Badger GP Formula 1 isn't boring. Fri, 26 May 2017 05:16:37 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Badger GP 32 32 41532049 “Winning Indy will be very, very tough” – Mark Blundell on Alonso’s chances Thu, 25 May 2017 14:54:56 +0000 Badger's Rob Watts chats with F1, Le Mans and IndyCar* driver, Mark Blundell to learn more about the Indy500, Alonso's chances and his thoughts on motorsport holy grail.

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Badger’s Rob Watts chats with former F1, Le Mans and IndyCar* driver, Mark Blundell, to learn more about the Indy 500, Alonso’s chances and his thoughts on motorsport holy grail.

Rob Watts: What were your thoughts when you found out Alonso was doing the Indy 500?

Mark Blundell: Honestly, I was surprised. Surprised that he would interrupt his Formula 1 season, surprised that he would choose to debut in the Indy 500 and some of that is down to my understanding of what it’s like to drive on an oval – especially a super speedway. Bearing in mind, the amount of experience and operation laps before the event, in many respects, are very limited.

I say that with the greatest of respect. You’ve just seen the current IndyCar champion just win his first oval race, and he’s been out there for several years. It gives you some indication of how difficult a task it is to just turn up and deliver.

Yes, we did see [Alexander] Rossi do it last year, but if you analyse that race, there were some reasons behind that. Not to take anything away from him, but winning a 500-mile race is a very tough call.


RW: Some would say the decision is reflective of his relationship with Honda, and perhaps it’s McLaren’s attempt to keep him happy so he might re-sign with them. Would you agree?

MB: That’s an interesting question. I’ve not actually seen anything to suggest this was a decision driven by him, or whether it was a decision by McLaren to take the name back to the US.

If you analyse it, it’s quite a big thing for Alonso to do. The upside, it’s achievable, but it would be almost remarkable. The downside, it kind of takes a little bit of the gloss away from where he stands today. It’s quite remarkable to understand a driver of his current level, putting himself in this sort of situation.

I understand from my experience, that oval racing is high risk. Yes, they’ve got the safety barriers now that they didn’t have in my day, but there’s no small accident on an oval. We’ve seen plenty of big name drivers go there and end up having some pretty significant injuries. There’s a lot of questions, and I’m not sure I can quite make sense of it.

RW: How much is this is a decision born out of frustration? Could he now be focusing on his long-term legacy, rather than the potential for any short-term success in F1?

MB: That’s possible. At the end of the day, he and his team of advisers have made moves for what they thought were the right reasons during his career. I’d say, that still today, he is probably the most complete racing driver on the grid and that’s saying a lot.

The other issue is, what other options would be available to him in the future? I’m not sure if this is out of frustration, but putting an Indy 500 programme together take some pretty comprehensive planning and some pretty solid reasoning to do it.


RW: You left F1 to race in the States, but it wasn’t to race in the IndyCar series as we know today, was it?

MB: Yeah, I raced in the CART series. The IRL (Indy Racing League) had been created and split off from CART. The IRL had the jewel in the crown back then – the Indy 500 – and was predominantly oval racing as a series, whereas the CART series was a combination of everything.

I was actually on my way to Sauber to go and drive for them in 1996. I had got agreement from the heads of Sauber over the winter period, but at that time Dietrich Mateschitz was an investor, and part of his reasoning for his investment was that he wanted a Grand Prix winner in one of the seats. The guy who was available who had won a Grand Prix was Johnny (Herbert). I got a little bit disillusioned with Formula 1, so I went to North America to do Indy Car (or the CART series as it was known back then).

I actually went there with a Mercedes Benz engine deal, which was their thank you to me for assisting them at McLaren when I jumped in to replace Mansell.

RW: When you turned up in the States to test the car, how different was it to the F1 car you had vacated just a few months earlier?

MB: They are a different beast. People say to me ‘How will Alonso get on?’ – He’ll get on fine if he can erase the last twenty-five years of his data bank, built upon driving a single seater car in a completely different discipline.

It’s not about what he needs to learn, it’s about him having to unlearn all those second nation inputs he would do without thinking about it. When you get a car that goes sideways, you counteract it with lock; do that on an oval, and you’ll be spat out into the wall. They are simple things, but things that catch you out in the heat of the moment.


RW: Do you think Alonso will need to drive in a way that may go against many of his natural instincts?

MB: 100%. If you speak to any guy who has come across from F1 to IndyCar, they’ll all probably say the same.

Racing on an oval when the car is right is one of the best experiences of your life, but if it’s wrong, it can be one of the worst experiences of your entire career. He’s going to have to learn a completely new set of rules around slipstreaming, and that’s slipstreaming going into a corner at 220mph!

