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Filtering by Tag: Daniil Kvyat

Max Verstappen's win at the Spanish GP, Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis & the #F1TOP3!

Stefan Johansson

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg offer their views on the first-lap collision that ended their races in Barcelona...

JT – The Spanish Grand Prix proved to be a surprising race. Red Bull Racing’s 18-year-old driver Max Verstappen took the win ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. He drove well and made no mistakes. Impressive as that was however, the most notable thing about the race at Circuit de Barcelona was the shunt between teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton which took both Mercedes out of contention on the first lap. What did you make of the incident?

SJ – I really think it was just a racing incident. A combination of things came together in a fraction of a second, literally. I don’t think there was any intent from either driver to do anything particularly sinister. It was a chain reaction triggered by Rosberg’s lack of power.

When you’re in a situation like that you commit one way or the other. It’s instinct. Unfortunately Lewis committed one way and Rosberg committed the same way at the same time. Maybe you could argue that Lewis should have backed off but all of this happens so fast – in a couple tenths of a second at the most.

Without the facts that we now have as to Rosberg being in the wrong engine setting I would have said it was Lewis’ fault. But with the information we have, that changes things.

Rosberg’s move was somewhat aggressive but that’s what you do these days unfortunately since they introduced the rule that you can make one move to block the car behind. But it doesn’t specify how bold that move can be. So you just simply shut the door if you can.

My argument has always been that you race fairly and you should leave at least a car width if someone gets a good run on you. But that’s not the ethic these days. So the nature of racing now means that this can happen. You act on instinct with these rules in place and in this case, I don’t think you can blame one or the other. It was a racing incident.

PICK YOUR #F1TOP3 & WIN!!!

PICK YOUR #F1TOP3 & WIN!!!

JT – Max Verstappen has been praised for his performance and he’s certainly a talent. But one gets the feeling the hype about him may be a bit out of proportion. What’s your view?

SJ – I think he did a phenomenal job and no doubt, he’s the future of Formula One. But Barcelona is also a track which maybe more than any other track on the calendar lends itself to a scenario like this. Don’t forget, Pastor Maldonado won a race there too under very similar circumstances, when Alonso was chasing him the entire race but could not find a way past.

It’s a track which is virtually impossible to pass on. Your only real opportunity is at the end of the front straight. But because of the way the aerodynamics are with these cars it’s almost impossible to follow a competitor through the last section and be close enough to get on the power and have a good run on the car ahead at the end of the straight - even with DRS. If you are in equally fast cars the turbulence from the car in front will be enough to kill the aero on the car behind and he won’t be able to get close enough to get a run into the braking zone at the end of the main straight. The speed difference between the Ferraris and the Red Bulls wasn’t large enough to make passing realistic. As long as Verstappen didn’t make a mistake – and full credit to him for being mistake-free – all he had to do was drive his own race. He didn’t have to fight for the win the way he might have had to at another track. Still, he did a sensational job.

On the other hand, Carlos Sainz has gotten almost zero credit and he also did a sensational job. He finished 6th in a car that’s clearly not anywhere near as competitive as the Red Bull. But that’s F1. The media build guys like Verstappen way up. Then if they fail, they bury them just as fast.

JT – Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo fought hard with Sebastian Vettel, at one point trying to pull off a pass from well behind at the end of the straight. Vettel wasn’t too impressed with the move.

SJ – It was an opportunistic but pretty low-percentage move. But at least he had a go. It could have worked and you have to hand it to him because he’s just about the only guy out there willing to have a go. Generally, he does it in a good way.

There were two top drivers involved here and therefore there was no accident. Vettel gave him enough room to go wide instead of trying to close the door.

PICK YOUR #F1TOP3 & WIN!!!

PICK YOUR #F1TOP3 & WIN!!!

JT – Ferrari was able to get two cars on the podium but given that Mercedes fell out of the race completely it might rightly have been expected that they would win in Barcelona. They failed to capitalize on the opportunity. The team and its director Maurizio Arrivabene are known to be under a great deal of pressure. The outcome for them in Spain has to be troubling.

