1950 Formula One season preview

After the end of World War II and four years of Grand Prix racing, FIA organized the F1 World Championship in 1950. This was not the first attempt to make an organized championship out of all the Grand Prixs but this one turned out to be the first successful try.

In 1949, several marques achieved victories as a result of Alfa Romeo, one of the most successful and respectable competitors pulled out the year before due to a huge accident their drivers suffered and the lack of competition they faced. For Formula One however, they returned and signed some of the best drivers of the era. 52-year-old Luigi Fagioli, who had been around for two decades by that time and had a famous rivalry with German legend Rudolf Caracciola, was one to join the Italian squad. He was joined by Giuseppe Farina, whose career was kind of torn apart by the war, but he remained successful after 1945, too. Their third entry was Juan Manuel Fangio, who started his racing career at a really mature age and for many years he only raced in Argentina. He moved to Europe in 1948, after winning five Grand Prixs in 1949, Alfa Romeo couldn’t resist. The final addition was British driver Reg Parnell, who was definitely the least known of the four.

Maserati arrived as probably the most successful outfit from 1949 with drivers like Fangio or Farina. However, the factory team only entered one car with another living legend, the 51-year-old Louis Chiron. Chiron was well-past his prime, but was still considered to be one to watch. Several other private Maseratis entered the series, the most notable ones were Thai Prince Bira or Swiss Emmanuel de Graffenried.

The once so successful French racing teams were only represented by numerous Talbot-Lago cars. The official drivers were Yves Giraud-Cabantous and Eugene Martin.

English Racing Automobiles (ERA) and Altas also took part in the race while the ever-present Ferrari team decided not to take part in the first race at Silverstone despite having raced in earlier held, not official Grand Prixs.

The season started in the 13th of May at Silverstone and despite missing one year, Alfa Romeo still had the car to beat. Luckily they had four entrants, promising a great battle among them.


History, part 3: 1921-1929

World War I ended in 1918 and racing returned pretty quickly, however, the first Grand Prix was only held in 1921, in France, Le Mans. The following era saw a much more organized system with lots of Grand Prix races being held, however, the number of the most famous races, which were controlled by AIACR (currently known as FIA), was still limited. From 1921 to 1939, every year we had Grand Prix racing – this era will be split in half because it would be way too long for one post. For each year I counted who would have been the champion if there was some kind of Drivers’ championship but I have to be clear, there was no such thing until 1931. I will also have not-really-detailed driver profiles for mentionable drivers. I will do a separate post about the most important drivers.

A little summary before the year-by-year structured story. The war only took for four years, still, lots changed. The dominating drivers and cars from Mercedes or Peugeot disappeared, Italy joined France to be the two best car manufacturing countries in Europe (or at least to be the most successful participants in racing). In the USA, Indy 500 and AAA Championship, which is the predecessor of Indycar emerged and became more and more popular, producing lots of great American drivers – only a few of them travelled to Europe, though. AIACR always tried to introduce regulations in order to have unified cars in the races but over the years they went too far. For a while these races were pretty popular and even a Manufacturers’ Trophy was introduecd, however, by 1929, which is the end of this post, only a few companies were eager to race in Grand Prix events. As a result, most of the races were cancelled and the racing formula that eventually evolved into Formula One was in serious need to be changed. So, let’s start with

 

1921

The French GP was more international than ever as the number of French entries decreased (in terms of drivers, not cars). The race win was pretty much between the American brand Duesenberg and the French Ballot. A certain Jimmy Murphy was part of Duesenberg’s lineup and he showed an incredible performance. Rolling while practicing one week before the race, Murphy was hospitalized and it did not look likely that he would race at all. Murphy thought it otherwise: leaving the hospital two hours before the race with broken ribs, he could not really stand without help, but he sat into the car and dominated the 30-lap-long race. That’s probably one of the most admirable performances in the history of Grand Prix racing, including F1.

For the first time in history, the season consisted of more than one officially called Grand Prix race. In Brescia, the first Italian GP took place with a not really impressive field. Duesenberg decided not to stay in Europe and from France only the Ballot cars travelled to Brescia. They were joined by three Fiats, and that was it, six cars. The race was won by Ballot’s French driver Jules Goux.

Two driver profiles, the 1921 “champion” Jules Goux, and Jimmy Murphy (age at 1921.01.01.)

