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F1 2018 Preview

So, the long dark winter is nearly over and we can look forward to racing resuming in a few weeks time and a new season of Fantasy F1 League

 

F1

Can Mercedes continue their domination?  Will Ferrari be able to step-up the challenge and will Red Bull be able to return to winning ways?  Are McLaren and Renault capable of joining the front runners?

Lots of questions and interesting possibilities for the new season, despite a lack of new drivers and teams.  In fact this season will see the fewest new faces for as far back as I can remember, still plenty to look forward to!

On paper Mercedes must be favourites again with Lewis Hamilton to man to beat.  However, if you remember the 2016 season where Rosberg took the title, there are several similarities that mean Valterri Bottas might be the man to beat.  Hamilton was lacklustre at the end of the 2015 campaign after he had won the title with 4 races to go, in 2017 he also won with races to spare and didn’t win any of the final 3 races with his team mate beating him in all of them.  If Bottas can keep up this momentum perhaps he can take the title.

However,  Mercedes have now won 4 titles in a row so perhaps it is time for another team to step up?  Only one team has ever bettered that tally, Ferrari with Schumacher in the early 2000s, so perhaps the Mercedes domination is coming to an end?  F1 tends to be cyclical with one team dominant for a few seasons so it would be no surprise if Ferrari or Red Bull took the title in 2018.

If Ferrari dominate then it is likely Sebastian Vettel will be champion, he has beaten Kimi Raikkonen as his team mate with ease whilst they have been at the Scuderia.  If Red Bull can challenge at the front then the fight between Daniel Riccardio and Max Vrestappen will be much more interesting as both drivers have had success although recently Verstappen has perhaps had the edge.

Of the other teams McLaren need to see a big improvement and the Renault partnership should deliver this.  Whilst I don’t expect them to be winning races in 2018 they should be on the podium a few times as they have one of the best chassis on the grid and the Renault is looking better all the time.  Alonso is the type of mercurial driver who might just pull a win out of the bag if we have any very eventful races with some unusual circumstances.

Renault are the other team I think will be worth watching.  I can see them possibly joining the front runners this season or at least being “the best of the rest” as they are maturing into a competitive team with two good drivers.

I will do an update to this once we have some times from pre-season testing, end of February time.

Here’s to a great season!

 

 

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Singapore GP Preview

The teams head off to the bright lights of Singapore at the end of the European leg of the championship, with things poised nicely for an epic fight for the title.

Mercedes were dominant in Italy and Ferrari somewhat embarrassed by their lack of pace, Vettel was even under pressure near the end from the Red Bull of Danny Ric who had started well down the grid after his engine penalty.

It was lucky for him that both Red Bulls decided to take their penalties at this race as otherwise it is quite likely he would have only finished 5th and the deficit to Hamilton would have been greater.

As things stand however, Hamilton leads by just 3 points as we head to a track that is likely to favour Ferrari.

Singapore is generally a low speed track with plenty of slow and mid speed corners and almost no flat out flowing sections that have favoured Mercedes. It is almost inconceivable that Mercedes can beat Ferrari around here but have they made a step forward in performance?

What may be crucial here is the Red Bulls, if they too can beat Mercedes then that could well see Vettel take a fairly big lead into the next race in Malaysia, a track that is probably going to favour neither team with its mix of fast and slow sections.

It looked like both Red Bull and Mercedes made a step forward at Monza, or Ferrari simply got their setup badly wrong.

Rain would help Mercedes but we’ve never had a wet race at Singapore so that is very unlikely.

McLaren could also feature more heavily at Singapore as they are rumoured to have one of the best chassis on the grid and power is less important here, although Honda’s reliability means you would be surprised if both drivers finished.

I’m predicting a Ferrari 1-2 here (the order of the drivers is pretty obvious) with Red Bull getting 3rd and 4th and Hamilton having to settle for 5th. Mercedes will have to start employing team orders if they want the driver’s title. Qualifying is going to be critical and very close!

After that I don’t see any track favouring either team very much as Red Bull join the fight for race wins, going to be a very exciting end to the season, just hope it isn’t decided by reliabilty or something else outside the drivers control.


