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British & Hungarian Grand Prix

The last few weeks in the Formula 1 world have been exciting, intense and most definitely eventful. We love everything car related here at MotorQuoteDirect, so it is time for another update on the F1. One of the team even went to the British Grand Prix so we have some exclusive pictures to share with you too!

The last Grand Prix was held in Hungry and it did not disappoint. Lewis Hamilton was left struggling during qualifying yet again, and it is now 6 races in a row he has not managed to grasp pole position for race day. During the Canadian, Austrian and British Grand Prix he was at fault however, at the German Grand Prix he experienced brake failure and once again his Mercedes betrayed him in Hungry. It caught fire in Q1 and the cause is believed to be a fuel leak; the fourth time this season that he hasn’t been able to rely on his car. Continue reading

McLaren Turns 50

McLaren

The second of September was a day down in racing history. McLaren celebrated their 50th anniversary after Bruce McLaren formed the team back in 1963. At the time he was 26 years old and from New Zealand when he created the business and the team which hired a small group of people to design, build and race the cars from a workshop in New Malden in Surrey.

History

Since the beginning the team has moved to bigger locations including Colnbrook and Woking and then relocating to the current home of McLaren Technology Centre which is again in Woking. Now the McLaren team has more than 2000 employees which is a huge amount of growth since day one.

Since the first day that Bruce took his team to the Monaco Grand Prix there hasn’t been another team in Formula 1 that has had as many wins as McLaren. Not only did they compete in Formula 1 they also competed in the North American CanAm sports car series, Indycar racing, and achieved a win first time round at the Le Mans race which lasts 24 hours in 1995. Continue reading

Crash, Smash, Out

This weekend saw the return of Formula 1 racing after the summer break. It was held in Belgium at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, a huge favourite with racing drivers and spectators alike. It was a great win from Jenson Button from pole position.

However it was a different story for Lewis Hamilton. He was knocked off the track spectacularly by Romain Grosjean who also took Fernando Alonso out of the race too. A drama packed race for the first one back after the break!

Continue reading

And it’s GO GO GO…

The Formula 1 season is now underway, however, FP1 and FP2 haven’t revealed much we didn’t already know; the Mercedes looks much improved and the McLaren’s are strong once again. The real test, however, comes in qualifying tomorrow!

Icons

Anyway, back to our icons. Today, I’ve picked the Brawn BGP 001, to give it its official name. This is probably quite a surprising choice to many of you, however, when you consider the statistics, that car can only ever go down in the history books as a legend!

The Brawn GP team was born out of the ashes of the Honda Racing F1 Team that pulled out of the sport at the end of the 2008 season in order to concentrate on increasing their production car sales as the amount of people investing in motor insurance quotes on new Honda’s had declined. Ross Brawn quickly purchased the dying embers of the Honda team and formed Brawn GP with the much loved Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello forming a formidable partnership.

Splash and Dash

The Brawn GP name was only in the sport for one season only, in 2009, as by the end of the season it had been bought by Mercedes and would then, in 2010, change its name to Mercedes GP Formula One Team.

What makes the Brawn GP story such a success however is simple: they came, they saw and they won both World Championships.

Rule Changes

2009 marked the introduction of a whole new set of regulations and the car’s looked significantly different to the previous season. It was also the year that saw the introduction of KERS – a Kinetic Energy Recovery System. Brawn GP didn’t have time, however, to even develop such a system, which one would have thought would disadvantage them. However, if anything, the lack of KERS worked in their favour as while the bigger teams struggled to make their system work effectively, Brawn relied on old fashioned grip and performance with Jenson Button winning six of the first seven Grand Prix that year.

Jenson Button went on to win the Drivers’ World Championship and Brawn marked a historic year by adding the Constructors’ Championship to Button’s brilliant feat. I remember many years ago watching a Top gear interview with Jenson Button and I recall him explaining how he would give up all his money, of which he undoubtedly has lots, to win the Drivers’ Championship. Honest and true words, and I don’t think there has ever been a more deserving World Champion.

