F1 2012 – prediction results

Way back in the mists of 2012 before the first race weekend, I was stupid enough to make some predictions on how the season might go… well, it’s time to find out quite how wrong I was… (original post here)

 

Prediction 1: Vettel will win the championship comfortably.

Result: Well he won it, but I don’t think anyone would say comfortably.

 

Prediction 2: Webber will win two races but will be beaten in the championship by both McLarens.

Result: Bingo!  Webber did indeed win two races (Monaco and Silverstone) and he was indeed beaten by both McLarens in the championship.

 

Prediction 3: Hamilton and Button will continue to be roughly equal, until Lewis starts banging another celebrity.

Result: He started banging the same celebrity.  Close enough.

 

Prediction 4: Ferrari will be rubbish at the start of the year, but Alonso will win 3 races by the end of the season.

Result: Absolutely bang on again – Alonso won at Malaysia, Valencia and Hockenheim.

 

Prediction 5: Massa won’t win a race and will finish the year lower than sixth.

Result: Spooky so far … Massa didn’t win a race and finished the championship in seventh!

 

Prediction 6: Mercedes will finally win a race.  I think it’ll be … Rosberg.

Result: OK, I’m getting suspicious now … Rosberg won for Mercedes in China…

 

Prediction 7: Lotus (last year’s Renault) won’t be quick enough and Raikkonen will get bored, though he will have sparks of brilliance and will qualify in the top 3 once.  Grosjean will cause several accidents and be replaced before the end of the year.

Result: Indeed, Raikkonen qualified only once in the top 3 – 3rd at Spa – though of course he did win in Abu Dhabi.  Grosjean did indeed cause several accidents (and was banned for it at Monza) but he’s been retained by the team for another year.  So about 75% right.

 

Prediction 8: Paul di Resta for Force India will score a top 5 finish.  Hulkenberg will have bad luck and will end the season well behind di Resta.

Result: Getting shaky now … Hulkenberg actually beat di Resta (11th to 14th), however di Resta did finish 4th in Singapore so half right.

 

Prediction 9: Sauber won’t make any appreciable progress and will be beaten by Force India and Lotus.  Perez will get poached for 2013.

Result: Sauber did get a few very strong finishes, so they did actually make progress – and they were beaten by Lotus but not Force India.  Perez did indeed get poached for 2013 (to McLaren).  Partly right.

 

Prediction 10: Bruno Senna will shine in the Williams and kick Maldonado’s arse but the team still won’t score more than 10 points all season.  Maldonado will be retained by the team because of the sponsorship he brings in.

Result: Very wrong – Senna’s been a bit pants and of course Maldonado somehow won in Barcelona which put him one place higher than Senna in the final tally.  Williams ended the season with 76 points.

 

Prediction 11: At Toro Rosso, Ricciardo will spank Vergne and will take a top 6 finish at one race.

ResultWrong again.  Although it feels like Ricciardo did better, Vergne in fact scored six more points.  And although Ricciardo qualified 6th in Bahrain, he never finished higher than 9th.

 

Prediction 12: Caterham (last year’s Lotus) will make Q2 on more than one occasion and will genuinely beat both Williams and Sauber several times throughout the year.

Result: Half-right again – Kovalainen made Q2 in Bahrain and Valencia but they didn’t genuinely beat Williams or Sauber.  Wishful thinking on my part, clearly.

 

Prediction 13: Marussia and HRT will tickle around at the back fighting each other for last place.  They will fall foul of the 107% rule a couple of times.

Result: Right – although they were never actually excluded from running.  Whenever they fell foul of the 107% rule they were allowed to race at the stewards’ discretion.

 

Prediction 14: Valencia will be booted off the calendar.

Result: Yep, that happened.

 

Prediction 15: Bernie will screw Sky and give the coverage back to the BBC (though that might be wild mindless optimism on my part).

Result: Mindless optimism it was, sadly.

 

Prediction 16: Eddie Jordan will confound everybody by becoming EVEN MORE annoying.  I’d love to predict that David Coulthard will tell him to shut the twatting fuck up with his hands firmly around the little fart’s neck, but unfortunately that’ll have to remain a beautiful dream.  However, Eddie will fall over on camera and blame somebody else.

Result: The jury’s still out on whether he’s even more annoying (I say yes) but he genuinely did trip during the qualifying for South Korea and blamed a drain cover – reckon that’s close enough :)

 

Well, that ended better than I thought to be honest – I’d only remembered the ones that hadn’t come true!  It started so well but then fell apart about half way through.  Well, it’s all a bit of fun isn’t it?

Roll on the 2013 season.

