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Posts tagged “Felipe Massa

Ferrari Launch Their 2011 Car The F150

Ferrari have become the first team to launch their 2011 Formula One car – named the F150.

Thw F150 name comes from the fact it is 150 years since Italian unification, the flag bearer for the nation decided it was important to increase exposure of the major event in the country’s long history.  The cars rear wing features an Italian tricolore flag too to increase the patriotism of the famous team.

The car itself is not abnormal in colouring to previous Ferrari’s, the beautiful scarlet paintwork is retained.  Sponsors look thin on the ground, but they are bigt and important.  Bank Santander have increased their sponsorship of the team, as they begin to move away from former team McLaren.  Philip Morris brand Marlboro are still a sponsor, but have no presence on the car any more following the banning on the bar code blank out design.  A new Scuderia Ferrari logo instead dominates the engine box.

The car looks very similar to the 2010 beast that nearly won the world title.  It does not have a shark fin rear wing, as the f-duct system is now banned.  Aldo Costa the chief designer at the team said the car looks similar but underneath is a whole new package.

“The major aspects with the most impact on the project were connected to the aerodynamic development. The car will change a lot. The double diffuser, the F-duct, is gone.” Costa told Ferrari.com

“The rear wing will be movable, so that the driver can overtake the car in front of him and use it in the qualifying according to his needs. The KERS is back. Although we’ve improved its size, it’s still quite big.

“As far as the looks are concerned the rules keep them [the cars] quite unaltered. The cars look like the ones from last year, but from a technical point of view they will be really different.”

The boss of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo has stated a clear intention that this car has been built to win the world championship.

“This year we have to win and we will do our best to win,” di Montezemolo declared at the team’s Maranello headquarters.

“We have updated the team, we have made some improvements and we are awaiting the challenges against our first opponents.”

Meanwhile star driver Fernando Alonso – who shook the car down a few days ago – was buoyant and said this vehicle was much better than last seasons.

“There are no doubts that when I arrived in January 2010, I drove a car that had different characteristics to what I drove in previous years,” said Alonso at Ferrari’s launch in Maranello today.

“Now I will drive a car that is a continuity of what I drove in 2010. I think all the developments and the direction that you go with improvements in the car over one year has some kind of definition of your driving style.

“I think that helps the designer of the car and the technical people with next year’s car, so I think in 2011 there will be some kind of direction that we took in 2010 regarding my driving style.

“So I think I will feel more confident with this year’s car. I will feel more comfortable driving the car, it will be more predictable to me. And I know the team now – I know the people, I know the guys, I know the names of all my mechanics, something that was not the case in Bahrain last year. So that will also help.”

 


Drivers Reaction Following First Pirelli Tyre Test

Various drivers had the opportunity to test the new Pirelli tyres today in the first test at Abu Dhabi.  While only driving their 2010 machines, it will give them the chance to evaluate the new rubber from the Italian manufacturer.

Here’s what a variety of the drivers thought about the tyres following the test.

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing):

“Given the short amount of time Pirelli had, I think they did a good job,” said world champion Sebastian Vettel, who set the second-fastest time of the day. “It’s a good start and it was good to be back in the car.

“You need to give the car a bit of time to adapt to the tyres. We need to work on the set-up, but I think it’s a common view that the tyres have behaved pretty well and probably better than a lot of people expected.”

Rubens Barrichello (Williams):

“I’ve been positively impressed,” said Barrichello. “The track is a little bit different because I think they polished the asphalt because of the Bridgestone rubber.

“I don’t think it’s time to make comparisons, but I thought it was positive. I did 42 laps in the morning and it was okay. They are different to Bridgestones and we need to keep learning. We could not expect a completely different tyre to work the same way. I quite like the challenge.”

Felipe Massa (Ferrari):

“The harder compound has a lot of degradation and it’s not as quick as I expected,” Massa said.

“As for the softer tyre, I was very happy with it. It’s quick, degradation is very good. I did long runs with both and the one I did with the softer tyre was very good, possibly better than what I had last Sunday in the race.

“Of course, again, they’ll have to work to improve the harder compound they brought here, but that’s what this test was all about. Pirelli saw what happened, listened to our suggestions and understood the situation.”

Robert Kubica (Renault):

“It’s difficult to compare because we had a race five days ago and the track has changed quite a lot due to the testing and the rubber that was laid down,” said Kubica. “I’m sure that the track grip is much better than it was in the race.

“This makes it difficult to compare them – there’s no point really in comparing them. There’s quite a big difference. It is always pretty interesting when you change tyres to feel the difference and make some set-up changes and stuff like this.

“It’s just to get an idea for next year’s car which characteristics will work best. We will never get track conditions with so much rubber on the race weekends, so actually I don’t think it’s so significant, this test. A lot of the young drivers had many sets of new tyres! Although the track was washed yesterday, I didn’t recognise it. It was like a different track.”

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes Benz):

“They’re at least similar [to Bridgestone's] or perhaps for worse for us at the moment”

“…In the big picture, they are pretty similar in the end to the Bridgestones, but if you are then looking for the fine tuning to extract the performance there is some way to go on adapting the set-up.

“At the moment, we have done the small things that you can do at the track but there are the bigger things that you need to take care of with the car development. That’s going to be one of the areas that are very important for success for next year.”





Massa Fastest On First Pirelli Tyre Test Day

Felipe Massa was the fastest man on the first day of testing for the new Pirelli tyres.

The Brazilian driver was narrowly quicker than World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

Today wasn’t really about the times, it was about seeing how the new tyres coped on the cars, and seemingly they have worked rather well.  No major problems for any driver, only a small puncture for Vettel at the end of the session which was due to track debris puncturing the tyre rather than a failure of the wheel itself.

Felipe Massa declared himself very happy following the test.

“It was a positive day to understand the way to go next year with a tyre that is quite different to the one we had in 2010,” said Massa. “We were able to see that direction quite quickly and we understood quite easily what the tyre required from the car and driver.

“But it’s also clear there are quite a lot of things to change for next year. Next year’s car will be quite different, of course, but today was positive and I’m pleased after working with Pirelli for the first time.”

Pos  Driver              Car          Time       Laps
 1.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari      1m40.170s  94
 2.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull     1m40.500s  77
 3.  Gary Paffett        McLaren      1m40.874s  94
 4.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber       1m40.950s  83
 5.  Robert Kubica       Renault      1m41.032s  39
 6.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams     1m41.425s  91
 7.  Paul di Resta       Force India  1m41.615s  20
 8.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes     1m41.778s  81
 9.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso   1m42.019s  71
10.  Adrian Sutil        Force India  1m42.859s  20
11.  Timo Glock          Virgin       1m44.124s  78
12.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus        1m44.686s  88
13.  Pastor Maldonado    Hispania     1m45.728s  83

 


Japanese GP 2010: Vettel Wins Japanese Grand Prix As Title Stays Wide Open

Sebastian Vettel took the flag and the full 25 points in a thrilling Japanese Grand Prix from Suzuka.  The Red Bull driver led his team mate, Mark Webber over the line.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished in 3rd.

Race Review

There was carnage before the start of the race today, when on the way to the dummy grid Lucas di Grassi lost control of his Virgin and smashed into the wall at the 130R.  The Brazilian got out of the wrecked VR01 unscathed, but his chances of retaining that race seat for next year are looking slimmer.  A shame for the Brazilian as he had enjoyed a good weekend, out qualifying Timo Glock.

The start of the real race wasn’t much better either, a charging Vitaly Petrov cut across the front of Nico Hulkenburg and smashed into the wall in front of the main grandstand.  He was out, along with the Williams driver whose car had multiple bits of large damage.

Felipe Massa got caught up in the action too, he went too hot into turn 1, and ended up on the grass.  Out of control he slammed straight into Vitantonio Liuzzi’s Force India, wrecking the Mercedes engined machine and knocking them both out of the race.

A safety car was called for due to all the carnage.  There was more excitement when that was out as Robert Kubica’s Renault decided to part company with its rear right tyre as he approached the hairpin, the Pole retiring from the race after just a handful of laps.  A shame for the Enstone based team, as he had been running in 2nd.

From there on though, the action did slow a little.  Red Bull really ran away with the race at the front, with Fernando Alonso clinging on to third place for dear life.

Jenson Button decided to start on the harder prime tyre and ran longer, allowing him a 10 lap or so opportunity to lead the Grand Prix.  When he emerged from the pitlane he was behind team mate Lewis Hamilton down in 5th.  Hamilton had been racing forward to try and catch Fernando Alonso after his pitstop, but he couldn’t make it and would have to settle for 4th on a poor weekend for the 2008 champion.

Further down field, Michael Schumacher was having a heck of a good Grand Prix.  Having already pulled a lovely overtake on former team mate Rubens Barrichello, the Silver Baron as he is now known, was hassling team mate Rosberg.  He really tried to get passed, some lovely slipstreaming and racing for many laps.  A hint of the Michael of old there, perhaps he is beginning to find form – hopefully he can carry it through to 2011.  Sadly though the fight between Rosberg and Schumacher was cut short when Rosberg smashed into the barriers on the Esses.

Home favourite Kamui Kobayashi had a GP to remember too, passing people left right and centre.  He eventually finished 7th, with some questionable barging and slipstreaming moves.  I think he had been playing F1 2010 on the Xbox before getting in the car today!

So as Vettel took the flag, the championship fight remains wide open.  Its Webber’s to lose now, as we head into the final 3 rounds of the year.  Hopefully, Korea’s circuit will be finished by the time the circus arrives in 2 weeks…

Race Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault 1.30.27.323
2 M. Webber Red Bull Renault +0.905
3 F. Alonso Ferrari +2.721
4 L. Hamilton McLaren Mercedes +13.522
5 J. Button McLaren Mercedes +39.595
6 M. Schumacher Mercedes +59.933
7 K. Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari +1.04.038
8 N. Heidfeld Sauber Ferrari +1.09.648
9 R. Barrichello Williams Cosworth +1.10.846
10 S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari +1.12.806
11 J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari +1 lap
12 H. Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth +1 lap
13 J. Trulli Lotus Cosworth +2 laps
14 T. Glock Virgin Cosworth +2 laps
15 B. Senna HRT Cosworth +2 laps
16 S. Yamamoto HRT Cosworth +3 laps

Retirements

Driver Team Lap Reason
N. Rosberg Mercedes 48 Crash
A  Sutil Force India Mercedes 45 Engine Failure
R. Kubica Renault 4 Rear Tyre Failure
N. Hulkenberg Williams Cosworth 0 Crash
F. Massa Ferrari 0 Crash
V. Petrov Renault 0 Crash
V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes 0 Crash
L. di Grassi Virgin Cosworth 0 Crash – Pre Race




Is Felipe Massa Ready To Leave Ferrari?

As the Formula One “silly” season comes around again, and drivers are beginning to sign on the dotted line to new contracts one of the more overlooked rumours this weekend in Japan has been the possibility that Felipe Massa could be ready to leave Ferrari in search of being an out and out first driver.