Jules Goux, FRA, 35
A driver who showed his talent right from the beginning, Goux, who was born in the same commune the Peugeot founders, got himself a factory seat pretty early. In 1913, Goux was the first European driver to win the Indy 500, and he did it as a rookie. After WWI, he raced Ballot cars, finished third in the 1921 French GP and won the first ever Italian GP. Five years later he won another two GPs.

Jimmy Murphy, USA, 26
Being recognized as one of the best American racers of his time, Murphy had a successful racing career. Murphy started as a mechanic, helping lots of drivers (at that time every car had a driver and a mechanic). His racing career started after WWI with becoming a factory driver for Duesenberg, a now-defunct American company, which provided one of the best cars in the early 20s. In 1920, he debuted in AAA National Championship, which was the predecessor of Indycar, in third as the best rookie and later he became a two-times champion with an Indy 500 victory. In 1921, Murphy was one of the three Duesenberg drivers who would fight against the local Ballot machines and he probably had his best drive of his life. Two years later he took another trip to Europe and finished third in the Italian Grand Prix. Three years later in 1924, Murphy unfortunately passed away in a race accident. His death made it to the headline of many newspapers and lots of recognized drivers attended his funeral.

 

1922

Some new regulations mixed things up for the next season, and new cars had to be built before the French GP. The three Fiat cars were the best without doubt but due to rear axle issues, only one of them finished the race, the veteran Felice Nazzaro, who finished with a 58 seconds lead over the Bugattis, who only made it to the podium because the Fiats retired. In Italy things did not improve a lot. The biggest change was that the 1922 Italian Grand Prix was the first race ever run on the built track of the legendary Monza. Fiat dominated even more than in France, thanks to working on their reliability issues, Pietro Bordino and Nazzaro completed a one-two and out of the other six racers, only one Bugatti managed to finish with four laps down.

If there was a championship, it would have been won by…

Felice Nazzaro, 40, ITA and Fiat:
I wrote about him in the previous post, Nazzaro returned to Fiat in 1922 and was successful once again.

The other race winner, Pietro Bordino was another Fiat factory driver who unfortunately did not survive his career. In 1928 while practicing he landed in a river as a result of hitting a dog and drowned.

 

1923

Indianapolis 500 became part of the Grand Prix calendar but I would not really write about those races as it’s a whole different world. In France the British Sunbeam company, with the support of Fiat engineers, were victorious thanks to the early retirements of Fiat. The winner was Henry Segrave, a US-born but British driver, who was only racing for a brief period of three years. He won two Grand Prix races, starting with this one. The Italian event finally had a decent grid of 14 cars but as Fiat had once again sorted out those issues they had in France, they easily took a 1-2 with Italian Carlo Salamano taking the victory. This race was also the first European Grand Prix, which was only an honorary title at that time, not a separate event.

If there was a championship, it would have been won by…

Henry Segrave, GBR, 24 and Carlo Salamano, ITA 32.
No drivers finished both races.

 

1924

The new season saw a new brand, Alfa Romeo, and their factory drivers at the front. Although for the French GP still Sunbeam were the favourites, technical issues allowed Giuseppe Campari take the win while the 1923 winner Segrave only finished fifth to be the best Sunbeam. In Italy the Alfas proved to be unbeatable, they locked out the top four. Antonio Ascari, father of the famous Alberto was victorious.

If there was a championship, it would have been won by…

Giuseppe Campari, ITA, 31 with an Alfa Romeo
An Alfa Romeo factory driver, Campari benefited a lot from the brand’s ability to build good cars (as probably everybody at that time). He finished first and third in the two races, which would have made him the champion. Campari, who was also an opera singer, collected a lot of local, Italian-level victories before tragically suffering a fatal crash in his last race before retirement.

The other race winner, Antonio Ascari, ITA, 35
The first generation Ascari’s time as a driver also started in 1924 with winning the Italian Grand Prix and his 1925 campaign looked to be great, however, he suffered a crash in the French GP, which caused his death, leaving the seven-year-old Alberto without father.

