Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella has delivered the small team it’s first ever pole position after a stunning qualifying session in Belgium, where the form book really was turned on it’s head.
Fisichella the flambouyant Italian was amazingly fast throughout the session in the heavily revised Force India car, and the investment has paid dividends to its owner Vijay Mallya.
Although likely to be light on fuel, this must signal the first points of the season for the team based in Silverstone. If not that, it signals to Ferrari that Giancarlo Fisichella could deliver something for them, unlike Luca Badoer who did not help his cause by qualifying last and ending Q1 in the wall.
Jarno Trulli made second place in the significantly faster Toyota, and Nick Heidfeld made a shock return to the top with 3rd position.
Rubens Barrichello will start 4th, the highest qualifying Brawn after Jenson Button faltered and did not get out of Q2. He will start in 14th tomorrow, a big harm to his world championship chances.
Kimi Raikkonen did much better than Badoer and will start 6th, those around him must be concerned about his KERS system.
Vettel and Webber made 8th and 9th for Red Bull, so should make valuable ground tomorrow.
The improving McLaren’s have struggled in Spa this afternoon, with Hamilton making just 12th place and Kovalainen 15th. Another big name between them is Fernando Alonso in 13th.
We thought the Toro Rosso’s looked good, but neither managed to get out of Q1 with Buemi starting 16th and Alguersuari 17th.
Romain Grosjean lines up alongside Badoer at the back, after the young French/Swiss made progress.
Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 1. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:45.102 1:44.667 1:46.308 2. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:45.140 1:44.503 1:46.395 3. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:45.566 1:44.709 1:46.500 4. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:45.237 1:44.834 1:46.513 5. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:45.655 1:44.557 1:46.586 6. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:45.579 1:44.953 1:46.633 7. Glock Toyota (B) 1:45.450 1:44.877 1:46.677 8. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:45.372 1:44.592 1:46.761 9. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:45.350 1:44.924 1:46.788 10. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:45.486 1:45.047 1:47.362 11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:45.486 1:45.119 12. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:45.239 1:45.122 13. Alonso Renault (B) 1:45.767 1:45.136 14. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:45.707 1:45.251 15. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:45.761 1:45.259 16. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:45.705 17. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:45.951 18. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:46.032 19. Grosjean Renault (B) 1:46.307 20. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:46.359
The Formula One musical chairs has begun in ernest this week as we head into the second part of the season at the European Grand Prix.
For the new team Campos Cosworth, they are at the centre of rumours that they will announce their drivers at this weekend’s race. This was quite a suprise for their principal Adrian Campos, but he admitted that the drivers would be announced “very soon” to Diario AS.
Meanwhile Radio Marca claims that McLaren test driver Pedro de La Rosa would be returning to a race seat with the team alongside Russian GP2 star Vitaly Petrov.
“I have a few more years of racing ability and would return to be with a team even that is not competitive.” De la Rosa told AS
Also on the musical chairs this week was the suprise announcement from Christian Klien that he would like a race seat with BMW Sauber for 2010. Er, maybe he didn’t get the memo? Anyway we got the idea of what he meant, whatever the team name for 2010 he was committed to Hinwil. He also claimed to have had offers this season but turned them down to support BMW.
With Alonso heading to Ferrari and Kubica to Renault, there would theoretically be one free seat. there have also been claims from Germany that Nick Heidfeld could be off to premier touring car series DTM as BMW look to enter the series as they head out of F1 and WTCC. Therefore 2 free seats at the team.
“There have been enquiries during this season,” said Klien. “The new teams are naturally interested in drivers with experience. But anyway this team (BMW Sauber) remains my first choice.
“With all the human capital and infrastructure at Hinwil I see no reason why we can’t build a successful car for 2010,” he added.
BMW have announced that their Formula One team, BMW Sauber will not be competing in F1 beyond the end of the 2009 season.
It is a bitter blow for the German/Swiss team which had seen gains through 2007 and 2008, but have suffered with a poor car in 2009.
The team were formed after BMW, who had supplied engines to Williams from 2000-2005, decided to buy out Peter Sauber’s small but successful Swiss team, Sauber based in Hinwil. They took over, and in 2006 they had an average season with Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve at the wheel. In 2007 they were much more competitive with Robert Kubica partnering Heidfeld. In 2008, Kubica recorded the teams first victory in Canada, a circuit where a season before RK left in a medical helicopter following a horror shunt.
Dr. Norbert Reithofer, chairman of BMW said this morning: “Of course, this was a difficult decision for us. But it’s a resolute step in view of our company’s strategic realignment,” he said.
“Premium will increasingly be defined in terms of sustainability and environmental compatibility. This is an area in which we want to remain in the lead. In line with our Strategy Number ONE, we are continually reviewing all projects and initiatives to check them for future viability and sustainability. Our Formula 1 campaign is thus less a key promoter for us.
“Mario Theissen has been in charge of our motor sports program since 1999. We have scored a large number of successes in this period, including some in Formula 1 racing. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mario Theissen and his team for this.”