These are all things that come with experience. To try and do this in a couple of weeks is very, very tough.

RW: You raced in the US 500, which was then the CART series’ alternative to the Indy 500. What is it like to run in traffic at over 200mph, and how much of an eye opening will it be for him?

MB: It will be an eye opener because he’s never experienced it in the past, and that’s the point. For anyone like Alonso, myself or Nigel Mansell, we’ve never had those experiences.

When we were running around Fontana in 1997, we were doing 250mph on the straight and around 227mph in the corners – and you’re running three abreast at times!

When you get many cars running around an oval, there becomes a void, literally a vacuum of air. You might come off of turn four and pick up a tow from a guy going into turn one. That’s how extreme it gets.

When you get that kind of turbulence, there’s not a lot of air around there for your car to work efficiently. That’s why you see multi-pack crashes happen because basically there’s no air around for the aerodynamics to be efficient. When you’re doing 200 mph in a corner and the steering goes light, there’s no recovery from that – doesn’t matter who you are. You could be Batman; you’re not going to stop it, you’re off!


RW: How do you think the other drivers are going to look at Alonso. Will they respect him as a two-time world champion, or treat him as a rookie?

MB: Of course he has their respect. I think everyone would be respectful the other way around if the Indy 500 winner turned up at an F1 race. There would be mutual respect. But on an oval, you have to consider Alonso as a rookie.

When I went over there, I was still driving like an F1 driver. I’d overtake somebody and then pull back in quite abruptly. A few guys came down to see me and said: “You can’t do that on an oval because when you do, you take the air away off the front end of us and we’re going to end up in the wall”.

It comes down to experience; there are no second chances. When it happens, the margin of error is minute.

RW: Say Alonso were to win the race, which would be remarkable. Do you think he’ll walk away from F1?

MB: Fernando Alonso is a racer. I am sure he is embracing the experience he is having out there because it is different. It’s more open; there’s more access, more on-track racing.

I’ve always said IndyCar is like running Formula Ford at 200mph plus. It’s action packed, and oval racing is exactly that. It will take him back to his glory days, but let’s see whether he is successful first.

If you go back through the history books to see the drivers who have gone to North America to race on ovals, and you see the success rate, I’m pretty sure you won’t run out of paper because there are only a few names you’ll come up with.


RW: You’re one of only a few drivers in the last couple of decades to have competed in F1, Le Mans and Indy Car (or an equivalent series). Graham Hill is still the only driver to have won in all three. Is it now almost impossible to achieve the coveted ‘triple crown’ in modern motorsport?

MB: I think it’s very, very difficult. I think the evenest playing field is where he is right now – at Indianapolis. As soon as you step outside of that, be it F1 or sports car racing, the performance differentials start to increase. As for the triple crown, it would be wonderful to see, but, my oh my, that’s a difficult one.

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F1 Fan Engagement: The times, they are a-changing… Wed, 24 May 2017 20:19:17 +0000 Badger's resident Bobblehat Sarah Merritt saw first hand the changes Liberty Media put into place for fans at the Spanish GP.

What did she think?

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The arrival of F1’s new owners, Liberty Media, was surrounded with excitement over what changes they might bring to the sport, and, as fans, we hoped that might include more openness and engagement. As we arrived in Barcelona, there was much talk of new initiatives that would be starting there, so here’s a round-up of what we found waiting for us at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The biggest changes were in the Fan Village. Typically the hub where fans congregate to grab a bite to eat, buy merchandise and touch base with one another as we might all be sitting in different grandstands. At the Spanish GP, this resides in the area behind the main grandstand and this year, we arrived to find a much more welcoming open space which had been carpeted in astroturf (a little slippery on a rainy afternoon, but otherwise lovely).

We also found more communal seating. Previously this had been limited and we often ended up sitting on the concrete at this race. This year, there were plenty of places to perch, with a few palm tree thrown in for good measure. It definitely felt more like the areas we’ve previously seen at races like Abu Dhabi.

There were many fan “side show” attractions. A number of stands that have featured at other races in one form or another could be found around the Fan village. It felt like the best of each race had been brought to Barcelona. These included:

  • Podium Jump – bounce on a trampoline to give yourself a leaping souvenir podium shot.
  • Wave the Flag – a photo of you with the chequered flag waved as if your favourite driver is crossing the finish line.
  • The Pirelli Pit Stop challenge – your chance to try your hand with a wheel gun, using real wheels for authenticity.
  • Reflex Zone – a Batak wall similar to that drivers use to train their reflexes.
  • Race Zone – an area with simulators.
  • Merchandising stands – in Barcelona, a great improvement was that these were broken out individually, rather than in the big, dark, and very hot marquee that we have had in previous years.
  • More sponsor involvement. Our friends over at Heineken had built a bar area in the Fan village, only serving alcohol-free beer in Catalunya, as per the circuit rules.
  • A stage with live bands and driver appearances/interviews.
  • More food and drink outlets.
  • A zip wire – attached to the top corner of the main grandstand, and then suspended across the fan village. And yes, I did partake!