 

1925

1925 saw big changes for the new season once again. The calendar had four races, Indianapolis 500, Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, French Grand Prix in the built track of  Montlhery and Italian GP at Monza. The organizers introduced the World Manufacturers’ Championship with a reversed point system – the better you performed the less points you got and at the end the manufacturer with the least points won. The opening round, Spa, was nothing like today – it only had the Blanchimont-La Source part and even that changed a lot since then. Without reliable competition, Ascari and Alfa Romeo easily took the win – the race only had two finishers. Alfa Romeo looked unbeatable in France as well with Ascari once again leading the race, however, as rain hit the track Ascari had a terrible crash, causing his death. As a result, the remaining two Alfa cars withdrew, allowing a home victory for Delage. For the final race, three manufacturers still stood with a chance to get the title: Alfa Romeo, Delage and American winners Duesenberg. Naturally Alfa Romeo bagged the win with Gastone Brilli-Peri.

If there was a championship, it would have been won by…

Giuseppe Campari, ITA, 31 with an Alfa Romeo
Yep, again. He is not mentioned in the 1925 highlights because he didn’t win a race. At Spa he was the second finisher and in Italy he finished second once more. Well, even if Drivers’ Trophy was not a thing, he played a huge part in Alfa Romeo’s victory.

The mentionable race winner:

Robert Benoist, FRA, 29
Benoist started racing to look for excitement after World War I and after being a successful cyclecar racer, he was signed by Delage. In his second year (1925) he had inherited the victory after the Alfa Romeos had retired but his triumph came in 1927 – more about that later. After Delage stopped their racing activities Benoist started to be tied with Bugatti, even became head of their racing department. Then WWII hit France and of course everything changed. Benoist proved to be a hero during the war as he became a Secret Agent and went to do undercover missions in France three times – in the last one he was captured and executed. Benoist is still remembered until this very day, a hero and a fantastic driver.

 

1926

Another new regulation only allowed cars with 1.5 liter engines, which did not exactly encourage racing – among many, Alfa Romeo left so realistically the Manufacturers’ Trophy was between Bugatti and Delage. As for the calendar, we had now four European races. Belgium was replaced by the already traditional Spanish aka San Sebastian Grand Prix and the British GP also started in the legendary circuit of Brooklands. The French race was held at the Circuit of Miramas, which nowadays operates as a test track for BMW. This was probably the dullest French Grand Prix ever as only three Bugatti cars were ready to start the race and only Jules Goux managed to finish it. A month later in Spain Delage joined the field but Bugatti and Goux scored another victory. In England nine cars took part in the event and Delage managed to beat Bugatti, however, the Italian manufacturer was set to win the title at Monza if at least one of the cars finished the race. Knowing this, Delage didn’t even enter the race so the grid was down to six cars – three Bugattis without real competition. This time there was no domination like Alfa Romeo had in 1925, Bugatti only won because they had the resources to enter every race and take it seriously enough.

If there was a championship, it would have been won by…

Jules Goux, FRA, 40 with a Bugatti
The French veteran won both the French and Spanish Grand Prix and this is pretty much it. At Brooklands Bugattis were driven by British drivers and at Monza he retired due to oil pressure.

 

1927

After a rather dull season, not much changed in 1927. Robert Benoist won all four European races with his Delage to win the Manufacturers’s Trophy for the French company. Bugatti was the only competition, however, they only entered two races, so it was all decided.

If there was a championship, it would have been won by…

Robert Benoist, FRA, 31 with a Delage
He was an incredibly good racer who even managed to dominate in these early years of racing.

 

1928

As the last two years saw limited entries, the AIACR decided to allow cars with all kinds of engine formulas. However, the Manufacturers’ Trophy was still not really appealing for manufacturers – Delage, joining the likes of Talbot, Mercedes, Alfa Romeo and Fiat decided to quit Grand Prix racing, leaving Bugatti the only serious contender. Seven races had been announced, however, things did not exactly went as planned. Due to lack of interest, the French, Belgian and British GP were all cancelled and the newly-established German GP and Spanish GP was only held for sport cars, again, because of the lack of interest by the manufacturers. Indy 500 was not affected as different cars and drivers were there. Despite all this struggle, the Italian GP still took place at Monza with twenty-twelve cars of different formulas (half of the grid was of Bugatti cars). Bugatti won the race with a Monegasque driver whose name can be familiar for F1 fans as Louis Chiron was even racing in Formula One. Although the organizers had probably been happy that at least they managed to have one European race, at the end they probably wished it had never happened. The race is remembered by the huge, unbelievable accident of Emilio Materassi, who lost the control of his Talbot at over 200 km/h, bounced over a three-meter deep and four-meter wide protection ditch and a fence and crashed into the grandstand. His car killed over twenty spectators plus the driver. This is one of the worse accidents of the whole history of racing (not the worst in terms of numbers, though). To sum the season up, it was a total disaster. The Manufacturers’ Trophy was cancelled as entering at least three races was obligatory to win it, many of the established races were not held and the only Italian Grand Prix ended with a tragedy. A tragedy, that initiated a full upgrade of Monza and Italian GP missing out on two seasons.