Creating History

Furthermore, Brawn GP are in the history books as entering 17 races of which they won 8. That represents the greatest ever win percentage of 47%. That figure monsters the most successful team in F1 history, Ferrari, which has a win percentage of 26%. That, for me, really does cement the Brawn BGP 001 as an iconic F1 car. I highly doubt Mercedes GP will ever revert back to Brawn GP, which will mean those stats will stand forever and the whole Brawn GP 2009 story will live on as a legendary chapter in F1’s history.

This week I’ve outlined three of my F1 icons, please comment below and tell us yours!

The Ferrari F1-2000

We’re half way through the week, and the F1 season is edging ever nearer, so to continue our theme of Formula 1 icons, today I’ve selected the first of the Ferrari’s that Michael Schumacher steered to championship glory in the year 2000. It was the turn of a millennium and a vital shift in power in Formula 1.

The Beginning of Dominance

Previous championship glories had been largely dominated by Williams and McLaren – since the year 1980 they had won 16 titles between them whilst Ferrari hadn’t even won one. However, the year 2000 marked the moment that Ferrari began to dominate the sport. By all accounts they did not have a dominant season in 2000, but in terms of future championship glories with Schumacher at the wheel, there was only one team in it for 5 straight years.

Schumacher went on to win back to back titles from 2000-2004 marking him as the most successful F1 driver of all time with 7 world titles which made him, arguably, the greatest driver of all time. Many people would, however, still put Senna as number one. Ferrari’s F1 dominance was also translated to their production cars as sales increased, which saw an increasing number of wealthy owners looking for the correct car insurance on some exclusive, rare models.

Close Call

What was so brilliant about the 2000 season was that it was so close for most of the season; going into the Italian Grand Prix, McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen led Schumacher by 6 points. Schumacher then went on to win the final 4 races of the season, beginning at Monza to collect 40 points whilst Hakkinen simply could not keep up and the World Championship crown was finally brought back to the prancing horse for the first time since 1979.

The 2000 season also saw some thrilling moments, including Hakkinen’s pass up the inside of Schumacher at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium whilst the pair went either side of Ricardo Zonta. One of the most iconic moments in F1 history.

Hakkinen and Schumacher had a fierce rivalry on the circuit for many years, with Hakkinen winning the ’98 and ’99 seasons before Schumacher finally broke his Ferrari championship duck in 2000 in the legendary, and aptly named, Ferrari F1-2000.

Iconic Formula 1 Cars

The MotorMouthBlog is a place for us all at MotorQuoteDirect to voice our opinions about all things motoring and motorsport, and as the Formula 1 season begins this weekend, I thought it was only appropriate this week to dedicate the blog to some of my all time favourite F1 icons.

Senna’s 1st Win

Last week I spoke of my admiration for the 1996 Ferrari F310 and the Williams-Renault from the same year, so those two famed F1 cars are out of contention for this week’s articles. So, instead, today we begin with the 1985 Lotus 97T; the car that gave the late, great Ayrton Senna his first pole position and his first Grand Prix victory. For that reason alone, it is a true icon of F1. Furthermore, it was a fantastic looking car with its John Player Special black and gold livery, pointed nose and chunky tyres.

Such iconic colours have since been featured on special edition Lotus cars that would indeed be eligible for road use, and thus car insurance cover, which you’d certainly want to protect such a special car.

1985 Portuguese Grand Prix

The first victory of Senna’s came in very wet conditions in Portugal. He qualified on pole in the dry before racing away from the competition with a brilliant and dominant display to win the Grand Prix by over a minute to his nearest challenger.

This really was a master class by Senna, a man who went on to win three World Championships and go down as arguably the greatest Formula 1 driver to have ever graced the sport.

This victory was the springboard on which Senna would go on to add another 40 victories. His second of those 41 valiant victories came in the very same car at the Belgium Grand Prix later that year.