Abu Dhabi F1 – race day

Race day is upon us!  We get a bit of a lie-in today as pickup from the hotel isn’t until after 11.  Much needed after the early starts and jet lag.

We arrive literally just in time for the final V8 supercars race – I mean they were on the grid, it was that close.  Once the orange Vodafone car had polished off its clean sweep with its third win, we nipped out and met Arnie Webb from the Lotus 7 club for a beer and – once again, with everything clicking into place – arrived back at our seats just as the F1 drivers’ parade was hoving into view.  Everything’s just working on this trip, I can’t believe how lucky we are.

F1 drivers' parade

F1 drivers' parade

Pastor Maldonado and Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' parade

Pastor Maldonado and Lewis Hamilton.

 

Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg in the drivers' parade

Nico Hulkenberg wonders if he can get away with pushing Fernando Alonso off the rail with all these people watching.

 

And then, before we know it, it’s race time!  Lewis storms into the lead, Webber defends against Alonso and Grosjean comes together with Rosberg.  Further back, Pic and Kovalainen tangle, letting Timo Glock take the pair of them.  Bringing up the rear of an awful first lap for Force India (with Hulkenberg already in the wall), Paul di Resta loses a tyre:

On lap 2, Lewis goes wide but manages to hang onto the lead:

Lewis Hamilton goes wide at turn 8

Whilst further down the field, Sebastian Vettel clashes with Bruno Senna sending shards of fibreglass everywhere:

Sebastian Vettel and Bruno Senna clash at turn 8

Following, Nico Rosberg picks his way through the debris:

Nico Rosberg picks his way through debris on turn 8

Not wanting to bring out the safety car so soon, marshals take their lives into their hands by running onto a live track to pick up the pieces:

Out of our sight, Rosberg smashed heavily into the back of Narain Karthikeyan’s ailing HRT, taking off and flying over the top of him, bringing out the first safety car.  On the restart, Sebastian Vettel, who had indeed been penalised after qualifying and had started from the pit lane, steams past the HRT of Pedro de la Rosa, closely followed by the recovering Paul di Resta:

 

Then, oh no!  Lewis’s car drifts to a halt, a gearbox problem robbing him of a surely certain victory!  Tragic for McLaren, but great news for Lotus as Kimi Raikkonen inherits the lead!  He would keep his position through the second safety car period and onto the end of the race, to score his first win since his comeback, and Lotus’s first win (in name at least) since Ayrton Senna’s 1987 win at Detroit.

Here he is on his victory lap.  As he passes, his name scrolls across the Yas Hotel!

Kimi Raikkonen celebrating his first Lotus win

Ah, what a day!  I’m so chuffed to have done this  :)

Right, while everything’s being cleared away, let’s see if we can get a spot of dinner and sneak it into the main grandstand again to see what’s going on in the pit lane.

Interesting cultural difference: when offered a sandwich by a food-stall server, it completely throws them if you ask what is *in* the sandwich.  They genuinely didn’t understand the question.  “Well it’s a sandwich, what more do you need to know?” was the unspoken reply written on their faces.  Here is a whole nation that will never understand the joy of bacon, egg and mustard lovingly hugged by two slabs of wholemeal perfection.  I envy your logistical mastery but you have a lot to learn about the gustatory orgasm.

Though having said that, the vegetable wrap I ended up with was specTACular.  But never mind that – there’s noseying to be done…

Alain Prost in the Lotus garage

Ooo look, there’s Alain Prost in the winning Lotus garage.

 

Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert and Simon Lazenby

Ooo, and isn’t that Damon Hill, with Johnny Herbert?  Yes it is, and that’s Simon Lazenby the Sky guy with them.

 

Jake Humphrey, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard

Ah, now we’re talking.  Here are the BBC lot – Jake Humphrey, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard – recording the “red button” forum.

David Coulthard

and now DC does a piece to camera.  My camera :)

….aaaand now the polite security guy is ushering us away again, giving us just enough time to walk the length of the circuit for the final concert of the weekend.

Eminem at du Arena

I really can’t stand hip-hop, all that dastardly braggardly bigging-up and flicking your fingers like a twat.  You don’t look hard when you do that, you look like a frightened little boy trying to disguise the fact that you’ve just pissed your Spiderman pants.

But despite all that, I have to say Eminem was fantastic.  I don’t know how or why, he just was.  I came away on a floaty high that book-ended the trip beautifully.  And we casually walked onto a courtesy bus and went home.  Painlessly.  As we had done the entire trip.