 

1929

Regulations returned including specific engine capacity, car sizes and fuel consumption. The season was once again a failure. Belgium, Germany, Spain and Britain pretty much ignored these restrictions and they held races for sport cars instead. In Italy, after the 1928 horror there was no GP for two years, starting with 1929. The French Grand Prix was the sole European event of the year with mostly Bugattis racing. William Grover-Williams won the race. Again, no Manufacturers’s Trophy.

 

To be continued…


History lesson part 2, Grand Prix before WW1

The first form of international racing was initiated by American millionaire Gordon Bennett, who asked the country with the most advanced car manufacturing, France, to organize it. The first few years had shown little activity apart from France, especially as only three cars per country were allowed, however, by 1905 Germany, Italy, Great Britain and Belgium were all able to enter Gordon Bennett Cup. At this time however, France had several manufacturers eager to popularise themselves. This was the main reason why France replaced Gordon Bennett Cup to an event called Grand Prix.

The success was clear, ten French manufacturers entered the event, only one of these with a famous name in the present: Renault. Renault as a company was in its early years. It was founded by a young engineer Louis Renault, who partnered with his brothers Marcel and Ferdinand in 1899. They became successful with their cars pretty early and they also realized the potential success that could come from racing. Both Louis and Marcel raced on various events until Marcel died in an accident in 1903. After that, Louis retired from racing, however, Renault cars still entered races, most importantly with Hungarian engineer Szisz Ferenc. Joining the French were Italian and German manufacturers including Fiat and Mercedes. The British decided not to take part.

As there were still no built race tracks, the Grand Prix took place close to Le Mans. One lap was 103 km long, which is quite a lot considering the longest track F1 currently has is Spa-Francorchamps with its 7 kilometres. Spectators always were a big issue back then – as the races went through cities and villages and people were just running around the streets, accidents easily happened. To prevent that, fences were built mainly in the zone of cities and villages, which was definitely a great decision from the organisers, even if it could not stop huge accidents.

The event took for two days, each day six laps. There isn’t much to tell about the actual race – out of thirty-four, eleven drivers finished. They struggled massively during the event, not only because of the lack of reliability, but because it was extremely hot and the road started to melt, not to mention the car issues. Three drivers pretty much dominated the event. French Albert Clement took the early lead but in day one Renault’s Szisz Ferenc and in day two Italian Felice Nazzaro passed him and that was the order they finished.

Szisz Ferenc was a talented engineer and driver. As mentioned earlier, he started racing after the death of Marcel Renault and he became the first ever Grand Prix winner. He also participated in the next two years but he was not able to win again. After that, he left Renault to open his own garage and he didn’t have any notable racing achievements ever after. That’s how it went back then, no professional racing drivers.

Renault profited the most of the race, their sales tripled in the next two years and they became a luxury brand for the next decades. The Grand Prix was not exactly a success though, the French were not really satisfied with many of their cars retiring and a Fiat finishing second, however, it continued the next year.

The 1907 French Grand Prix switched location to Dieppe, a little town by the sea. The size of the grid increased a little, however, French drivers and cars still dominated (and that has was always the case in every Grand Prix this post covers) – eight of them in the top ten with the exception of a Mercedes and a Fiat, which actually won the race with Felice Nazzaro, 1906’s runner-up. Nazzaro was one of the early superstars of racing. He started working for Fiat and he pretty quickly became a racing driver for the company. Nazzaro had a unique way of racing, he often started slowly to wait for the others to fail and constantly getting faster in the process. 1907 was his major year as a driver with winning three big races including the French Grand Prix. For about ten years Nazzaro had turned his back to Fiat and started his own company, however, it didn’t work out as he planned it and in 1921, at the age of 40 he returned to Fiat to race again. He was still amazingly quick and he won the 1922 French Grand Prix, but the death of his nephew in a racing accident and his wife in a car accident made him lost his passion towards racing. He was appointed as Fiat competition leader in Fiat and kept racing till 1929. One of the superstars who survived his career.

