So the Chinese GP took place only a few hours ago, but the acrimony between the Mercedes drivers of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg that came to define a lot of last season has reared up once more, following Rosberg’s accusation that Hamilton deliberately backed him up, thus forcing Rosberg into the clutches of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg’s argument is that Hamilton was going too slowly, thus forcing him into his dirty air, something that can damage F1 tyres. The only means for Rosberg to avoid this would be to likewise slow down, potentially making him vulnerable to Vettel.

Hamilton insists this wasn’t the case, and he could certainly argue, if he wanted to, that he was looking after his tyres (which he is entitled to do). Whether he was trying to hurt Rosberg’s race (which would in turn risk the team’s 1-2 finish, something they naturally wouldn’t be happy with) or whether he was just keeping on an eye on his tyre wear is something only Hamilton knows.

There’s a clash here as well, between the desires of the drivers and the wishes of the team. Hamilton will see Rosberg as the greatest threat to his championship hopes – after all, they have the same car, the best car – and thus Hamilton will want to do what he can to unnerve and rattle Rosberg. It would not surprise me in the least if Hamilton was actually holding Rosberg up on purpose.

The flip side is that Rosberg, if he felt he had the pace, could have tried to overtake Hamilton, but seemed more concerned with consolidating second place! I can only offer my own humble opinion here, but were Hamilton behind Rosberg, I don’t see him settling for second, I see him going for it. It seems that Rosberg is losing the battle on the track (he’s been out-qualified three out of three this year, and finished behind Hamilton every race so far as well), but also the psychological one as well. We are only three races in, but Hamilton is looking serenely confident, and Rosberg has no answer to that.

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Having missed the excitement of Mercedes being usurped in Malaysia, I set my alarm for the early hour of 6.45am (urgh) to ensure I was up in time to watch the Chinese GP in its entirety – and whilst the race was not overly exciting, it was certainly a more rewarding experience than the 4.45 experience I had getting up for Australia!

With Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes on pole and teammate Nico Rosberg right behind him, the stage was set for another routine 1-2 finish for the Silver Arrows – though after what happened in Malaysia, and with the Ferrari of Sebastian Vetttel right behind them, it would have been unwise to get complacent, despite the pace of Mercedes in qualifying. At the start, both the Mercs got away well and Hamilton kept the lead, whilst the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen got by both Williams cars on the first lap, whereupon he would shadow Vettel quite nicely – and Vettel would keep the Mercedes’ cars honest.

On soft tyres, the Ferraris were keeping pace reasonably well with the Mercedes’ and both were comfortably clear of the Williams pair of Bottas and Massa (who would end up having a quiet race, pretty much on their own). Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo had a miserable start and lost several places on the first lap, with the Renault engine once again clearly out-matched by the Mercedes and Ferrari power units. At one stage Ricciardo found himself under pressure from the McLarens, and also had to work harder than he would have liked to get past an uncooperative teammate Kvyat. Ricciardo would also make a couple of mistakes whilst trying to pass the Sauber of Ericsson, whilst Kvyat’s engine would fail.

The Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz would nearly suffer a similar fate – a gearbox issue led to a very slow couple of corners for the young Spaniard, but thankfully for him, he was able to correct the problem and carry on, whilst his teammate Verstappen showed composure beyond his years with a series of slick and well-executed overtakes that highlighted his potential as a future world champion.

For Force India, the race was nothing memorable. Hulkenberg was one of the retirements, and Perez would finish 11th, unable to make a meaningful impression on the race. Both the Saubers finished in the points (Nasr was 8th and Ericsson 10th), whilst the pace of the Lotus was a lot better, with Grosjean taking 7th and some much needed points for the team. The second Lotus of Maldonaldo retired (through no fault of his own once again) after a collision with Jensen Button – the normally unflappable Button going into the back of the Lotus at the first corner in an uncharacteristically sloppy move.

Both the Manor-Marussia cars started the race and both finished – they were well down on the pecking order, but to get both cars up and running is a major step forward for them.

At the front of the field, Ferrari attempted to undercut Mercedes by pitting Vettel on lap 14, a move that did indeed bring the Mercedes into the pits – first Hamilton then Rosberg – but with all the pre-race chat being that hard tyres would be the choice for Mercedes, the team opted to put both their drivers on soft tyres for their second stint – and it was then that Hamilton would appear to bunch Rosberg back toward the clutches of Vettel, with Raikkonen not far behind. Whether Hamilton was just conserving tyres and fuel, or whether he deliberately held up Rosberg in a bid to him to ruin his tyres, is something I cover in detail here.

In any event, the team urged Hamilton to pick up the pace, and as the second set of stops approached, Hamilton did indeed up his game. Having previously held the gap at around 1.5 seconds, suddenly Hamilton was racing clear of Rosberg, and by the time the front four had all pitted he was some 6 seconds clear, a gap he would maintain till the end.

