Autosport Awards 2012 – Winners

Sunday 2nd December is the 2012 Autosport Awards ceremony. The event was held at the Grosvenor Hotel in London.

Photo (c) Amy Wozencroft

Live Commentary is available:

List of Winners:

British Club Driver of the Year Award: Scott Malvern

National Driver of the Year Award: Gordon Shedden

1st Pioneering and Innovation Award: FIA medical team, acknowledging the remarkable work of Professor Sid Watkins

2nd Pioneering and Innovation Award: Nissan DeltaWing

1st John Bolster Award for Technical Excellence:  Peter Sauber

2nd John Bolster Award for Technical Excellence:  Bob Dance

Rally Car of the Year: Citroen DS3 WRC

Rookie of the Year Award: Matheo Tuscher

British Competition Driver: Jenson Button

Racing Car of the Year: Red Bull RB8

International Racing Driver: Sebastian Vettel (for the 3rd consecutive year)

Comments and Feedback:

Most motorsport fans assumed that the event would be available as a live stream online but were bitterly disappointed to find out that it wasnt the case this year. Some suggested it had something to do with Autosport’s recent announcement of a quote for non-subscribers. However, sponsors missed a trick by not insisting on live feed. Despite the unfortunate music choices during the un-censored live streamed event last year, sponsors’ logos were very visible during the awards.

There was also some consternation about Button being awarded the British Competition Driver of the Year. It must be noted that the nomination form was printed in an edition of Autosport with Button on the cover and the driver is known to host dinners for british journalists every year at the last race. Some also pointed out that Hamilton might have lost out since he recently announced his move from a British team McLaren to German team, Mercedes.

 ‏@EwanMarshall : Eh? So Hamilton has one of his best ever seasons yet loses the British Competition Driver award to Button?

 ‏@TalkingaboutF1 : Jenson voted British Competition Driver of 2012 ahead of Lewis. I don’t get that.

What did you think of the winners? Do you agree? Did you vote, if not, why not? Did you know much about the awards and the nomination/voting process? Is it reflective of most F1 fans opinions?


Motorsport Business Forum – Austin, 2012

To mark its return, KHP and its long-standing partner, the MotorSport Business Forum (MSBF), supported by payment solutions experts Rêv Worldwide, hosted the inaugural Texas Business Symposium in Austin, Texas on behalf of Red McCombs and Bobby Epstein, co-founders and investors of the Circuit of The Americas.
The full list of speakers  –  made up of Team Heads, Stakeholders, Series officials, Sponsors and Commercial Directors – were as follows:
  • Red McCombs, Founder of McCombs Partners and co-founder of Circuit of The Americas (Welcome Address)
  • Nick Fry – CEO Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team (Keynote Address)
  • Paul Hembery – Head of Pirelli Motorsport
  • Roy Sosa – Founder, Chairman and CEO of  Rêv Worldwide
  • Geoff McGrath – Managing Director of McLaren Applied Technologies
  • Mehul Kapadia, Vice President of Commercial Alliances and Sponsorships and Tata Communications.
  • Graeme Lowdon – President & Sporting Director at Marussia F1 Team
  • Pablo de Villota – Formula 1 Sponsorship Manager at Banco Santander
  • Bobby Epstein  Co-founder and Chairman at Circuit of The Americas

Here are excerpts from @rachelclarkef1’s notes and @MSBForum’s tweets from the event

Nick Fry: “Typically, teams spend $200m a year because there are so many people and because of the rate of development of technology. We start designing in July, design and develop till Christmas, then start manufacturing, ready to go at the end of January, test for a couple of months, start racing in Australia in March, race through to November in 20 locations.  For major corporations who want to advertise globally, there is nothing like it [F1]. Not dissimilar to Olympics or World Cup. It is a significant marketing opportunity”.

“This leads to different opportunities all around the world. We are good at going into emerging economies early on and getting a high level of interest early. We have been adding new venues regularly. That number will continue to grow, substituting European events. Russia and Mexico show huge demand for races, amplifying the marketing benefit”

“As an example, Airtel (India) decided to sponsor one race for Mercedes. They did an advert, got 2.5million views of the video in 2 days. Another unique aspect is technology. The people who watch are interested in the technology behind the car. Tech is important and what we need to do is to combine it with entertainment. Technology spins off to other areas, not just automotive. There are about 45,000 people who work in associated areas; all highly paid, signficant tech jobs”.

