Left Ferrari
Jonathan Simon | Jan 17, 2017

The Simon Racing Report - RaceSpot TV Commentator

With the move of Valtteri Bottas to Mercedes this week, it’s a good chance to reflect on another previous driver change in one of the biggest teams in Formula 1. Fernando Alonso both joining and leaving Ferrari was a necessary and inevitable move in both directions. So why was it the best decision for the Spaniard to leave Ferrari? Alonso’s timeline with Ferrari was never going to be boundless, although it wasn’t as extensive as we all expected it to be. What's most to influence for both his success and failure however, is the intelligence and leadership of one of the greatest drivers of all time.

30th of September 2009

It was finally the day Fernando Alonso was confirmed to have signed a three year deal with Ferrari, as one of the deadliest driver/team combos in Formula 1 history was conceived. Stefano Domenicali was still the team principal for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro (1) and Luca Di Montezemolo was President and Chairman of Ferrari. That’s how long ago we’re talking about…

(1) Ferrari dropped the Marlboro name from the team at the British Grand Prix in 2011. Tobacco sponsorships and advertising in Formula 1 were banned years before that.

Just a month earlier, Crashgate turned into a frivolous outcome for both Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, while the spicy and feisty Spaniard of Alonso was approaching the one year anniversary of his only win one of two wins of the 2008 season which ironically included Singapore, as well as Japan.

The timing couldn’t have been more ideal for Alonso. The Renault F1 Team was in turmoil, Brawn GP’s championship winning car was in a performance decline, Kimi Räikkönen was out of the team for next season, Felipe Massa’s injury recovery would keep him out until 2010 (2) , Ferrari subsequently switched their development focus to the F10 and angry Alonso had a chip on his shoulder to beat Ron Dennis…And McLaren. All of this while Ferrari showed brilliant late season form in 2009 to finally sign Alonso to the team, in what was the worst kept secret in Formula 1 at the time.

(2) Felipe Massa was struck by a suspension spring that had fallen from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn GP car during Qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.

This was a man who even stated in 2009 that he would end his career at Ferrari. Statements in the modern day that shouldn’t be taken literally of course, because we all remember Lewis Hamilton mentioning he was going to race for McLaren for the rest of his career after winning the 2008 championship, and how Wayne Rooney sported his “once a blue, always a blue” t-shirt before leaving for Manchester United.


So why did Alonso’s latter prime while at Ferrari not result in a single world championship for five seasons?



Q1 | 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix

(3) Unfortunately not 26 as Toyota had literally cried their way out of the sport in this press conference.

Let’s wind back to Q1 in the sandy, salt salivating deserts of the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix. Just a few months earlier I remember visiting the race track on a December trip and envisioned the scream of 24 Formula 1 cars (3) into the first corner and couldn’t for the life of me believe how anybody would be capable of taking the fight to Alonso. The man had already cemented a reputation as one of the angriest athletes in sports, there was no humanely and insanely possible way in which anybody could knock off both himself and his now lusciously long lady attractive hair.


This is where the beauty of ‘Formula 1’ comes in.


Formula 1 drivers are limited to their machinery. Alonso could sit in a HRT (Not Hormone Replacement Therapy, the Formula 1 team) and the man would still not score a point in what was the longest season in F1 history at the time. (4)

(4) 2010 held 19 races on the calendar, the 2016 season has since surpassed that with 21.

A new onboard camera, the frightening red rosso corsa painted brightly on the Ferrari F10 and the contrasted Spanish and Asturias flag colours on his helmet were coming out of the final corner at the Sakhir Circuit. It hit me right at that moment that Alonso was going to be a demon in the red Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel would have an unusual spark plug failure during the race and Alonso would take the chequered flag and win his first race with Ferrari. (5)

(5) Alonso joins Juan Manuel Fangio / Luigi Muso (1956), Giancarlo Baghetti (1961), Mario Andretti (1971), Nigel Mansell (1989) and Kimi Räikkönen (2007), as drivers to win their first race with Ferrari

(Source: GPUpdate)

Fernando Alonso’s leadership throughout the season was far from cerebral, taking a more pragmatic, emotional and relationship based approach. His performances on track clouted Massa’s ability to return to form from his accident in 2009 and throughout their years at Ferrari as teammates, Alonso made Massa look so bad that I started to question whether Massa was even capable of winning races anymore.