The Circuit de Catalunya Public Pit Walk deserves a mention too. Not a new initiative for Barcelona, but other circuits take note! This is always a great event for fans, with all teams participating and drivers coming out during the session to sign. This gives fans a full 2.5 hours to walk up and down the pit lane, look at the safety car, the podium, watch teams working on their cars, as well as wheeling them along to the weighbridge and doing pit stop practice. Definitely something not to miss.

There were also new activities available as part of the Paddock Club, with the arrival of the two-seater cars that have been used in Melbourne for the past few years. Ex-Minardi owner Paul Stoddart and his team have purchased ex-Manor kit to be able to set-up a fully working garage environment, and the sound of the cars was AMAZING!

Alas, it seems that in these early days, this is more reserved for the media in attendance, and despite asking, we were unable to partake, but we hope this will be more accessible to fans in the future.

There was also an opportunity to go on a lap of the Circuit de Catalunya on the driver’s parade truck. This was a great experience, narrated by one of the paddock club representatives in conjunction with a driver trainer, and it really demonstrated the undulating nature of the Barcelona track, pointing out the gradient changes and the sausage kerbs that drivers would really want to avoid! It was noticeable that the take-up of this experience was mainly from the “real fans” within the Paddock Club, and I’d really hope that this would be something that is considered for rolling out for everybody at a race by application – charge, say, 10 euros per person and let all fans experience this!

In conclusion, the new owners have definitely listened to the voice of the fans, and they are looking to add more elements, and therefore more add more value, to the tickets that we save our pennies to buy.

It’s a great start, and I can only see this evolving with more new initiatives arriving at each race. Fingers crossed!

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Five reasons to watch the Monaco Grand Prix Wed, 24 May 2017 20:03:28 +0000 Plenty to talk about as the F1 circus reaches the glitz and glamour of Monaco, and Rob Watts picks out the key points.

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After a brief stop in Spain, F1 heads this weekend to the glamorous setting of Monaco! If super yachts, ice cold champagne, mega rich celebrities, expensive cars, and glorious weather are your thing, then you’d better take note.

Here are a few of the key stories to follow in the build-up to this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. 🇲🇨

Because Monaco

Monaco Grand Prix
Seriously, do Grand Prix locations get better than this? Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

It’s Monaco, do you really need a reason? The most glamorous and challenging race on the F1 calendar. This is the one that every single driver wants to win – but there’s a reason why. In some ways, it’s the most intense challenge a Grand Prix driver will face all year. You simply don’t win the Monaco Grand Prix unless you are a very, very good driver (or like Olivier Panis, you get the biggest slice of luck in motorsport history).

If you’ve never been to Monaco, it’s hard to describe not only how stunning the place is, but also how daunting the circuit can be for the drivers. Some sections are unfathomably narrow, and that’s just the impression you get while walking past. Put yourself in a carbon monocoque, a couple of inches off the floor, going 160mph plus, and the skill required just to keep it away from the wall is mind blowing.

There’s something quite magical about this place, and every single corner has a story to tell – and hopefully, one or two more stories to add this year.

The title fight resumes

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel leads the drivers’ standings – Image Credit: Octane Photographic

The most anticipated matchup in F1’s recent history returns to the ring for round six, and boy has it delivered so far. So far, the momentum has ebbed and flowed back and forth between Mercedes and Ferrari, and with these two contenders leading their respective team’s charge, we’ve been treated to some scintillating moments thus far.

Monaco promises to deliver another epic fight between these two great champions, and with just six points in it, the margins couldn’t be much closer. A win for Hamilton will see him return to the top of the standings, while a win for Vettel would see him strengthen his own advantage. Perhaps more significantly though, a win for Vettel this weekend would be Ferrari’s first at this track since the great Michael Schumacher won here back in 2001. Maranello is waiting.

Jenson’s back!

Jenson Button
Jenson Button returns to F1 this weekend – Image Credit: Octane Photographic

Did we mention this? I’m pretty sure we have. Anyway, Frome’s favourite son, 2009 world champion Jenson Button is back in F1. Ok, it may not be the headline story of the weekend, but it’s pretty cool nevertheless don’t you think? Not since the 90s has a former F1 champion returned to the sport after announcing his retirement (we’re not counting Kimi, as he clearly wasn’t retiring).