Elio de Angelis

The Lotus 97T was also the car that brought Elio de Angelis his final race victory at the San Marino Grand Prix. The driver’s career was tragically cut short the following season during a test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France where a crash left him stranded in the cockpit inhaling fumes; this was to be the eventual cause of his death.

It’s quite daunting that both drivers of this iconic race car went on to lose their lives in tragic accidents; a harrowing coincidence during an era when fatal accidents were far too common.

The Lotus 97T, for me, is truly iconic; it marked a return to form for Lotus and also landed Senna his first victory and de Angelis his last.

Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing

The Formula 1 season is fast approaching and, provided you follow us on Twitter, you’ll be fully aware that I’m quite F1 obsessed. It was my childhood dream, like many people I’m sure, to become an F1 driver, however the closest I get to such feats is a casual bit of go-karting.

Pre-Season

The pre-season test sessions are in full swing and at the moment it’s difficult to judge the relative performance of all the different manufacturers.

Newly named Lotus F1 stormed out of the blocks with their comeback King Kimi Raikkonen and new recruit Romain Grosjean taking the plaudits in early testing as they proved to be the quickest car in Jerez, however they hit significant troubles in Barcelona as the shiny new E20 chassis developed a problem that was classed so important that Lotus had to return home to address such issues.

They will be back in action for the final test session that begins tomorrow and it will be interesting to analyse how they perform. I, however, use the word “analyse” very loosely here as you can never read too much into pre-season testing!

Lotus F1

Speaking of Lotus, it’s great to have such a historic and evocative name back in Formula 1. Lotus has achieved huge success in previous decades, such as the 60s, 70s and 80s, and it will be great to see the Lotus name back on top. If this were to happen this could also stimulate sales for the Lotus road cars, which due to their relative cost and performance, will also be eligible for a reasonable motor insurance quote. This would, naturally, boost the British motor industry further.

Top Three

Another rather mixed pre-season performance has come from the prancing horse of Ferrari. They were somewhat slow out of the blocks with both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa expressing concerns. However, as the weeks have progressed Ferrari have made great strides and are tipped to be the dark horse of the top teams going into the opening race weekend in Australia on March 18th.

Unsurprisingly, Red Bull have again shown their speed. It appears that the new car is up and running without any problems whatsoever. Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have been posting consistently quick lap times and they have also simulated full race runs.

McLaren have also had a reasonably strong start to pre-season. They’ve completed steady runs and currently look to be in good shape. However, as I mentioned before, pre-season rarely gives great insight to how the season will pan out and therefore we should not be reading too much into who places where during the testing sessions.

Furthermore, there has also been much talk about the design of the new cars. The front nose has a very noticeable dip in front of the front bulkhead which is, if I’m honest, really quite ugly. However, they say a winning car is a beautiful car, so it will be interesting to see what the most beautiful car will be this year…

Monaco should see other drivers gamble in a bid to catch Vettel

It is one of the smallest countries in the world and also one of the most famous, this coming weekend though is perhaps the one where Monaco comes into its own as a player on the world stage. For several days the motorists of Monaco can forget all about car insurance deals and motor insurance quotes as the streets of the Principality are given over to the cars, drivers, supporters and engineering teams that make up the Formula 1 circus. The Monaco Grand Prix takes place this weekend and it really is a one-off race unlike any other in the calendar.

Glamorous occasion

For many the Monaco Grand Prix is the highlight of the Formula 1 season, the glamour and sheer history of the event creates a special atmosphere and of course the fact that the circuit is nothing more than the streets of a town make it all so much different.

Red Bull sure they can wing it

Of course that doesn’t mean we are going to see a different winner from last week in Spain. Sebastian Vettel is making the 2011 season nothing but a glorious procession at the moment, his Red Bull car has won 4 of the 5 events with him finishing second in the other. His team mate Mark Webber won the Monaco Grand Prix with ease last year so the omens are looking good for the championship leader.

Will the different track help the others?

The big question is, on a circuit that is so vastly different to any other, can McLaren, Ferrari or Mercedes show they are capable of getting past the Red Bull drivers under any conditions. So far this season only Lewis Hamilton has managed to finish in front of Vettell and after another good race in Spain last week he is confident he can step up to the mark this weekend.

