F1 News, Views and Reviews

Posts tagged “Tonio Liuzzi

Karthikeyan Makes Surprise F1 Return With HRT

Narain Karthikeyan has made a surprise return to Formula One after being announced as one of Hispania HRT’s drivers for the 2011 season.

The Indian driver was unveiled as the first racer to be working with the Spanish based squad, who look likely to enter into a second season of racing despite on-going financial concerns.  Karthikeyan first raced in Formula One with Jordan in 2005, before spending a brief time as a Williams test driver.  He has also raced in Superleague and in Audi sportscars.

Team principal Colin Kolles said: “It is a great pleasure for us to have signed Narain Karthikeyan as our race driver for the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship.

“I have known Narain for a long time and he can revert to the experiences he gained when he was competing for Jordan Grand Prix and being test and reserve driver for Williams F1. Narain has also been driving in other racing series and running in one of the legendary Audi sportscars in the Le Mans Series.

“I am sure that his experience and speed will be very useful for the team during the season. We are welcoming Narain to our team and we look forward to working closely with him this year.”

HRT have yet to announce their second driver, but it will not be Karun Chandhok.  He claims he declined the chance to race for the team.  Sources also suggest that Bruno Senna will not be returning as he cannot find enough sponsorship capital.  Nico Hulkenberg and Tonio Liuzzi are both linked to the seat with the minnows.



I’m Fine And Looking Forward To 2011 – Schumacher

Michael Schumacher reassured fans that he was totally fine following a horrific accident at yesterday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The former 7 time world champion was lucky to escape serious injury following an incident with Force India driver Vitantonio Liuzzi.  Schumacher spun early on into the first lap of the Grand Prix, and Liuzzi came flying around the corner to be greeted with Schumacher stranded in the middle of the circuit.  The Italian drivers car bounced up onto the Mercedes Benz narrowly missing Schumacher’s helmet.  The German was helpless inside the cockpit.

Both drivers emerged unscathed, and shook hands on their way back to the pitlane.

Schumacher said: “I went off the line, spun and because of the dirt there, the back of the car just came around.

“I had to go to the medical centre just for a precautionary check, but I am totally fine and was not hit by anything in the incident.”

It was a sad end to a poor come back year for Schumacher.  He had shown good pace towards the end of the season, and said he was looking forward to competing again next year with his German backed Mercedes Benz outfit.

“What happened is a shame as obviously I would have liked to have finished the season with a more positive ending,” he added.

“But I am already looking forward to fighting again next year.”



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
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


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

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
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


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

Force India and Red Bull Racing To Run F-Ducts In Turkey

Force India and Red Bull Racing have confirmed that they will be running F-Ducts in the practice sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend as they evaluate whether the air flow control mechanism is a worthy new technical advancement to their cars.

Vitantonio Liuzzi told reporters that the Force India team were very confident of their system, a system which is operated by the drivers wrist.

“We are really optimistic about it,” Liuzzi said. “You can never know. It might change tomorrow, but the team has done a big work in the wind tunnel for the last two weeks to test it and it seemed to work pretty well.

“Tomorrow we’ll get the confirmation because on track you never know, but we are pretty optimistic that it should be spot on.”

“We made a simple system with the wrist so we don’t have to take the hand off the steering wheel,” he added.

Meanwhile Red Bull Racing’s man of the moment Mark Webber told reporters in the pre-race press conference that Red Bull were to evaluate their own F-Duct system as they try and maintain their recent dominance.

“Yes, we will give the F-duct a go tomorrow,” Webber said during a pre-event press conference in Turkey. “We will give it a chance.”

Ferrari, who were one of the first teams to use the system are going to try a variation on the position of the hole that needs to be covered in order to stall the air during practice.

F-Duct air vent

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
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


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.”

Force India Launch Their 2010 Car – The VJM03

Force India become the latest team to show off their 2010 creation after taking the covers off the VJM03.

The team were speculated to be in financial difficulties following a mis-timed tax return, however all now seems well and on the back of a successful 2009 season, they look to the future with the more advanced design of this car.

The Silverstone based squad will have Adrian Sutil, the perennial German and Vitantonio Liuzzi racing for them, with DTM ace Paul di Resta working Friday practice and test role for them.

“There’s a little bit of variety out there but predominantly we are happy,” Mark Smith, design manager told Autosport. “You will always see something on each car that makes you think ‘that’s interesting’ but understanding how they work on your car is the key thing.