“The spin-offs are into defence, space, aerospace. The technology on cars, the composites, the electronics, the engine, the telemetry,  energy recovery etc is being used in lots of other areas of business. For example, train industry and fly-wheels, buses using hybrid tech. In our own case, the energy recovery system is going into the SLS Mercedes car. Next version is purely electric, all technology developed with help of F1 team. These are examples of direct spin-offs”.

Challenges: Like most sports, one of the main problems is with costs. Money is difficult to raise. Teams at the back and middle of the grid are struggling. We need to bring down costs. The benefits of winning are huge, so people spend vast amounts of money to be successful, to get more TV and publicity. And the FIA is trying with things like DRS, which allow overtaking; this keeps the excitement with more passing (and keeps viewers engaged).

Photo from MSBForum (c) @MSBForum


Read all about it

The F1 world eagerly awaits announcement of news which will set of the Driver-Market Chain-Reaction. Well, it will be more of a small re-shuffle, than a chain-reaction as most drivers out of contract at the end of 2012 only have 2 or 3 options of seats to fill.

This announcement was rumoured to be made on Wednesday 26th September. At time of publishing this blog, no such announcement had been made.

The past few months has seen a frenzy of rumours, claims, counter-claims, denials, conjecture…. by journalists all vying  for the scoop of the year. Some F1 fans say they are getting annoyed by the rumours and just want a final confirmation of which team these drivers will be driving for in 2013. Unsurprisingly, the most talked-about of these drivers is Lewis Hamilton and from conversations with other F1 fans via Twitter, we all agree that his contract has been the most talked about and written about, that we all can recall.

Just to “prove” this point, I have performed very complex surveys* to establish how many articles were written about drivers in the year they signed their most recent contract i.e. end of their season with penultimate team.

1) Jenson Button moved from Brawn to McLaren in 2009.

Date Range: 1 Jan 2009 – 31 Dec 2009

Search Results: 228,000

2) Fernando Alonso moved from Renault to Ferrari in 2010.

Date Range: 1 Jan 2010 – 31 Dec 2010

Search Results: 693,000

3) Lewis Hamilton rumoured to move from McLaren to Mercedes OR stay at McLaren in 2012.

Date Range: 1 Jan 2012 – 26 Sept 2012

Search Results: 39,200,000^

What does this tell us? Actually, not a lot we did not know already. (1) Hamilton is a well-known figure in F1 and further afield. (2) Blogs/Social Media use is increasing annually so there are more articles posted on the internet, (3) old articles are deleted or archived so might not show up on internet searches for the other drivers. But one can still appreciate that the volume of traffic Hamilton is generating at the moment is immense.

By comparison with other talked-about personalities or occurences over the same date range i.e. 1 Jan 2012 – 26 Sept 2012:

Kristen Stewart, Search Results: 95,700,000

Mars Curiosity, Search Results: 63,400,000

Fernando Alonso, Search Results: 12,300,000

That said, all F1 fans want is confirmation of Hamilton’s new contract or at least, no more unfounded rumours by journalists.

* = Google Internet Search

^ = Google’s Birthday is 27th September hence the new icon in the top left of screen-grab, just to prove it is a very recent search

Italian GP Experience

Guest Blog from a follower (@naijaSolar) who was at the Italian Grand Prix this weekend.

I have been to F1 races before but I had never been to the Italian Grand Prix, despite having friends in and visiting Milan and Monza. So after running out of reasons not to go, I decided to book tickets for the race and combine it visiting my friends. Milan in the lead up to the Italian Grand Prix didnt look very different – apart from the front of the Ferrari Store near Corso Vittorio Emmanuele and the Duomo. This area had been transformed into a mini-race track with several events for passers-by. I am not a “tifoso” but any F1 fan would be crazy not to visit the shop which epitomises Formula 1 passion globally.

To maintain a balanced, unbiased perspective, I also visited the McLaren showroom on Corso Sempione. Unfortunately, it is a showroom – accessible only by appointment – perhaps this was why not a lot of people were aware of its presence.

On my way back from the McLaren Showroom, I walked past a small bookshop on Corso Venezia. Turns out it is an automobile bookshop – one of the oldest in Italy. The owner spoke English and told me about the extensive array of books that he had.