The cynics will point towards the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ as the real reason why he’s back. And yes, he may even be somewhat ‘contractually obliged’ to be here, but it’s great to have him back whatever the reason. Button’s kept himself busy by competing in triathlons over the winter, so his fitness really won’t be in any doubt, but a lack of testing means he will come in a bit cold this weekend. Having said that, he’s won here before, and he knows the streets well from his time living in the Principality, so we could see Button bagging his team’s first points of the year this weekend. Fingers crossed.

McLaren’s best chance for points

McLaren Honda
McLaren Honda are yet to score a point this season – Image Credit: Octane Photographic

It’s well known that straight line speed is much less of a factor here than at any other circuit on the F1 calendar. Instead, a balanced car with good traction usually does the trick, so a first points finish of the year could be on for McLaren this weekend. On top of that, a big upgrade brought to Barcelona was enough for Fernando Alonso to stick the car seventh on the grid, and team boss Eric Boullier believes McLaren can perform better here this weekend than they have in recent years. Sauber, watch out.

A big weekend for Force India

Esteban Ocon
Esteban Ocon has scored points in every race this season – Image Credit: Octane Photographic

Looking back through recent results in Monaco, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Force India had been testing secretly at this track. The Silverstone-based team has scored points here eight years in a row, including a memorable podium finish for Sergio Perez in last year’s race. Compare that to the team’s main rivals this year, Williams, who, since 2010, have only once managed to finish higher than eighth here and have failed to score a point in three of those years. With arguably the most competitive car it has even had in F1, this weekend could see the ‘pink panthers’ pull clear of Williams and begin to put pressure on this season’s underachievers, Red Bull.

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The Banned Martini Advert is Back! Wed, 24 May 2017 13:15:38 +0000 Back in 2009, Martini ran with a billboard at the Monaco Grand Prix, which was banned - why? Because it was deemed that it was too distracting for the drivers.

Yes, really.

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Back in 2009, Martini ran with a billboard at the Monaco Grand Prix, which was banned – why? Because it was deemed that it was too distracting for the drivers. Yes, really.

The billboard featured model and race car driver, Jessiqa Pace. Lewis Hamilton was reported to have crashed at the hairpin that the billboard was positioned, and Jenson Button said “every time you passed her it was as though she was looking right at you.”

And yet here we are now in 2017 and the advert is back, albeit tucked away from the drivers’ line of sight, by the super busy heliport on the Monaco harbour. Great marketing effort from the Williams F1 Team sponsors.


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World Stars Charity Football Match in Monaco Wed, 24 May 2017 08:57:27 +0000 The starts were out in force at the annual charity football match ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix - Sarah Merritt was on hand to catch pictures of the action!

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The Tuesday night before the Monaco Grand Prix saw the annual charity football match take place at the Stade Louis II in Monte Carlo, with two teams managed by Claudio Ranieri playing, and even Prince Albert of Monaco came along to take part!

The “Nazionale Piloti” team (National Pilots) was captained by Felipe Massa, ably assisted by his son Feliphino, and featured, amongst others, Carlos Sainz Jr, Daniil Kvyat, Daniel Ricciardo, Antonio Giovinazzi, Mick Schumacher, Jerome D’Ambrosio and Mika Hakkinen, who attended with his son and daughter. Mika chatted to us before the game, and was looking forward to taking part, and even had time to pose for a #BadgerSelfie.

They took on the footballers of the Star Team Monaco, and the final score was 2-1 to the All-Star Team. A great evening raising money for charity.

Here are some photos from the event, and you can find out more at

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Get Set for Summer with Badger GP Merchandise Tue, 23 May 2017 12:34:16 +0000 Summer is here and so is our latest range of unique motorsport merchandise via our friends at Box Box Box Co, have a browse!

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Summer is here and in a timely fashion, so is our latest range of Badger GP merchandise. We have loads of awesome designs, all unique, produced here in the UK using ethically sourced threads via our friends at BoxBoxBoxCo.

Shop the full collection here, or browse some of our favourites below, scroll down to see what our most popular design is and maybe treat yourself for the summer.

See the full range

Places I’d Rather Be…

A modern classic

Look but never stare

a fun take on the start lights, available in mens and womens.

Tracks of 2017 mug

Croissants, coffee and saucer not included.

The Class of 2017 mug

Tote Bags

Our latest range of tote bags are great, Tracks of 2017

In the bag

And the Class of 2017, over your shoulder.

Tracks of 2017

Our most popular t-shirt of 2017 – Tracks of 2017, available in Mens, Womens, Womens Skinny fit as well as kids and toddlers.