SJ – Yes, not winning wasn’t part of their game plan. The problem is that the top teams around them have made pretty significant progress. Renault has had a history of building race-winning engines. It has taken a while this time around but I think they now understand the current formula and they’ll come on in leaps and bounds going forward.

You can tell Renault has made a big step forward and it’s likely the next upgrade they get will be another big gain.

PICK YOUR #F1TOP3 & WIN!!!

PICK YOUR #F1TOP3 & WIN!!!

JT – What if Ferrari doesn’t win over the course of the next few races?

SJ – That’s a good question. Who knows what will happen? More heads will roll likely but is that going to help?

When Ferrari was winning everything (1999-2004) they had a dream team that will probably never exist again in Formula One. Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and Michael Schumacher – these are some of the best guys ever in F1 and they all made a pact to stick together and drive Ferrari forward through thick and thin. That’s what made them successful. They never wavered and always stuck together. But it still took three years before they were winning, and I’m sure during that period there were more than one occasion when their positions were threatened from the people at the top.

JT – With the F1 season now underway in Europe it seems likely that the lower tier teams will fall even further behind. Haas F1 for example, seemed to get a dose of reality at Barcelona. Things didn’t really go their way.

SJ – As I’ve said many times, the first few races of the season are the least difficult to score points in all year. I think Haas will experience that this year just as Sauber did last year. It gets tougher and tougher to get points as the season goes on.

But all credit to them because they’re the only new team on the grid. The fact that they showed up in Australia with a car that was that competitive immediately is a huge compliment to them and the approach they’ve take to F1. Again, it boggles my mind that no one else has taken that same approach. Why not utilize the rules to the maximum and buy the technology and parts the rules allow you to?

JT – Off track, the news prior to the Spanish GP was the promotion of Max Verstappen from Toro Rosso to Red Bull Racing and Daniel Kvyat’s demotion from Red Bull to Toro Rosso. There was a lot of comment about the decision both from the press and the F1 paddock. What are your thoughts on this?

SJ – Well, Christian Horner (Red Bull team chief) made some comments about Kvyat being a young driver who is still learning, etc. But I find it mind boggling that a top team like Red Bull would hire a driver that needs to learn. Why?

There are so many good drivers around that’s already been through the learning process. Verstappen is an exception and of course that will spur the same trend even more now. The whole grid will be 18-year-olds before you know it. Take a guy like Andre Lotterer for example, and others similar to him who have so much race experience from doing sports car and other forms of single seater racing. He’s blindingly quick and every bit as good as Kvyat will ever be and probably better. But no one even looks at him.

I don’t understand it. Why on earth would you take a young driver and have him learning to race in Formula One? F1 is the last step, assuming you’re good enough to go all the way, that’s the ultimate goal for any driver, or at least it should be. Where do you go after F1? You should cut your teeth and learn from your mistakes in the junior formulas of open wheel, sports car racing or other categories. When you get into Formula One and get paid to drive you better be ready to deliver every weekend as far as I’m concerned.

I don’t think there’s any excuse for being young and not experienced enough in F1 whether it’s mentally or with race craft. If you’re not capable at that level, you’re not good enough to be there in the first place. At any given time, there are hundreds of quick drivers in different categories of racing, but less than a handful of them know how to race. Why aren’t those guys racing in F1?

JT – A good example of that is Stoffel Vandoorne. It occurred to me that in the hoopla over Verstappen’s win, Vandoorne has been forgotten. He scored for McLaren before either of their regular, world champion drivers this year – with a car not nearly as capable as the Red Bull Renault Verstappen won with. And he absolutely dominated GP2 but he’s not on the F1 grid.

SJ – Exactly, that’s a perfect example. We don’t know yet how he would handle the pressure of racing week in, week out. It’s one thing to jump in a car on a one-off. But when you have to deliver consistently in a top team – that’s when your real quality shows.