The Brazilian was drafted into Ferrari and raced as Michael Schumacher’s understudy in 2006.  In 2007, he was overshadowed by Kimi Raikkonen who went on to win the title.  In 2008, he missed out on the championship by just a single point and 2009 was the infamous year where he was nearly killed.  2010 has been a difficult year for Massa.  he had to move aside in Germany, so that Fernando Alonso could win the race in order to help his world championship challenge.  It smelt like Schumacher/Barrichello from years before.

At the time Massa accepted the decision, but has become increasingly unhappy both on and off the track.  His performances have slid, and he doesn’t look happy in the garage.  On Thursday ahead of the Grand Prix, Massa told reporters that he “Didn’t want to be a 2nd driver, only the first driver.  I don’t want to be another Rubens Barrichello”.  Hastily, the boss of Ferrari Luca di Montezemolo said that he was still a number 1.  But how can a team have two number ones?  Especially when the other driver is Fernando Alonso.  Lets not forget 2007, when Alonso was challenged at McLaren and he didn’t accept it.

Italian Press and the Suzuka paddock have been awash with rumour that he was ready to leave the team.  The main teams he is being linked with are Renault, and believe it or not – Force India.  The latter statement shows just how far the little team based in Silverstone has come, to attract a driver like Felipe.  Word in the paddock is that now Raikkonen has declined Renault, Adrian Sutil will leave Force India and head across to Enstone to partner Robert Kubica.  This leaves the Force India door wide open for Scotsman Paul di Resta to take over from Tonio Liuzzi, and Felipe Massa could slot in as the number 1 driver within the team.

So it looks like Felipe may hold the key to the driver market this season.  If he leaves, it leaves a completely empty race seat with Ferrari – who could potentially be the drivers championship winning team.  Both drivers at Red Bull and McLaren are secure for 2011, so it would be likely to be an outsider driver coming in to the team.  They have a range of options.  They could select a youngster, one of their young driver programme drivers, but this is highly risky for the team and they would have to be confident that the driver could perform at the highest level straight from the off.

Their other option is to bring in someone experienced.  Kimi Raikkonen rejected Renault for the team, as opposed to rejecting the prospect of Formula One.  Could he make a sensational come back to F1 with Ferrari?  Another possibility could be Michael Schumacher, the tainted son of the Italian team, has allegedly been offered an ultimatum by his Mercedes Benz bosses – perform or face the sack.  Returning to Ferrari would guarantee him continued legend status, and almost certainly a competitive car.  If Schumacher did leave Mercedes, then Nico Hulkenberg could go across to the all German team – his race seat at Williams is rumoured to be being offered to Pastor Maldonado, the GP2 World Champion.

It could make for an exciting winter season after all!


FIA Set Date For Ferrari Team Orders Hearing

The FIA have announced that Ferrari will come before the World Motorsport Council hearing on September 8th.

Ferrari are being called before Formula One’s highest court for allegedly breaking rule 39.1, which states that team orders are not allowed in any form within the sport.   The incident in question occured at the German Grand Prix two weeks ago, when Felipe Massa was allegedly asked to move aside so that Fernando Alonso could win the race.

Ferrari were immediately fined $100,000 and could face further penalties.

There was significant furor at the time of the incident, but it is now being called into question over whether they actually did break the rule or not.  They did make one car move aside for the other, but the indication from Bernie Ecclestone (who sits on the judging panel) was that the rule  is in place not to stop a team deciding which order their cars finish but moreover to stop two teams working together to fix the result of a race.

With the hearing only a matter of days before the Italian Grand Prix, it is likely any penalty will be met with distaste from the Italian Tifosi fans.


Hungarian GP 2010: Webber Wins As Strategy Pays Off

Mark Webber took victory in today’s Hungarian Grand Prix thanks to a good strategy and some fantastic laps following a safety car period which turned the race from sedate to absolute chaos.

Fernando Alonso came home in 2nd place, a good points haul for the Ferrari driver while pole position sitter Sebastian Vettel failed to convert his grid place into a race win.

Race Review

Hungarian Grand Prix are not known to be particularly exciting, and following the first few laps it looked like nothing would be different today.  Jaime Alguerusari was an early retirement thanks to a major engine failure, and to add insult to injury the young Spaniard dropped oil all over the circuit.

Sebastian Vettel provided majority of the early entertainment with some scorching laps, pulling away from Fernando Alonso who had the pick of the starts slotting himself ahead of Mark Webber despite being on the dirty side of the grid.

Another notable start was from Vitaly Petrov, the young Russian who managed to get ahead of Lewis Hamilton.  He slid off and threw that away though, but it was promising from him, we like his style.

On lap 13, a piece of Tonio Liuzzi’s front wing came off and a safety car was called out to retrieve it.  Vettel’s lead was gone and everyone dived into the pits.  Chaos ensued, with Robert Kubica being let out of his pit box straight into the path of Adrian Sutil.  They collided, Kubica would later be penalised with a 10 second stop/go.  While this was going on, Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes parted company with its rear right tyre which bounded down the pitlane at high speed, missing mechanics, hitting one and eventually being caught by a brave Sauber man.  Unbelieveable stuff.

Mark Webber chose not to pit, and with some help from Vettel backing the pack up the Australian pulled away, his soft compound Bridgestone’s lasting longer and longer.

Vettel was then given a penalty for not staying close enough to the safety car, exceeding 10 car lengths.  He had to serve a drive through penalty, something the young German was not happy about.  He flailed his arms around like a baby throwing its toys out of the pram – not very sportsman like.  Still, this meant he was now down to third and with easily the fastest car he set about chasing Fernando Alonso.

However despite catching him rather quickly, Vettel was unable to dispatch the Ferrari of Alonso and eventually finished 3rd.  Alonso’s team mate, Felipe Massa, finished 4th a good points haul for the Scuderia.

Right at the end of the race we had an exciting battle with old wounds being opened, between Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.  The Brazilian fought to get passed Schumacher, his former team mate and arch nemesis and with a handful of laps to go he tried to squeeze down the inside of Michael.  Schumacher, in typical style, forced Rubens into a corner and gave him just enough room.  At about 200mph, Barrichello was milimeters away from hitting the pitwall, a manoeuvre that he called “Erratic” and “Ridiculous”.  However Schumacher defended the move, and has been handed a 10 place grid penalty for the next race.

Webber’s win puts him right back in it thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s break down.  It means that Alonso too is only a matter of points away from the top, as Red Bull and Ferrari slog it out at the top.  McLaren will certainly be hoping for a turn in their fortunes after the summer break.

Race Result

Pos Driver Team Time
1 M. Webber Red Bull Renault 1.41.05.571
2 F. Alonso Ferrari +17.821
3 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault +19.252
4 F. Massa Ferrari +27.474
5 V. Petrov Renault +1.13.100
6 N. Hulkenberg Williams Cosworth +1.16.700
7 P. De la Rosa Sauber Ferrari +1 lap
8 J. Button McLaren Mercedes +1 lap
9 K. Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari +1 lap
10 R. Barrichello Williams Cosworth +1 lap
11 M. Schumacher Mercedes +1 lap
12 S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari +1 lap
13 V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes +1 lap
14 H. Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth +3 laps
15 J. Trulli Lotus Cosworth +3 laps
16 T. Glock Virgin Cosworth +3 laps
17 B. Senna Hispania Cosworth +3 laps
18 L. di Grassi Virgin Cosworth +4 laps
19 S. Yamamoto Hispania Cosworth +4 laps

Retirements

Driver Team Lap Reason
L. Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 25 Gearbox
R. Kubica Renault 25 Unknown
N. Rosberg Mercedes 17 Wheel Failure – Pitlane
A Sutil Force India Mercedes 17 Pitlane Incident
J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari 2 Engine Failure

Penalties – Post Race

Team/Driver Penalty Reason
M. Schumacher 10 Place Grid – Next Race Dangerous Driving
Mercedes Benz $50,000 Fine Wheel falling off Rosberg’s Car
Renault $50,000 Fine Releasing Kubica into Sutil’s path causing accident in pit

German GP 2010: Alonso Takes Controversial Victory – Ferrari Fined For Team Orders

Fernando Alonso has won today’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in highly controversial circumstances following team orders which led to Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa yielding the lead to Alonso.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was 3rd.

Race Review

Sebastian Vettel got a poor start off the line unlike Fernando Alonso but the German forced Alonso right into the wall of the pit straight.  However the young German ignored Felipe Massa who took the lead, and some how Alonso managed to keep 2nd place.

Lewis Hamilton had a good start and jumped both Jenson Button and Mark Webber.

Immediately there was action and drama with overtaking and break downs.  A proper classic race circuit in Hockenheim, albeit not the original track, was on for providing us with a classic.

Jarno Trulli had gearbox issues which really destroyed any chances of a good result for him and he made it back to the pits eventually.  Down at the hairpin turn 6, Jaime Alguersuari back ended team mate Sebastian Buemi the Swiss driver lost his rear wing and was forced to retire immediately.

Adrian Sutil had a problem too and the German dived into the pits.  Moments later Liuzzi pitted too, and it was only many laps later we learnt that the team had been expecting the cars in a different order hence why a front wing was ready for Sutil when he didn’t need one.  This meant that Sutil had Liuzzi’s tyres and Liuzzi had Sutil’s.  A bit of a blooper from Force India who had been proving themselves a point scoring team this season.  The drivers pitted to swap as the rules stated.

Following the pit stops of the front runners, all except Jenson Button who went for a long run, Fernando Alonso was heavily hassling Felipe Massa who was clearly struggling with the hard tyre.  The Spaniard was trying everything to pass, including an audacious move between Massa and back marker Sakon Yamamoto but couldn’t make it stick.

Further back, home hero Michael Schumacher was struggling to pass Robert Kubica but the German finally appeared to have some race spirit back.

Sauber’s Pedro de La Rosa had a crazy race full of overtakes and bumping with other cars, but he only managed 13th in the end.  With Kobayashi 11th, neither Sauber managed points on Sauber’s 40th anniversary in motorsport.

It had been a mildly exciting race up until now but the best was yet to come.  For the first time in a long time, clear team orders were asked of Felipe Massa.  Massa himself now denies the team asked him to move aside, and that he told his engineer he wanted Alonso past.  Massa appeared to have a slow get away from the hairpin and Alonso slipped passed.  It was a bad moment for Ferrari according to many, most comparing it to 2002 in Austria.

Alonso went on to win the race, and Massa held on to second and Vettel made third.  Hamilton was 4th and Button was 5th, points again for McLaren who now have 300 in the constructors title.

Webber was 6th, although he had an oil consumption problem.  It will be interesting to see if that affects the engine next week.

With regard the Ferrari team order situation, the team have been fined $100,000 and will have to appear in front of the World Motorsport Council.  The classification remains unchanged.