Something caught my eye in the shop: I spotted a large red book with a pair of gloves on it. These, the proprietor explained, were to protect the book from customer smudges and stains. It was an iconic Ferrari book which had to be made to order, the most expensive version (Ferrari Opus Diamante Edition) costing up to a quarter of a million dollars! Sadly I didnt have that kind of change on me.


On Thursday, I went to the track to collect my pre-booked tickets. As I was staying at a friend’s apartment on the outskirts of Milan, the entire trip to the Autodromo lasted about 2hours and involved the Metro to Sesto, a bus to Monza town centre and then another bus to the Autodromo di Monza. On arrival, it took just 5 minutes to process my ID and furnish me with the tickets. Then I had the rest of the afternoon to look around the track.

I discovered the entrance to the F1 paddock and the crowd gathered outside it implied that it might be a good spot for autograph-hunting. And sure enough, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, Kamui Kobayashi walked by – none of whom stopped for autographs. However about half an hour later, a black Mercedes pulled up to the gates and Lewis Hamilton emerged from the car. I almost could not believe it was him! He stopped and signed autographs, flags, shirts, hats and shook hands with some of the people there. Everyone cheered for him and it was good to see him take time to acknowledge the fans’ support.

Lewis arrives at Autodromo di Monza, Italian GP

As part of the 3-day ticket package, fans were allowed onto the pit between 4pm and 6.30pm on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, the first garage most fans flocked to was the Ferrari garage and there were chants of “ALONSO, ALONSO”. There was even a random chant of “Grosjean is sheeeeeet” in a thick Italian accent, no doubt a tifoso still annoyed about the 1st-lap incident that took out Alonso at the Spa Grand Prix.

I saw Vettel and his minders as he went to conduct an interview, also saw Christian Horner, Jenson Button, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Timo Glock and FIA Deputy Race Director, Herbie Blash.

Thursday Night was spent at Vogue’s Fashion Night Out in Milan – a glamour-themed late shopping night in Milan. Parties at Pirelli, Vivienne Westwood, Missoni, Pinko and many other shops along Corso Venezia kept us entertained till the early hours of the morning.

Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, VFNO, Milan


Parabolica 21D was our home on Friday and Saturday, which provided a good view of the Monza track; with the big screen directly in front of us and bilingual commentary, we didn’t miss much of the session. The only thing that I wasnt prepared for was the unbearable heat!

Something else I was looking forward to was Santander‘s regular competition on race weekends: an initiative to get more females interested in Formula 1, by selecting the first 5 people to tweet them within a certain period. I was lucky enough to have been on Twitter when the “competition opened” and promptly sent a tweet for a chance at this money-cant-buy experience. I was elated to receive a message saying I had been selected for the Paddock tour, all I had to do was been at the paddock entrance at 9am on race day.


I arrived an hour early on Sunday and myself and other competition winners met the Santander representative who gave us guest passes for the paddock and escorted us through the turnstiles leading into the Monza paddock. We met Ferrari’s sponsorship manager, Marco who had been enrolled as our guide for the day. He showed us the Ferrari technical motorhome and their hospitality area.

Later on, we went into the McLaren motorhome and spoke briefly with Sam Inskip (Sponsorship Manager at McLaren), after which we were introduced to a senior director of Santander. Finally we had a quick look inside HRT’s motorhome and as we exited the paddock, politely interrupted Pirelli’s Paul Hembery‘s conversation for a photograph.

It was such a great opportunity and I cannot thank Santander enough for making my first trip to Monza an unforgettable experience. This was made even better by the phenomenal drive and win by Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez. The fans at Parabolica cheered for most drivers – even when Button’s car ground to a halt right in front of our stands. However, the same cannot be said of the fans who crowded under the podium after the race and booed Lewis Hamilton. This was the only negative on a glorious race weekend.

If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing – well, perhaps I’d get covered grandstand tickets or better yet, not return the Santander Guest passes!

Special thanks to @SantanderGP, @PaulHembery, @InsideFerrari and @theFifthDriver. More photos can be found on my Twitter profile @naijaSolar.

My Guide to F1 on Twitter

On the 21st of January, a young talented race driver @dinoZamparelli joined Twitter for the first time and he is currently trying to find his feet on the microblogging site.  This got me thinking about how the experience would be for a newcomer.