And then we got back to Heathrow and had a half-hour queue for immigration.  Welcome home :D

Previous page: Saturday qualifying

Abu Dhabi F1 – Saturday qualifying

One of the stunningly brilliant things about the Abu Dhabi venue is that you don’t have to queue for anything.  Not food, not beer, not through security, not to get in or out of the concerts in the evening – NOWHERE.  There were tens of thousands of people leaving the concerts at the same time, but there was a sea of courtesy buses waiting, so you just filed onto the next free one and away you went!  Can you imagine that happening at Silverstone?  Neither can I.

We were slightly narked by the fact that you weren’t allowed to take water into the track through security, which seemed a bit mean given that water was £1 a bottle inside and you’ll basically die if you don’t drink some regularly.  But then we found the stall giving away bottles of water and so we got Freemans the whole weekend!  Bloody marvellous :)

But I digress.  It’s Saturday and we’ve stumbled across some of the drivers signing things.  Ooo, time to play pap again.

Timo Glock

Marussia’s Timo Glock

 

Charles Pic

Charles Pic making a run for it.

 

Mark Webber

Mark Webber

 

Sebastian Vettel

Double world champion (maybe soon to be triple) Sebastian Vettel.

 

Romain Grosjean getting a hand job

Romain Grosjean getting a hand job.

 

Romain Grosjean

Oh yeah.  We know what you’ve been doing.

 

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen, chilled as ever.

Right, they’ve gone, no more papping to do.  Time to go find our seats for Saturday and Sunday, which are in the West Grandstand at turn 8, the chicane at the end of the long DRS-enabled straight.  This moment is important because if our seats are in the sun, we’re in trouble… it really is hotter than Satan’s steel gear-knob out here.

… aaaand oh my god, we’ve done it again!  Absolutely perfect seats at the end of the aisle, second row and already the shade is just touching down.  What are the odds?  Two completely bob-on seating allocations!  Lottery ticket, anyone?

Not only can we see turns 8/9, but we also see the cars going through the last two corners, under the huge screen that’s showing us the bits we can’t see.  Oh, I’m going to enjoy this :)

Australian V8 Supercars

The Australian V8 supercars ran a couple of races before the F1 qualifying, here’s the hectic start.

Australian V8 Supercars nudged

Australian V8 Supercar spins off

Here the blue car gets a “helpful” nudge and spins out.

Australian V8 supercar taking kerb

and the culprit gets away to fly over kerbs unimpeded.  Bastard.

 

Just the one final F1 practice before qualifying so let’s get those out of the way:

Kimi Raikkonen in FP3

Here’s Raikkonen in the bright sunshine.

 

Raikkonen and Massa in FP3

Raikkonen and Massa getting in each other’s way.

 

Lewis Hamilton locks a wheel in FP3

Lewis Hamilton locks his inside wheel into turn 8.

 

Vettel in FP3 at turn 9

Vettel into turn 9.

 

Michael Schumacher locks up into turn 8

Michael Schumacher locks a wheel into turn 8.

 

Fernando Alonso in FP3

Fernando Alonso FP3

Fernando Alonso powering through turn 8.

 

Jenson Button

Jenson Button steaming down the straight, DRS flap just closed and hard on the brakes.

OK, so we’ve got some time to kill now before qualy.  Let’s have a little wander around the circuit.

Steve and the bridge

It always feels kinda naughty wandering around where nobody else does, but it’s fine … a small uniformed man will politely ask you to bugger off if you stray somewhere you shouldn’t…

Photographer's feet

A photographer takes a little nap on a marshal’s post.  In Arab Muslim culture it’s considered offensive to show the soles of your feet, so this guy was effectively showing us his bum.  And I photographed it.  Hmmm.  Not sure how I feel about that.

 

Jimbo with a beer

Ah, lovely beer.  It was Stella.  In case you’re interested.

 

Right, had my beer.  Onto qualy …

 

Narain Karthikeyan going off in Q1

Narain Karthikeyan going wide in Q1 at turn 8.

 

Lewis Hamilton qualifying

Lewis in the atmospheric twilight.

 

Jenson Button passes the Yas hotel

Jenson Button passes the Yas Hotel into a disappointing 6th fastest.

 

And in a flash, the qualifying was over and Lewis was on pole as most had expected.  Vettel had cruised to a halt on his in-lap and, being at the track and unable to hear the muffled tannoy, we didn’t know what had happened.  Would Vettel be penalised like Lewis was back in Canada when he jogged down the final straight back to the pit lane?  Vettel is challenging a Ferrari for the championship and looking like running away with it with a race to spare – it’s not looking good for a positive outcome if the FIA did happen to have any kind of Ferrari bias or vested interest to take the championship to the wire (perish the thought)… but the hotel charges EIGHT POUNDS for one hour of internet access so fuck you Mr Hilton, I’ll wait until tomorrow to find out…

And that would normally be the end of Saturday, but we decided to go on a wander again and see if we could see what was going on in the pits.  Everyone had emptied out of the main grandstand so we said hi to the security guys and moseyed on in, clutching a tasty but expensive snack dinner to eat while we had a good old-fashioned nosey.