Belgian Grand Prix – Preview

After the mid-season break the circus reconvenes at Spa in the Ardennes, a truly great circuit full of history and atmosphere. It’s a track that the drivers and fans alike love and one that can provide some top quality action.Spa

On paper the track should suit Mercedes as it has some very quick corners and long flat-out sections. However, the middle sector of the lap is tighter and could favour Ferrari with their shorter wheelbase car.  Kimi Raikonnen is something of a Spa specialist so it will be interesting to see how he does especially versus his team-mate Vettel who is challenging for the title.

The problem Ferrari will have is they will likely be slower on the straights so overtaking Mercedes will be hard for them, so qualifying will be crucial as will strategy.

Of course this all goes out of the window if we have rain, which is quite common at this venue, long range forecasts are predicting a 60% chance of rain for qualifying AND race day.

If it’s wet then the Ferrari may turn out to be the strongest package with its high level of downforce and Red Bull may also come into contention.

Lewis Hamilton will want to win this race desperately to reduce the gap to Vettel in the championship standings, currently it stands at 14 points.  A win here would reduce the gap to 7 points or less, a Mercedes 1-2 (with Hamilton winning) would reduce to to 4 points assuming Vettel is 3rd.

Looking forward to what could be a classic race, fingers crossed!

My prediction is Hamilton to win from Bottas with Vettel 3rd, Kimi 4th.

If it’s wet, no clue, could be anyone’s!


Silly Season Comes Early

Apologies for the lack of entries of late, I hope to get something done on a more regular basis in future.F1

Silly season is early this year with a lot of rumours, let’s look at some facts to try to work out what might happen.

Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen are all out of contract at the end of this season, so for the top teams these are the obvious drivers that *may* move.

The rumours are Vettel is moving to Mercedes and Verstappen is moving to Ferrari – the Verstappen rumour isn’t going to amount to anything I don’t think as Red Bull still have him under contract until the end of 2019 with a “watertight” contract and they really won’t want him to leave as he is a future star of F1. I doubt they will keep him after that though unless the car is capable of challenging for the title.

However, it is pretty likely Raikkonen will leave Ferrari at the end of this season as his performances have been well below the level of his team-mate Vettel, even given the fact that the German is the de-facto number 1 for the Scuderia.

I expect Kimi to either retire at the end of this season or to end up at a midfield (or worse) team for 2018.

He is 38 years old soon, so definitely getting long in the tooth for an F1 driver, especially at a top team.

Vettel won’t join Mercedes with Hamilton there in my opinion – he will not like the challenge that would bring without having number 1 status and it is very unlikely Mercedes would grant him that and even less likely Hamilton would accept being a number 2 driver.

However, Hamilton has publicly stated he would like to drive for Ferrari, but would he do so if they were not competitive? There is the possibility that Vettel and Hamilton would swap teams but I don’t see this happening yet, Hamilton is under contract with Mercedes until the end of next season so that might be when it happens – be interesting to see if Vettel signs a 1 year contract with Ferrari as if he does that would make a swap at the end of 2018 highly likely in my opinion – depending on the teams relative performances.

I expect not much to change at the main teams therefore, Kimi will leave and be replaced possibly by Grosjean or more likely Sainz – Red Bull said recently they would let Sainz go for the right money, he would be a good fit for Ferrari and willing to play second fiddle to Vettel for a season or two at least.

Bottas has done well enough at Mercedes for them to keep him and probably offer him a longer deal than just for 2018.

Hamilton and Vettel will swap teams, but not this season.

As for the other main protagonists, Alonso will be looking for a better option over McLaren but I don’t see any openings for him, his only hope is the Honda power improves (Mercedes won’t supply McLaren with engines and I don’t see Ferrari doing that either, Renault might be an option) or he will retire. He’s also no spring chicken being 36 years old, which is about the usual age F1 drivers retire.  I expect Alonso to be racing for McLaren in 2018 with Renault engines whilst Sainz is going to move but not sure where.

Interesting times ahead.


Website Update

Hi – my host has just emailed to say they have identified the cause of the problem and rectified it – it looks more promising according to this:

http://www.intodns.com/fantasy-f1-league.com

There is still the obligatory 24 hours wait for all DNS to update but some may be able to get on sooner, fingers crossed and appreciate your patience!


Website Problems

Hi,

I am sending a generic email so sorry about that, but due to the volumes of emails I am getting I cannot respond personally to them all.

1.  My host migrated the site onto a new server on Sunday, they did this as Sunday is a quiet day for most sites, obviously they didn’t realise it was the first race of the season that day, so that’s the first problem!