Race Result – POST FIA

Pos Driver Team Time
1 F. Alonso Ferrari 1.28.38.866
2 F. Massa Ferrari +4.196
3 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault +5.121
4 L. Hamilton McLaren Mercedes +26.869
5 J. Button McLaren Mercedes +29.482
6 M. Webber Red Bull Renault +43.606
7 R. Kubica Renault +1 lap
8 N. Rosberg Mercedes Benz +1 lap
9 M. Schumacher Mercedes Benz +1 lap
10 V. Petrov Renault +1 lap
11 K. Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari +1 lap
12 R. Barrichello Williams Cosworth +1 lap
13 N. Hulkenberg Williams Cosworth +1 lap
14 P. De la Rosa Sauber Ferrari +1 lap
15 J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari +1 lap
16 V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes +2 laps
17 A  Sutil Force India Mercedes +2 laps
18 T. Glock Virgin Cosworth +3 laps
19 B. Senna Hispania Cosworth +4 laps

Retirements

Driver Team Lap Reason
H. Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth 58 Unknown
L. di Grassi Virgin Cosworth 51 Failure following spin
S. Yamamoto Hispania Cosworth 20 Unknown
J. Trulli Lotus Cosworth 4 Gearbox
S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 1 Rear wing

Post Race Penalties

Scuderia Ferrari – $100,000 for bringing the sport into disrepute through team orders

Heikki Kovalainen – Reprimand, no penalty due to incident with De la Rosa

Force India – Reprimand, no penalty for giving drivers wrong tyres


German GP 2010: Vettel Grabs Pole From Alonso By Tiny Margin

Sebastian Vettel grabbed pole position for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix by the smallest of margins.  He beat Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by just 2 thousands of a second.

Alonso had shown good form throughout the entire session and makes his first front row start of the season as he tries to get his title challenge back on track.  Team mate Felipe Massa starts in 3rd, with Mark Webber back in 4th.

Its an all McLaren 3rd row with Jenson Button just outrunning Lewis Hamilton for 5th and 6th.

Home favourite Michael Schumacher didn’t make Q3 as rookie German Nico Hulkenberg sneaked through for Williams, a team which is showing good form.

It was a bad day for Tonio Liuzzi though who smashed his Force India up early into Q1.  The crash on the start/finish straight red flagged the session and means he will start only 22nd tomorrow.  Still despite completing only one run he will be ahead of the appallingly poor Sakon Yamamoto, and Lucas di Grassi who didn’t complete a flying lap due to a gearbox problem.

We’re all set for a cracking German GP tomorrow!

Pos  Driver         Team                    Q1        Q2        Q3
 1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault        1:15.152   1:14.249  1:13.791
 2.  Alonso         Ferrari                 1:14.808   1:14.081  1:13.793
 3.  Massa          Ferrari                 1:15.216   1:14.478  1:14.290
 4.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault        1:15.334   1:14.340  1:14.347
 5.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:15.823   1:14.716  1:14.427
 6.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes        1:15.505   1:14.488  1:14.566
 7.  Kubica         Renault                 1:15.736   1:14.835  1:15.079
 8.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth       1:16.398   1:14.698  1:15.109
 9.  Rosberg        Mercedes                1:16.178   1:15.018  1:15.179
10.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth       1:16.387   1:14.943  1:15.339
11.  Schumacher     Mercedes                1:16.084   1:15.026
12.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari          1:15.951   1:15.084
13.  Petrov         Renault                 1:16.521   1:15.307
14.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    1:16.220   1:15.467
15.  de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari          1:16.450   1:15.550
16.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:16.664   1:15.588
17.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:16.029   1:15.974
18.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth          1:17.583
19.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth          1:18.300
20.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth         1:18.343
21.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth            1:18.592
22.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes    1:18.952
23.  Yamamoto       HRT-Cosworth            1:19.844
24.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth

ALONSO VETTEL MASS


British GP 2010: Webber Wins As Ferrari Stung Again

Mark Webber took a commanding victory today at Silverstone in the wake of controversy surrounding his status at the team.  Webber believes he should have not had his new front wing taken off him and handed to Sebastian Vettel, believing the team were favouring the young German.

However all that emotion that was so clear on the Australian’s face yesterday was saved for the first corner where he forced Vettel off the circuit onto the run off at turn one, where Vettel’s luck ran out and he got a puncture.

It was all going on at the back too, with Alonso’s poor start hampering him down the field, before he made contact with team mate Felipe Massa who joined Vettel at the back with a puncture on his Ferrari F10.  Michael Schumacher made it up 3 places to 7th too.

Hamilton was hassling Webber in 2nd, and their pace was surprisingly good as they racked home fastest laps.  They pulled well clear of Kubica, Rosberg and Alonso who formed the front of a long processional line of traffic that was only broken by the first round of pit stops.

Schumacher gambled on an early stop which didn’t pay off, his team mate Rosberg’s strategy to stay out longer than Alonso and Kubica who pitted one lap after Michael, worked a treat and the young German found himself in 3rd position.

Alonso closed the gap significantly to Kubica and as the pair came into Vale, Alonso dived around the outside, but Kubica forced Fernando off the circuit.  However Alonso was still in front as he rejoined at Club, where he stayed as Robert Kubica’s Renault gave up with a differential problem and he retired.  However, course steward Nigel Mansell believed Alonso had cut the circuit – not avoiding an accident as the majority of viewers, and former driver Martin Brundle believed, and Alonso got a drive through penalty which he had to serve straight after a safety car period so the Spaniard once again got heavily stung by the FIA.

The safety car was brought out by a battle between Liuzzi and De la Rosa.  The Italian tagged the rear of the Sauber and the rear wing disintegrated on the Hangar Straight.  It brought the new safety car rules into play, with the SLS AMG Mercedes of Bernd Maylander waiting to pick up the lead car, there was confusion and many backmarkers ended up getting in the way – the new rules might need to be tweaked again.

Further back, Sebastian Vettel was tearing through the field, and would go on to score points passing German rivals Michael Schumacher and Adrian Sutil.  Schumacher had a slightly better weekend, but the former 7 time world champion really hasn’t dialled down back to his great racing of the past just yet.

Liuzzi later tagged Alonso giving him a puncture and putting the icing on a failure cake for Ferrari – neither car ended up in the points.

Rubens Barrichello had a stellar day though for Williams, their second consecutive high point score.

Race Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 M. Webber Red Bull Renault 1.24.38.200
2 L. Hamilton McLaren Mercedes +1.360
3 N. Rosberg Mercedes GP +21.307
4 J. Button McLaren Mercedes +21.968
5 R. Barrichello Williams Cosworth +31.456
6 K. Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari +32.171
7 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault +36.734
8 A  Sutil Force India Mercedes +40.932
9 M. Schumacher Mercedes GP +41.599
10 N. Hulkenberg Williams Cosworth +42.012
11 V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes +42.459
12 S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari +47.627
13 V. Petrov Renault +59.374
14 F. Alonso Ferrari +1.02.385
15 F. Massa Ferrari +1.07.489
16 J. Trulli Lotus +1 lap
17 H. Kovalainen Lotus +1 lap
18 T. Glock Virgin Cosworth +1 lap
19 K. Chandhok Hispania +2 laps
20 S. Yamamoto Hispania +2 laps

Retirements

Driver Team Lap Reason
J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari 45 Crash
P. De la Rosa Sauber Ferrari 30 Rear wing failure
R. Kubica Renault 20 Differential
L. Di Grassi Virgin Cosworth 10 Hydraulic

MW


Massa Extends Ferrari Contract Until 2012 – Scuderia Also Sign Youngster

Felipe Massa has extended his Ferrari contract for two more seasons, according to an official announcement made this morning.

The Brazilian driver, who narrowly missed out on winning the 2008 F1 World Championship, was set to be out of the deal at the end of this season.  Many expected Massa to leave the team, as Robert Kubica was touted as a replacement but now he will be staying for the foreseeable future.

Massa has been working with Ferrari since 2001 in test roles and race roles with the former Sauber team whom Ferrari supplied engines too.  He became a fully official Ferrari driver in 2006, partnering Michael Schumacher and then in 2007 until 2009 he partnered Kimi Raikkonen who won the 2007 Championship.

“I am happy to be given the opportunity to drive for Ferrari for a further two seasons,” said Massa.

“Throughout my entire Formula 1 career, I have always raced with an engine made in Maranello and it is a matter of pride for me to be able to continue working with a team that I regard as a second family.”

Meanwhile the team also announced a signing to their young driver programme.  11 year old Canadian Lance Stroll with join the programme having been successful in various kart championships around the world.  Ferrari will now guide him through the lower formulas as they prepare him as a future F1 driver.

“We are pleased to welcome Lance to our group,” said Luca Baldisserri, who runs the Ferrari Driving Academy. “He is very young, but he has already shown in karting that he is exceptionally talented.

“We will follow him step by step in his forthcoming events in North America and he will soon also take part in our courses at Maranello.”


Montezemolo Delighted With Alonso

Luca di Montezemolo the head of Ferrari has declared himself very happy with new driver Fernando Alonso.

Montezemolo stated his happiness with the two time world champions driving following some criticsms following a jump start and the bad accident he had in Monaco.  Some Itlaian media had suggested Luca was unhappy with Fernando and wanted Michael Schumacher back.

Montezemolo dismissed these claims however.

“Not one bit,” di Montezemolo said when asked by Gazzetta dello Sport if there were regrets. “It was good with Michael but it’s over. No regrets. Today I’m very happy with Alonso, both on and off the track.

“Alonso has team spirit, conscientiousness, attachment to the team. And when he races he’s a fantastic fighter.”

“I consider a mistake only what happened at Monte Carlo, due to excessive confidence,” he said. “He wanted to test the limit while thinking of pole, and he crashed. The jump start in China was down to the tension. But we are in a great position for the championship – the game is on.”

Montezemolo also hinted to La Gazetta Dello Sport that Felipe Massa could keep his seat with the Scuderia.

“[He needs to]Carry on working with the same spirit while taking care of himself and the team.”

Some rumours in the German and Italian media have been suggesting Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher could make a sensational return to Ferrari.


Mark Webber Set To Secure Red Bull Future Following Monaco Success

Mark Webber’s victory in the Monaco Grand Prix yesterday looks set to deliver him more than just a helping of pride and a hangover, following an interview released with his boss Christian Horner.

Horner, who in team principal for Red Bull Racing Webber’s employer, says that he wants to offer the Australian another contract to stay on with the team and partner popular German Sebastian Vettel.

Webber’s future with the Austrian energy drink backed team had been in doubt with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, and former World Champion turned rally driver Kimi Raikkonen both being linked with poaching the seat with the current constructors championship leaders.

However despite this, the team say they want continuity as they focus on winning both the drivers and constructors titles and pushing their team to the front of the grid.

“We are very happy with the way that Mark is performing,” Horner told ESPN last night.

“He’s an important member of our team and he has got to a stage where, at 33, we said let’s take one year at a time rather than signing some long-winded agreement. I am very happy with the balance and dynamics in team, and there is nothing that we would change for.

“It’s all down to relationships and how he feels at the end of the day. He is driving fantastically well, he is a very valued member of the team, so when the time comes to sit down and talk about contracts I am sure it will be a very short conversation.”