Next year, they stayed at the same location. This race was pretty much dominated by German cars of Mercedes and Benz (yeah these were two separate things at that time). The winner was Christian Lautenschlager, head of the Mercedes test department. Just like Szisz and Nazzaro, he also became a driver after working for the company. What makes him special is it was his first actual race and his next outing was six years later when he once again won the French Grand Prix.

The following years saw no race due to minor economic panics and it only continued in 1912. Despite the struggle, over 40 cars entered the 1912 edition of the French GP and it was Peugeot’s mechanic and race driver Georges Boillot who stole the victory. The following Grand Prix was a messy one. Three separate deaths even in the practice, but the race itself was bad as well with several incidents. It was once again Boillot and Peugeot to cross the finish line first for the second year in succession. Boillot was another talent, seemingly being one of the fastest drivers every race he entered, many times he finished with managing the minor or major issues with the car. He even went on to dominate an Indy 500 race without winning it though. Boillot was unfortunately killed in WW1.

1914 was the last year when the French Grand Prix was organized for a while due to World War I. The race was held less than a week after the assassination of Ferdinand, which made the Mercedes – Peugeot fight increasingly tense, especially because the German factory cars dominated the race with locking out the top three. The winner was Christian Lautenschlager, 1908 champion.

During the War racing was still a thing in America, but naturally there was nothing organized in Europe. The next Grand Prix was in 1921, after recovering from the war. Of course a lot changed in seven years, new cars, new drivers… new world.


History lesson, part 1

I always liked history when I didn’t have to study it. If only there was an obligatory course without any tests, I would have loved it in high school. I think most people feel the same. I also love motorsports, so it is obvious I am interested in the history of it.

The idea of this post came from the current struggle of national F3 championships. I wanted to know how F3 racing started, then I got more into this topic and I ended up with the history of racing. What I want to write about is how it all started. At first, I have to mention, most of this is from wikipedia and forix, so you can find this and much more there, however, I sometimes find wikipedia too much like an actual encyclopaedia, too much information in too few words, that’s not really fun to read.

It’s actually not clear when the first race was because a couple of events called ‘competition’ were organized but some of them were not actually races. The first one, organized by a French editor of a publication, was in 1887. The “race” took place in Paris. Why is it only a “race”? Because there was one entry, which is actually not that surprising as car manufacturing was really in its early years and cars were not really reliable. That one car was brought by De Dion-Bouton, a company, which was the world’s largest manufacturer for a time. Well, this was hardly the a competition.

Four years later a so-called competition was part of a Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle racie, which actually means there was one Peugeot car trying to popularise the company. By the time the car arrived to Brest, the bycicle winner already finished the race back in Paris.

In 1894, a journalist organized a competition in order to publicise his newspaper. He didn’t call it a race though, the prize was given to the competitor whose car came closest to the ideal. 102 people signed up for the race with cars powered by various things like gravity, compressed air or hydraulics. I wonder if the gravity car was actually a box with four wheels put on a downhill. Anyway, only 25 of them bothered to show up, surprisingly none of them were gravity cars. The qualifying event was more like a publicity tool, they took several tours around Paris, but it also eliminated five cars before the race. Funnily enough, the race was held exactly 99 years before my birth. They started from Paris and finished in Rouen in 5-6 hours. According to Mr. Google, in the present this would normally take 1-1,5 hours. Once again, a De Dion-Bouton car was the fastest, however, it was a steam-powered car with a stoker, whatever it actually means, which made it ineligible to be classified. The actual winner was Albert Lemaitre with a Peugeot, a pretty successful French racing driver.

Next year, the French automobile association has been established and from that point they organized these events. In 1895, the route was Paris-Bordeaux-Paris. The race was won by Emile Levassor in a badass way. The French engineer took the lead in the way to Bordeaux and arrived to the city several hours before expected, so early, his teammate, who was supposed to replace him was still sleeping. Instead of waking him up, Levassor had a sandwich, some champagne, took a walk and left Bordeaux at 2.30 am. He finished the race six hours before the second. To be exactly clear, Levassor was not the official winner because the race was for four-seated car and Levassor’s car had only two seats. Oh well.

In the same year, the USA also organized their first racing event, only two years after the first car was built in the country. The first American race was not trouble-free. Only six cars made it to the competition, some of the competitors were denied by the police to enter the city with their cars. Eventually, four weeks after planned, the race started. An electric-powered car died shortly after the start, a car had to retire after hitting a horse. Despite the fact only two cars made it to the finish lne, the race was considered to be a success as cars proved to be a working alternative for transportation.

