Clip The Apex
So Formula E returns to Europe with a first time trip to race around the streets of gay Paris. The organizers have made a lot of fuss over getting a race in the French capital and even more over the track go round 'monuments of old' and 'visions of the future'. To be honest the track doesn't look too brilliant but it races round the Hotel de Ville which I'm sure will be full of visiting VIP's from the FIA. The track also goes past the Army Museum and the Tomb of Napoleon. Not the Eiffel Tower though unfortunately but I am expecting it to look fairly cool even if it can;t match going through Red Square in Russia.
So the French public can not only look forward to a glorious race in their capital but also cheering on an all conquering French team? Sadly no. Once again Ze Germans have overcome the French and against overwhelming odds its the Audi Abt team who arrive at the race in the lead of the teams championship and there driver Lucas Di Grassi who is on top of the drivers championship. There is no question that the EDAMS is the better car and that Buemi is by far the quickest in the field in that package but every weekend they combine to muck things up. Buemi (commonly known as the Moose) is really showing that when it comes to handling pressure he is far from adapt. After and awful race of moaning and complaining in Mexico City he then pulled off stupid move of the century to take himself out in Long Beach. More worryingly he was only in those positions through his inability to get qualifying right. When he is calm and focused we have seen him take pole, fastest lap and easy race win. EDAMS will be hoping that there home race is where that Buemi chooses to reemerge. God knows they can't hold out much hope for Nico Prost.
Di Grassi is laughing really because if he wins the race/title he's awesome and if he loses it then EDAMS had the better car. Lucas is fairly consistent so I expect even if EDAMS pull off a clean race he'll be there in 2nd. It will be interesting to see him mix it up though and with the usually hapless Danny Abt getting a podium last time out there are signs that the Audi Abt car is catching the EDAMS machine up. Virgin and Sam Bird seem to be improving every race too and, whilst Birdy does have the tendency to do some silly things on track, more often than not he holds his own with the front two. If Virgin and Bird are having a good day we could see a three way battle for the lead. Dragon Racing also occasionally hit their stride with Duval and D'ambrosio both showing an impressive turn of speed this season. If one of them lands pole and keeps the lead off the start it would back the race up nicely as we saw in Mexico how difficult the Dragon cars are to pass.
Other interesting factors will Antonio Felix Da Costa and Robin Frinjs lugging around last years machinery. Da Costa has really been denied some amazing results by reliability and has even been at the front in a car which shouldn't compete with the others. Frinjs too has got closer than he should and would have scored a good result but for Buemi crashing into last time out. You also have to hope that maybe being in France wakes JEV up as he really has not shown any of the talent we know he has and we know he has the car to do it.
The race will be this Saturday (23rd April) and will be live on ITV4 (I think we even get the quali) in the UK. Not sure on the international coverage.
Oh and just because I don't know where else to put it - Here's a man doing a backflip over a moving Formula E car. (Skip to 2:50 just to see the stunt).
As China fades into the sunset and F1 moves on to Sochi, what a different picture we have in 2016 to the 2015 season.The same team is out front, but with Rosberg well in control while Hamilton is struggling to stay with him. Last year Hamilton was 66 points in the lead after Sochi. Although that could never be the case this year, as the Sochi race is considerably earlier.
This year the Russian GP is being run almost six months earlier in the season, the previous two having been run in October. But the weather, or at least the temperature range seems to be about the same, I don't know if it's any wetter, so from that point of view it's a bit of an unknown.
But for the teams the tyre choices should be relatively straightforward. The Pirelli choice of tyres for Russia are medium, soft and supersoft, the drivers must use one set of medium and one set of soft during the race. Sochi has a long slow pitlane so I can't imagine that there will be too many pit stops, or that the teams will rush to use the supersofts for that reason. Although the supersofts will play their part in Qualifying. However we shall see, it's sometimes hard to fathom team thinking.
Mercedes are still the team to beat, but Ferrari are slowly, very slowly, closing the gap. The McLaren team have improved to the point of being mid-field (sort of), but at least they have moved forward, which has to be encouraging for McLaren fans. The new Haas team having started so well, have just delivered the sort of race we expect from a new team, lets hope that it's a temporary blip. The Red Bull seems to have staged a bit of a fight back, or at least they have stopped sliding down the field so rapidly, much like the Williams. Rumour has it that the Red Bull will be testing a canopy at Sochi, (PItPass) I don't know if that will be just on track or for the race. But if it's true it will be very interesting.
So far it's been a good start to the season, which I hope continues with this race. But just as a point of interest the nearby Russian mountain resort of Rosa Khator held the BoogleWoogle mountain carnival, which involved Bikini Skiing. I kid you not. So if anyone is going to Sochi and they find themselves suffering a boring race week-end, maybe they could pop along and see what else happens in Rosa Khator.