Monaco GP 2010: Webber Takes Win As Monaco Delivers Interesting Grand Prix

In contrast to my dull review last week, the Monaco Grand Prix was full of flair which some may say as a lights to flag win for Mark Webber, which is completely true, but the midfield action, Fernando Alonso’s great overtakes and a series of safety cars led this to be a rather interesting Monaco Grand Prix.

Race Review

Off the line, Webber got a great start, and his team mate Vettel slotted himself down the inside of Robert Kubica.  The ailing Polish driver was attacked by both Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton but clung to third while the former managed to sneak back ahead of Lewis on the run up Beau Rivage.

Further back Nico Rosberg went well down the field while Rubens Barrichello flew up into 6th place, and Michael Schumacher netted himself 7th behind his former Ferrari team mate.

Fernando Alonso got going, and narrowly missed being caught up in Nico Hulkenberg’s scary first lap accident where he went straight into the wall in the tunnel causing serious damage and a safety car period.

The Spanish driver who started from last following a mega crash in free practice which meant the entire car had to be rebuilt before the race, started smoking through the field following a pit stop onto the harder tyre meaning he had used both compounds and would not need to pit again.  Lucas di Grassi tried to keep the significantly faster Alonso behind with some scary moves and flails across the track, endangering both drivers.

Alonso continued racing through the field, but got slowed slightly as Lewis Hamilton pitted and came out in front of him.  He could have got third if he hadn’t been stuck behind traffic.   Others pitted, and a change of pit stop lap from Rosberg meant he ended up behind Massa, Hamilton, Alonso and Schumacher who formed a train that followed each other around for a series of laps.

Webber pulled well clear at the front with a series of fastest laps, and his team mate was very quick too.  No chance of catching the front two today.

Bad luck struck the Virgin team with a double retirement, and Heikki Kovalainen and Bruno Senna would later retire with mechanical issues too.  It is still a steep learning curve for these new teams in Formula One.

Rubens Barrichello was the next victim of the Monaco circuit, a left rear puncture throwing him into the barriers on the way into Mirebeau, his car strewn in the middle of the road leading to another safety car.  The angered Brazilian threw his steering wheel out onto the track and into the path of a Hispania car, the car ran it over – it is unknown if he will be penalised for this action.

Only laps after the safety car came in, it was out again for an alleged loose drain cover which caused many problems in the past at various circuits.

From here on in, there was a level of consistent running from the drivers and the main order remained relatively unchanged.  Both Force India’s were in the points, the first time that has happened this season – a good haul for both drivers.

Everything was running smoothly until 3 laps to go when a scary, and almost dangerous overtaking move from Jarno Trulli on Karun Chandhok at La Rascasse took them both out of the race.  The Lotus pivoted onto the top of the Hispania, the Indian driver inside putting his hands onto his helmet – he was lucky not to have serious injuried.

The locale of this crash meant a safety car until the end, but when it peeled in with one corner left to go, everyone thought the order would remain un changed.  A plucky and cheeky move from Michael Schumacher meant he got ahead of Fernando Alonso, and initial reports believed it was legal following the changes in safety car overtaking moves.  However it has been reported he could be in contravention of the rules 40.13 which states a safety car out on the final lap means no overtaking.  He was found guilty by the race stewards, including Damon Hill, and has been handed a 20 second penalty.  This means that he is demoted to 12th place and is stripped of his points.  There has been no comment from Mercedes or Schumacher since the penalty was handed out.

Classified Results (Provisional)

Pos Driver Team Time
1 M. Webber Red Bull Renault 1.50.00.000
2 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault +0.448
3 R. Kubica Renault +1.600
4 F. Massa Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro +2.600
5 L. Hamilton McLaren Mercedes +4.300
6 F. Alonso Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro +6.300
7 N. Rosberg Mercedes Benz +6.600
8 A. Sutil Force India Mercedes +6.900
9 V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes +7.300
10 S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari +8.100
11 J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari +9.100
12 M. Schumacher Mercedes Benz Penalty

Fastest Lap: S. Vettel 1.15.192

Retirements

Driver Team Lap Reason
V. Petrov Renault 74 Brakes
K. Chandhok Hispania HRT 71 Crash
J. Trulli Lotus Cosworth 71 Crash
H. Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth 59 Gearbox
B. Senna Hispania HRT 59 Hydraulic
R. Barrichello Williams Cosworth 28 Crash
K. Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 27
L. di Grassi Virgin 26 Engine
T. Glock Virgin 23 Engine
P. de La Rosa Sauber Ferrari 22
J. Button McLaren Mercedes 3 Engine
N. Hulkenberg Williams Cosworth 1 Crash

Post Race Interviews

Mark Webber – Red Bull Renault (1st):  “Absolutely incredible and for sure one of the greatest days of my life today.  To win here was very special, it started yesterday with qualifying when it went well but here it is such a test for two hours.  I had a lot of work to do, the track changed a lot, backmarkers and lot of safety cars – getting restarts and tyre pressures right – all the basics that could test were in front of you today. It is amazing – to join Ayrton Senna and those guys [as a winner] around here is great.”

Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull Renault (2nd):  “I wasn’t able to keep up with him [Mark Webber], there was a big difference. Later on when I felt the grip he was too far off. There was no real point to make an effort to catch him, with overtaking him being so difficult.  To be honest I had to look more in my mirrors. Robert [Kubica] was pushing quite hard and it was quite difficult to get away from him at the restarts. I was going more sideways that straight, it was quite difficult.  It was our optimum today and I am very happy. A lot of good points – and those count at the end of the year.”

Robert Kubica – Renault (3rd):  “It was known that starting from the dirty side would be difficult for me.  Normally I would defend but I saw Mark did a slow pull-away so I thought I had a chance to overtake him.  I just got on the power too early and got wheelspin, so it was too late to close the door on Vettel and then had to defend from Felipe.   I couldn’t see the pit board and was surprised about pace. Third place we have to be positive about. No was expecting us to finish on the podium. Congratulations to Renault to have all spots on the podium.”

Michael Schumacher – Mercedes Benz (6th): “[I am not expecting a penalty] No, not really.  I think there is either this message, or there is the message ‘track clear’ and ‘safety car in’ and that was the message that was given to all of us and when this message is out it means track clear and back to racing. The cars were removed. There was no further need [for the safety car] so I took my opportunity.”

Jenson Button – McLaren Mercedes (Ret): “I think the car got a bit hot on the grid.  It got very hot and I had to turn it off.  It might have been fine if we hadn’t had a Safety Car but at such a slow speed we just couldn’t cool it down.”

Pedro de La Rosa – Sauber Ferrari (Ret):  “When you look at the standings, it’s zero points. We have to improve.  Reliability is our Achilles heel at the moment.  That’s why before of every race I say we have to finish, we have to finish, because it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are if you don’t finish.”

Sam Michael – Technical Director at Williams:  “That was not a good day for the team after a promising start for Rubens.  Nico had a problem with the clutch paddle on the steering wheel during the formation lap. He then had a failure with the front wing mounting on the first lap of the race.  Rubens had a fantastic start and was running in sixth when he started to experience poor handling after his stop. Eleven laps after his pitstop, he had a failure at the rear end of his car.  We need to get all the parts back to the factory in order to identify correctly what components on both cars caused the failures. We have quite a bit of car damage to repair, but we’re making progress with performance and look to further that in Istanbul.”



China GP 2010: Button Wins Chaotic Race

Jenson Button won a chaotic Chinese Grand Prix today, as he battled through variable rain and dry conditions steering his McLaren to a second win of the season.

His team mate Lewis Hamilton battled on into 2nd place, and they were joined on the podium by Nico Rosberg who led for part of the Grand Prix.

Race Review

Fernando Alonso appeared to get the best start, jumping the two Red Bull racing cars of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.  However jump was appropriate as the Spaniard had been judged to have jumped the start, and was handed a drive through penalty.

The cars spent the early few laps snaking around the circuit as light rain spots fell making it difficult for some.

Tonio Liuzzi got it all wrong on the first lap and slammed into Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi, nearly knocking Rubens Barrichello out of the race too.

Some of the teams decided to pit for intermediate tyres, and some stayed out.  Those that remained on track seemed to have played a brilliant hand, as Nico Rosberg on the slicks set far and away better lap times than many others, including his own team mate Michael Schumacher who admitted he jumped onto the wet tyres too quickly.

As their intermediate tyres wore down they were forced to pit again, and those at the front, including Rosberg and Robert Kubica pulled well clear of the ailing field.  By this point, Fernando Alonso had been into the pits an astonishing 3 times, but the final time he had managed to slip passed his team mate on the pit entrance to get a better position and not be held up at the stop.

Speaking of dangerous pitstops, it is of great surprise Sebastian Vettel nor Lewis Hamilton were penalised for their pitstop incident where Hamilton was released into the path of Vettel, yielding slightly he raced neck and neck down the pitlane with the German forcing him towards air guns and mechanics before drag racing down to the first corner.   Hamilton once again not penalised, nor was he for forcing Mark Webber off track when the safety car came in following Jaime Alguersuari’s accident with Bruno Senna.

That safety car restart was a congested one as new leader Button forced everyone to standstill at the hairpin before the main straight causing a big back up and nearly some huge accidents.  Uncalled for, and in contravention of rules once again.

Drivers battled through from the back and Lewis Hamilton managed to squeeze into 2nd place, with a great battle with the ailing former hero Michael Schumacher who seemed to go backwards all afternoon in the Mercedes eventually clinging on to one point.

Fernando Alonso had a stellar drive into 4th, unlucky to miss out on a podium.  Kubica ended 5th with team mate Petrov 7th.

Red Bull really threw this race away and only ended up in 6th and 8th.  A poor afternoon by all accounts.

Race Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 J. Button McLaren 1.44.42.163
2 L.Hamilton McLaren +1.530
3 N. Rosberg Mercedes GP +9.484
4 F. Alonso Ferrari +11.869
5 R. Kubica Renault +22.213
6 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault +33.310
7 V. Petrov Renault +47.600
8 M. Webber Red Bull Renault +52.172
9 F. Massa Ferrari +57.796
10 M. Schumacher Mercedes GP +1.01.749
11 A Sutil Force India Mercedes +1.02.874
12 R. Barrichello Williams Cosworth +1.03.655
13 J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari +1.11.416
14 H. Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth +1 lap
15 N. Hulkenberg Williams Cosworth +1 lap
16 B. Senna HRT Cosworth +2 laps
17 K. Chandhok HRT Cosworth +4 laps

Retirements:

Driver Team Lap Reason
J. Trulli Lotus Cosworth 27 Hydraulic
L. di Grassi Virgin Cosworth 9 Unknown
P. de La Rosa Sauber Ferrari 8 Engine
S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 1 Accident
K. Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 1 Accident
V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes 1 Accident
T. Glock Virgin Cosworth 1 Unknown

Post Race Interviews

Jenson Button (McLaren) – 1st:  “For me, it is my best victory – every one you win becomes your best victory but this was was pretty tough conditions.  The good thing is our pace was very good today. It wasn’t just the call of weather, it was good pace. At the end we were two seconds a lap quicker than other people. We will don’t know where we are in the dry, but we will forget about it at the moment.”

Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) – 2nd:  “I had quite an eventful race.  Congratulations to Jenson, he did an incredible job and made a better choice on tyres.  It was tough at the beginning, the weather was not easy for making the call to change tyres. I chose very late when I was halfway around the corner and clearly it was not the right choice.  We both did a tremendous job, and it’s down to the awesome job the team are doing. We are working very well and it’s great for the team.”

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes GP) – 3rd:  “I think it was good call [To stay out on the slick tyres].  I took the advice from the team and my engineer and eventually decided to give it a go and stay out and it turned out to be really good. Out there you want it to stop raining, it was so on edge.  That went really well and it was nice to be leading the race for a long time from there. I got a little more tyre degradation than Jenson.  I made a mistake so he came by, but in general I am really, really happy it is a good step in the right direction.”

Robert Kubica (Renault) – 5th:  “It was an exciting race today and it’s good to have scored some more points.  At the start of the race I made a bad start and lost a lot of positions, but we made the right decision to stay out on slicks when it started to rain and I was able to move up through the field into third place.  However, the critical moment of my race was when the safety car came out, which ended my hopes of a podium because I lost the big lead I had to the cars behind me.  So although I’m happy to finish fifth, I still feel a bit frustrated to have missed a podium.”

Mark Webber (Red Bull) – 8th:  “We got blown away so it was a very difficult grand prix for us.  We weren’t quick enough, simple as that.  They were changeable conditions but it’s the same for everyone, and the car is very sensitive in these conditions if it is not going one way or the other for you. Interesting grand prix.  We know (where we lose out in these conditions) and we have got to improve it.”

Pedro de La Rosa (Sauber) – Ret:  “Of course I am deeply disappointed.   We made all the right tyre decisions. I started on slicks and managed to stay out in the drizzle. I enjoyed overtaking and then I was in fourth.  When you are in a situation like this you really have to finish. We missed a great chance today.  I don’t know what exactly happened.  I felt there was something wrong with the engine and then stopped in Turn 9.”

Tony Fernandes – Team boss of Lotus: “I’m really happy today as we’ve accomplished what we said we’d do,” said Fernandes after Heikki Kovalainen finished in 14th position, one place head of Nico Hulkenberg.  We wanted to see at least one car cross the line for the first four races, and we’ve done that, but it’s kind of bitter sweet today.  It’s obviously a great result for Heikki but a real shame for Jarno as he seems to take the brunt of the issues – it’s a bit odd as it does seem to be just his car.  The conditions today made it very tense out there and it’s very satisfying, and shows how we’re progressing, that today we were racing Williams, who we beat on track.”


Malaysian GP 2010: Red Bull Romp Home 1-2 As Rivals Struggle In Malaysian Heat

Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber led home a dominant 1-2 finish in today’s Malaysian Grand Prix as their major rivals from Ferrari and McLaren suffered, and many fell by the wayside with reliability problems.

Nico Rosberg was 3rd, proving Mercedes Benz with a much needed podium finish.

Race Review

The rain that was expected did not come today in Malaysia, instead it was a very hot and dry race.  With the big guns starting at the back overtaking was expected, but as we dived into the first corner it was Sebastian Vettel off the front who took advantage of Mark Webber’s poor driving early on and took a beautiful gap to get 1st place off the Australian, a position the young German would hold until the end of the GP.

Michael Schumacher took advantage at the start too, his wide line allowing him to get up into 6th place, while others at the back had to avoid the stranded Rubens Barrichello who stalled on the line.

The McLaren’s and Felipe Massa made good early overtakes, but Fernando Alonso got a bit stuck on the outside of turn 1, and his lack of drive and overtaking meant that spectators were concerned for a problem with the Ferrari, and indeed there was one as Alonso’s gearbox was broken on the downshifts.  He continued to race however.

Timo Glock lost the car early on, spinning and hitting the Lotus of Jarno Trulli, knocking the German out of the race.  Later on Heikki Kovalainen made a very poor overtake on Lucas di Grassi damaging both of their cars and later forcing the Finn to retire at Lotus’ home GP.

Lewis Hamilton cut through the field with a series of quality overtakes, while the other big 3 were still stuck at the back.  His tactics in weaving across the road to block Vitaly Petrov, the young Russian, were unfair and only earnt him a warning when in truth it should have earnt him a drive through penalty.  That was the only blemish on his good record today.

Jenson Button’s early pitstop proved there was pace on the option tyre, which led many to be surprised that Ferrari left Massa and Alonso out for so long knocking around doing very slow laps on the hard tyre.  When the pair finally pitted, they were brilliantly quick and made up positions.

Kamui Kobayashi looked to have good pace this weekend but once again the reliability of the sauber was poor and he had to retire, his team mate Pedro de La Rosa retired before he even got to the grid with engine failure.  Tonio Liuzzi and Vitaly Petrov both retired from good races with seeming engine troubles at one of the hottest Grand Prix of the year.

Michael Schumacher had a good race until his retirement, a loose wheelnut which flew off early on causing the former 7 time world champion to make evasive action to bring the Mercedes under control.  He will be bitterly disappointed as his pace is nearly there.

Late on in the race while challenging Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari finally gave up, sparks flew out of the back into turn 1, before plumes of smoke and bits of Ferrari engine were deposited around turn 2 and the straight into turn 3, the Spaniard’s disappointing day ended on a grass verge.  His team mate managed to salvage points and is now in the lead of the constructors championship.

Jaime Alguersuari completed some fantastic overtaking moves, and scored his first ever career points, team mate Sebastien Buemi got 11th.

HRT managed to get both cars to the finish with Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna completing a solid, if slow race to 15th and 16th.

Classified Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault 1.33.48.412
2 M. Webber Red Bull Renault +4.8
3 N. Rosberg Mercedes Benz +13.5
4 R. Kubica Renault +18.5
5 A. Sutil Force India Mercedes +21.0
6 L. Hamilton McLaren Mercedes +23.4
7 F. Massa Ferrari +27.0
8 J. Button McLaren Mercedes +37.9
9 J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari +1.10.6
10 N. Hulkenberg Williams Cosworth +1.13.0
11 S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari +1.18.9
12 R. Barrichello Williams Cosworth +1 lap
13 F. Alonso* Ferrari +2 laps
14 L. Di Grassi Virgin Cosworth +3 laps
15 K. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth +3 laps
16 B. Senna HRT-Cosworth +4 laps
17 J. Trulli Lotus Cosworth +5 laps

* Fernando Alonso did not complete the race due to engine failure but is still classified as he was far enough ahead of the other drivers below him.

Retirements

Driver Team Lap Reason
H. Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth 46 Damage due to puncture
V. Petrov Renault 32 Mechanical
V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes 12 Engine
M. Schumacher Mercedes Benz 9 Wheel nut failure
K. Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 8 Engine
T. Glock Virgin Cosworth 2 Accident
P. de La Rosa Sauber Ferrari 0 Engine*

* Pedro de La Rosa’s engine faliure occured on the pre-parade lap.

Post Race Interviews

Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull Renault (1st):”What a day.  Yesterday was extremely difficult. We had a magnificent car, and the key once again was to pace yourself, but Bridgestone did a good job bringing two compounds here that worked fairly well.  At the end of the day a very good result for us and for myself after two races where I didn’t finish where I wanted to be. It was crucial for the team not to panic and to stay relaxed. It is a long season but this is the best result we could get and on top of that Mark getting second place is a big plus for the team and a lot of points.”

Mark Webber – Red Bull Renault (2nd):“We know these days with the strategy and the way the race unfolds the first part of race is crucial. I got a little bit of wheel-spin and on the run to first corner Seb had a big tow.  I didn’t really know where Nico was either, I didn’t know whether to go middle or left, so I braked late, I had a bit of a better exit and the fight continued up to Turn 4.  We had a chat with Christian Horner at start and he said ‘Behave yourselves’ and we did. The spirit and chemistry in our team is awesome.”

Nico Rosberg – Mercedes Benz (3rd): “It is a fantastic result for us today.  I am quite pleased but unfortunately the start didn’t go too well, it was quite a lot down to me, I got too much wheelspin and lost out.   Once onto prime tyres I was comfortable. I was a bit worried about [Lewis] Hamilton initially and I was expecting him to be fast but he didn’t get past people behind me.  I have to thank the team for the work put in over the winter. We definitely need to push on as we are not where we need to be.”

Adrian Sutil – Force India Mercedes (5th):  “The race was exciting and fifth place in the end was a great achievement.  I was hoping for a good race as we were so close in the first two races but then had a little bit of back luck that stopped us scoring. It was a good overall performance from the team.  It was always very close with Lewis just behind in the closing stages but I knew that if I didn’t make any mistakes I wouldn’t have any problems, so it was just trying to concentrate. I had to push, of course, but it was under control.”

Jenson Button – McLaren Mercedes (8th):  “I got a terrible start and I think I made a mistake going to the option tyre because I had no rear grip at all. In the high speed it was terrible.  So I just couldn’t overtake. I lost a lot of time at the start.   I never realised fighting for eighth was going to be so difficult, but it’s good to get some points. I went for the outside at the first corner and it wasn’t the place to be. I lost a lot of places there.”

Jaime Alguersuari – Toro Rosso Ferrari (9th):  “I am very happy to have scored points today and I have to say I never expected to do it so early in the season.  A big thanks to everyone in the team who have worked so hard to achieve this result.  Step by step, I have improved my performance, but this weekend was very tough because I didn’t know the track. I enjoyed this race, especially the fights I had with some of the others: I think I learned a bit about the art of fighting with Michael (Schumacher) last weekend in Melbourne.  Towards the end, I was a bit worried about how the tyres would last, as I was on the soft ones, but I had no degradation. It is very satisfying and I feel a lot more confident now going into the upcoming races.”

Rubens Barrichello – Williams Cosworth (12th):  “I don’t know what happened at the start, I’ll go through that with the team.  From there I went to the back of the field. We tried a different strategy to get us back up, but our car was just not competitive.  We lost a nice opportunity today.”

Fernando Alonso – Ferrari (Ret):  “From the start things went wrong.  On the formation lap my gearbox broke and I had no clutch during the race, so I had to brake in a weird way.  I had to first gear down and then push the throttle hard so it would engage the gear for that corner.  So it was probably the hardest race of my whole life in terms of driving, because I had to improvise for every corner. But even so we were going to get a few points, which in the end was not possible because of the engine.  But if the gearbox and then the engine are going to break, it’s better than in happens when you are ninth than when you are leading and you lose 25 points.”

Eric Boullier – Team Principal of Renault:  “We just raised our point of view [about the Hamilton weaving and blocking].   Very frankly, it is very clear in the regulations that you can have one change of direction, so when you do three in a row something is wrong.  He got a warning for dangerous driving, but I am not sure it is enough. It is definitely clearly written in the regulations that you can not do any more than one direction change, and it is something you should not be doing.”



Australian GP 2010: Button Wins First Race For McLaren

Jenson Button turned a race of the highest quality today in Australia to win his first race for the McLaren team, on a circuit where he dominated with Brawn last season.