In the following years, countries like Italy, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Russia all held races, but it was France with the biggest activity – in 1899, they had 15 different races. The safety was not exactly on top at that time. There are several reports of cars hitting spectators who were standing in the middle of the road. As for me, I find it hard to understand how careless people were but I guess they didn’t realize the danger of fast cars back then.

The first idea of international racing came from American millionaire Gordon Bennett who, with the support of the French Automobile Association organised the first Gordon Bennett Cup in 1900. Only three entries per country were allowed and every single part of their cars had to be produced in their country, which caused very few entries in the first couple of years especially in 1901, where only three French drivers took part.  The following events saw increasing number of entrants, in 1905 eighteen cars participated in the race and twelve of them even finished. Gordon Bennett Cup was discontinued though, as the French Associaton planned to start a new race were countries not restricted to three entries. This race was called Grand Prix.

Part 2 is planned to cover the years of pre-F1 Grand Prix racing.


The new Kvyat

I’ve got a lot of ideas what to write about, let’s start with this one.

Yes, we already reached the point, we can name someone a new Kvyat. Not only because the Russian had a wonderful start in Formula 1 as he seems to have the consistency everyone at Toro Rosso lacked in the past years, even Vettel, and he’s doing this at the age of 20, he also had a very unique junior career.

He started in Formula BMW Europe in 2010, at the age of 16. Many people have their first taste of racing this young, there is nothing unusual in it. The grid had 16 drivers and Kvyat never went better than eighth in the first half of the season. Halfway through something changed and after, he never went worse than sixth (when he finished), moreover, he ended the year on the podium at Monza. Well, we all know Kvyat is a god at Monza, there’s nothing surprising in it. He finished the championship in tenth, he was the third best rookie, he collected 138 points compared to the 227 points Sainz had. He was clearly considered to be a promising chap, with all his karting success and clear improvement throughout the year, however, it was clearly a learning year for the Russian and all the news were about Sainz with his name and much better performance.

I bet Red Bull planned to keep both of their youngsters in Formula BMW for another season, similarly to Robin Frijns, Jack Harvey and Timmy Hansen, who were the top three rookies in 2009 and the top three drivers in 2010. The series was axed at the end, though, and all the drivers had to find a new place. Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 was already awesome at that time, but they benefited a lot from this – five out of the top ten Formula BMW drivers (including Kvyat) moved over, and the number of full-time drivers increased from 13 to 27.

In 2011, we already saw a different Kvyat. He won in the second event at Spa and he did it again a month later at the Nurburgring. Despite all the improvement, he was only the third power behind Frijns and Sainz, but he also raced in Formula Renault NEC where we once again saw a slightly different Kvyat at the beginning and at the end of the season. He was already good at the start, he won two races, true, but a couple of bad weekends made him lose the title to Sainz. In the last six races, something changed. He was not only good, he was dominant, absolutely unbeatable. Kvyat won five out of six races and finished second in the last one. Worth a notice, three out of these victories were at Monza.

By now it was certain, anywhere Kvyat would go, he would be one to watch. As for 2012, he had an epic duel with Stoffel Vandoorne, the two of them totally dominated the field. He was not a rookie this time, we didn’t see significant improvement from him this year, but his performance just showed, what he could do with one year of experience (lot of drivers struggle to raise their game after a great rookie season, take Sorensen as an example). He also won Formula Renault Alps with two more victories at Monza.

Here we go, 2013. After spending one year separated from Sainz, they were back together in GP3, as two of the youngest guys. Kvyat’s first half of the season was alright, had two off-weekends but when he finished he was in fourth or fifth. Second half, once more a big change. At the Hungaroring he got his first podium, and from then, he won all of the feature races. True, he kinda inherited it from Sainz when he was taken out by Harvey at Spa, but he completely dominated the field at Monza (but of course) and Abu Dhabi. They started at the same level with Sainz but by the end, Kvyat  was the champion type and Sainz was the guy who we all know he is good but he just can’t keep it together.

Talents get better by the time, they are constantly learning, that’s true, but you can very rarely see it in a way like Kvyat did. Some drivers need a year to learn before delivering, some are as good as they ever get right from the beginning but then they will never be the best. Kvyat is a great transition between these two and this is very rare, especially in the complexity, motorsport nowadays has.