And it turns out there were all kinds of shenanigans going on.

 

Grid girls

Firstly, there was a rehearsal of the grid procedure, with the grid girls all strutting their stuff – some of them dolled up, some not – some with flags, some not.  The Speed TV guys came around and waved their cameras in the faces of the grid girls that had sucked them off the night before (as went the narrative in my head) and the Mercedes SLS safety car growled up and spewed out two random guys who were doing the rehearsal.

Then the F1 guys came out and took some lucky feckers out for hoon-laps in the Camaros, Clios, Golf, Scirocco, Ferrari California and 458 Italia that had been laid on.

Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen saunters to his car.

 

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo chuckles by a Camaro.

 

Charles Pic

Charles Pic with groupies.  Who’d be an F1 driver, eh?

 

Ferrari mechanics

Ferrari mechanics perving over the action.

 

Sam Michael

Sam Michael with more important things on his mind.

And finally the polite security chaps decided we should be going, so we ambled over to the Nickelback concert over at Ferrari World.

Strangely, they don’t allow cameras into the concerts.  You have to surrender them at a special “camera drop” booth and collect a ticket – like a coat check.

Call me paranoid, but you can stick that right up your chocolate starfish and twist it till your eyes water.  You’re not having my camera.

So we just hid the cameras in the bag under a Red Bull shirt and all was well.  Well, Steve did.  I just stuffed mine in my trouser pocket.  It set the whizzy-wand thing off at security but that seemed not to be an issue.  Out of deference to the rules I decided it would be wrong to take any photos using the camera I smuggled in, so imagine my disappointment when I discovered this on the memory card:

Nickelback at du Arena

Say what you like about Nickelback (and most people seem to look down on them) but they put on a great show.  They even did the song from the DFS advert about the bathroom big enough to play baseball in.  Imagine.

Nickelback cheered off the stage, it’s back into the sea of courtesy buses and back to the hotel.  Race today tomorrow.  Oooooo!

Next page: Race day

Previous page: Friday practice

 

Abu Dhabi F1 – Friday practice

Somehow I’d never seen a Formula One race live, in person.  I’d been to practice and qualifying, both at Silverstone, but never made it to a race.  So when an opportunity arose to go to Abu Dhabi for the whole weekend, what’s a chap to do?  Start packing, that’s what.

The 7 hour flight passed pleasingly quickly, and I got to finally see the Pixar film Brave on the flight (hooray!).  On arrival at the Hilton Abu Dhabi, this fine specimen was posing in the lobby:

McLaren MP4-12C in hotel lobby

Ah yes, of course, McLaren have a deal with Hilton don’t they?  And judging by the number of Vodafone shirts floating around, the whole team must be here.  Ooo, wait a mo, there’s another MP4-12C pulling up outside!

Abu Dhabi Hilton and McLaren MP4-12C

Oddly, the chap who got out of the orange one went straight inside and started polishing the silver one in the lobby!  Think I need to come out here and get a job if the car-polishers get McLarens as company runabouts…

So anyway, we have a bit of time before heading to the track tomorrow, so let’s get the sightseeing out of the way.  Don’t worry, there isn’t much of it…

Emirates Palace

This is the Emirates Palace, one of the very few seven-star hotels in the world.  They let any old monkey wander in (which is handy) so we popped in for a nosey, admiring the frivolous decadent opulence.  I won’t bore you with all those photos.

The Palace is only a ten minute amble from the hotel, but we weren’t ‘arf getting some funny looks as we did so.  I’m not sure if it’s because nobody walks anywhere because of the silly heat (even in November) but the road workers were staring at us as if we had six boobs.  Made me a bit paranoid after a while.  I’m sure I only have two.

Marina by the Corniche and view of Marina Mall

The road the hotel’s on is called The Corniche, which runs across the north coast of Abu Dhabi.  Another road spurs off the Corniche into the Persian Gulf and has this cool sculpture thing randomly plopped onto the sidewalk.  That tower looming in the distance is part of a shopping mall (!)

Boat monument at marina with Emirates Towers

This is on the other side of the road.  Those are the Emirates Towers in the background – very impressive I thought.  The boat signifies that the “Mall Marina” is just behind us.