“We haven’t looked at photos and thought ‘we’ve missed something significant’ and we’re excited to get down to Jerez.”

Vijay Mallya was bouyant over his team, and said he wants podiums and points regularly this season.

“Our goal is to continue on the same path of performance improvement that we had at the end of 2009,” said Mallya.

“I don’t think I am being over-proud when I say 2009 was an exceptional year for us. The bare statistics say it all: one podium, one pole position, one fastest lap, a further five top 10 starts and 13 points.

“We’ve learnt from our experiences and we’ve come out a better team: resilient, resourceful and now resurgent. I hope 2010 will see this great progress carrying forward.

“We’ve got one podium so far but I would hope that, this time next year, I’m talking about more points and more podiums. I’m confident we can get this, why not aim high?’

Vitantonio Liuzzi, a driver who promised so much but has had little chance to deliver says that 2010 is a fresh start for him.

“In Force India I feel really good, the atmosphere is great and the team works well together,” he said. “Even when I was in a difficult position last year as a test driver they were very supportive and I’ve built a good strong relationship with them.

“I feel like I’m in a family and for sure much better environment than I have been in the past. This year is a new start for me. I’m a different person from two years ago and I am approaching it from a different mentality.

“It’s a different Tonio and I’m looking forward to what can come. I’m still young and have a lot of time in front of me so I just want to prove what I can do.”

Force India Retain Sutil And Liuzzi For 2010

Force India have announced they will be retaining the services of Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi as drivers for the forthcoming 2010 season.

The team based at Silverstone will keep the drivers they finished 2009 with.

While Adrian Sutil has now been with the same team since it was running under the Spyker moniker, the race seat is good news for former tester Liuzzi who only got a few races when Giancarlo Fisichella parted ways with Force India for Ferrari.

“We are very pleased to retain the services of both Adrian and Tonio for another season,” said team boss Vijay Mallya.

“We have always maintained that consistency is key at this stage in the team’s development and for the first time in many years we will have the continuity of not only the same drivers, but also the same engine and senior management.

“With this stability now in place I truly believe we have an excellent platform to build on and move forward on our strong 2009 performance. I am sure we have one of the most dynamic line-ups on the grid and I hope this will stand us in good stead in what we all hope will be a transitional year for the team.”

Force India had some really strong performances in 2009, and will be looking to maintain their strength into the new year.

Italian GP 2009: Barrichello Takes Strategic Win Of Quality Race

Rubens Barrichello took the chequered flag, and another win for himself and the Brawn GP team in today’s Italian Grand Prix after  a fantastic strategic effort from Ross Brawn.

The single stop strategy employed by the white cars of Brawn led to Jenson Button joining Rubens on the podium in 2nd, with Kimi Raikkonen being gifted 3rd place on the last lap.

Race Review

Lewis Hamilton didn’t get a great start, unlike Kimi Raikkonen and the Finn was forced onto the grass going down to the first chicane.  He managed to make a pass on Adrian Sutil, while the rest of the field fed around without bother – Timo Glock the only driver having to use the escape road.

Then into the second chicane, the first major incident – Robert Kubica tipped Mark Webber’s Red Bull round into the gravel and the Australian was forced to retire after just a handful of corners.  The incident led to front wing damage to Kubica’s BMW, and the Pole was forced into the pits some laps later as the FIA were concerned about its’ safety at 220mph.

Heikki Kovalainen had a terrible start, losing out to Barrichello and then Liuzzi and Alonso, despite claiming pre-race that he could win the GP and indeed his KERS system.

Hamilton then started to pull well away from Kimi Raikkonen, who to all intents and purposes held up Adrian Sutil as the Ferrari looked to struggle.

These 3 drivers at the top on 2 stop strategies made a big gap over the two Brawn’s behind them, and then Tonio Liuzzi held 7th well with Fernando Alonso hustling the Renault behind him, trying to squeeze every last bit of performance from the R29.

Hamilton pushed incredibly hard, the McLaren right on the ragged edge many times.  He pitted early, and Raikkonen & Sutil pulled ahead.  Hamilton was released into favourable traffic ahead of Liuzzi and Alonso.

With Raikkonen and Sutil then pitting, the now lighter Brawn’s pulled well away with Rubens Barrichello holding a good dap lead over championship rival and team mate Button.

Robert Kubica ended up retiring, with some kind of oil leak – although Martin Brundle claimed on BBC television that they were saving the engine as they were nearing their allocation limit.