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The Race That Was…Monaco 1982 Tue, 23 May 2017 10:20:59 +0000 Looking for the craziest race finish in the history of Formula One? Then look no further than an overcast afternoon in the Principality in the spring of 1982.

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Looking for the craziest race finish in the history of Formula One? Then look no further than an overcast afternoon in the Principality in the spring of 1982 which saw 17 retirements, six leaders in last two laps and only three cars running at the finish.

In fact, the Monaco race of that season was probably the peak of craziness in a season littered with madness. From day one the campaign was beset with disputes between teams and the FIA, between drivers and teams, and even between teammates. It also saw it’s fair share of tragedy.

Didier Pironi was the lone Ferrari, and the emotion of the previous race was clear to see – Photo: The Cahier Archive

Monaco 1982 was the first race to take place after the loss of Gilles Villeneuve in practice at Zolder a few weeks previously. The Canadian had, in his eyes, been betrayed by former friend Didier Pironi, who had seemed to have ignored team orders to pass Villeneuve for the win in San Marino. Enraged, Gilles pushed too hard to beat his time in practice at Belgium and collided with the slower Arrows of Jochen Mass. Gilles lost his life a few hours later.

The spectre of the fan favourite driver was everywhere that weekend. Over near the swimming pool area, a huge banner had been unfurled: Gilles sei sempre con noi (Gilles, you are still among us). It brought a jolt to those who saw it, including Pironi, who crossed himself on the parade lap to the grid.

With the Italian marque only entering one car out of respect the Renault-Ferrari battle for supremacy was stacked in the French manufacturer’s favour. With turbo power being the in-thing during that period, the confines of Monaco brought a more even playing field – indeed, the Brabham team had split its strategy in terms of engines, with Ricardo Patrese’s Ford-powered BT49 only being pipped to pole by Rene Arnoux’s Renault. Patrese’s Brabham teammate, reigning champion Nelson Piquet, could only manage 13th with his BMW powerplant.

Until about 10 laps from the end, it looked like standard race. Sure, we had seen a lead change after Rene Arnoux’s Renault hit the barriers on lap 15, but nothing spectacular happened as Alain Prost, in the other Renault, had been leading the race since Arnoux’s demise – he looked a strong bet for a win and an extension to his championship lead.

The race also took its toll on others as the usual Monaco attrition rate claimed victims such as Bruno Giacomelli (Alfa Romeo), Jacques Laffite (Ligier), John Watson and Niki Lauda (McLaren), Piquet (gearbox) and Keke Rosberg’s Williams (who was racing there for the very first time).

Then, with a just a handful laps to go, a light drizzle set in and the track started to get slippery. Patrese and Pironi started to close on Prost, while Michele Alboreto in his normally aspirated Tyrrell gave away a fine fifth place by clobbering the barriers.

The drizzle now turned into rain as the skies darkened above the Principality and within moments, Derek Daly, who was in only his second race for Williams, slammed into the Tabac barrier head-on, the impact turning his car around, leading to yet more devastating contact with the barriers. The Irishman had lost his rear wing and one of his front winglets but to his surprise that was it. Little did he know his gearbox had cracked and was leaking oil onto the racing line.

These were all minor events. The bigger story was yet to come.

Image Credit:
Image Credit:

Prost exited the tunnel and negotiated the chicane, but in doing so he put a bit too much power down, went into violent oversteer, shooting straight across the road and head on into the barrier. From there the Renault pin-balled onto the opposite guardrail, coming to rest in the middle of the road, bodywork damaged and wheels bouncing dangerously close to spectator areas. Prost stepped quickly out and climbed over the barrier. He would later be seen nursing badly bruised legs – a lucky escape, but Monaco was out of his grasp.

This promoted Patrese to the lead. The Ford-powered Brabham had been quick all weekend in the Italian’s hands, and all he needed to do was bring it home for a maiden win. That’s all he had to do. One more lap.

He lasted less than a third of the way. Heading into the Station hairpin, the Italian dabbed the brakes and the car swapped ends, leaving him the wrong way round and with his engine stalled. The cars behind began to feed their way through as the Brabham lay stricken, with the Ferrari of Didier Pironi inheriting the lead.

Was the Ferrari-Pironi-Villeneuve story going to come full circle? It could happen, as he negotiated his car around the rest of the penultimate lap gingerly – was the track really that slippery? But then another disaster, and the possibility of Pironi standing on the top step of the podium soon evaporated as the extremely thirsty Ferrari engine ground to a halt in the tunnel, empty of fuel. He was the third leader in less than two laps; just how much more could this race give us?

