Lewis Hamilton: “Non ho idea di dove siamo al momento, abbiamo visto solo alcuni risultati a livello aerodinamico e i ragazzi hanno apportato alcuni miglioramenti, ma è comunque un’evoluzione della vettura dell’anno scorso. Quest’anno si tratterà di prendere confidenza con il team, costruire un buon rapporto di lavoro e lavorare per migliorare questa vettura sviluppandola nella giusta direzione oltre a lavorare anche sulla vettura dell’anno prossimo. Dobbiamo migliorare come team, questo è sicuro, ma non faccio miracoli. Lavorerò più duramente che posso con il team per fare passi in avanti. L’obiettivo è migliorare rispetto all’anno scorso, un anno negativo per il team. Hanno ottenuto una vittoria ma non hanno conquistato podi a sufficienza, non sono andati sufficientemente vicini al successo che meritavano. Quest’anno faremo un passo alla volta. Il primo è finire la prima gara, poi salire sul podio e poi provare a vincere delle gare”.
Ross Brawn: “Il 2013 segna l’inizio di una seconda ero per il nostro team. La ristrutturazione iniziata nel team 18 mesi fa è ora giunta a maturazione e ciò si è riflesso sulla Mercedes W04, che è un chiaro passo in avanti nel progetto e nei dettagli rispetto al modello precedente. Migliaia di ore di lavoro sono state investite dai nostri team tecnici a Brackley e Brixworth per assicurarci che la nuova vettura sia un netto cambio in fatto di prestazioni rispetto alla scorsa stagione”.
S. Vettel - Many drivers on the grid would consider the year Sebastian Vettel has had to be a success. A win in Bahrain, and three pole positions, isn’t all that bad, but not when you’re a two-time reigning champion coming off a dominant 2011 campaign. Some bad luck has been a major factor - such as when his car failed in Valencia, and his run-in with Karthikeyan in Malaysia. Even the most faithful fans of the young German should have seen adversity to come his way during his career, but Vettel can still hope for a second-half surge in order to boost his chances at a third consecutive title. Grade: B-
M. Webber - Webber has two wins in the biggest races on the calendar so far, Monaco and Silverstone, and sits 2nd in the drivers’ standings, just ahead of his teammate. At an age when many of his peers began to lose their touch, Webber, like Damon Hill or Nigel Mansell, is having his best seasons as an F1 driver. The question is, will he fold down the stretch as he did in 2010, or is this the year that the Australian’s career culminates in a world championship? Grade: A-
L. Hamilton -Hamilton still does not have a deal secured for 2013 and beyond, though it looks as if the Brit will remain at McLaren for the time being. Hamilton is the most recent winner, with victories in Hungary and in Canada, and three poles (four if you include the excluded fastest time in Barcelona) - but he surely could have had more, if not for a plethora of botched pit stops and awful breaks in Valencia and Hockenheim. If his dominance at Hungary was any indication, Lewis Hamilton will not be going away quietly in the second half of the season. Grade: A-
J. Button - The trendy pick to dethrone Vettel in the preseason, Button’s season started tremendously with a win in Australia, but has quickly fallen off ever since. Four finishes outside the points in the following six races have all but destroyed his chances at a second world championship. It’s gotten better since then, but he still only has two other podium finishes for his effort. Teammate Hamilton’s form has improved just before the summer break, and so must that of Jenson Button. Grade: C-
F. Alonso - Whether or not you like Fernando Alonso or not is irrelevant. He has a 40 point lead in the championship, in a car that some expected to go completely winless all year. Some could argue that the wins in Malaysia and Valencia were flukes, but nobody could argue that about his victory in Germany from pole. He’s finished every round of the 2012 championship in the points, leads the series with three wins, and scored his first pole positions since 2010. How the Spaniard finishes the 2012 season all depends on Ferrari’s ability to further develop the F2012 chassis, and improving on their sometimes questionable race strategy. But in a year that’s been so chaotic, Alonso’s steadiness has made him the front-runner. Grade: A+
F. Massa - Sadly, Alonso’s success only magnifies the struggles of his teammate, Felipe Massa. In a contract season where many expected him to be gone by the end of the year anyway, he’s scored less than a sixth of the points of his teammate, has yet to out-qualify or finish better than Alonso during a race, and is almost two years removed from his last podium finish. It’s a shame that this is happening to a really great young man. He seems confident, but his results tell a different story. I’m still hoping that he can turn it all around before the end of the season, because nobody deserves this kind of career implosion. Grade: D+
N. Rosberg - Rosberg finally got the first win of his F1 career with a dominant victory from pole in Shanghai, but amazingly, this didn’t parlay into sustained success. His 2nd at Monaco is his only other podium finish of the season, and he hasn’t finished inside the top five since then. He’s still outpacing his veteran teammate, but poor car development and 3 finishes outside the points are hard to recover from, in terms of the title picture. Grade: C+