But it’s clear that everybody rates Vandoorne very highly. He’s been stunningly fast and won in everything he’s ever raced - from go-karts through GP2.

JT – On the other hand, you are impressed with Red Bull’s ladder system.

SJ – Yes their system, though it’s brutal at times, definitely works now. They’ve produced some pretty spectacular drivers. Vettel, Riciardo and now Verstappen and Sainz – all of them came through that system. It’s the way to develop talent really, and similar to the Marlboro system that was in place when I came through the junior formulas.

You get a little bit of support, enough to keep you going and if you’re good enough you make it all the way. It took a while to get it going in the right direction but Red Bull has done a fantastic job with that system.

JT – A larger and larger group of people are now echoing your view that the current F1 regulations should be left in place. But it appears that the rules will be changed again for 2017.

SJ – It’s clear that they should just leave the regulations alone. Whatever “fixes” they will come up with will only be damaging. They won’t make much difference competitively and they’ll just send costs through the roof again. Everyone will go through the same expensive development process yet again.

We’re now three years into the current format and we’re finally starting to see the grid leveling out. The development curve is tapering off. Why go back to the same arms race again where the big teams will again have a huge gap to the smaller ones at an astronomical cost?

Whether we like the current formula or not, I would leave it alone because if nothing else the rules stability will bring costs down and level out the grid. It’s the manufacturers who are pushing the changes. In fact, Bernie [Ecclestone] recently commented that certain people are plotting his demise but they don’t know what they’re plotting for.

I think that’s absolutely true. They may want to think twice before they take him on. History shows that that may not be the wisest move.

JT – That’s a good point. Nevertheless, Ecclestone will not be around forever. The bigger question is what comes after Bernie?

SJ – I think that’s a big concern for everyone. But I don’t think anyone knows the answer to that question. There will be problems for sure.

Having said that, the way F1 is run now is by committee. As we can see, that yields grid lock and any reforms are really only to do with nuances – changes for the sake of changing more than anything else. No one can agree on anything of significance. F1 needs to be run by a very small group of people if not one person like it has been in the past. That group or person has to have a very clear understanding of how racing and Formula One work, commercially and technically. I am not so sure that the people who are most active in trying to dislodge Bernie understand that point well enough.

JT – IndyCar’s fifth race of the 2016 season, the Angie’s List Grand Prix, took place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ahead of the Indy 500 last weekend.  Penske’s Simon Pagenaud took his third consecutive win ahead of teammate Helio Castroneves and James Hinchcliffe. Scott Dixon came home in 7th. As usual there was a first corner pile-up and passing was difficult.

SJ – It just wasn’t a great race for Scott overall, starting with qualifying which was a mess not only for him but for a number of the top contenders. He made good progress at a track which is very difficult to pass on and then he got shuffled back again in the pack during the race with the different strategies playing out. Then he got some front wing damage and it was just one of those races.

Pagenaud is driving impressively, especially with as close as the competition is in IndyCar and as difficult as it is to put it all together and win. It’s a great start to the season for him. Both him and his crew are really on top of things at the moment.

JT – Honda’s engine appeared to be improved in the Indy Grand Prix and looks to be better in last week’s lapping sessions on the speedway. Do you think the Honda-powered cars will be competitive with the Chevy-engined machines for the 500?

SJ – I think Honda has actually been pretty close to Chevrolet all year. Chevy has had the best teams, and overall, they probably have the best drivers too. That stacks the odds in their favor. But it does appear that Honda will be closer. We really won’t know until the race gets underway. It seems to me that the Honda cars so far are able to get their speed much easier than the Chevy cars.

JT – The question has been asked in recent years, what is the importance of qualifying for the Indy 500 these days? How important do you think it will be to qualify well this year?

SJ – I don’t think you have to be on the pole but you certainly want a spot towards the front because with the current aero kits passing has been made more difficult. I haven’t heard what the drivers are saying about passing at the Speedway yet but if the other tracks are anything to go by – Phoenix for example – it’s considerably more difficult and you definitely want to be up front.