Well, this turned out to be a Kvyat-fanboy article didn’t it? That’s not my article is about though, I just wanted to stress it, when I say “the new Kvyat”, I don’t mean there is a new Russian kid around but there is a youngster who reminds me of Daniil Kvyat.

This person is Lotus’s protégé Esteban Ocon. I’m not gonna get into full details of Ocon’s career because it is clearly not a 100% match to Kvyat’s.

Ocon graduated to single-seater racing in 2011 and was already part of Lotus F1 Junior programme thanks to his great karting results. He started in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, which actually seems a little strong for a karting graduate, but at that year it was a pretty popular choice for some reason (De Vries, Pakari, D’Agosto, Kanamaru, Roussel, Albon…). Ocon shined in the first weekend with a fifth place and later at Paul Ricard he stepped on the podium – apart from that, the spent a lot of races around 20th position. I’m not trying to judge here or anything, he surely learnt a lot during that year, he clearly wasn’t as ready as Nyck de Vries, who ended his season in fifth.

In 2012, he understandably stayed in the series. The first sign of his real talent was shown in the pre-season testing, he won most of the sessions. However, his season start was not that good. He finished second in the first race but for the most of the season, he was more like a regular top ten pointscorer who occasionally made it to the podium than a real title contender – he was shadowing the Gasly-Rowland duo but he couldn’t really fight for the championship. Anyway, as you would expect, he had a revelation at the end. At Paul Ricard he had a wonderful, memorable victory in rain and he repeated it in Barcelona. Suddenly he jumped a level. A mentionable thing, it was pretty clear he would continue in FIA F3 European Championship. In order to prepare, he took part in Macau at the end of last year. Anyone who only saw a Macau race in WTCC or maybe played the track in a racing game knows, that track is insane, Monaco is nothing compared to it. Ocon made it to the top ten, as an effective F3 rookie in his probably first street circuit race.

So, unlike Kvyat, he didn’t stay in Eurocup after finishing third in it, but like Kvyat, this year he is not a driver who is expected to be a regular pointscorer and sometimes a challenger for the win, no. In the first weekend he took more pole positions than in his entire career before and finished the races in first, second and third. Next round at Hockenheim, he would have done the same but he lost his third place due to problems with his car. Ocon’s lead in the championship is 37 points, it is yet to be clear who his Vandoorne would be. Could be Fuoco, Blomqvist, Auer or maybe Verstappen.

Can he win the FIA European F3 title? Certainly. Can we imagine he will move up to Formula Renault 3.5 next year and have a year like Vandoorne or Frijns had? Absolutely. Is it possible he will crash three times this weekend at Pau, lose his great from and end the year outside the top ten? Heck yeah, this is junior single-seaters. I wouldn’t say the latter one is the most likely prediction though. Let’s hope Lotus will survive so that they can give Ocon a shot in Formula 1.


Introduction

Hello, my name is David Gruz. I live in Hungary, currently studying as an IT engineer. Literally… Learning the Taylor series at this moment… but I took a short break to create this blog.

I love sports, my first love was football (big Real Madrid fan), however, nowadays I spend a lot more time with motorsports.

The first F1 race I saw was Barrichello’s first win. I was seven and I always remembered the race was in Austria, but one time I checked it and actually, it was at the Hockenheimring. I got obsessed with Formula 1 in 2007, I probably haven’t missed more than ten races ever since. Every year since 2007, I discovered more and more of motorsports, starting with GP2 in 2008, GP3 and Formula Renault 3.5 in 2010, a lot more junior and not junior stuff a year later. By now, I think I am following everything that really matters (and stuff that doesn’t matter…). Even NASCAR. I thought it sucks but I have watched a couple of races this year and it has some really exciting racing. Anyway…

Even in football, I have paid special attention to young talents who are out there to be discovered (oh, those countless hours of playing Football Manager…), so I’m not surprised I ended up as a junior motorsport specialist. For a long time, I thought I am quite alone with my obsession, then I signed up to twitter, found PaddockScout, joined them last year. This proved to be an excellent choice, I gained a lot of internet-friends who share the same interest. I finally found something I like to do in a long-term basis. Also, I gained a lot of confidence in using English, even if I will probably never lose my adorable accent. I have also realized being a sport-journalist is my first realistic dream job. I am really interested in IT and technology and I am pretty good in math, too, but it’s not the same. I will try to pursue this dream this summer and later on.

What is this blog for? I am not sure. We will see. This might be my last post. Or not.