Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Written by Christopher Wheelahan

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Christopher Wheelahan

Chris first caught the F1 flu back in 2003 but lost track due to the snooze-fest that was the 2004 season. In 2010 Chris rediscovered the sport and has become enthralled since. He makes no claims to be a superb writer or journalist but only an obsessive follower of motorsport, particularly F1. Nowadays Chris spends his spare time experimenting with cocktails and wasting time with Musical Theatre types. He does not enjoy long walks on the beach… sorry.

Health and safety in Formula 1: Tragedy and action

Reviewing the progress motorsport has made so far

Sidepodcast: Health and safety in Formula 1: Tragedy and action

by Christopher Wheelahan

Health and safety in a dangerous sport like motor racing can at times be controversial and highly criticized. It seems whenever an accident such as the one Jules Bianchi had several weeks ago occurs people bring out their torches and pitchforks and march to the doors of the FIA. But when looked at in the context of history, the safety of Formula 1 is something the FIA medical commission – particularly during the 1990’s and early 2000’s – can be extremely proud of. Yes, the accident in Japan was tragic but if this accident had occurred 20 years ago, we would certainly be mourning the loss of a young and rising star in Formula 1 rather than wishing for his eventual return.

Building a Formula 1 cost cap

Suggestions for levelling the F1 spending gap

Sidepodcast: Building a Formula 1 cost cap

by Christopher Wheelahan

People have been talking about a Formula 1 cost cap for years and while some progress has been made we are still far from a legitimate spending cap. The hugely funded teams obviously believe that their ability to outspend gives them an advantage so they are doing everything they can to prevent restrictions. Smaller teams, however, must be more efficient in their spending and want to force that on their larger competitors to have a better shot at winning races and championships.

A winter round-up

Will the team changes help or hinder the class of F1 2014?

Sidepodcast: A winter round-up

by Christopher Wheelahan

Now that we’re only about a month away from the beginning of the 2014 Formula 1 season, things are starting to settle down and it’s about time we review what driver and staffing changes have occurred and what that means for the teams. Everybody knows that Mark Webber was not exactly a happy camper by the end of his tenure with the Red Bull team. And the team wasn’t particularly happy with him either. His performance was not exemplary and his attitude was even worse. Thankfully, both sides were able to grin and bear it until the end of the season and Webber was able to retire with a bit of dignity.

The Hulk is a beast

Comparing Di Resta and Hülkenberg for the Lotus seat

Sidepodcast: The Hulk is a beast

by Christopher Wheelahan

Nico Hülkenburg is a beast, as his nickname would imply. Pundits and journalists have been talking for years about how he’s one of the best drivers in the field and how he should be in a much better, race-winning seat. Thankfully, that is poised to happen next year with Kimi Räikkönen’s open spot at Lotus. My previous article discussed the fate of Paul di Resta and mentioned how he would be a good fit at the Enstone outfit, so Nico is not without competition.

No Di Resta for the weary

Where does Paul fit into the 2014 puzzle?

Sidepodcast: No Di Resta for the weary

by Christopher Wheelahan

Paul di Resta has been a tremendous, mid-pack driver for several years now. He has outdriven his car, been candid but not inflammatory with reporters, and perhaps most importantly, been a steady rock in a turbulent Sahara Force India team. But what’s in it for the noble steed? Clearly he has the potential to move on to bigger and better things (read: teams) but where can he go?

Lotus's Labours Lost

A spare seat opens up, and the grid reshuffle begins

Sidepodcast: Lotus's Labours Lost

by Christopher Wheelahan

With the departure of Mark Webber from Red Bull, there is most certainly an open slot in the game of F1 musical chairs. The most buzz is with Kimi Räikkönen making the move to Red Bull alongside Vettel and while I don’t think that will happen for a number of reasons, it seems a foregone conclusion (according to some writers) at this point. In the same vein, there are grumblings of Romain Grosjean being on rolling 3-race contracts. It only seems logical that by the end of the season, at least one of these two seats will be vacated.

On Track with Chris - A karting triathlon

Racing on rental, oval and sprint tracks at Kart-a-Palooza

Sidepodcast: On Track with Chris - A karting triathlon

by Christopher Wheelahan

Once again, Kart-a-Palooza at Nola Motorsports Park! It had been a while since I was on-track: about 4 months since a true race so I was a little bit nervous when I arrived. The crowd was significantly smaller than last time but I definitely recognized some faces. They’ve changed up the format since the last time I posted – this time two races on each track with a random grid order and inverse grid, and no practice.

On Track with Chris - Kart-a-palooza!