2010 German Grand Prix


The conflict of interest now begins to cause controversy. The German Grand Prix begins on the 25th of July 2010, exactly one year to the day where Felipe Massa suffered his accident in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. “Fernando is faster than you” (6) is born and conceived by a reluctant Rob Smedley and Fernando Alonso wins. Not only had Nando asserted himself as an intimidating number one driver, his leadership and presence was enough to gain the trust of Ferrari who were now obviously submissive to the Spaniard in the public eye. Submissive in a sense that Ferrari allowed Alonso to be who he wanted to be, the same way great leaders tend to avoid changing natural characteristics of the employees they nurture.


Now here is the first of 126 NBA analogies I’ll make today. Steve Kerr (current coach of the Golden State Warriors) allows Stephen Curry to shoot 3’s from ridiculous distances, because he can at a high percentage. This is despite the fact of it being a ridiculous shot for anyone else and as a result, makes him more comfortable executing offensively on the floor. He allows Draymond Green to lead, speak and be boisterous the way he does because he wants Draymond to be more comfortable showing up to his job as a player. It allows him to keep to who he is, yet still fit in with the overall team culture. Gregg Popovich (current coach of the San Antonio Spurs) asked Manu Ginobili why he kept making flashy, risky passes and he responded “This is what I do Pop”. So Coach Pop accepted that being ‘Manu’ was part of the overall package you got with Ginobili.


The reason that all links to Nando, is that Ferrari did the right thing by allowing Alonso to be who he is. Angry, passionate, reveal ambition and provide flair, all while still maintaining the overall Ferrari culture of old.


Back to 2010, the end of season shift in momentum that season was a result of brilliant victories at Monza, Singapore and Korea.


A return to the top step of the podium for Ferrari at Monza was mostly a result of Ferrari making a good strategic call for the first and probably last time in team history. Alonso passed Button coming out of the pits and later celebrated the win by swerving across the finish line. This iconic celebration purely and genuinely signified the joy and importance of a home victory that Ferrari had been waiting for in the post Michael Schumacher era. The joy which Alonso had soaked in both through his champagne on the podium and metaphorically through his leadership for the team.


(7) *As of the start of the 2017 F1 season. Grand Slam = Pole position, win, fastest lap and lead every lap. The last grand slam before Alonso's was recorded by Michael Schumacher at the 2004 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Alonso even went out of his way and took the time at Singapore to stay close to the pit wall as he crossed the finish line, in order to celebrate and further cement his relationship and commitment with the team. Let’s not act like nobody noticed Vettel finishing only 0.293s behind in second place while doing this, along with Heikki Kovalainen’s combusted Lotus Cosworth in smoke to the same side of the race track. It was the first, and so far only grand slam of his career. (7)


The Spaniard now moved onto Korea, a new track with a memorable turning point to the season. The triumphant return to the championship lead was a double whammy for Red Bull as both drivers also failed to score points. Alonso’s post-race radio celebrations from both himself and the engineers were enough to cement the already great reputation and passion to win at Ferrari. Both Andrea Stella's (8) motivational comments, as well as Stefano Domenicali's "Avanti Fer, Avanti!", are chilling and nostalgic to listen to after what was a thrilling race and substantial turning point in the championship at the time. Thank you very much to JohnTocky on YouTube who saved me a whole paragraph of linking Alonso radio messages from 2010. Most of my favourite ones are already here, along with the celebration at Korea @ 2:11.

(8) Alonso's race engineer for his entire time at Ferrari was Andrea Stella, who has since moved to McLaren along with Fernando.

Please don't ask for more. There are more Fernando Alonso radio YouTube clips than the amount of times Juan Pablo Montoya was able to swear by the end of this sentence.


Oh no... Just wait, there's more...


With the effervescent culture that Alonso had instilled within the team through his own performance and emotional eruption, motivation was high throughout management, engineering and more. This was a vivacious period of time that would go on for most of his years at Ferrari. His constant "never give up" phrase over the years was there to keep his team’s attitude on a positive track. Ironically however, 2011 at Korea would contradict his iconic phrase and the packed ball of emotions would crack. His honesty with the team was a tool that would gain trust with designers and engineers. If the car performed well, he would distribute praise where appropriate. If the car was lacking to competitors, he would call out the team and blatantly say improvement was needed.


There wasn’t any self-deprecating style of personality with Fernando, meaning the team was designing a car for an assertive and confident figure. If the car wasn’t as quick as their rivals, why put the blame on yourself? An objective argument would claim that he’s responsible for living in Maranello to spend excess time on the simulator (which he’d constantly been doing in the previously linked articles anyway). This is in order to spend time with engineers and the wider team, providing his 'presence' which in turn also motivates the team. But even so, Ferrari didn’t hire him to improve design quality and innovate on a new front wing, or come up with a concept to rival the F-Duct.