The more tinkering IndyCar does with these aero kits - the more downforce they pile onto to them - the worse the racing gets. It will be a shame if the passing we’ve seen during the last few years is diminished because all of this aero. That’s really what Indy is about.


PICK YOUR #F1TOP3 & WIN!!!

PICK YOUR #F1TOP3 & WIN!!!

To make F1 a bit more fun and engaging, we've implemented a fun game named #F1TOP3, where Formula One fans around the world have the opportunity to win prizes, including brand new limited edition Stefan Johansson Växjö Watch (valued at $7,500)! It's relatively easy: click on the black button above and submit the #F1TOP3 competition form - we give away prizes every Grand Prix!

A quicker alternative is to post on Twitter & Instagram with the following:

  1. Twit/Post a photo and list your top 3 drivers in the correct order along with the hashtag #F1TOP3
  2. TAG:

SJ chats with Jan Tegler: Hungarian GP, Indycar at Mid-Ohio & LMP1

Stefan Johansson

Jan Tegler - The Hungarian Grand Prix proved interesting primarily because of the performance of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen - particularly at the start. Both Ferraris got away from the line well with Vettel vaulting past Mercedes GP pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg.

Raikkonen was able to slot into second place behind Vettel, getting past both Mercedes as well in the first corners. Unfortunately, Raikkonen was forced to retire with a failing MGU-K energy recovery system. Otherwise, it might have been a Ferrari one-two. What did you think of Ferrari's perfomance?

Stefan Johansson - It was definitely impressive, especially the start where both Ferraris just took off from the line. I’ve heard through the grapevine that Mercedes got caught out because all their calibrations were done assuming the lights would go green the first time.

As it was, they had to do another start when the first one was abandoned. Apparently their clutches were now hotter and therefore whatever parameters they had programmed for launch did not work as well.

Why no one else had the same problem is another story of course. Maybe it’s just that the boffins at Merc are better at setting the ultimate launch control, maybe they forgot to anticipate for a restart? One thing is clear, it had most likely very little to do with the drivers and more to do with what dials and switches were put in certain positions.

Hungarian GP 2015 - Start

JT - Mercedes on the other hand, did not cover itself in glory. Lewis Hamilton bogged down at the start and lost place after place. He followed that up by going into a gravel trap and later hitting Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, incurring a drive through penalty. Despite his poor performance, Hamilton finished in sixth place and actually gained points on teammate Rosberg. Meanwhile, Rosberg cut a tire while racing Ricciardo, dropping him from second position to eighth place at the checkered flag. Hamilton's luck seems to be carrying him forward in spite of his mistakes. What did you make of the Mercedes drivers and team performance?

SJ - It seems that once their original plan goes out the window Mercedes has a hard time recovering. More or less the same thing happened at Silverstone where they were able to recover, but at least a small part of that was thanks to the freaky weather conditions there.

It looks like their cars are struggling once they have to run in dirty air and a lot of their advantage is gone. Hamilton was certainly lucky that Rosberg did not score big this time but what struck me as rather weird was the amount of contact between all the drivers throughout the field. It’s unusual to see that much contact even when people race hard as they certainly did this time.

I know the track surface in Hungary is very strange with a very low grip level. It feels like the tires never dig into the surface, just kind of skimming on top of it all the time. Maybe that had something to do with it. But then, it’s been the same surface since 1985 so why it would be so different this time is still a bit strange.

Red Bull Racing - Hungary GP

JT - Red Bull Racing had its best outing of the season at Hungary with Daniil Kvyat finishing second while Ricciardo finished third. Both had some interesting battles during the race. Is their success an indication that RBR is finally improving or simply the result of circumstances during the race?

SJ - I’m sure they are improving. But this track helped all the teams that have a horsepower deficit which showed also in the performance of the McLarens and Toro Rosso - all helped of course by the poor and unusual performance by Mercedes.