Hamilton confident they will put on a show

Before practice started today he was certainly confident enough. McLaren and team mate Jensen Button both have winning form at Monaco and Hamilton believes he and Button will press on from their good performances last week and fancies they could win. He thinks the soft Pirelli tyres will allow more overtaking in the race which will make it more exciting for the spectators.

Fernando Alonso will also fancy his chances in the Ferrari red this weekend and will be anxious not to spoil his chances by making an unforced error similar to the one that scuppered his chances here last year. The race starts at 12 noon English time and will be watched by the most glamorous crowd of the season, let’s hope they have plenty to cheer about.

Turkish delight for Vettel as he coasts to victory

Sebastian Vettel claimed yet another first place in the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend and is already streaking clear of his competitors in the race for the 2011 formula 1 crown.

Almost perfect

It has been a near perfect start for the modest German driver and he indicated after his success that his level headed approach will not be changing in the near future. With four pole positions in four races and an outcome of three firsts and a second he would be entitled to crow about his achievements but he is having none of that. He seems little different to any average young man who has an interest in sports car insurance and sometimes appears to be a little puzzled by all the media interest in him.

No repeat of last year

The race had nowhere near as much drama as the previous round and Vettels dominance was apparent throughout the race. Istanbul of course was the track where Vettel and Weber dramatically collided last year when both were going all out to win the race, there was no chance of that happening this year. It was, however, a good race for his team mate Mark Weber, who achieved his best finish, coming in second and Fernando Alonso’s third place was the first time this season that Ferrari had managed to look anywhere near the team they were the second half of last season.

The McLaren drivers, Hamilton and Button finished respectively fourth and sixth, but Hamilton hid his disappointment well, saying he was still in second place as were the team and it was still early doors in a 19 race long season.

Pit stops confusing the issue

The new regulations and tyre rules are making the sport a lot harder for spectators. The amount of pit stops drivers are now taking, (the leaders in yesterday’s race took four each) means those in the Grandstand have as much trouble working out who is in front as they do checking the small print on their car insurance cover. It is a factor that those in control of the sport must seriously consider. The spectacle would not be the same without the noisy, knowing, thousands of enthusiasts who come to cheer the drivers on.

Hamilton clinches first after choosing to make more stops

As the Formula 1 crews take a well deserved breather after back to back weekends of Grand Prix action, it looks as if we may get a competitive race for the Championship after all. The win by Lewis Hamilton ant the thrilling way he achieved it will gladden the hearts of motor racing fans and journalists across the globe.

Thrilling manoeuvre

The Red Bull train has been stopped from careering away with the title for the time being, although not many drivers would have managed to do the overtaking manoeuvre Hamilton undertook without sacrificing a clean no claims bonus on their motor insurance. To say it was seat of the pants stuff is an understatement.

Spur of the moment decision

After the race McLarens ebullient racing team divulged that the plan at the outset of the race was to do two pit stops, it was only decided after the race was underway to change to three. It was intelligence sent back by the two McLaren drivers that convinced the team to go for three stops instead of two. It proved a race winning decision and left Vettell and his Red Bull team-mates wondering how they got their tactics so wrong.

Button stitched up in wrong pit lane

Not quite so wrong though as Jensen Buttons faux pas of a pit stop. It is perhaps excusable, though hardly, to pull into the wrong pit to get a tyre change but to pull into that of your greatest rival is really not on. Button, I suspect, will be having his leg pulled on that particular mistake long after this season has finished. Apparently he should have gone into the pits the lap before as well. It seems unlikely McLaren will be trusting Jensen with organising anything to do with the team next week, not even the car insurance cover.

Time for a breather

The circus now takes a three week break before they congregate in Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix. Hamilton won their last year with Button and Webber taking the minor placings. One wonders if Button and Webber will be ready to take the limelight away from their more illustrious team mates in Istanbul and get a little Turkish delight for themselves.