Robert Kubica grabbed a heroic second place for Renault, and Felipe Massa hung on to third mostly thanks to his team mate Fernando Alonso.

Race Review

There was always an outside chance of rain at the Melbourne circuit, and it came just before the race leaving everyone to start on intermediates on a damp, cold circuit.  The race was always going to deliver the excitement that we didn’t get in Bahrain and it came thick from the first corner.

Fernando Alonso got a poor start, in contrast to team mate Felipe Massa.  Alonso came into turn 1 and was punted from the inside by Jenson Button, pushing the Spaniard into Michael Schumacher.  The two former World Champions got damage and were forced to the back of the field, Schumacher by a pit stop and Alonso by the virtue that he was spun 180.

Further down the first lap, Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber lost its front wing on the straight for no reason, sending him in an out of control slide into Sebastien Buemi and Nico Hulkenberg knocking all 3 out of the race and bringing the safety car out for the first time.

This allowed Alonso and Schumacher to bunch up the back of the field, and Alonso cut through the field brilliantly, while Schumacher got held back and only ended up finishing in 10th place, his overtaking less competent than Alonso’s and certainly less competent than we are used to from the former master.  Is it the car or is it Schumacher?

Massa had got in front of Webber before the safety car, but lost position when it went into the pits, leaving the Brazilian scrapping with Kubica and Rosberg for 3rd, 4th and 5th.   Jenson Button pitted early for some slick tyres, a move which seemed crazy but eventually led him to win the race.  He was setting hot lap times and the rest of the field pitted, but it was poor timing for Massa who ended up well behind the pack of McLaren’s, Red Bull’s, Kubica and Rosberg, while at this point he was being caught by Alonso and Hamilton both of whom had worked their way through the field.

Only the Red Bull’s did not pit, leaving it a bit late.  Vettel got away unscathed, but Webber on cold tyres made a mistake into turn 1, and cars zipped passed him with ease.  However only a handful of laps later, and Massa looked poor once again, with Webber slotting passed and Hamilton following.  Later on a similar move would cause Massa to force team mate Fernando Alonso off the track and to lose positions that he ultimately would not recover.

A scorching Hamilton now hassled Rosberg, whom he passed with ease around the outside into 13.  His charge only cooled by waved yellows from Sebastian Vettel’s stranded Red Bull, the young cocky German had stuffed it into the gravel trap with suspected brake failure.

The crash handed Button the lead, and allowed Kubica second place which would ultimately be the final positions for the two who decided not to pit for fresh slicks.  The optional second pit stop was instigated by Michael Schumacher, who down in 12th decided on some fresh soft Bridgestones and was lapping nearly 2s per lap quicker.  Hamilton and Webber were notable names to pit, but both Ferrari’s did not pit.

Felipe Massa appeared to be holding up Fernando Alonso but it was lucky for the Brazilian his resilient team mate was behind as Alonso began a heroic drive to the finish.  With Hamilton gaining 2seconds or more per lap on the Ferrari’s, Alonso managed to hold off the charge from the British former World Champion and his McLaren nemesis for over 10 laps to the finish a brilliant piece of driving skill which should have been rewarded with a trophy.

But with 2 laps remaining, a hot headed Mark Webber once again clashed with Lewis Hamilton leading them both to finish much further down the points than they should have done, but Alonso’s work was not done as Nico Rosberg charged to the back of the Ferrari but couldn’t make a move stick.

Liuzzi and Barrichello were 7th and 8th, having a quiet race amidst all the action.  Schumacher took the final points position, with Alguersuari just behind the young Spaniard giving the old German a hard time and no doubt learning more than ever before.  De La Rosa was 12th, but the best mentions have to go to Heiki Kovalainen who finished another race for Lotus and Karun Chadhok who managed to FINISH the race for Hispania, unbeliveable!  Congratulations to both teams.

Race Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 J. Button McLaren Mercedes 1.33.36.531
2 R. Kubica Renault +12.034
3 F. Massa Ferrari +14.488
4 F. Alonso Ferrari +16.304
5 N. Rosberg Mercedes Benz +16.683
6 L. Hamilton McLaren Mercedes +29.898
7 V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes +59.847
8 R. Barrichello Williams Cosworth +1.00.536
9 M. Webber Red Bull Renault +1.07.319
10 M. Schumacher Mercedes Benz +1.09.391
11 J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari +1.11.301
12 P. De La Rosa Sauber Ferrari +1.14.084
13 H. Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth +2 laps
14 K. Chandhok Hispania HRT +4 laps

Retirements:

Driver Team Lap Reason
T. Glock Virgin 41 Fuel
S. Vettel Red Bull Renault 26 Brake Failure
L. Di Grassi Virgin 25 Hydraulic
A. Sutil Force India 12 Unknown
V. Petrov Renault 10 Accident
B. Senna Hispania HRT 5 Unknown
S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 1 Accident
N. Hulkenberg Williams 1 Accident
K. Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 1 Accident
J. Trulli Lotus Cosworth 1 Fuel Pressure

Post Race Interviews

Jenson Button – McLaren Mercedes (1st):  “It is very special.  It has taken me a little while to get to grips inside the car, but the team has been fantastic and welcomed me in.  It is difficult to put it into words, it is a very special feeling and we will take a lot from this. I feel I am building in confidence, and I hope in the next rate we can do something similar as this feels too good.”

Robert Kubica – Renault (2nd):  “To be honest we were not expecting to finish on the podium, for Renault and myself it is a special result. We were pushing hard during the winter and this was the best result we could get for the beginning of the season. This is big thanks to all the guys.  We have to stay realistic, we are not up to pace to finish on the podium normally. We need to keep pushing and I am sure we will manage sooner or later to be on the pace.”

Felipe Massa – Ferrari (3rd):  “I had a fantastic start, without wheelspin, and I saw many cars, especially Fernando and [Mark] Webber having some wheelspin.  I did a very smooth start and passed them in a very good way. I was happy with the start and whole race was very difficult, very slippery and low grip everywhere.  My best result in Australia before was sixth, and in 2007 I had problems in qualifying and started last. It’s not the best race for me in terms of pace, and we lost some positions at the pitstop and a bit on track because of mistakes, so it is fantastic to have one second and one third.”

Fernando Alonso – Ferrari (4th): It was a fantastic result in the end for the team, and for myself as well. So, I was ready to sign before the race for this result – if you win the race you take seven points to your main competitor.  Now, I took 12 points to Vettel, to Michael and to some of the main rivals for the championship. So it has been a much better race in terms of points than Bahrain, if you compare with your main competitor.  I was not convinced that I could recover the positions to get into the points, [but] the car was perfect, and now even thinking through the race and all the analysis – there is the possibility that you can win the race even starting last because the car was so much quicker today than all the others.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi – Force India (7th):  “Another great race and another great result for the team,” said Liuzzi, who charged back from 13th place to score points for the second race in succession.  It’s a confirmation of the pace we showed in Bahrain and the work the team did over the winter.  We worked hard all weekend for this seventh place and it’s a brilliant result at the end of what was a crazy race.”

Michael Schumacher – Mercedes Benz (10th):  “I could have had a good race today so it was a pity that I was hit right after the start,” Schumacher said. “That incident decided my race obviously. But things like that happen and you have to just say ‘that’s racing’.  I had to take the remainder of the race from last position but I have to say that I was still having fun as our pace today was promising and for part of the race, we were going quicker than the top group.  It was nice to pick up a point and we can take that good feeling into the next race where we will look forward to another challenge.”

Heikki Kovalainen – Lotus Cosworth (13th):  “I enjoyed it today and had good fun out there. Our target was to finish the race and from the start we were quite comfortably ahead of the new teams. When [Virgin’s Timo] Glock dropped out I just focused on keeping up a decent rhythm, not making any mistakes and bringing the car home.  Now we go to Malaysia with a good feeling and we’re all looking forward to that.”

Karun Chandhok – Hispania HRT (14th):  “To finish was very difficult today, and all the more satisfying because of that.  I dedicate this race result to all the mechanics and engineers who worked so hard since Bahrain, without any pre-season testing. This is a fantastic day for the team and a great step forward.  I am proud to have ended our first race. We achieved the best result we could do today. We have to keep pushing and working and we will manage to finish even higher.”

Christian Horner – Red Bull Renault Team Boss:  “Ultimately an extremely disappointing day.  Having been in control of the race, the second in succession, Sebastian unfortunately retired with what looks like a wheel related issue (front left), which certainly cost him a comfortable race win today.  It was cruel luck for him for the second year in a row here in Australia.”

Tony Fernandes – Lotus Racing Team Owner:  “I’m disappointed for Jarno, but Heikki did us proud – three places away from a point, and he was keeping pace with most of the other cars throughout the race.  Maybe it would have been nice if three other cars had gone out so we could get a point, but, joking aside, it is good that at this stage of the season we’re already thinking about points. We’re in a nice position for Malaysia.”



Ferrari To Work On Cooling Issues and B-Spec F10

Ferrari have confirmed that they will be working on new aerodynamic structures and cooling vents on their F10 car to combat some of the cooling issues it suffered in the first race of the season in Bahrain.

In the extreme temperatures both Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were told over the pit to car radios that their engines were running at dangerously high temperatures.  Ferrari say they need to combat this now, despite finishing 1st and 2nd in the Grand Prix giving them the maximum available constructors points.

“The temperature of the engine is the result of the aerodynamics of the car, so we have to work on that in order to make sure we don’t have any more of these kinds of issues for the next hot races,” Stefano Domenicali told ESPN.

Meanwhile rumours of a B-Spec Ferrari F10 continue to circulate.  Giuseppe Azzollini has been drafted in to Maranello, a former CFD expert for the now defunct Toyota F1 team and he is working on producing a new intricate diffuser that was supposed to be fitted to the Toyota TF110.  Ferrari are hoping this new take on the design will blow the competition away.


Exclusive: How Shell Prepared Themselves And Ferrari For A Season Without Refuelling

For the first time since 1993 refuelling has been banned in Formula One.  Gone are the days of pitstops lasting 10 seconds or more, the chance of fires and the intricacies of fuel stop strategies and in their place have come 3 second pit stops as the tyre men throw on slick tyres at a lightening rate.

While those tyre men have had to work harder and train ever more with the tyres, what about the companies behind the fuel rigs?  They have had to work even harder to ensure their fuel optimises everything from power, efficiency and weight.

Thanks to Shell, The F1Fanatics Blog can bring you an exclusive look at some of the challenges surrounding the fuel company who provide their V-Power mixture to the Ferrari F1 Team.

Lisa Lilley, who is the top manager for Shell’s racing fuels department and works directly with the Ferrari F1 Team told us “The 2010 refuelling ban is by far the biggest challenge we have seen in fuel development in 15 years, but it is also a really positive one for Shell.  Over the last year we have put a lot of work into the formulation of the Shell V-Power race fuel for the new season, and our main objective has been to optimise the power and performance benefit of the Shell V-Power race fuel for Ferrari.”