There are lots of unknown’s following today’s ruling. The team is likely to be put up for sale, and could be bought by one of the teams who failed to get into F1 such as Lola or Prodrive or perhaps by a new investor looking to buy a going concern. The latter would secure jobs, but if the slot is made available then the jobs will be lost. Epsilon Euskadi has expressed interest in taking the slot of the team if they fold altogether.
Robert Kubica is a very talented and young driver, and although he stated he is keen to try his hand at rallying it is likely a big team will buy him in. Williams could be looking for a Nico Rosberg replacement, McLaren are looking for a replacement for Heikki Kovalainen or perhaps if Massa will not drive in F1 again and Alonso doesn’t have a contract with the Italian’s he could make a shock move to Ferrari. Nick Heidfeld on the other hand is far more uncertain, and at his age he might struggle to get another drive on the back of always promising good things but never really delivering.
Mario Theiseen was clearly delighted with his team’s progress in today’s Turkish Grand Prix qualifying session, after his cars will line up 10th and 11th on the grid.
After a disatorous Monaco weekend where Robert Kubica, tipped by some as a title threat, started in 18th position there was a clear line drawn that the F1.09 was not good enough.
With a new aerodynamic package, dropping KERS and adding a new diffuser the BMW is clearly getting back to some form.
“When all the drivers were running in the same conditions, the gap to the front-runners was just 0.4 seconds,” said Theissen. “That proves the new aero package has had a positive effect.
“We produced a solid performance. Obviously, our goal was, to get both cars into Q3, which didn’t quite work out.
“The whole field was very close. Nick missed Q3 by just five hundreds of a second, and Robert was finally tenth. What this means in terms of the race we will only see once we know the competitors’ strategy.”
Nick Heidfeld was incredibly down after yesterday’s Bahrain Grand Prix declaring the race, and things at BMW Sauber as completely disastorous.
The German driver, who was fighting high last season with Robert Kubica may have finished 25 races in a row, but he was in last position.
The BMW Sauber car looked slow, and although he had an incident early on, it was no excuse for the poor car – one which many people cite as the worst looking in F1.
“The result is a disaster, although we were unlucky with the collision in the first corner,” the German veteran said.
“At first I thought the suspension was broken, but I only had to have a new nose fitted in the pits and then continued. The first half of the race with the harder tyres was difficult, but the softer compound made it a little bit easier.”
“However, it is another race to forget and we all hope for improvements in Barcelona,” he concluded.
Dr Mario Theissen has admitted in an interview with Autosport that BMW Motorsport are fully committed to Formula One for the long term.
When the Honda Motor Company pulled out of F1 at the end of last season, BMW along with Toyota and Renault were alleged to be considering a similar exit leaving F1 with only Ferrari as a big manufacturer.
However, no more teams have left, and Brawn GP who have risen from the ashes of Honda seem a convincing replacement, perhaps even a better team.
Toyota have slashed their budgets, and here BMW are saying that F1 is right at the core of their company. The greatest world motorsport is pivotally vital to them and their brand development, alongside their World Formula BMW series’ and the WTCC entries.
“Today, BMW is spending 40 percent less on its involvement in Formula 1 than in 2005,” he said.
“Back then we were an engine supplier, but now have our own team, of course. Significant savings have been achieved through increases in the mileage required of each engine.
“When BMW returned to Formula 1 in 2000, we were using one engine for free practice, replacing it for qualifying and then fitting another new one for the race. This outlay has since been gradually reigned in and today each driver has to make do with eight engines for the full duration of the season.
“The heavily reduced testing schedule has brought further substantial budget savings. Testing on race circuits is banned outside of race weekends until 31 December 2009. The only exception will be tests for junior drivers with no GP experience after the season has finished. So we have put together a whole package of measures to reduce costs.”
Nick Heidfeld topped the time sheets in the BMW Sauber F1.09 on the final day of the Jerez test week which started last Sunday with all teams (bar Toro Rosso) running their 2009 machinery together for the first time.
Heidfeld put in 123 laps, by faar the busiest of the day.
He was just faster than Kimi Raikkonen who put the Ferrari in 2nd place, a locale it has held all week with consistent and reliable tests.
Lewis Hamilton was 3rd, he lost control of his car and put it in the barriers during the day and completed under 60 laps. The World Champion and his team look to be struggling at this crucial stage of the pre-season.
Webber and Nakajima were next, and propping up the times was Jarno Trulli who had lots of problems and got hardly any competitive running in.
The Italian was happy with his chance to run 2010 Bridgestone tyres however.
“That was a short day for us,” said Trulli. “We lost the morning to the weather but in the afternoon we had a chance to try out the 2010 Bridgestone slick tyres. The conditions remained difficult because the wind was still strong.
“On one run I picked up some damage to the front wing after running over kerbs. Still, we made it through a number of runs and collected data for the future. As for this season, this test shows that things are going well for us so we can be confident.”
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:20.052 123 2. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:20.404 112 3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:21.272 58 4. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:22.219 47 5. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:22.226 54 6. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:23.119 38