Category Archives: Teams

How Malaysia Grand Prix 2015 Hailed the Rebirth of Sebastian Vettel

vettelWhat defines a legend in Formula One? Who is allowed to join the harrowed hall of fame in this amazing sport? This is a question that elicits debate, but one thing that is an irrefutable fact is Sebastian Vettel’s desire to join this coterie of drivers.

With the win at the amazing 2015 Malaysia Grand Prix, the Ferrari driver announced his comeback, and for F1 fans, they have Sepang to thank for this turnaround. But before you start celebrating that baby-Schumacher, as Vettel is adoringly called, is back, why not look at germane issues around this incredible win at Kuala Lumpur?

Struggling to Join Legends

The German might have won four back-to-back titles with Red Bull from 2010 to 2014 but the sporting world seems to have never accepted him into the pantheon of F1 greats. When the German announced he would leave Red Bull in September 2014, everyone was astonished including team bigwigs.

Of course you had to sympathize with the guy; a defending champion with no race win as the F1 season was closing had to make a drastic decision, and Sebastian Vettel was bold enough to make the call. It was considered career suicide considering the struggle Ferrari was going through in the 2014 season, but finally the move paid.

Malaysia Grand Prix as a Springboard

So, was it just the SF-15T’s pace or were there other factors about the circuit that worked for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in general? Here are some ideas:

  1. Past wins experience: With age comes experience. Vettel has won at Sepang three other times.  With such background and a good car to boot, all the right ingredients were there for a win at Malaysia GP.
  2. The incredible Ferrari SF-15T: After the race, one statement from Vettel stood out about beating Mercedes W06 fair and square. During pre-season testing at Jerez, the German had also hinted about the car’s incredible performance, and when the right conditions presented themselves, it was all systems go for the four-time champion.
  3. Amazing race strategy: When Mercedes decided to pit early under the safety car, Vettel took the lead and he was able to run longer on more fragile medium tires. Mercedes in desperation split tire strategy to catch Vettel, but the German’s skills and race conditions worked to his favor.

You can’t deny that the complicated Malaysia GP circuit, which requires an innovative tire strategy, handed F1 a refreshing outlook to things. All of a sudden, the 2015 season looks like it is bound to get even more exciting; thanks to Sepang!

Could Williams Upset Formula One this Year after Strong Preseason Testing?

Williams - Jerez, SpainWhen the 2014 F1 season was closing, it was obvious that no team would come close to Mercedes in 2015. When the W06 was launched, Lewis Hamilton, the 2014 champion, said the car felt much like the 2014 machine which obviously sent jitters down the spines of those constructors’ who wanted to at least take a bite off team PETRONAS’ lead.

Williams’ Preseason Surprise Package

Well, preseason testing is over and Australian GP is due to start on March 15th. However, that is not even the focus this week, but the performance of Williams in testing. By the last day of testing, Valterri Bottas had managed to ensure Williams ended preseason testing on top of the timesheets. The Mercedes-powered Williams managed to rake in 89 laps at an impressive 1: 23.063s on super soft tires.

So, what is Williams not giving away and who should be worried about this preseason muscle power? For starters, there was nothing much coming from the team during the first days, and Felipe Massa and Bottas seem to have worked extra hard to get to the peak.

The two drivers are already saying the car is a vast improvement from the previous car and it is no wonder it got the best classification since 2003 season. With only more down force being cited as the problem, it is obvious that the season is definitely going to be full of surprises.

Changes to Competition behind Mercedes

What would happen if Williams kept up its consistency which other teams seem to be struggling with? Most likely the teams that would have to come in for more competition include:

1.       Ferrari

This is the team that has experienced the most intriguing ‘stupid season’ and now it seems the dust is settling. The new boss, Maurizio Arrivabene, wants some wins, and with Vettel and Raikkonen praising the SF 15-T, it is obvious that these wins are possible in case reliability issues with Mercedes persist.

2.       McLaren

Could the season be over before it starts for McLaren-Honda? The team name that once sent shivers down spines of competition is now fading right before fans’ eyes. With technical problems still plaguing the team, especially with Alonso’s accident, it seems like Ferrari and Williams will fully capitalize on McLaren’s problems. Kevin Magnussen and Button were further limited by oil leaks again hinting the car is not ready to push for 2nd position.

3.       Red Bull

Could the livery on Red Bull’s car have been meant to hide the disappointment of the winter season? The RB 11 is not the force anyone thought it would be and to even think it can challenge Ferrari or Mercedes would be stretching the truth too far. The performance and reliability of RB 11 are in doubt and only the combined genius of Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat can see Red Bull winning a race this season.

4.       Suaber

Felipe Nasr impressed in preseason testing and though the team concentrated on race simulations, there is no denying the team can surprise with points this season. Marcus Ericsson hasn’t raced since Sochi, Russia and you have to give it to the team for the efforts they seem to be expending. Could this be the surprise package this season?

5.       Lotus

If Pastor Maldonado stops crashing every other time, this team could probably fight for points. The Mercedes-powered E23 Hybrid impressed in Barcelona, and while the team is not overly optimistic on wins and podium finishes, it is definitely going to be interesting to see what comes out of this partnership.

6.       Force India

The most significant detail that you must have noted from Force India’s races in Barcelona was VJM08’s performance, which seemed flawless. The team which skipped Jerez entirely landed with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg ready to see what the car could do. Impressively, the VJM08 impressed so much almost surpassing the more powerful McLaren-Honda’s entire pre-season total laps over only 2 days.

7.       Toro Rosso

Beautiful car to say the least and one which Franz Tost hailed as the greatest the team has made. If you ask Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr., the reaction wouldn’t be so optimistic considering the team’s erratic performance and low power. With an almost new car for the last pre-season testing to remedy these issues, the two rookie drivers have a tough test ahead as Melbourne approaches.

Well, this was all about Williams. Many teams have impressed during pre-season testing previously only to disappoint. Could Williams be a true surprise package this season? It would surely make every race more exciting to watch.