Abu Dhabi Hilton's private hotel beach

Back at the hotel and dripping with sweat, it’s the ideal time to check out the private beach, complete with bar.  It’s a tough old life.  You enjoying your day in the office?  :D

Jimbo in the Persian Gulf

This is me tentatively wading into the Persian Gulf, wary of the jellyfish that the sign warns us of.  They must have seen my ugly mug approaching, because they’d all jellied off by the time I got wet.

OK, that’s enough of that.  Let’s get over to the track for Friday practice.

The circuit and the airport are right next to each other, which is handy, but our hotel is 25 miles away, which isn’t.  However, it did give us a chance to play paparazzi with the Sky Sports van on the motorway.

Johnny Herbert in Sky Sports van

That’s Johnny Herbert.  Behind him, unseen in the photos, is Le Mans star Allan McNish.

Before long they noticed two goons waving and clicking from the adjacent taxi and started playing up to us.

Ted Kravitz and Anthony Davidson in the Sky Sports van

Ted Kravitz and Anthony Davidson give us a little weary smile…

Johnny Herbert in the Sky Sports van

and Johnny Herbert grudgingly acknowledges us while praying we sod off soon.

Steve and Jimbo opposite the Red Bull garages

We wander into the main grandstand to get our bearings and find to our utter delight that we’re in the best possible seats – directly opposite the Red Bull garages and in the first row that’s in the shade!  You literally could not have hand-picked any better seats.  Oh happy day!

Australian V8 supercars practice

The Australian V8 supercars were the supporting series, with three races and various qualifying sessions keeping us amused between F1 sessions.  As you can see, we were a bit keener than most and we had the grandstand to ourselves at this early stage.

Max Chilton's first practice session in a Marussia

There were two free practice sessions on Friday.  Here’s Max Chilton in the first one – his first official session, driving Charles Pic’s Marussia.  He didn’t set the timesheets alight, being a second behind team-mate Timo Glock, but he did lap faster than Chinese HRT sub Qing Hua Ma.  Though judging from Qing’s times, he must’ve stopped for noodles on the way round.

Jules Bianchi in Force India

Jules Bianchi driving Paul di Resta’s car.

 

Romain Grosjean's Lotus, FP1

Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus

The Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen respectively.

 

Felipe Massa FerrariFernando Alonso Ferrari

Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso prancing their horses in FP1.

 

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher zooms past the pits in what will be Lewis Hamilton’s car next year.

 

Mark Webber Red BullSebastian Vettel Red Bull

The two Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, being snapped by a McLaren fan.

 

Steve and beer

Contrary to popular belief, you *can* get beer in Abu Dhabi, especially during race weekend when everything’s rather westernized.  However it does cost seven quid a pint (!) and you can’t take it out of the “oasis” area.

 

Mechanics working on Hamilton's McLaren

From our vantage point we could see all kinds of interesting stuff going on – here’s Lewis’s car getting a good old fettling.

Lewis Hamilton in McLaren garage

and Lewis himself killing some time before the next session.

 

Jenson Button in McLaren garage

And here’s Jenson Button doing much the same.

Meanwhile, next door in the Red Bull garage:

Sebastian Vettel in Red Bull garage

Sebastian Vettel has a chat to his engineer.

Sebastian Vettel at the back of the Red Bull garage

Vettel can’t hide from us, even at the very back of the garage.  Mwahaha.

 

Adrian Newey in Red Bull garage

Adrian Newey finds a little contemplation space in the Red Bull garage.

 

Gary Anderson

Ex-Jordan designer turned BBC techie pundit Gary Anderson, dressed for radio and doing a little dance safe in the knowledge that there are no cameras on him.  Or so he thought :)

 

TV reporter in pit lane

This girl was wandering up and down the pit lane doing pieces to camera, but I don’t know who she is.  Anyone…?

 

Jenson Button in the pit lane

Jenson Button’s McLaren gets some attention in the pit lane.

 

Martin Whitmarsh on pit wall

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh strides purposefully towards the pit wall.

 

Kimi Raikkonen past the pits

Free practice 2 is upon us and Kimi Raikkonen hurtles past as the sun goes down.

Kimi Raikkonen at sunset

It’s still bloomin’ hot even after the sun sets.

 

Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India

Nico Hulkenberg on the main straight in his Force India.

 

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

 

Sebastian Vettel and Heikki Kovalainen

Vettel with Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham.

 

Jenson Button

Jenson Button in the twilight.

 

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso

 

And that’s our lot for now – but it’s still only Friday!  There are another two days still to go, but before that, we’re off to see Kylie at the du Arena, nestled snugly between the legs of Ferrari World.  What a pleasant place to be.

Next page: Saturday qualifying