On the hard tyre, the Mercedes cars both pulled clear of the Ferraris, whilst in the final stages of the race Raikkonen began to reel Vettel in, but backmarkers held him up too much for a chance to make a move. When Verstappen’s good race was ended on lap 54 of 56 (he retired due to car trouble on the start-finish straight), the safety car came out and led the rest of the field around the final two laps, securing Hamilton’s second win of the year, and Mercedes’ second 1-2 of the year.

So, after three races the title fight looks like this:

1. Hamilton (68)

2. Vettel (55)

3. Rosberg (51)

4. Massa (30)

5. Raikkonen (24)

6. Bottas (18)

Next weekend sees us roll into Bahrain!

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After the events of Malaysia (which saw a surprise win for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel) Formula 1 has arrived in Shanghai, China, for the twelfth time.

A circuit noted for a tricky first corner (that seems to go on forever), and a very long and fast back straight that leads into a mighty hairpin, China was where Lewis Hamilton famously beached his car in 2007, losing points that ultimately cost him the championship on his debut season. The track is also the scene of Michael Schumacher’s final F1 win in 2006.

Good overtaking opportunities include the back straight, plus turn 14 at the end of it, whilst in the past overtaking has been witnessed at turn 16, whilst of course drivers can dive down the inside of turn 1, though the weaving nature of the corner means it can be a challenge to make the move stick. Turn 6 can offer up chances – provided you can get close enough to the guy in front of you.

Last year Hamilton won from Rosberg by 18 seconds, whilst Alonso was third for Ferrari. Given the ongoing problems for McLaren, it seems highly unlikely Alonso will gain a podium tomorrow.

In practice for Sunday’s race, a man managed to get from the crowd onto the track, running across the start/finish straight to the pits. The breach of security at such an event is one that deserves serious scrutiny – to describe it as an act of lunacy would be disrespectful to lunatics!

Qualifying saw Hamilton snatch pole position from Rosberg by just 0.042 seconds, thus getting his third consecutive pole of the season. Vettel lines up in third and, considering that in practice the tyres of the Ferraris looked strong (despite lacking pace compared to the Mercedes), this could offer up a chance for another win. We shall see.

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Typically, my comments on work on this blog have been ones of frustration and irritation. Today’s post is not like that.

Once in a while, you get a customer who is truly lovely. They are kind, friendly and put you at ease. It’s a genuine pleasure to help them and they are so grateful for your help, as though you’re somehow putting yourself out for their needs (even though it’s my job to help them!). I had such a customer today, who had to refund something, but was almost apologising for doing so, as though it were his fault! (it wasn’t, by the way).

It’s customers like him who make up for all the snarky, miserable ones. He is more than welcome in the store!


After a routine Australian Grand Prix led to a routine 1-2 finish for Mercedes, and much complaining about the fairness of F1, the circus moved on to Sepang, Malaysia, a circuit that usually offers up some good racing amid variable conditions.

Sepang is completely different to Melbourne. Whereas Melbourne is a street circuit, Sepang is designed for races and it is a stern test for the drivers. The humidity is high, there are plenty of fast corners to provide harsh G-forces, and the temperature in the cockpits can reach 50C. Only Singapore compares.

Torrential rain interrupted Saturday’s qualifying for a brief time, and led to reigning champion Hamilton narrowly avoiding missing Q3 (where he would go on to get pole), and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen only starting 11th (which must have been especially galling considering his teammate Vettel started 2nd).

I didn’t get to see the race (not that I mind, I was at a family function this weekend, and it’s always good to see family!), but a brief look at some of the highlights, as well as tracking the race via the BBC live feed, revealed that Vettel, who failed to take a single win in 2014, took a surprise victory today.

His race was well-managed, with Ferrari making a two-stop strategy work ahead of the Mercedes’ three-stop. Vettel was able to keep pace with the two Mercedes throughout the race (a surprise in itself, given the gap that had existed in Australia), and the two-stop strategy proved superior today, allowing Vettel to do longer stints and thus lose less time in the pits, almost certainly a factor in his 40th career win.

Was this because Vettel is the brilliant driver that so many (myself included) have not quite been prepared to accept him as, is this because Ferrari have taken a leap forward in the past two weeks, or was it down to a combination of the two? Could we put Vettel’s victory down to Mercedes making mistakes, or would that be unfair on Ferrari and Vettel?

Hamilton was complaining about how his car performed on the ‘prime’ tyre, and it would seem Rosberg may well have had similar issues (the Mercedes team don’t usually split their strategies).

So, perhaps the risk of a one-on-one, all-Mercedes battle for the title is not as great as people think. It’s also a marker to other teams who have been whining lately (Red Bull, I’m looking at you). The Ferrari engine is not as powerful as the Mercedes engine, but despite this, the Ferrari not only beat the Williams (which boasts a Mercedes engine) but also the Mercedes cars themselves! Some of this is down to the pit stop strategy, but some of it could well be down to the chassis – the overall design of the Ferrari car is much improved on last year, and aerodynamic gains can still have serious importance. Other teams, take note.