One man, one kart, three tracks, and a full day of fun in Avondale

Sidepodcast: On Track with Chris - Kart-a-palooza!

by Christopher Wheelahan

It started about six months ago. I had been following Formula 1 for so long that I finally decided to sit in a car and try to go fast. Rather, I decided to sit in a kart. I had an idea of what a racing line was, had played enough video games that knew how grip worked and listened to enough of Martin Brundle and the Top Gear boys to understand the concepts of lift-off oversteer and slow-in-fast-out and all those truisms. Honestly, it helped at first but no amount of thinking and academic knowledge can make up for poor feeling and inexperience. I found that out early.

One most valuable Spaniard

Where the real value lies in Spanish racing driver potential

Sidepodcast: One most valuable Spaniard

by Christopher Wheelahan

If I asked you who the most valuable Spanish driver in F1 was today, 100 percent of you would say Fernando Alonso. If I asked you who the best value was, most of you would still say Alonso but I would argue otherwise. Don’t get me wrong – I think he’s the best driver on the grid this season, and he has been for some time. Anyone who can make a dog like the F2012 look as good as he does is not just massively talented, but a true gift to the sport.

A Checo shaped hole in the wall

Sauber have a raft of young drivers to choose from

Sidepodcast: A Checo shaped hole in the wall

by Christopher Wheelahan

Full disclosure: I am a big Sergio Pérez fan. He’s the closest I have to a “home team”. I’m also a big Felipe Massa fan, but the thing about Felipe is that he has spent most of this season and much of last languishing about the middle of the field unable to do much besides crash into Lewis Hamilton and fall on his own face. If Pérez keeps driving like he did in Italy, I’m guessing there will be a Checo shaped hole at Sauber to go with that Checo shaped hole in the wall. Who moves to Sauber in this case?

A most finicky cocktail

Pondering the future of Lewis Hamilton over a drink or two

Sidepodcast: A most finicky cocktail

by Christopher Wheelahan

At the risk of becoming a one-trick-pony, I’m going to tell you another story about Formula 1 and hipster-y beverages. This time, about booze rather than coffee because (and let’s be frank here) bourbon is way more fun than coffee. It’s a spirit that is equally at home in a tumbler by itself, with a little ice or with some vermouth and a dash of bitters served up. If James Bond drank Vespers, Steve McQueen drank manhattans… in his 1967 Rolls Royce. Watch The Thomas Crown Affair. You’ll get what I mean.

The case for an American F1 team

USF1 had the right idea, they just needed a little bit more of everything

Sidepodcast: The case for an American F1 team

by Christopher Wheelahan

The USF1 team didn’t work out for one reason: money. Sure, one could argue that there were other contributing factors but the truth is that Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor are competent folk. Speculation was that the technical team wouldn’t work out, or that the logistical nightmare of developing a car across the Atlantic would doom the team but the long and short of the matter is it never got that far.

The start of a joke

A tale of two drivers, an uncertain future... and coffee

Sidepodcast: The start of a joke

by Christopher Wheelahan

Red Bull have clearly taken a step back in relation to their competitors. Assuming Toro Rosso have taken an equal step back, they’re performing right about where they should be. Red Bull was so far ahead of the pack last year that they could afford a slight step in the wrong direction. The mid-pack was so tight in 2011 that if anyone were to take a step back, they’d almost fall into the grasp of Caterham. Guess where Toro Rosso is now.

Return to Pole

If Robert Kubica makes a return in 2013, where will he be?

Sidepodcast: Return to Pole

by Christopher Wheelahan

Frankly there is no real, compelling evidence that Robert Kubica will return to F1 at all. It would take a lot of testing and proving that he still “has what it takes” before anyone will even consider him for a race seat but let’s assume that he recovers in spectacular fashion and that he does make the return in 2013. What team will he be driving for? Sure, anyone would take him if he did a mediocre job in his first few tests, but what if he blows everyone out of the water? What if he hasn’t lost a step and could realistically look at a top team?

Ferrari's drowning horse

One half of the Scuderia is clearly propping up the other - time for a change?

Sidepodcast: Ferrari's drowning horse

by Christopher Wheelahan

Let’s face it… Felipe Massa is very much on the back foot. With a total of 10 points to his teammate’s 76, it’s become very clear that something is not working for the Brazilian. Perhaps it’s the tires or the car itself or maybe he’s just lost his edge but whatever the reason, Stefano Domenicali needs to make a decision on what he wants to do with the second seat at the historic team.

An American's guide to Formula One

Explaining the pinnacle of motorsport for a new set of fans

Sidepodcast: An American's guide to Formula One

by Christopher Wheelahan

Ok, we all know that NASCAR is the largest spectator sport in the US. So what exactly is Formula 1? You know Indycar? That thing they occasionally show on Versus late at night or in the middle of a Sunday afternoon? F1 cars look a lot like those, which is to say they are open wheel and rely almost entirely on aerodynamic downforce for grip (i.e. they have big wings in the front and back to force them onto the road).