2.  The site migration went well, everything is present and correct so don’t worry, your data is not lost or corrupt.

3.  However – crucially they forgot to update the nameserver details for the site on the new server, so from approximately 8PM Sunday people were seeing Internal Server Error (500) as the DNS servers tried to connect to the old server.

4.  I noticed this and raised a support ticket, getting a response at 9 AM on Monday to say the nameservers were now updated.

5.  I noticed things hadn’t improved by 4 PM (nameserver updates take a few hours) and so escalated this again.

6.  The host then realised the namesever update hadn’t taken effect for technical reasons I won’t go into there, but they then resolved this at 6 PM Monday advising it could take up to 24 hours to fully update across all DNS servers.

7.  During Tuesday some people were able to login but others were getting a cached version of the site from about 2 months ago, so it looked to them as though their details had gone as they could not login or even get a password reminder as that old version didn’t have their details.

8.  Currently the situation hasn’t changed, some can login to the current site and some get the old cached version, I have escalated this with my host again.

I can confirm the database and code base is OK and current as I can login to the backend to check.  I can only ask for a little more patience as DNS updates can take longer than 24 hours as each ISP/DNS owner can have their own rules regards how long they cache details for.

If you want to know more about this type of issue search for “time to linger” and “DNS propogation”

I am not in a position to do any more with this and my host may not be able to either, I will see if things improve by tomorrow and if not may move to another host – I will only do this if I believe it will resolve the issue after consulting with an expert!

Finally I am sorry about this, believe me nobody is more frustrated than I am, after running the site for 6 seasons I have never had such an issue.

If you have further questions let me know but I may not respond quickly.

Thanks for your patience and support,

David
http://www.fantasy-f1-league.com


Australian Grand Prix

So the result of the Australian Grand Prix 2016 is in – as widely expected it was a 1-2 for Mercedes with Ferrari trailing in 3rd place.

But that doesn’t tell the story of what was actually a pretty good race, especially the early laps.

Mercedes seem to have a proble with their “launch control” system, both Silver Arrows swamped at the start by not only the Ferraris, but in Hamilton’s case he also lost out to another 2 cars, partly due to his team-mate getting in his way.

Ferrari were more or less a match for Mercedes on the softer compound tyres too, with Vettel building an early lead quite quickly before Rosberg was able to get up to pace.  This looks like once again Ferratri are able to “switch on” the softer tyres more quickly than the Mercedes.

The problem for Ferrari (and pretty much everyone else) is that the Mercs are simply too quick on the mediums and these will be probably the most often used tyres all season.

But assuming Mercedes cannot sort out their starts we should see some good races especially at tracks with a nice run down to the first turn, Ferrari 1 and 2 at the end of lap 1 may be a common theme and if they can get the soft tyres to last a bit longer it could be game on all race.  This is likely to be the case at least at the tracks where tyre wear isn’t an issue.

The red flag caused by Alonso’s massive shunt probably help Mercedes a little but you have to question Ferrari’s decision not to go onto the medium tyres, maybe they knew they would not be quick enough on them?

So I think we can see a lot of Ferrari vs Mercedes action with Ferrari being able to win more races this season than last – Monza, Sepang, Monaco and Spa should all be tracks where they can take the fight to Mercedes.  Assumoing Vettel beats Kimi as he did last season and both Mercedes drivers take points off each other, we could even see a 3 way fight for the driver’s title too.

Other than that Red Bull looked reasonably handy being closer to the podium than expected, which should bode well at tracks where power isn’t so important or if it rains.  I can see them possibly winning a race or two if things go their way with a bit of luck or good strategy.

Haas had a good debut with solid points from experienced driver Grosjean, I can see them possibly grabbing a podium if we have a race of high attrition, possibly a wet race or a big pile-up at the start benefitting them.

Williams disappointed and must improve quickly.

McLaren were OK but nothing special, a reasonable improvement over last year but I still don’t see them doing better than fighting for the lower points scoring positions.

From a Fantasy F1 League point of view, Ricciardo was good value as he not only came 4th, but got a bonus 5 points for fastest lap and also another 4 points for making up 4 places from his grid position.  Also Grosjean who finished 6th and made up 7 places from his grid slot.

Haas were also good value as they scored 8 points for Grosjeans 6th place yet only cost £2M.

The usual suspects grabbed most points, but they also cost most so the podium was pretty much as expected.

Here’s to Bahrain, could be a good scrap in the desert