M. Schumacher - The 7-time champion’s speed has not entirely diminished. He was the quickest qualifier at Monaco, but couldn’t keep the pole position honors. He finally returned to the podium at Valencia, but it was more or less the result of a chaotic finish. A whopping 6 DNFs in 11 races is nothing like the Michael Schumacher of old, even if he has shown glimpses of his brilliant past from time to time. The 43-year-old says he’s interested in racing into 2013, but as the German enters his 300th Grand Prix* this weekend, some would argue if it’s even worth it for Schumacher to race for a 20th season. Grade: D+
K. Raikkonen - Despite not winning so far in 2012, Raikkonen’s five podiums and fifth place in the current standings is more than respectable for a driver that’s spent two years away from F1, with a team that quickly folded in the 2nd half of last season. Lotus introduced new upgrades just before the break that could help them finally break through with their first win since either 2008 or 1987, depending on your definition of team continuity. And it just so happens that F1 returns from summer break to a track where Raikkonen has won four times in the last five times he’s entered. And the key to his 2007 title success was a strong 2nd half. The Iceman cannot be ignored at this stage of the season. Grade: B+
R. Grosjean - Admittedly, I was wrong about Romain Grosjean. He definitely has the speed to compete in F1, at times he’s been faster than Raikkonen. But his first full season has been plagued with early exits in Australia, Malaysia, and Monaco. When he finishes, though, he tends to finish well, with six finishes in the “old points”. Grosjean is banging on the door to become France’s first winning driver in F1 since Olivier Panis shocked the racing world in Monaco ‘96. If the E20’s developments keep paying off, it may very well happen this season. Grade: C+
S. Perez - At age 22, Sergio Perez could be F1’s hottest rising star. He was one novice mistake away from possibly winning the Malaysian GP, and then to prove that wasn’t a fluke, he charged from 15th to 3rd. The Sauber chassis has been extremely kind to tyres all year, which leads many to believe he could steal a win sometime this year. It hasn’t been a perfect year for the Mexican hotshot with 2 DNFs and 4 non-points finishes, but Perez has been linked to a drive at Ferrari as soon as next season, and you can’t pull that off without having tremendous talent. Make no mistake, Checo is for real. Grade: B+
K. Kobayashi - Once upon a time, it was Kobayashi who was making waves as a star in the making, thanks to his incredible bravery and aggressive style of racing. With the success of his younger teammate, though, the Japanese pilot has been somewhat overshadowed. He has a best finish of 4th at Hungary, and is still looking for his first podium finish of his career. Once he breaks through onto the podium, he could start challenging for victories, but he is at risk of being lost in the shuffle if he fails to. Grade: C
P. Maldonado - While some have begged for the FIA to ban the Venezuelan from ever setting foot inside an F1 car again, the fact is, his aggressive racing style is a throwback, even if it is his biggest flaw. Maldonado must control his raw, brutal speed in order to sustain a long-term career in the series. Critics have an easy time pointing out that he only has one other points finish this year, besides his shock win at Barcelona, and even I can admit that he’s been involved in way too many accidents. But nobody, and I mean nobody, leads over 2/3rds of a Grand Prix and wins it from pole on dumb luck alone. As unrefined as he is, Pastor Maldonado does indeed posess the speed and the talent to win in F1. It’s just a matter of getting him to mature. If he does, look out. Grade: C-
B. Senna - As Maldonado’s form has declined in the last few races, Bruno Senna is consistently scoring a few points here and there, and his 7th at Hungary indicates that better things are to come for the second-generation Brazilian. I enjoyed watching him charge from last to 6th in the wet in Malaysia, it reminded me of his late, great uncle Ayrton. Senna may not have a win like his teammate, but he has still been a success and has contributed to the revitalization of a once-great constructor. When you consider the tragic ties that the Senna family has with Williams, it makes any success Bruno has all the better, and his season has been a great story so far. Let’s hope it finishes strong. Grade: C
i’ll do the rest of the field tomorrow when i’m not about to pass out asleep
Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16v EVO II
oh hey it’s my car except much nicer looking and not falling apart and black and more than likely a lot faster
“There will be a lot of debate as to whether Schumacher crossed over some imaginary line of what is acceptable and what constitutes poor sportsmanship.
“Certainly team principal, Ross Brawn, was concerned that Schumacher was flirting with what was acceptable within the rules, twice reminding his driver to “leave room” for Hamilton at the Ascari chicane.” — Craig Christopher
Yeah, but it made for some exciting racing. Though he did take it to the limit with Barichello last year in Hungary.
WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA
Ya mean to tell me that Michael Schumacher, the most ruthless driver of his generation, might have stepped over the line during a race in order to defend his position?