It would be interesting if F1 drivers had to design their own cars though. Considering Ferrari threaten to form a breakaway series year after year, maybe that's the new concept and idea they need? F1 drivers designing their own cars. What about the driver stepping out of the car to change his own tyres? 1 lap races? What about holding the championship round while incorporating the Monza oval? Anything that would be better than elimination qualifying right?


Therefore it’s an anomaly as to how one of the now greatest driver/team relationships of all time deteriorated over the following years. Entertainment value was at a high for the fans, Ferrari had tapped into the wider Spanish market and the guy could give interviews in four languages. (9) Don’t forget that confidence behind the wheel was as good as it’s ever been. It resulted in one of my personal favourite Fernando Alonso career moments, almost attempting to bump draft Lucas Di Grassi at around 275kph (170 mph) on the uphill run at Beau Rivage in Monaco 2010. (10)

(9) Alonso can speak Spanish, English, Italian and French



2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Ferrari however would look poorest at their richest and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix of 2010 marked one of the moments where their excessive passion and obsession for perfection would come out in the wash in the most difficult of periods. Alonso’s ability to motivate and lead his team to work hard on supporting his pursuit to a third world championship, would haunt them dearly as learning to lose was as hard as winning.


Ferrari yet again made another terrible strategic call, what a surprise! You would think a season of constantly putting Felipe Massa on the dud strategy (in order to test out what works for Alonso) would make a difference for their number one driver. It backfired, Petrov happened (11) and the Ferrari team surrounded and comforted Alonso post-race while he lamented what could have been. Massa also swung past and gave the strong ‘dap’ handshake all F1 drivers have adopted. The pound hug without the hug.



2011 FIA Formula One Season

The 2011 campaign came along and was already gone before it began. Red Bull’s RB7 was phenomenal both aerodynamically and via mechanical grip, as was its ability to nurture itself into the new Pirelli era of Formula 1. Ferrari’s only victory of the season came off the abnormal race at Silverstone where off-throttle blown diffusers were banned and almost randomised the grid. (12) Nothing to see here…

(12) Off-throttle blown diffusers were initially banned before the 2011 British Grand Prix. This concept proved advantageous for teams such as Red Bull Racing, who significantly lost out along with McLaren during the weekend. Ferrari took advantage of the shakeup and Alonso took victory by over 16 seconds to the dominant Red Bull cars of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Due to complaints from most teams, the ban was lifted following the event.

Let’s appreciate this for one moment.

As an engineer, team principal, team chef, janitor and you name it, would you rather work to help a driver succeed who isn’t talented and confident enough to start a grand prix like that? Or would you work to support Alonso?

If you’re not convinced, let’s look at some more ‘big balls’ moments.

Two wheels on the grass, wheel spin, engine starts to rev... but who cares right? I'm not done yet. Blame Alonso, there are countless of these.

Nailing a race start in Formula 1 is the bat flip after a home run, the touchdown dance or absolutely posterizing and dunking all over the guy who tried to take the charge near the rim. Neither of these mean you win the race/game, but they all get the adrenaline pumping and the heartbeat racing.


2012 FIA Formula One Season

2012 was one of the best examples of Alonso’s ability to extract pace from an underperforming car. Underperforming in a sense of expectations, the team had yet again failed to provide a championship dominant car the way Adrian Newey had for Red Bull Racing. We also have to remember that they didn’t have the budget of a 2016 Mercedes, although contradicting this is that they didn’t have the budget-to-points ratio either of a 2016 Force India.


After a long while, you may end up in quick sand such as Williams and the moment they weren’t ‘underperforming’ anymore, it’s a bad sign for the future of your team.


Alonso had now been recognised and exemplified for something different. It was no longer Minardi Alonso, young Alonso, angry Alonso at Renault, angry Alonso at McLaren, 08/09 quiet Alonso and angry Alonso at Ferrari. It was either ‘most respected on the grid’, ‘best driver in a bad car’ and so on… This was a man who evolved in character for the better.


The Australian Grand Prix in 2012 reminded me of the passion Alonso brings to both the fans and his team. After spinning off right in front of my eyes in qualifying at Turn 1, and then seeing him angrily protect the possession of the steering wheel away from the marshals, it was more than obvious this wasn’t the spirit the Spaniard wanted to start the season off with.

Paul Gilham/William West | Getty Images

Paul Gilham/William West | Getty Images

Fifteen minutes before the 2013 race the next year, I wasn’t sure if a full, red dressed demon had popped up behind us at Turn 1, or if it was a Ferrari/Alonso fan. After the man whipped out his Spanish Flag and wrapped it around him, it was obvious to me that it was the latter. Heading into Turn 4 of lap one, the crowd now as quiet as Luca Badoer’s 2009 season, Alonso decided to wrap around the outside of Hamilton into the corner while the Spanish fan behind us pierced our ears and shattered the pit wall glass as he yelled “FER!?…. FERNANDO!!!!!!!!” and jigged around with my friend (also an Alonso supporter).


