Category: Force India


Vettel was full of apologies following the ‘Multi-21′ controversy, but Webber would hear none of it. (Image | AP)

Formula 1 is back this weekend as the fun and games comes to Europe and the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona after a three week absence following the Bahrain Grand Prix. Whilst it hasn’t perhaps started off with the bang that was last year, the action has been simmering just nicely to really take off over the next few races, and the level of intrigue remains high. So it is perhaps worthwhile recapping what has passed over the course of the first four races.

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

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

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

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

1) Are team orders still acceptable in Formula 1?

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

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

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L-r: Martin Whitmarsh, Bob Fearnley and Ross Brawn flaunt the new FOTA “white shirt, black trousers” uniform (Image | FOTA website)

A number – a small number, perhaps, but a number nonetheless – of interesting quotes emerged from the second English Formula One Teams Association Fans’ Forum. The forum, held Tuesday at the Williams GP base in Grove, Oxfordshire, allowed F1 fans from around the country to pose questions to team chiefs Ross Brawn (Mercedes), Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren) and Bob Fearnley (deputy team chief, Force India) in a 45-minute question-and-answer session.

The session, which took place after an autograph session with Pastor Maldonado and an hour or so looking around the Williams GP museum, featured questions from a variety of different fans with, it should be said, differing levels of F1 understanding and vocabulary (one nigh-incoherent individual rambled on for almost two minutes without posing a question). TAP, as you would expect, had a few questions lined up, but we never got near the microphone…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When sport and politics collide

There were many calls within Britain and throughout the world for the Bahrain Grand Prix to be cancelled on the grounds of the unrest in the country.

Even now, with the dust quite literally having settled following this weekend’s race, many believe the Bahrain Grand Prix should not have gone ahead. In the midst of the greatest social turmoil the country has experienced since the “1990s Intifada”, this prestigious sporting event became almost the pawn in a game that, sadly, has cost the lives of many in the Persian Gulf state.

It was argued by supporters of the race’s abandonment that allowing it to go ahead would legitimise the government of Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, responsible for repressing a wave of protests since early last year demanding greater political freedom and an end to human rights violations. To some extent, it has, and Formula One under Bernie Ecclestone’s ruthlessly money-focused leadership has long ceased to represent any sort of morals or decency. Tradition has been thrown away by Ecclestone and his cronies, as races have slowly “disappeared” from the calendar, for instance the France and San Marino GPs, to be replaced by those in countries such as Bahrain.

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

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

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Heikki Kovaleinen and Caterham were at the first F1 test of 2012 in Jerez, 7-10 February. Marussia and HRT, meanwhile, are yet to unveil their new cars

For the second time in three years, HRT will enter the Formula 1 season opener in Melbourne having not tested their new car at any of the sport’s spring tests in Jerez and Barcelona. This year, after failing the last of the FIA’s 18 mandatory crash tests, Marussia (previously Virgin Racing) will arrive in Melbourne blind, too – their plan to run some light testing tomorrow, the day after the final Barcelona test ends, was nixed earlier this week by the sport’s governing body.

2012 is the third season in F1 for these two teams, as well as for Caterham F1 (until recently known as Lotus Racing). And yet, neither are anywhere near being competitive, and the failure to arrive at pre-season testing – a perennial issue for beleaguered and cash-strapped HRT, in particular – is just another indication that neither team has what it takes to develop into a legitimate F1 competitor.

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