Lisa Lilley of Shell Race Fuels

On top of just creating that faster fuel, efficiency is necessary so that the cars can complete the race as quickly as possible, yet the fuel needs to last them.  While Bahrain’s Grand Prix yesterday was only 49 laps, the Monaco Grand Prix is 78.  The fuel needs to work across the range of circuits to its top performance, and Shell have focussed on efficiency.  Mike Evans, Shell Formula One Fuels Development Project Leader explains, “Engines, performance-wise, are tuned to run a rich, heavy type of fuel but you can then run them on a slightly leaner formulation, which will give you a small drop in performance but it will also give you better fuel efficiency. It’s getting that balance right.”

The more efficient the fuel can be, means that the fuel tanks can be smaller and can lead to the car being lighter and thus faster in race trim.  Ferrari are well known for having one of the fastest engines in the pit lane, and when compared to the Renault equivalent in their rivals Red Bull Racing car the Ferrari engine guzzles its fuel much faster so this has been an added challenge for the fuel scientists.  Mike Evans continues “[We have been] working hard for the last nine months leading up to the 2010 season, given the latest FIA rule changes.”

The heat of the engine on the fuel has been another concern for the manufacturers, with the engines and fuel tanks in a much more compact structure than they were back in the early 1990’s, there is a good chance of the engine heat affecting the fuel.  This could occur even more frequently at races in locations such as Bahrain where the air temperature is usually around 36oC.  ,Lisa Lilley continued her explanation “Without this cooling effect, and in addition to having the larger fuel tank sitting next to very hot engines, the fuel itself will be getting hotter while it is in the car this year.”

Lilley continued, “At Shell, our fuel experts have been working since last year to meet these challenges, and provide Ferrari’s Formula One team with a custom-made Shell V-Power race fuel that can provide optimum performance even at high temperatures.”

The drivers carried out extensive winter testing of various components including fuels

So it is very evident that Shell, like other fuel manufacturers have been working very hard.  But what is the relationship between Ferrari, the most successful F1 team of all time and the Dutch fuel manufacturer?   Stefano Domenicali was very happy with the links between the two companies “The technical partnership we share with Shell is key to our understanding of fuel development. Shell has unrivalled expertise and knowledge in fuel technology, and our close-working relationship means we can constantly push the fuel to its boundaries to achieve both power and performance.

Domenicali continued “The fuel is a crucial element that has always been very important to Ferrari and the refuelling ban in 2010 means the partnership will be absolutely fundamental this season.”

The drivers too seem very happy with the work Shell have done, newcomer Fernando Alonso told us “I think we are ready.  We have some innovative new products from Shell, that we have spent a lot of the winter testing and I think we have found the right compromise.  We have to be very optimistic for the season ahead”

Team mate Felipe Massa, who has been with Ferrari for many seasons alongside both Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen added “We are using V-Power from Shell, which is a great fuel anyway and we’re trying to make it even faster and even more reliable, because reliability is really really important now.”

So, after 10 constructors championships and 12 drivers titles with the Italian giants, we would be fairly confident that Shell know what they are doing with the fuel this season, and their expertise tied in with one of the best teams, Ferrari, and two of the best drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa could provide and unstoppable force in F1.

Ferrari are pinning their hopes on two time world champion Fernando Alonso to deliver great results


Domenicali: Ferrari Needed An Early Victory

Stefano Domenicali has said he is very happy with the early victory Ferrari have got in 2010, after dominating the Bahrain Grand Prix with a 1-2 finish.

The team principal of Ferrari Domenicali, said that after all the hard work the team had put in to get the F10 car working well, and following a difficult 2009 season it was a great remedy to any underlying doubts fans may have about the car.

“Well, for sure this race is very important for the team,” said Domenicali. “After a difficult season like last year, and after a very difficult decision that we had to take last year, everyone was ready with the gun to fire. But that is part of the game.

“This is the reason why I have to take certain responsibility. It is good because it shows that the decision was right. I have to thank all the people at home who worked very hard, they were staying together, because it is easy when you have a very bad season – everyone says you have bad people and it was better in a different period. But that is life. We know that. So the only way to react is to come back with results.”

Red Bull Racing looked very good in this race, with Sebastian Vettel leading the field until reliability problems with the Red Bull lowered him to 4th place late on.  However Domenicali is just happy the car looks competitive.

“What is important to see is that the car we have seen this weekend is a good base to look ahead for the future,” he said. “The season is very, very long and we have to stay with our feet on the ground because I am expecting all the others to be very aggressive and very competitive.

“But we have seen a good car in both qualifying and racing conditions, and it proves that the work that has to be done is a lot still. But we are starting from a good pace.”


Bahrain GP 2010: Alonso Wins On Ferrari Debut With Impressive 1-2 For Scuderia

Fernando Alonso got his Ferrari career off to the perfect start with victory in the first round of the 2010 season in Bahrain.

The Spanish driver was followed across the line by team mate Felipe Massa, making it Ferrari’s first 1-2 finish in some time.  The joy was evident on the faces of the mechanics post-race.

Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champion was 3rd.

Race Review

The anticipation pre-race was unbearable, following the drivers parade we discovered Ferrari replaced both engines and that the Hispania drivers would start in the pits.

The start of the race was fast and furious as expected, with Fernando Alonso managing to squeeze past Felipe Massa as the Ferrari boys snaked through the first few corners behind Sebastian Vettel – who would go on to pull away into a phenomenal lead.

Further back, Mark Webber’s car blew out lots of smoke with excess oil burn off, blinding Robert Kubica’s path and forcing him and Adrian Sutil to spin off.  In the carnage, Michael Schumacher made the most of it and worked up into 6th, also making a good effort was Vitaly Petrov who ended up on the cusp of the top 10.

On the second lap, Hispania’s Karun Chandhok bowed out of his debut after crashing.  Not the start he hoped for.  A matter of laps later, Nico Hulkenberg another rookie spun off, just managing to save his Williams from the gravel trap.  During this action, Lucas di Grassi pulled off and retired with hydraulic failure – something that would stop a lot of cars today.

The laps counted down, without much action until Robert Kubica pitted for harder compound tyres and lit up the track.  The leaders soon pitted as Kubica’s times tumbled, this first and only pitstop for the majority of the field.  The stop allowed Jenson Button, the current World Champion to get past Australian Mark Webber who had been struggling to keep a good pace following that oil blow off on the first corner of the race.

Kamui Kobayashi retired around this time with a hydraulic issue, the same issue would stop his team mate Pedro de La Rosa on lap 30 – the pair hadn’t had a brilliant weekend although De la Rosa had hooked up good pace in race trim.  On lap 14, Vitaly Petrov retired in his pitbox with front wishbone failure – how it got broken is still a mystery.

The pit stops were quick, with the top 3 all being under 4.5 seconds.

From there on in it was relatively trouble free with only two more retirements, of Bruno Senna whose Cosworth engine sounded rather worse for wear, and just before Timo Glock who retired we believe due to a hydraulic failure.

All was going well for Vettel, despite Fernando Alonso attempting to gain on him after the Ferrari drivers were told to slow down as their engines were overheating in the dirty air.  However, Vettel’s exhaust cracked and the Red Bull driver lost all power, Alonso caught him like his car was on fire and powered on passed – the clean air aiding the Ferrari’s cause.

This clean air allowed Alonso to put in a series of amazing hot laps, he is definitely the one to watch for these first few fly-away races.

Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton managed to get passed the ailing Vettel but he did hold off the Mercedes’ of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher who were making large gains on his Red Bull towards the end.

Button and Webber followed Schumacher over the line, and it was Tonio Liuzzi in 9th who had a quiet but consistent race.  Rubens Barrichello held on to 10th to take advantage of the final new point scoring position.

Kubica and Sutil recovered to 11th and 12th respectively following their earlier spins, ahead of Alguersuari and Hulkenberg.

Heikki Kovalainen had a good consistent race for Lotus, overtaking and without technical problems.  He finished ahead of Buemi who retired on the final lap, and Jarno Trulli who struggled to the line with a mechnical issue and also seemingly a seat fitting issue – the Italian was holding his back in pain after getting out of the car on the final lap.

While Alonso will take the glory, and will become the Ferrari fans new hero it is worth mentioning Felipe Massa’s performance finishing 2nd in his first race back following that terrible accident in Hungary last season.

Roll on Australia!

Race Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 F. Alonso Ferrari 1.39.20.396
2 F. Massa Ferrari +16.099
3 L. Hamilton McLaren +23.182
4 S. Vettel Red Bull Racing +38.713
5 N. Rosberg Mercedes +40.263
6 M. Schumacher Mercedes +44.180
7 J. Button McLaren +45.260
8 M. Webber Red Bull Racing +46.308
9 V. Liuzzi Force India +53.089
10 R. Barrichello Williams +1.02.400
11 R. Kubica Renault +1.09.093
12 A.  Sutil Force India +1.22.958
13 J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso +1.32.656
14 N. Hulkenberg Williams + 1 lap
15 H. Kovalainen Lotus + 1 lap
16 S. Buemi Toro Rosso + 3 laps
17 J. Trulli Lotus + 3 laps

Retirements:

Driver Team Lap Reason
P. De la Rosa Sauber 30 Hydraulic
B. Senna Hispania 18 Engine
T. Glock Virgin 17 Hydraulic
V. Petrov Renault 14 Suspension
K. Kobayashi Sauber 12 Hydraulic
L. di Grassi Virgin 3 Hydraulic
K. Chandhok Hispania 2 Accident

Fastest Lap: F. Alonso 1.58.287

Post Race Interviews
F. Alonso – Ferrari (1st):  “A very special day for me.   Coming back the top of the podium is always special but even more special with Ferrari. We have history behind the team and all the expectations a driver has when he drives for Ferrari.  There is no better way to start the relationship. This is the best team in the world, we worked hard all winter, the guys did a very good job in winter testing.  We have done nothing so far – we only won the first race but to be first and second is the result that the guys in Maranello deserve because they have been working day and night to give us this fantastic car.  This first victory is dedicated to all the people in Italy, the mechanics here and president di Montezemolo. This result is very, very positive.”

F. Massa – Ferrari (2nd):  “First of all I think it is fantastic to be here, so thanks a lot that everything is great.  Being here with a competitive car and going through the whole race with good pace, so thanks to God I am fine and thanks to everybody who was supporting me in a difficult time.  The race was really good and fantastic for us. For sure I didn’t have a good start, I lost an important position to Fernando at the first corner. After that the race was perfect for me on the soft and with the hard.”

L. Hamilton – McLaren (3rd):  I had quite a good race, unfortunately I lost a bit of ground, locked up into Turn 4 and went wide, got in a bad position and Rosberg got past me.  I was then much faster but it’s difficult to follow here and look after the tyres. If I was ahead of him maybe I would have been able to follow the train these guys [the Ferraris] were creating.  It is a strong result for me and the team,” he said. “It was more than we expected. We need to continue to push to keep up with these guys.”