In the past week there have been several high-profile stories in the news, some of which deserve the attention – and some of which definitely don’t.

Firstly, there has been the tragic plane crash in the French Alps, a crash that killed 150 people, in what appears to have been an act of suicide, for reasons as yet unestablished. This is a very sad time for a great many families, who have suddenly had loved ones ripped away from them, in horrific circumstances, and my heart goes out to them. It’s impossible to imagine what must have been going through the mind of the co-pilot as he deliberately set the plane on a crash course – we will probably never know the truth of the matter.

Also in the news is the news that, after much wrangling, the BBC has sacked Jeremy Clarkson. Now, even a cursory glance at the BBC comments pages (not to mention Facebook and Twitter) reveals that Clarkson has a huge following who believe he should keep his job. Now, I dare say he certainly brings flair to Top Gear – there’s no doubt he’s entertaining and he helps pull in the viewers – but in any other (well, nearly any other) line of work, if you assault a colleague, you’re gone, regardless of past achievements. I could be the best salesperson for my employers that has ever lived, but if I punch another member of staff, that’s curtains for my career, and rightly so. What makes Clarkson so special that he should avoid that fate?

Finally, we come to the news that Zayn Malik has left One Direction. Now, to me, this is a story that belongs closer to the bottom of the list, but if you are even vaguely near Twitter or any sites that track this sort of stuff, you will have seen an explosion from fangirls who are behaving like the world has just fallen out from underneath them.

Grow up. I don’t care how close to the band or Zayn you feel, I don’t care if you feel heartbroken, there are far more important things happening in the world. People are dying the world over for so many different, avoidable reasons. We have had the tragic plane crash I referred to earlier. Lives are being seriously affected by serious issues around the world, and you’re acting like a guy leaving a boy band (who won’t be remembered twenty years from now) is the be-all and end-all of existence. It isn’t.

So it would seem that the 2015 German Grand Prix – originally slated for the 17-19 July – is on rocky ground. For the past few years the race has alternated between Hockenheim and the Nurburgring, with the Nurburgring slated to host the race this year, but, as often seems to be the case in Formula 1, financial problems are threatening to hurt the sport.

The Nurburgring should host the event this year, but the venue is not in a fit state to host the race and the owners of Hockenheim are not prepared to pay the fee demanded by F1 boss Bernie Eccelstone, which leaves us in the unfortunate position of not having a German Grand Prix, unless someone bends.

It’s a bloody shame that Formula 1 is riddled with so many political games and problems. I have fond memories of German Grands Prix down the years, and losing a classic race because of monetary arguments would be ridiculous. Sadly, that is modern F1 for you.

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So we are only one race in and already Formula 1 is grappling with some pretty serious stuff. After an Australian Grand Prix that saw only eleven of twenty cars finish (and only fifteen cars even start), there were rumbles of discontent surrounding the lack of on-track action, a race once again dominated by Mercedes, and little sign that 2015 will be any different to 2014.

There is a brewing argument between Red Bull and Mercedes over equalising engine performance (which would of course wipe out the considerable advantage Mercedes have), and such is the extent of the bitterness over Mercedes and their mighty engines that Red Bull have even suggested they could quit F1 in the near future.

It is of course only my humble opinion, but I cannot help but suspect, if Red Bull were the team dominating the sport (as they did with four consecutive driver and constructor titles from 2010 – 2013), there would be no complaining. One of Red Bull’s ‘issues’ is that the emphasis of the cars has shifted away from aerodynamics (which was where Red Bull’s advantage came from) to engine power (and the Renault power units have never been the most powerful).

However, Formula 1 has always been a balance between engine power and aerodynamics. In fact, last season served to demonstrate that a good design can overcome limitations of engine power – the Red Bull was the only car other than Mercedes to win any races in 2014, and they finished second in the constructor’s championship, ahead of Mercedes-powered teams such as Williams, McLaren and Force India. How did they achieve this? With a superior chassis! It is hardly the fault of Mercedes or the rule-makers that Renault have gone backward in 2015, and Red Bull seem to be throwing their toys out of the pram with their threat to quit. I am not impressed, and I doubt anyone else is.

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Having taken an unlikely win at Monaco last time out, I was pretty confident of winning here again, but this time it was not to be. An easy pole was converted into an early lead, but I would fail to concentrate properly, with the consequence being I lost my front wing (twice) and lost out twice in terms of time and position.

That said, with everyone else being error strewn, I was able to regain the lead for a short time, until lap 20, when my engine blew.

So that was that. Vettel won, and Button could only manage fourth, reducing my advantage to 8 points.


It would be fair to say that Spain is a circuit I thoroughly enjoy. It was the scene of my first win in the 2009 season and with a year’s worth of experience, not to mention the strategy of three stops and most stints on softs, this was an easy pole and easy pole and an easy race. I lapped everyone at least once, and as Button could only manage fourth, I opened a 13-point lead – more than a race win – over him.