Maldonado signs at Lotus – a good deal all round

Pastor Maldonado’s actions recently in accusing his mechanics of tampering with his car won him no friends amongst F1 fans. And the fact that he is very well backed by his states oil company has made him somewhat of a hate figure under the banner of “pay driver”

As a huge Hulkenberg fan, I’d like nothing more to see him in a top car, however many fans seem to be completely missing the financial considerations at play here.

The boys and girls down at Enstone are a fantastically committed and experienced bunch. Yet like many teams of late in F1, financing and sponsorship has been largely difficult to come by. It’s with that in mind that I fully understand why this deal is attractive.

Maldonado is a quick driver, who has been erratic this year. He is, however, very capable of putting a good season together in a solid car. And with a good financial deal now in place, the stability of the team is surely now confirmed.

So that’s why I’m tipping him to do well at Lotus next year, despite his detractors. Much like the bandwagon many jumped on last year with Romain Grosjean, I suspect in time he will come good.

If anything the deal confirms what many of us have thought for some time. The F1 business model needs a fundamental shakeup………

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Even Nostradamus wouldn’t have predicted that – 2013 Merc v McLaren (and other ramblings)

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Well, as a McLaren and Williams fan for a long time, it’s fair to say I will be consigning 2013 to a dark place in my mind.

And I would also imagine there are some Lewis Hamilton fans feeling fairly happy with his move to Mercedes. Challenging times ahead for merc to continue progressing after what has been a really positive shift change this year on the car front.

Having finished 2012 with what was arguably the fastest car, McLaren started 2013 very positively in the first test, only to find it was a but of a fluke due to a quirky setup. The rest is a matter of record and given it’s been a deep low, I think the mechanics and team as a whole have performed well to recover to some extent.

Yes, those that don’t like Ron, Martin and the Woking outfit will have enjoyed seeing what is a top team struggle. But in the same season we’ve managed to reignite Hondas F1 flame for 2015, along with securing some absolutely top class tech staff for that big push.

As for next year at the sharp end the Mercedes power unit is going to be a top engine so it will come down to who makes the best package able to take advantage of the rules.

On Redbull, I’d fully expect Adrian Newey and team to come strong next year, although if the rumoured lower power output is to be believed they’ll have to be. That said Renault are a great engine builder in F1 and rarely completely miss the brief.

As for Ferrari I’m still yet to be convinced they can maintain the tech drive throughout the year without trying to find a scapegoat for bad performances. The red peril is a great organisation but in my view has recently been a place to not holding ones resolve and being more interested in finding someone at fault.

There are a number of things I’m excited to see throughout the grid next year, from the Pat Symonds effect at Williams, to the continuation of the Caterham Marussia battle.

And then look at some of the potential driver lineups at Sauber and Force India, and what looks like a very strong lineup for Lotus either way and there’s lots to look forward to.

I can’t wait to board the plane to Jerez personally. It will be here before we know it.

Kimi – right or wrong?

I was surprised yesterday to read quite a lot of criticism of Kimi, regarding his potentially not driving for the remainder of the season for Lotus.

Personally, if someone refused to pay my wages for the full year to date, I’d feel fairly well justified in at least considering withdrawing my labour. Whilst you’d argue an F1 driver is slightly different from an average person, I’d imagine finances are becoming fairly tight for Kimi.

I’d be interested in getting peoples views in the below poll – Is Kimi well within his rights, or completely wrong?

Nico Hulkenberg – is it just me?

Is it just me or is Nico Hulkenberg – who I consider to be the standout driver not currently in a top tier team – looking likely he may be overlooked by another top team?

Now the above is a big claim to make, with many drivers flattering to decieve in junior formulae. So lets just look at some of the highlights of his career before he got to F1:

  • Karting > started aged ten (1997), winning the German junior karting championship and German karting championship in consecutive years
  • Formula BMW >  won the Formula BMW championship at the first time of asking in , and the world final, only to be stripped of it for some pretty questionable braking manoevres during a safety car period.
  • A1 GP >  stepped into the German team in 2006-07, dominating in his rookie season with 9 wins and the championship (more than 60 points ahead of Pastor Maldonado).
  • Formula 3 Euro series > taking 7 wins and the title in 2008.
  • GP2 > you guessed it. 2009 Champion

Now the intention of this blog is not to be stat heavy, but you’ll no doubt appreciate there are signs of real calibre here.

We all know the trials and tribulations, ups and downs of his time so far in F1, not least the pole for Williams and some genuine standout drives.

Now I can understand the Ferrari position in taking Kimi, who is still driven to win, still one of the very top guys in F1 and a very consistent performer.

But surely Nico Hulkenberg has done just as much as any other young driver to place himself in the shop window.

The plot thickens….

Having read some of the very insightful comments on twitter over the last couple of days from some top line drivers (Mark Webber and Alex Wurz to name but two) about driver height and weight it really asks some serious questions.

Yes, driver fitness and strength have been key drivers of performance in F1 for some time, but with the ’14 rules stressing technical teams to the limit on powertrain weight, I can’t help but worry for young Nico.

Should it be that driver weight and height has such a bearing on success or indeed even in getting a top drive? I don’t think so personally….

With Hamilton, VetteI, Kimi and Alonso all tied down, I can’t believe Lotus and McLaren are not knocking on the door of this guys manager.

In my humble opinion, McLaren could be missing out on their next World Champion if they don’t find a place for Nico.

F1 has always been heralded as a drivers championship, so lets hope someone somewhere remembers that when looking at minimum car weights.