Focus then turned to who would be the next to lead the queue of cars. Andrea de Cesaris in his notoriously unreliable Alfa-Romeo was next in line, but he failed to get his car past Pironi into the lead position, also running out of fuel. The Italian was so devastated that a win was so close he sat behind the barriers, sobbing into his balaclava.

Derek Daly then took the poisoned chalice of the lead into his hands. His Williams was battered from his earlier excursion into the harbour barriers, missing most of it’s aerodynamic aids, but Daly had kept plugging away. He was only in the car thanks to Carlos Reutemann’s decision to walk away from F1 and here he was, potentially about to deliver the the most prestigious victory a driver could. At least he was, wasn’t he?

He wasn’t. The cracked gearbox in the Williams cried enough and now he was out.

The late James Hunt summed the whole situation up in his commentary for the BBC, by stating “We’ve got this ridiculous situation where we’re sitting around the start-finish line waiting for a winner to come past, and we don’t seem to be getting one!“.

The only cars left on track were the black-and-gold Lotus pair of Nigel Mansell and Elio de Angelis, whose race had turned from a cruise to 6th and 7th into a dice for a win in the Principality. Mansell scythed his teammate down to take what he thought was the lead. Then Riccardo Patrese breezed past the finish line.

The race stewards had no idea what to do. It was utter chaos.

Patrese bump-started after spinning out, and ended up back in the lead - Photo: The Cahier Archive
Patrese bump-started after spinning out, and ended up back in the lead – Photo: The Cahier Archive

While being moved by marshals at the Station hairpin the Italian had managed to get his Brabham restarted as he rolled down the hill. While the other cars that had passed him broke down he had kept it going, and while the focus had moved to them, who were a lap down on his position. When he crossed the line the chequered flag was waved, and when he finally got to the podium he was greeted by Pironi, de Cesaris, de Angelis and – most importantly – a man with a clipboard desperately trying to work it all out!

The final order was then calculated; Patrese won from Pironi (stopped), de Cesaris (stopped), Mansell, de Angelis and Daly (stationary). Those were the points scorers, and half of those were the only cars left running at the flag.

History books will record the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix as many things – the first race win for Ricardo Patrese, the first race after the loss of Gilles Villeneuve – as well as being one of the last wins for the workhorse that was the Cosworth DFV engine. It was a race littered with emotions from the very start, with mourning for a lost hero, to the possibility of redemption, to the joy and despair of a Grand Prix win gained or. in most cases as it turned out, lost. It was all completed by being tied into a neat package by the thread of confusion.

What it should ultimately be to fans is an example of how a sport of precision engineering and skill, held in surroundings that are both glamourous and treacherous, can be conquered with a bit of old-fashioned luck

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The TOP DOG for Spain is… Mon, 15 May 2017 07:02:02 +0000 ...someone who didn't even finish in the top five!

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While the main story of the Spanish Grand Prix was the titanic, on-track scrap between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, the field behind had it’s starring cameos; Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg improved on disappointing qualifying positions to score points, Carlos Sainz put in a solid shift at the wheel, and Fernando Alonso had a qualifying lap for the ages.

However, we can’t look any further than…

Pascal Wehrlein

Image: Octane Photography

Now, while there are some people out there that will be clamouring for either Hamilton or Vettel to get our driver of the day award, let’s not forget that those two are, arguably, in the pantheon of the all-time greats. We expect them to put in race winning performances each and every week. Some of the other drivers on the grid don’t get a look in because of the quality of the driving, but in Pascal’s case, it’s the quality of the machinery that keeps him out of the spotlight.

Not that the Sauber is a bad car, but it’s most probably the worst of the bunch thanks to the team’s funding issues for the past 18 months. It just isn’t on par with the bigger budgeted teams around them, so they have to play with things like extreme race strategy to make themselves competitive. To do so you need a driver who understands what needs to happen, and the perfect mix of both came together in Barcelona for the Swiss outfit.

Running a single stop strategy can be risky at the best of times, but everything came together perfectly – bar not passing a bollard on the right side and gaining a five-second post race penalty – to come home seventh on the road, ahead of the much faster Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, which turned to eighth, and four precious World Championship points, after the penalty was applied. Sauber are now ahead of McLaren in the standings, something that would be unheard of two or three seasons ago.

Congratulations to all involved with the team after such a challenging time. Taking chances is what sport is all about, and Sauber and Wehrlein did with both hands.

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The Top 5 from Spain Mon, 15 May 2017 06:38:33 +0000 A barnstormer of a Spanish Grand Prix could fill the Badgerometer three times over - unfortunately for Laura Leslie, she could only pick out the top five things from Barcelona!