I joined Twitter a while back solely to get updates on F1. It is a fantastic platform which most F1 teams and drivers now use for direct communication with their fans, on most occasions circumventing the Press altogether. Also, it is a great tool for fellow fans to stave off the withdrawal symptoms from lack of F1 during the off-season.

But with “The Good” must come “The Bad and The Ugly” face of Twitter: i.e. death hoaxes, fake accounts impersonating drivers or teams, blackmail attempts, exclusive false announcements and counter-denials etc. So I’ve come up with 10 Dos & Don’ts of F1 on Twitter

10. The following drivers are NOT on Twitter: DON’T follow any account that claims to be: Schumacher, Vettel or  Räikkönen.

9. DON’T confuse “F1Fakes” with impersonators: the former are usually comical parody accounts like @charlie_whiting, @fakeCharlesPic, and the latter are deceitful people tricking F1 fans into following them.

8. DO announce that you are new to Twitter and that you are looking for fellow F1 fans to interact with. Most F1 fans are happy to suggest or recommend followers or “followees”. Also, participate in #FF (Follow Friday) or #F1Follow: a chance to let others know who you follow and would like to recommend. It is also helpful to explain why people should follow them within the tweet.

7. There are several on-going and some sporadic competitions on Twitter by the likes of @cosworth, @Marussia_F1Team. DO reTweet (RT) interesting competitions or articles; even if you don’t win, you might get a Thank You from the organiser and the winner.

6. DO follow these Twitter accounts: @ScarbsF1 (for everything Technical in F1), @f1Enigma & @F1nomics (for breaking news on driver contracts & F1 marketing), @SaltireF1 (for F1 Engine-Use Statistics and Driver Penalties), @wtf1_co_uk (for the funny side of F1)

5. DON’T be afraid to tweet team-bosses like @tonyfernandes (Caterham), @paulhembery (Pirelli) – they may not reply immediately but they eventually do. Great fan interaction.

4. DON’T be offended if someone on your Timeline does not like a F1 Driver you support; most fans can be objective and criticise a particular driving style or incident without getting personal.

3. DO join in on #F1Chat, Monday 9pm GMT run by @f1chat & @formula1Blog AND tune in to #theFlyingLap hosted by @peterDWindsor every Wednesday 7pm GMT.

2. DON’T hesitate to block Spammers offering “more followers”, sex, iPads. But I wouldn’t advise newbies to “Protect your Tweets” unless it’s a privacy issue.

and finally….

1. DO join us for #duskyF1Quiz on Monday 23rd 8pm for a chance to win a prize!

Hope these tips make following F1 on Twitter less daunting and more enjoyable for newbies. Feel free to suggest any other tips I might have omitted in the Comments.

Updated: 27th Jan 2013

Season Finale and Review

Bloggers, Reporters and Journalists didn’t need much encouragement to use puns such as “close shave” or “smooth run” during the seaon-finale in Brazil despite the event being the anti-climax it was destined to be after the WDC and WCC were decided several races ago.
Vettel started on pole after breaking Nigel Mansell’s record of most poles in a season on the penultimate session of the season. Though many were quick to point out that he was still trailing Mansell’s record in terms of % poles per races. Hamilton qualified 4th and was beside his team-mate on the grid.
Brazil GP (photo via @F1PaddockPass)
Button lost ground at the start of the race on Sunday, and was soon overtaken by Alonso. He then struggled to keep up with the Ferrari. Vettel was told he had a gearbox problem and had to “short-shift” for the rest of the race. He continued to drive as normal, pulling out a gap on other drivers until he slowed down enough for his team-mate Webber to overtake him.
Conspiracy theorists then inferred that his gearbox problem was “manufactured” to hand his team-mate the win. Several other drivers suffered gear-box problems; Hamilton had to retire mid way through the race, after a  season he will be in a hurry to forget.