S. Vettel – Red Bull Racing (4th):  “All in all it was a positive except the failure this weekend.   Under any conditions from Saturday morning onwards we were the quickest. I think we had very good control of the race, we had a very good strategy, I knew how my tyres were.  We had quite good control of the tyres and the brakes, everything running smoothly.  I think it was 15-20 laps to the end I just lost power. I don’t know what it was but I think something mechanical broke. Luckily we could continue but we should have won really.”

M. Schumacher – Mercedes Benz (6th):  “It’s the start and then after it is just sort of go your pace and not do mistakes.  Overtaking is basically impossible, other than if somebody makes a mistake – Lewis had a little one so Nico was able to pass him, but got back past at the pitstop. That’s about it.  That’s the action we are going to have with unfortunately this kind of environment of race strategy.  But, anyway, it was good fun. Especially the beginning and now we are going to work forward in order to catch up what is in front of us.”

Robert Kubica – Renault (11th): “All our hard work this weekend was undone by the incident on the first lap.  I think Sutil just didn’t lift off because he couldn’t see anything and he hit me. I spun during the incident and that cooked the rear tyres: they were overheating from that point onwards and I eventually stopped very early on lap 12.  I completed the rest of the race on hard tyres, and that was a big challenge: I just set myself the goal of finishing in the points, but we didn’t quite make it. Without the incident on lap one, I think we would have had a very strong points finish because we showed the pace to fight well.  Overall, it was a positive weekend for us”

Heikki Kovalainen – Lotus (15th): “It was a good race for our team.  To get both cars to the finish is a great achievement. My car didn’t have a single problem, I know Jarno did and managed to nurse his car to the end, but the primary goal was to get both cars to the end and we achieved that. So far the team has reached every goal we set ourselves, so that is fantastic.”

P. De la Rosa – Sauber (Ret):  “I actually had a good start, but then lost positions when I had to go off the track to avoid colliding with other cars. On the grass I lost acceleration and some cars were able to pass, so when I arrived at turn four I had lost several positions.  Then I felt we had a car that was good enough to fight for points, and there still was a chance to achieve this when I was called into the pits on lap 29 because of an hydraulic problem.”

Bruno Senna – Hispania HRT (Ret): “It was certainly a relief to have been in the race for so many laps.  Everything was going well. I felt I had a little too much understeer. I had a good base set-up now after these laps and my engineers will have a better starting point to work from for next race.  There was a vibration from the back of the car a lap earlier and then the car suddenly stopped. We’ll have to investigate what happened.  But I am very happy for the whole team for their incredible hard work to ensure we are in a position to be racing again in Melbourne.”

Lucas di Grassi – Virgin Racing (Ret): “I got a great start and the car was feeling pretty good. I think we could have had a good race with the car that we had but then just a few laps into the race I had to pull over in turn 9 and my race was over before it had really begun. There’s no point being downhearted. We’ll be back in Melbourne with some new developments and a fix for the problems we experienced here. It’s race one of 19 and there’s a long way to go yet. I would like to thank the team for an incredible job here and over the past few months. It’s been a huge effort and I hope for a better result for the whole team in Australia in two weeks’ time.”


Bahrain GP 2010: Vettel Takes Pole On Scintillating Saturday In Bahrain

Sebastian Vettel did just enough with an excellent flying lap in Bahrain to take pole position for tomorrow’s first Grand Prix of 2010.

The German racer started where he left off for Red Bull Racing after a quality session where Red Bull really showed their pace after a poor Friday practice.

“In winter testing no one really knew where he was. It was clear there were four teams were pretty strong, but close to each other.” Vettel said post qualifying,

“To be honest yesterday was a tough day for us, we had not as much running as we hoped for. Another long night, especially mechanics with not much sleep and a lot of long faces, but they were keen this morning to keep pushing.

“I knew we had a great car, but obviously first of all we had to get it together.”

Felipe Massa managed to grab 2nd ahead of Fernando Alonso who will have to settle for third despite having a greater pace over the first two sessions.  The Spaniard was satisfied with Ferrari’s pace.

“I am very happy obviously,” said Alonso. “At is the first race, there are many things to answer in the first race with a long winter with a big difference in fuel loads, in all the tests and yesterday in practice, you never know what the competitors are running.

“We were excited about the first qualifying of the season, so now to have both drivers in the top three means we have a very competitive car. We thought so, but you need to confirm and it has been great, a great day and I think it is some kind of nice feeling to realise that we are in the fight because you never know until qualifying.”

Lewis Hamilton managed 4th place after a poor first lap in Q3, but was significantly faster than Jenson Button his new team mate who had to settle for 8th, behind Rosberg, Webber and Michael Schumacher who didn’t make any big surprises on his race comeback with Mercedes Benz.

It was Kubica and Sutil who rounded out the top 10, the latter along with his team mate Tonio Liuzzi (12th) who made the big surprises with the Force India showing excellent pace – definitely one to watch for the season.

Rubens Barrichello in 11th will get to select his tyre compound andget a set of fresh rubber ahead of the race, giving him a potential advantage at the start of tomorrow’s GP over the top 10.  Team mate Nico Hulkenberg looked to have the measure over Rubens in practice but the old master beat the young German who will start in 13th tomorrw.

The Sauber’s didn’t continue their successful test pace, down in 13th and 16th respectively, jostling with the Toro Rosso’s.

The new teams didn’t make ground but had a fairly successful day considering that it was their first ever qualifying sessions.  Virgin took first blood over Lotus, but the green and yellow Cosworth powered machines looked to be more consistent than Virgin’s racers.  Hispania got both cars out, and despite only a handful of laps they look ok for tomorrow – Karun Chandhok finally getting behind the wheel of an F1 car competitively.

Pos  Driver         Team                   Q1        Q2        Q3       
 1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1:55.029  1:53.883  1:54.101  
 2.  Massa          Ferrari                1:55.313  1:54.331  1:54.242 
 3.  Alonso         Ferrari                1:54.612  1:54.172  1:54.608 
 4.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:55.341  1:54.707  1:55.217 
 5.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1:55.463  1:54.682  1:55.241 
 6.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1:55.298  1:54.318  1:55.284 
 7.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1:55.593  1:55.105  1:55.524 
 8.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:55.715  1:55.168  1:55.672 
 9.  Kubica         Renault                1:55.511  1:54.963  1:55.885 
10.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:55.213  1:54.996  1:56.309 
11.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:55.969  1:55.330 
12.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes   1:55.628  1:55.653 
13.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth      1:56.375  1:55.857 
14.  de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari         1:56.428  1:56.237 
15.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:56.189  1:56.265 
16.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1:56.541  1:56.270 
17.  Petrov         Renault                1:56.167  1:56.619 
18.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:57.071
19.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1:59.728
20.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth         1:59.852
21.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth         2:00.313
22.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth        2:00.587
23.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth           2:03.240
24.  Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth           2:04.904

Seb Vet


Bahrain GP 2010: Mercedes Power Dominates FP2

Mercedes Benz power units dominated the second practice in Bahrain with Nico Rosberg going fastest, ahead of Schumacher in 3rd and the two McLaren’s of Hamilton and Button.

Rosberg set some hot lap times early in the session, before later joining the rest of the field on longer stints.

Red Bull’s Vettel managed 5th, but so far the Austrian energy drink teams cars (including Toro Rosso) have struggled significantly, suggesting that perhaps some of the other teams that have invested significant time in changing their cars heavily from 2009, as opposed to adapting it for 2010, have won the early technical battle.  It is too early to make predicitons though.

Ferrari found themselves further down the times in 7th and 9th, but they were doing longer runs as opposed to hot laps like this morning.

Nico Hulkenberg proved himself and put the Williams into 6th, team mate Barrichello was 14th.  the Sauber’s too had a good day overall with their cars scouting around the top 10.

The new teams continued their learning curve down at the bottom of the timesheets, Bruno Senna got testing under way properly of the new HRT with 9 laps and ended 6.5 seconds off the pace.  Karun Chandhok will join Formula One tomorrow having being granted his Superlicence last night.

Pos  Driver         Team                    Time              Laps
 1.  Rosberg        Mercedes                1:55.409            23
 2.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes        1:55.854  + 0.445   22
 3.  Schumacher     Mercedes                1:55.903  + 0.494   23
 4.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:56.076  + 0.667   28
 5.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault        1:56.459  + 1.050   18
 6.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth       1:56.501  + 1.092   26
 7.  Massa          Ferrari                 1:56.555  + 1.146   30
 8.  Petrov         Renault                 1:56.750  + 1.341   26
 9.  Alonso         Ferrari                 1:57.140  + 1.731   25
10.  de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari          1:57.255  + 1.846   24
11.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari          1:57.352  + 1.943   27
12.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    1:57.361  + 1.952   29
13.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth       1:57.452  + 2.043   21
14.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes    1:57.833  + 2.424   29
15.  Kubica         Renault                 1:58.155  + 2.746   29
16.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:59.799  + 4.390   31
17.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault        2:00.444  + 5.035   12
18.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth          2:00.873  + 5.464   23
19.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth          2:00.990  + 5.581   14
20.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth         2:02.037  + 6.628    3
21.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth         2:02.188  + 6.779   21
22.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth            2:06.968  + 11.559  17
23.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari                           1
24.  Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth

FP2


Bahrain GP 2010: Sutil Fastest In First Practice

The first blows of the 2010 season went to Adrian Sutil who slotted his Force India onto the top of the timesheets following a fast and furious start to the new season.

The German driver was narrowly ahead of Fernando Alonso who put in an excellent morning test with the Ferrari.  His team mate was 4th, with Robert Kubica splitting the Ferrari duo.

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton engaged the first round of the Battle of Britain and finished 5th and 6th, with hundredths of a second to compare between them.

Tonio Liuzzi put in a good performance, and was faster than racing returnee Michael Schumacher who found himself down in 10th place.

The new teams got some running, with Lotus’ Jarno Trulli kicking off the test session and HRT’s Bruno Senna getting out for some shakedown laps 70 minutes in.  The new teams filled the bottom 6 places in the timesheets.

Pos  Driver         Team                   Time              Laps
 1.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:56.583            18
 2.  Alonso         Ferrari                1:56.766  + 0.183   18
 3.  Kubica         Renault                1:57.041  + 0.458   19
 4.  Massa          Ferrari                1:57.055  + 0.472   19
 5.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:57.068  + 0.485   19
 6.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:57.163  + 0.580   19
 7.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes   1:57.194  + 0.611   19
 8.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1:57.199  + 0.616   15
 9.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1:57.255  + 0.672   17
10.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1:57.662  + 1.079   16
11.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:57.722  + 1.139   18
12.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth      1:57.894  + 1.311   20
13.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1:57.943  + 1.360   17
14.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:58.399  + 1.816   13
15.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:58.782  + 2.199   11
16.  Petrov         Renault                1:58.880  + 2.297   13
17.  de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari         2:00.250  + 3.667   18
18.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         2:01.388  + 4.805   11
19.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        2:03.680  + 7.097    8
20.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth         2:03.848  + 7.265   21
21.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth         2:03.970  + 7.387   15
22.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth                             2
23.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth                                3
24.  Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth

Suti


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