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Massa Gets McLaren’d

Poor Felipe Massa just couldn’t catch a break on Sunday afternoon. After making a semi-decent start, he was clouted by the McLaren-Honda of Fernando Alonso as they swept around T2. The contact left Massa with a front-right puncture.

Massa and Alonso had contact at the first corner. Image: Octane Photographic

Much later in the race, and to everyone’s amusement, Stoffel Vandoorne used the sister McLaren-Honda to batter the left-hand side of Massa’s Williams. Massa quickly declared the move was ‘unbelievable’ over the radio, while Vandoorne sheepishly waffled to the world he was sorry.

Double Bubble Force India

Image: Octane Photography

Once again the small team based in Silverstone prove to be the best bang for buck on the grid. The Spanish Grand Prix was the team’s eighth double points finish in a row, a streak that began back in the Mexican Grand Prix of last year.

It doesn’t need Inspector Clueso to work out that Force India’s ‘pink panthers’ are punching well above their perceived weight at the moment – already they have more than double the points of Toro Rosso and Williams.

Next up is Monaco, scene of Sergio Perez’s first podium of 2016. Can he repeat the feat in 2017? We wouldn’t bet against it!

Sil-Wehrlein-ing For Sauber

After they announced they’d be using year old Ferrari engines in 2017, few gave Sauber much hope of scoring points during a relatively normal Grand Prix. Perhaps those people had never heard of Sauber’s ace card, Ruth Buscombe.

Buscombe is the team’s senior strategy engineer having moved over from Haas last year. Back then she helped Haas score their maiden points in Australia with a bold one-stop strategy. In Barcelona, she attempted the same trick with Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber.

Image: Octane Photography

It appeared to be working brilliantly, Wehrlein had risen as high as fifth in the order. Then a virtual safety car was called to rescue Vandoorne’s stranded McLaren leaving Buscombe with a headache. A very late call was made for Wehrlein to pit under the much slower virtual safety car conditions.

Unfortunately, Wehrlein went the wrong side of the bollard on pit entry and earned himself a five second time penalty. The Mercedes young driver kept his head, however, and he would eventually finish seventh on the road. His penalty meant eighth in the classified standings, and a valuable four championship points for Sauber, who now leave McLaren-Honda trailing in last place.

After his torrid time recovering from his injuries sustained in the Race of Champions, it was a perfect response from Wehrlein to his doubters. If he keeps this kind of form up, it will provide his bosses at Mercedes with a dilemma in 2018.

Battle Royal Out Front

After three years of Mercedes dominance, fans had been crying out for another team to join the Silver Arrows in a championship battle. 2017 finally seems to be the year to deliver the goods as once again Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel went head-to-head for the win in Spain.


For the first time in the turbo hybrid era, a Mercedes actually had to pass a car from another team on track for the win. Hamilton blasted by Vettel, with the aid of DRS, on lap 44 after a tense duel at the end of the final stops. After the race, Hamilton called his battle with Vettel ‘the rawest’ he could remember in some time.

Vettel even had the chance to overtake a Mercedes himself as he put a wonderful move down on Valtteri Bottas on the main straight. The Ferrari jinked left, right, left and actually strayed onto the grass as Bottas desperately fought to keep Vettel behind. Sadly Bottas retired from the race with engine failure a few laps later.


It’s set the tone perfectly as Formula One heads to its jewel in the crown, Monaco, in two weeks time. With overtaking just about impossible around the principality, qualifying on Saturday should be an absolute corker!

The Ferrari Kid

Forget the Milky Bar kid, today was all about the Ferrari kid who won everyone’s hearts.

After Kimi Raikkonen was eliminated on lap one the cameras quickly cut to the fans in the main grandstand. In among them was a little boy by the name of Thomas David, who was in tears because his hero was out of the race so soon. It is a feeling we’re sure most F1 fans can relate to at some stage in their lives.

Social media was quickly ablaze with people feeling sorry for the little guy and it didn’t take long before some were asking Ferrari to get him a cap signed by Raikkonen to cheer him up.

A few laps later, just after Vettel put that electrifying move on Bottas we again saw Thomas. This time though he had a beaming smile, clearly cheered up by Vettel regaining the lead. Many thought that would be the last we’d see of Thomas.

However, behind the scenes, Ferrari were up to something very special. Just before the end of the race, we saw Thomas for the third time. It wasn’t in the stands this time though. Ferrari had given Thomas and his parents some paddock passes and organised for him to meet his hero Raikkonen. The Finn even gave the little boy his cap proving he can be more ‘nice man’ than ‘Iceman’.


Twitter was full of people praising the new, more friendly F1. Would Thomas have been given the opportunity of a lifetime under Bernie’s watch? We aren’t so sure. Let’s hope we see more young F1 dreams come true in 2017!