Tonio Liuzzi too had a scare when he was driving through towards the Roggia chicane when at around 200mph the clutch appeared to break completely and the Force India driver ended his day in the sliproad of that chicane.  Disappointing after a fairly good weekend.

Giancarlo Fisichella looked largely average making his Ferrari debut, losing out on positions to various drivers, which in the end meant he finished the race in 9th place just behind Sebastian Vettel.  A shame for Fisichella not to score points on his debut.

After the final stops, Hamilton came out in 3rd behind the two Brawns and immediately started chasing.  Hamilton said after the race every lap was like “a qualifying one”.  Raikkonen and Sutil had a pitstop race, but both made mistakes! Raikkonen nearly stalled leaving his box, and Sutil tried to run down half his pitcrew.  Raikkonen came out in front and despite massive pressure would hold Adrian off until the end of the race.

The final piece of action really came from Lewis Hamilton, who, chasing down those Brawn’s managed to lose the car on the exit of the first Lesmo, spinning and smashing into an unforgiving tyre/concrete mixed barrier.  He ripped lots of bodywork off the car and left it strewn across the track. The ensuing double waved yellows and safety car board [in vein!] Raikkonen cruised passed and into 3rd place.

Classified Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 R. Barrichello Brawn Mercedes
2 J. Button Brawn Mercedes +2.866
3 K. Raikkonen Ferrari +30.664
4 A. Sutil Force India Mercedes +31.131
5 F. Alonso Renault +59.182
6 H. Kovalainen McLaren Mercedes +1.00.693
7 N. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +1.22.412
8 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault +1.25.472
9 G. Fisichella Ferrari +1.26.856
10 K. Nakajima Williams Toyota +2.00.000
11 T. Glock Toyota +2.43.925
12 L. Hamilton* McLaren Mercedes +1 lap
13 S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari +1 lap
14 J. Trulli Toyota +1 lap
15 R. Grosjean Renault +1 lap
16 N. Rosberg Williams Toyota +2 laps

*: Lewis Hamilton crashed on the final lap but was still classified by order of being 1 lap ahead of other runners classified lower.

Fastest Lap: A. Sutil (Force India) – 1.24.739


Driver Team Lap Reason
L. Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 55 Crash
V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes 23 Clutch
J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari 20 Unknown
R. Kubica BMW Sauber 16 Oil Leak
M. Webber Red Bull Renault 1 Crash


Italian GP 2009: Qualifying, Hamilton Takes Pole

Lewis Hamilton slotted his McLaren into pole position for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix, as the KERS and Mercedes Benz engined cars made the most of their performance advantage.

Indeed, Adrian Sutil will line up alongside Hamilton, his best ever qualifying in the Force India.  Kimi Raikkonen stares down Hamilton’s back end and will be looking for a good start, and possibly a 2nd win in a row for the Scuderia.

Kovalainen, Barrichello, Button and Liuzzi continue down to 7th, making it 6 cars in the top 7 with the Mercedes power units.

Alonso takes 8th, something to remove the limelight of Crash-Gate away from Renault.  His rookie team mate Romain Grosjean is down in 12th.

Splitting them are the Red Bull’s who really have lost their way over the past few Grand Prix.  Fisichella takes 14th in his first qualifying for Ferrari.

Jaime Alguersuari qualified last, and also takes a 5 place penalty for changing Gearboxes.

Post qualifying reaction here:

Pos  Driver       Team                       Q1        Q2        Q3
 1.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:23.375  1:22.973  1:24.066
 2.  Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:23.576  1:23.070  1:24.261
 3.  Raikkonen    Ferrari               (B)  1:23.349  1:23.426  1:24.523
 4.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:23.515  1:23.528  1:24.845
 5.  Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  1:23.483  1:22.976  1:25.015
 6.  Button       Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  1:23.403  1:22.955  1:25.030
 7.  Liuzzi       Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:23.578  1:23.207  1:25.043
 8.  Alonso       Renault               (B)  1:23.708  1:23.497  1:25.072
 9.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:23.558  1:23.545  1:25.180
10.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:23.755  1:23.273  1:25.314
11.  Trulli       Toyota                (B)  1:24.014  1:23.611
12.  Grosjean     Renault               (B)  1:23.975  1:23.728
13.  Kubica       BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:24.001  1:23.866
14.  Fisichella   Ferrari               (B)  1:23.828  1:23.901
15.  Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:23.584  1:24.275
16.  Glock        Toyota                (B)  1:24.036
17.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:24.074
18.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:24.121
19.  Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:24.220
20.  Alguersuari  Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:24.951