I was horrified, knowing it was who else but Lewis who had been humiliated for attempting to slot up the inside of Massa. This further cemented how petrifying Alonso, his fans and his team could be. Maybe not petrifying, but at least intimidating…


Ferrari had recognised their lack of qualifying pace and as a result, put a copious amount of focus on race setup and then tailoring it to take advantage of the unusual Pirelli tyres. His aforementioned starts were more than exhilarating and helped ‘hide’ the poor qualifying results Ferrari would eventuate on the Saturday.

Fernando Alonso | Qualifying and Race Position Differential
Note: All data excludes performances where drivers were not a classified finisher

Qualifying (Avg)
Race (Avg)
Difference (+/-)

Qualifying and Race Position Differential (Career)

Pole Positions (Career)

Of course we must consider the variable whereby most drivers gain positions from qualifying to the race, due to opponent retirements. However Alonso was always known as a poor qualifier throughout his career. It was his launch control starts in the Renault and his well-timed aggressiveness in the Ferrari that would always compensate for that on Sunday. He will always be known as one of the best drivers to launch off the line in the sport’s history.


Also notice how the three leaders (Hamilton, Vettel and Rosberg) in both Qual / Race Pos Diff, as well as pole positions have all driven some of the most dominant F1 cars of all time. Therefore we can't look too deep into these statistics. 



2012 European Grand Prix

Take Valencia 2012 for example, the greatest performance of Alonso’s career and he even claimed it to be the best win he'd felt in his career. The emotional energy and toll it puts on everyone around you now means results need to happen. To put heart and soul into a single victory and cheer with the sea of red, yellow and blue in the stands will come back to haunt you if it doesn’t go well come the end of the season. For a human being to go through an event like that, only to realise it would be false hope without a world championship, it’s those ‘nostalgia’ moments that make Alonso and his posse around him realise that it’s too much to endure and tolerate again.


The season of 2012 was very much like a lottery and very much felt like the rubber band system in Mario Kart that would always slingshot you from last place to first. If we have to make video game analogies, here goes…


The Suzuka clash with Raikkonen was the unsatisfying takedown in Burnout 3 where you didn’t quite smack into the guy but you still executed the PIT manoeuvre well enough to complete a mission in Grand Theft Auto. While the start of the Belgium Grand Prix in 2012 was so good, it must be listed in dot points:

  • We thought Maldonado hit the accelerator right as the timer ticks to 0 in Mario Kart, whereas in reality he had hacked his way into a triple mushroom start.

  • Kobayashi did his best Barrichello impression by having a terrible start. His screen was later ink-sprayed by Grosjean’s ‘blooper’.

  • Grosjean not only used a red shell on Hamilton, but had a Mega Mushroom, triple green shells, bob-omb and also bullet bill’d his way through the field to achieve victory by submission.


2012 Brazilian Grand Prix

Alonso would “never give up” as always come the final race of the season, screaming his way past with a double overtake on Massa and Webber at the Senna S, embodying the support his Brazilian teammate had given him over the years.

Intentional or not, Massa was there for the team and the team was now all Alonso’s. I also recall his ‘Super Save’ in the wet, racing my heartbeat as if I was sprinting to the bathroom mid-race, whereas he’d ironically probably been to the bathroom in the cockpit after that save.

The emotion, passion and flair throughout the season would nevertheless result in another failed campaign. Ferrari’s culture is evident as ‘to win or fail’ and Alonso overlapping with this philosophy had started to mentally fatigue both himself and a supporter base who couldn’t cope with another season of Fernando losing out to Vettel. The powerful image of Alonso glaring at the celebrations of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing has evolved into him absorbing the sinking feeling as another Ferrari championship slipped away. The sight of a crying mechanic in the Ferrari garage that same cloudy afternoon also shadowed Alonso’s future with the team.


2013 FIA Formula One Season

The 2013 season began and after the first few races it seemed to be déjà vu of 2012. After a couple of wins in China and Spain (which may now conceivably be his final victory in Formula 1), the season ran away with Vettel yet again and Alonso leaving Ferrari rumours began to boil in the middle of the season. By this time, losing was almost cemented and the glory and celebration of winning was lost. If you win and celebrate like you’ve discovered a solution for world hunger, then expect to lose in a depressing fashion. This was what backfired significantly on Nando.