ToroRosso - Hungarian GP 2015

JT - Toro Rosso and McLaren did have reason to celebrate with Max Verstappen coming home just off the podium in fourth place and Fernando Alonso taking the checkers in fifth with Jenson Button also in the top ten. It was McLaren's first points scoring race for both cars this season. Again, circumstances surely played a role in the trio's finishing positions but both teams may gain slight momentum from Hungary. What's you view?

SJ - The results for both were greatly helped by the circumstances that developed in the race and the unusual character of this track. Toro Rosso has been strong all year and it seems their chassis is probably one of the best this season. McLaren have huge resources and they’re relentless in trying to improve, so sooner or later they will be competitive, but I doubt very much we will see any huge improvements this year. Whether Hungary was a real turning point remains to be seen.

Pat Symmonds - Williams F1

JT - Williams F1 had a poor outing at Hungary. They don't seem to be capable of finding consistent form, even with the benefit of Mercedes power. What has to happen for the Grove, U.K.-based squad to finally run at the front routinely?

SJ - I think they simply need more resources and funding in order to be a consistent player in the top 3-4 group. There’s no doubt they made a huge leap forward starting last year when they switched to the Mercedes engine. But maybe more importantly, they had a major shakeup in the design department.

Pat Symmonds is one of the top three Technical Directors in the business in my opinion and it’s kind of a mystery to me that he’s not working for one of the top teams already. But even with a guy of his caliber, you’re limited if you don’t have the budget to spend on all the development that the leading teams do. So in the circumstances, they are still doing an incredible job. It seems they have a harder time to always stay on top of the tire situation and their performance in the wet has been very poor, however.

Scuderia Ferrari - Vergne

JT - Formula One silly-season is in full swing as the teams take their summer break. Speculation by an Italian publication says Kimi Raikkonen will be given a contract by Ferrari for 2016.

Meanwhile, Haas F1 principal Gene Haas has admitted that the team is considering Jean-Eric Vergne, Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg as top prospects for filling the team's seats next year. Two of the three - Vergne and Gutierrez - are Ferrari reserve drivers while Hulkenberg is a Force India pilot.

Finally, Toro Rosso principal Franz Tost says that talks between the team and Renault about a takeover by the manufacturer have "gone quiet" and that Renault may now be looking elsewhere - Lotus F1 - for a team. What do you think of all this gossip?

SJ - It makes sense to me for Ferrari to keep Kimi for another year. His results have not been what any of them wanted but at least 50 percent of that has been down to either poor reliability or poor decision-making on the team’s part whether it’s race or qualifying strategy. I don’t see any reason to change the drivers until they have a car that can consistently fight for wins. It’s more important to focus the effort on that.

Considering how close Vergne and Gutierrez are with Ferrari it makes sense for Haas F1 to run one of the reserve drivers so they can at least evaluate how good they are in a racing situation as opposed to spending endless hours in a simulator which effectively is what they do now. I don’t know if it would make sense for Hulkenberg to switch teams if it’s not a huge leap forward. He deserves a shot in winning car.

I really don’t know what Renault is considering. I’m sure they are looking very carefully at all the options in front of them. The one that makes most sense to me would be Lotus I suppose. I’m sure Lotus’ current owners have had enough of dipping into their own pockets every year to keep the team going. They are clearly short of funds but they have a good infrastructure and good people.

Indycar Mid-Ohio - 2015

JT - The 2015 IndyCar season continues to be unpredictable. Graham Rahal scored a popular win at last weekend's Mid-Ohio round, closing the gap to points-leader Juan Pablo Montoya to just nine markers. Fuel strategy and caution flags played a major part in the race but Rahal drove well.

Scott Dixon grabbed the pole for the race with a record lap and led from the start but an early caution flipped the field. Scott was mired in the pack for the mid-race but then came back close to the front before Ganassi Racing teammate Sage Karam spun on lap 68.

Rahal pitted on lap 66 just as the caution flag came out for Karam's spin, effectively putting him in front of the field when the rest pitted under the caution. Scott ultimately finished fourth. What did you think of the race and how does Scott view it?