Abu Dhabi Experience

Both WDC & WCC Titles are already won and some people have lost interest in the 2011 F1 season so I’m taking a different tack from usual this week.
Instead of writing a regular race review, I have “interviewed” three people that went to Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from different countries. #1 is a “local” from Dubai, #2 is from France and #3 is from the UK. Here are their Abu Dhabi experiences…

Booking Flights and Accomodation
DU: Thankfully I live in Dubai so it was down to driving to the location for each of the days which takes approximately 45 minutes. The one thing that I needed to make sure about was tickets, we went for the full 3-day pass which gave access to the pit walk on the Friday. I have a feeling that the tickets to the Abu Dhabi GP must be the most expensive of the season, we paid just shy of AED2000 ($545) for the Marina Grandstand. 
FR: 480€ for return flights. I had booked 15 days before the event + 680€ with taxes for 6 nights in appart-hotel at AD center, I booked 1 month ago
UK: I didn’t have a budget and I booked everything in August

On arrival in Abu Dhabi…
DU: Temperature was wonderful this time around, better than 2009 which I had also attended and was a lot warmer. The best way to describe the weather is as a western summer with temps around the 30 degrees celsius during the day and the 20s in the evening.
The food quality was good but the menu was very limited, you had the option of hotdog, shwarma, burger, falafel, pies and that’s about it really in terms of hot food. There are food stands all over the race venue but they all carried the same menu, you did have additional stands for frozen yogurt,
crepes and ice cream.

FR: I landed in the rain! But it was hot and I was very welcomed by the locals. Plenty of food choices too: Italian, local, Asian, Mexican…and more. 
UK: Locals were friendly and very organised (both at airport and hotel). Temperature was fab (nice and waaarrrmm. Plenty of fast food / snack food stalls around. But variety was very poor – just fatty fast food. You could go out to the nearby hotels for food but that was a little inconvenient.

Race Day
Track Atmosphere
DU: I sat with a few friends from South Africa, had some other friends all scattered across the various stands. The atmosphere was great, you can see when there are new people to F1 around and how they react when they see the cars for the first time. Most of the grand stands seemed rather busy.
The commentary was a mix of both English and Arabic, a good combination to suit the UAE. As with F1 it is hard to hear the commentators when the race is going, but for the race day I was listening to the radio frequency 102.2FM with headphones so I could keep more informed.
FR: There was a mix, the Brits, Locals, Italians, Indians…I was in a hospitality suite above the stands, then to the Paddock Club. The atmosphere was special, really beautiful by differents light around the track, but it remains superficial…lot of people were not there for F1, just for to show their “argent”! Not really exciting…it was a “Paddock Club mood” 😦 
UK: I was with a mixture of all sorts (friends I was with / Brits / Germans / other nationalities / some locals). Great mood and atmosphere


1st Poll Results

Following an article about Hamilton’s performance against his team-mates, I conducted a poll on how Hamilton would perform this season, and these are the results.

Will Hamilton finish with more points than his team-mate in 2011?

Total Votes: 50
Yes, he has always out-performed his team-mates
  12 (24%)
No, he has made too many mistakes this year
  23 (46%)
Maybe but it’ll be close
  15 (30%)

2011 Season Review Cards

In preparation for the end of the season, I’ve invited my Twitter and Twitpic followers to submit Season Review cards for drivers. These “cards” are created by selecting options from 4 columns to describe different drivers’ 2011 season.
For example: Massa: A, b, 7, vi
Objective: Beat my team-mate
Satisfied with Performance?: No, not at all
Areas to improve on: Avoid that Silver and Red car
Rate your season: 4/10
To see the Season Review cards already submitted, click here for my Twitpic page.

Korean GP: Race Summary

Lewis Hamilton started from pole position but he lost the lead to recently crowned Double World Drivers Champion, Sebastian Vettel by the fourth corner of the first lap. A collision between Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher on lap 18 caused the deployment of the Safety car and the cars ‘bunched’ up behind Vettel.
However at the restart, Vettel retained the lead and Lewis Hamilton spent the second half of the race fighting to fend off Webber and stay in 2nd place. A final-lap overtake by Alguersuari on Rosberg (who seemed to be running out of fuel) bagged the young Spaniard 7th place and the accolade of “Driver of the Day”. Paul di Resta was the only rookie to score points in this race.

Winner’s Trophy (photo by @leeStevo1)
The top three drivers were Vettel, Hamilton and Webber. RedBull’s 1st and 3rd clinched them their 2nd World Constructor’s Championship and two weekends of partying. Hamilton seemed content (he only managed a wry smile) to have finished 2nd and ahead of his team-mate, and even managed a quip at the start of his interview with BBC’s Lee McKenzie.

Petrov got a 5-place grid drop and a reprimand for his collision with Schumacher. See Stewards’ press release here.