2014 FIA Formula One Season

Of course the 2014 season wasn’t any help, Alonso knew the car wasn’t competitive and he was forced to change teams. The man just had to at this time, all the memories, glory and fight throughout the years were now ineffective and overused. They’d constantly heard the “we never give up” and the “we need to improve”. As any coach of any sport would say, the more and more you use certain quotes and speeches, the less effective they become.


The now retired Tim Duncan from the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs was always portrayed to be a quiet leader by coach Gregg Popovich. He was ‘a leader by example’, never showing up late and always putting in work overtime. This meant every time he opened his mouth to say something, the atmosphere around him knew they were going to be valuable words. This is where Alonso’s constant outgoing passion and leadership came back to bite him. If he won a couple championships, nobody would dare to complain and everything would work to plan. However I truly believe Alonso had no backup plan if he were to lose. The man was so driven that he genuinely believed that in a team such as Ferrari, with his assassinating talent, there was no way he could lose. Di Montezemolo later felt Alonso got it into his mind that he could never win with Ferrari, which of course was further demotivation for the overall team who had adored their long lost Spanish brother for so many years.


Luck has a spot to play in any sport and in Formula 1, sometimes more than any. If Grosjean wasn’t a “first-lap nutcase” according to Mark Webber, Alonso may have a third championship with Ferrari. The two time world champion could easily have four to his name if we want to clutch at straws. Then again, we could easily say Massa should also be the 2008 world champion, Lewis could have won 2012, Kimi Räikkönen was the 2005 world champion, Eddie Irvine was the 1999 champion and so on... All of this as Vettel once said, is “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve” and that just doesn’t cut it in Formula 1.


Despite all his motivation, strategy, tactics, work ethic and overall leadership, the man’s goal to accomplish becoming a world champion with Ferrari never came to fruition. Of course without Adrian Newey, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing, Fernando Alonso would have an extra two championships to his name with Ferrari. Don’t forget, Stefano Domenicali along with Martin Whitmarsh would probably both still be leading Ferrari and McLaren as team principals respectively if Newey had never existed. Maybe Maurizio Arrivabene never arrives well to Ferrari? Maybe Whitmarsh never panics into a Honda deal for 2015…


Let's simulate Fernando Alonso's career at Ferrari ten more times.

  • (3/10) He would be triumphant and win the 2010 and 2012 world championships, Stefano Domenicali is promoted to president and chairman of Ferrari as Luca Di Montezemolo retires, all while Sebastian Vettel moves to McLaren and would win his next race in Formula 1 with Ferrari in 2018.

  • (1/10) Alonso would again win the 2010 and 2012 championships and would retire at the end of 2015 once Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's Mercedes' dominance truly hammered home.

  • (2/10) Alonso would win the 2010 championship while Lewis Hamilton would claim the 2012 championship. As a result, Hamilton would stay at McLaren until 2014, Sergio Pérez is hired by Ferrari for the 2014 season before being fired for 2015. Vettel and Hamilton both move to Ferrari for 2016 and surprisingly, the odd couple becomes the most loved driver pairing on the grid. Fans start to enjoy the pair as they would fail to succeed and win any more championships, therefore becoming much more loved by society. Making the front page, Fernando Alonso would move to Mercedes for 2014 and win a further two championships, Nico Rosberg would win 2016 and shockingly still retire. And meanwhile, I know you're all wondering about Nico Hülkenberg. He's forever snubbed by the top teams in F1 and he stays with Force India until 2016. Alright maybe that's harsh, but that's the business of the sport right?

  • (4/10) The rest would be exactly as it played out in reality. Considering the Ferrari F10, F150 Italia, F2012, F138 and the F14 T were never the most dominant car, as well as the circumstances with Red Bull and McLaren, Alonso was sublime in the Ferrari. What's that final image of Alonso going to be when it's all said and done?

Eventually, Alonso asked Di Montezemelo to release him from the final two years of his contract, which also reinforces my point of how F1 contract security means nothing. "Driver X signs a five year deal and within a couple of seasons they're already out", which makes clairvoyance significantly more predictable. There's a method of navigation around F1 contracts which allowed Fernando to burst out of his deal.

Fernando took the risk of moving to McLaren, a gamble of winning the world championship there before his career comes to an end. That gamble instead resulted in a GP2 drive. In November 2008, I still recall somebody predicting on an F1 forum somewhere that the 2009 World Champion would be ‘Honda’s Jenson Button’. A team that was later sold for £1. 2017 is upon us and ironically, Honda again have some interesting power unit concepts. You never know what the future holds, but you can always influence the outcome of your decisions.


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Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.

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