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Five reasons to watch the Spanish Grand Prix Thu, 11 May 2017 22:07:34 +0000 What does the weekend have in store? Rob Watts and Craig Norman preview the Spanish Grand Prix!

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Formula One heads into its European season at the Circuit De Catalunya, a track well known by the team’s thanks to pre-season testing.

What does the weekend have in store? Rob Watts and Craig Norman preview the Spanish Grand Prix!

A crucial race already for Lewis Hamilton

This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix is already a crucial race for Lewis Hamilton. This was supposed to be his title this year, but so far he’s seen Sebastian Vettel win twice for a resurgent Ferrari while new teammate Valtteri Bottas silenced his doubters with a maiden win last time out in Russia.

Großer Preis von Russland 2017, Freitag – Steve Etherington

It may only be the fifth race of a long 20 round calendar, but Hamilton needs some momentum to swing back his way, especially with Ferrari posing such a threat. What makes the situation more complicated for Hamilton, is that he’s not in a position just yet where he can reliably expect Mercedes to impose team orders to help his cause. Had he been twenty or thirty points clear of Bottas right now, the Finn – in his first year with the team – would have almost certainly been asked to become Hamilton’s wingman. As it stands, that gap is only ten points and Bottas has been given a huge confidence boost from his win in the previous race.

Vettel has the luxury of knowing his no.1 status is unlikely to be at threat, with Raikkonen 37 points behind him already. Hamilton needs to keep Bottas at bay, but at the same time fend off Vettel in what has so far been the better race car to have. This one should be one to watch!

Red Bull pinning hopes on major upgrade

Barcelona marks the first race of the European leg of the season which lasts now until the Italian Grand Prix in September. Being close to many of the team’s factory bases, it’s no surprise the teams see this as their first real opportunity to bring major development parts to their cars.

Photo: Red Bull Racing Media

In that respect, Barcelona could be a reset of sorts for many of the teams looking to fend off their rivals behind or gain ground on those in front. And it’s the front of the grid where most of the intrigue will be this weekend.

After a very poor start to the season (by its own usually high standards) Red Bull is pinning a lot on the success of a major update planned for this weekend. In fact, some have rumoured that it’s less of an update, and more a new car altogether. Red Bull has denied this, but it’s already way behind the front two and facing a fight to salvage something from this season.

Will we see another new winner?

A bizarre statistic, but unbelievably we’ve had ten different winners over the past ten years. Considering the period of dominance that Red Bull and Mercedes has enjoyed, that statistic is even more remarkable.

Verstappen provided the shock win in 2016 – Photo: Red Bull Racing Media

The most memorable of the past ten surely has to be Pastor Maldonado’s surprise win for Williams back in 2012, but a shock of that magnitude is unlikely this year.

On the current grid, Valtteri Bottas has the best chance of extending that streak but Daniel Ricciardo could also be an outside bet if Red Bull’s upgrades pay off.

Qualifying is crucial and will be epic

While Russia’s race day was devoid of any real action, the Saturday qualifying session was the exact opposite. It’s been a long time since F1 fans genuinely didn’t know the outcome of who would be on pole position for a race, apart from the usual coin toss between Mercedes drivers. Now, with Ferrari proving to be a true contender in 2017, it can now be one of four cars.

Ferrari took the front row in Russia, but can they do the same in Spain? – Photo: Scuderia Ferrari Media

Spain is a track where pole position is vital – 19 of the last 25 winners have gone on to win from taking the top spot on Saturday. The duel for the honours will be even more intense because of it.

Drivers under pressure

The main focus will be on the Ferrari vs. Mercedes fight at the front of the grid, but there are some names further down the field that will be facing intense pressure this early in the season.

Romain Grosjean and Jolson Palmer’s first lap incident in Russia is still being disputed by both drivers two weeks later, but there’s no denying it was borne from frustration on both parts. Grosjean has had high peaks in 2017 – 6th on the grid in Australia a highlight – but isn’t showing the consistency Haas need in their difficult second season. He’s now on the back foot heading within the team after losing a coin toss with teammate Kevin Magnussen for who got the upgraded car first – a scenario you couldn’t see happening between the Frenchman and Esteban Gutierrez in 2016.

For Palmer, if it wasn’t for bad luck he’d have no luck at all, with spins, crashes, and yellow flag affected sessions dragging him down the back of the field. With teammate Nico Hulkenberg flourishing at Renault, the clock is ticking for the Brit in regards to whether the French marque can back him any further than they have.

Big races for both in Barcelona, but can they turn the tide in their favour?

World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONZ1988

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