SJ - Well, it looks like this year’s Championship might be decided on pit strategy more than real performance the way things have been going the last three or four races. Rahal was nowhere in the championship, and frankly nowhere in most of the races. But through some circumstances and some great calls on pit strategy he’s now a major contender to win the championship.

It’s obviously very frustrating for the guys who’ve been running up front but it’s the nature of the beast with Indycar. I always used to say it evens out over the course of a season. But this year it certainly seems those who have more or less been out of contention have benefitted. As such, they’ve been able to roll the dice on strategy more so than the guys up front who are more limited to stick to one strategy only.

From Scott’s point of view it was obviously extremely frustrating. He dominated the whole weekend and then got caught out by the yellow on the first safety car, making it hard to recover. Rahal’s pit-stops were timed perfectly. Whether that was luck or skill I don’t know but they sure timed the stops well and by doing so moved him to the front after the final stop.

Mid-Ohio has always been a tough track to pass on but with this new aero kit it has made it almost impossible as there is such a big wake behind each car now. Once you get in the dirty air the aero is completely ruined.

Sage Karam - Mid Ohio 2015

JT - Sage Karam's spin is under review by IndyCar and was quite publicly called into question by Montoya following the race. Montoya was leading when Karam caused the caution and ultimately finished in eleventh spot. What's your take?

SJ - I definitely don’t think for one second it was done on purpose. It was just coincidental that it happened the way it did.

Mid Ohio Podium 2015

JT - Andretti Autosport's Justin Wilson finished second behind Rahal at Mid-Ohio, driving well as usual. I think most observers agree that Wilson deserves a full time ride again for 2016 with a top team. Do you agree?

SJ - Yes, I agree, Justin has done enough to warrant a full time drive with one of the top teams. Hopefully he has shown enough to convince one of them to give him a shot.

Pocono Indycar

JT - Just two races remain in the IndyCar season. What do you think of the championship battle and Scott's position in third? Pocono could be a bit of a lottery in terms of standings post-race but Sonoma has long been a track where Penske performs well. It will be interesting to see what kind of strategy Ganassi, Penske and Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan choose for the remaining events.

SJ - Pocono will be very important of course. The championship is a long-shot for Scott now but with double points in the last race anything can still happen, assuming that Pocono goes well. I just hope the title won’t be decided on pit strategy but on outright performance.

Derrick Walker - Indycar

JT - Among other developments, IndyCar announced that it will have a longer season for 2016 with more races on the schedule including some at tracks the series hasn't visited for a while and the possibility of a new venue.

SJ - I’m happy to see they have finally abandoned the crazy idea of the season ending in August. It’s been a nightmare for everyone involved. Let’s hope the new venues will be great and eventually become permanent fixtures on the calendar.

JT - Simultaneously, IndyCar competition director Derrick Walker announced his resignation. Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull has been very outspoken about the departure of another series official and has been suggested as a candidate to replace Walker. Whether that's likely or not, what do you think of Walker's move?

SJ - Walker’s departure has been expected for a while now. I don’t know all the details so I don’t think it would be fair for me to comment but I have a lot of sympathy for whoever is in that position as it’s pretty thankless job. No matter what decision you make you’re almost certain to piss someone off.

Toyota LMP1 - WEC

JT - In sports car racing news, some WEC teams have been taking advantage of the long post-Le Mans break to test. Toyota is the most recent, having tested at the Nurbugring last week.

Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon said that measures have to be taken to make the team's P1 cars more competitive and that the test was helpful. He also admitted that the team is basically working towards 2016 now, revising its suspension and braking systems and planning a new powertrain for next season.

Vasselon said further, "There was a need for a reaction and we will have a supplementary budget for the coming season, even if it won't be at the level of others." Is this an indication that LMP1 is becoming too expensive, even for manufacturers?

SJ - I don’t for a second think the budget for LMP1 is a problem for a company like Toyota. The numbers were talking about are barely a rounding error for them in the overall scheme of things and still a fraction of what they spent each year they did F1, for example. It strikes me more like they’re not 100 percent committed from the top for this project.