Monthly Archives: May 2010

Webber takes stunning pole in Monaco

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Robert Kubica after Monaco GP qualifying

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Robert Kubica after Monaco GP qualifying

Mark Webber took pole position for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix, with a stunning lap at the end of the session. He was battling with Robert Kubica for the entire session, and Sebastian Vettel was behind these two. Here is the report in full.

Q1

At the start of the session, it became clear that Fernando Alonso would not be able to compete in Q1, due to his crash in Saturday practice. He will therefore start from the pit lane, since the team are still working on the car.

All of the cars went out very quickly as the session started, as nobody wanted to be caught out by backmarkers. Robert Kubica set the initial pace, but was soon held up by one of the Virgin cars. Felipe Massa set a 1.15.6, to take the top of the timesheets, and Lewis Hamilton was soon 0.01 seconds behind. Nico Rosberg was setting fastest sector times in S1 and S2, but was constantly being held up in S3, so he was unable to set a fast time in the first half of the session. Once he did get a time in, he set a 1.15.1 to lead the session.

It was only momentary though, as Massa blitzed a 1.14.7 only seconds after Rosberg. As the session continued, most drivers improved as the track cleared, which was indicating that the new teams would all be knocked out in Q1. Kamui Kobayashi took a risk by setting all of his times on the harer tyre, which is half a second slower than the soft tyre, although he was able to get into Q2.

Heikki Kovalainen tried his best to go faster than Kobayashi, but spun at Mirabeau, and then at the Casino hairpin the next lap. Despite the new teams’ efforts, all of them were knocked out in Q1, in the usual order. Despite this, the Lotus cars were only 3 seconds off the pace, which is a good improvement.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Heikki Kovalainen

19) Jarno Trulli

20) Timo Glock

21) Lucas di Grassi

22) Bruno Senna

23) Karun Chandhok

24) Fernando Alonso

Q2

Again, like Q1, all cars went out instantly at the start, to try and avoid traffic. Vitaly Petrov went first, and set an impressive 1.15.5. Michael Schumacher used good tactics to give himself plenty of space, but wasn’t able to set the pace at the start. Again, Robert Kubica was the fastest man on track, with a 1.14.9.

Very soon, Schumacher matched that time, and Kubica then went 3 tenths quicker. Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton were very close out on track, and on their first laps they went 5th and 6th. Felipe Massa went one hundreth faster than Kubica, and then Rosberg smashed another 3 tenths off that time.

While Sebastian Vettel was up at the top, he wasn’t fast enough to take the lead. Jenson Button was struggling with 7 minutes to go, as he was sitting in 11th place. His next lap put him into 10th place, but only just (0.006 seconds), as he was slightly held up by Pedro de la Rosa.

Vitaly Petrov was going for a fast lap, as he was in 13th place, but he crashed at the Snt Devote corner, and brought out the yellow flags, ruining many drivers’ laps. However, the stewards were excellent in getting rid of the broken Renault in less than a minute. Once the car was cleared, everyone had one lap remaining to set a time.

However, none of the top 10 drivers were displaced by the other 7. Having said that, it was a very good session, as the top 7 were seperated by only 3 tenths of a second.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg

12) Adrian Sutil

13) Sebastien Buemi

14) Vitaly Petrov

15) Pedr de la Rosa

16) Kamui Kobayashi

17) Jaime Alguersuari

Q3

As Q3 started, it was very clear that is was going to be an incredibly close session, with many drivers gunning for pole. Both Robert Kubica and Vitantonio Liuzzi started the session on used super-soft tyres, to conserve another set for the race. It didn’t stop Robert though, as he quickly set a 1.14.7 to take top spot. Lewis Hamilton’s first time was 6 tenths slower than this.

But, in an instant, Kubica pulled out a stunning lap, a 1.14.2, to go an entire second faster than anyone else. All 10 cars then went out with 5 minutes to go, to try and knock Kubica off the top. Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button were first, but were miles off his time. However, when Jenson Button went round the last corner on a fast lap, he was hugely held up by Felipe Massa, who may well be penalised for that move.

As car after car set their lap, nobody got near Robert. Lewis Hamilton got within one tenth, but everyone else was still an entire second behind. Robert Kubica set another brilliant lap, but everyone was competely shocked when Mark Webber came out from nowhere to take provisional pole by a few hundreths. But, when many thought it was over, Webber set another stunning lap, a 1.13.8, to rip pole position from Kubica’s hands.

Sebastian Vettel still wasn’t entirely on the pace, but still took 3rd on the grid. Michael Schumacher was only 7th while team-mate Rosberg was 6th. Massa and Hamilton were 4th and 5th respectively, while Jenson Button was 8th after being held up by Felipe. Rubens Barrichello was 9th, and Liuzzi 10th. It was a stunning Q3 session, although Kubica must be dissapointed with 2nd after setting so many fast laps.

Full times from Monaco qualifying:

Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1.15.035 1.14.462 1.13.826
2 Robert Kubica Renault 1.15.045 1.14.549 1.14.120
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1.15.110 1.14.568 1.14.227
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.14.757 1.14.405 1.14.283
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.15.676 1.14.527 1.14.432
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1.15.188 1.14.375 1.14.544
7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1.15.649 1.14.691 1.14.590
8 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1.15.623 1.15.150 1.14.637
9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1.15.590 1.15.083 1.14.901
10 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1.15.397 1.15.061 1.15.170
11 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1.16.030 1.15.317
12 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1.15.445 1.15.318
13 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.15.961 1.15.413
14 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1.15.482 1.15.576
15 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1.15.908 1.15.692
16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1.16.175 1.15.992
17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.16.021 1.16.176
18 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1.17.094
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1.17.134
20 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1.17.377
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1.17.864
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1.18.509
23 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1.19.559
24 Fernando Alonso Ferrari

Monaco Grand Prix preview

Having practice sessions on Thursday makes it much easier for us to preview the Monaco Grand Prix easier. With what we have learned from yesterday on board, let’s have a look at this weekend’s race:

The track

There is little doubt that the Monaco track is the most difficult and punishing of the F1 tracks. This is mainly because of the barriers, which drivers are forced to scrape every single lap as they struggle for pace. The slightest mistake will result in their car flying into the barriers, putting them out of the race instantly. We saw this in practice to Kamui Kobayashi.

The Snt Devote corner is one of the most challenging corners on the track. At the start of the race, it is notorious for a pile-up at the back of the field, though oddly enough this hasn’t happened in recent years. Expect that to change though, as the heavy fuel loads and cold tyres at the start, paired with inexperienced drivers at the back, could well mean several drivers could get taken out. If they do, the safety car will be a certainty.

Next up is Massenet, or Turn 3. This is a long blind entry left hander, which requires good turn-in of the car to take it quickly. Understeer would be preferable here, as oversteet would result in the car spinning and hitting the outside barrier, as Karun Chandhok did yesterday.

Another difficult turn this year will be the Harbour Chicane, Turn 11. This is after the tunnel straight, and enters a heavy-braking area, where the track also goes downhill. Then, a quick left, then right, and the car is on the way to Tabac corner. The biggest danger here is losing control in the braking area, and possibly hitting a car in front. We saw loss of control here many times in practice, most noticeably by Jaime Alguersuari, who did very well to stop the car from crashing. This is also the only opportunity for overtaking, but don’t expect to see much of it.

The next difficult turn is the last one, Anthony Noghes. This is a bumpy right-hander, which requires maximum speed to keep going quickly on the pit straight. Several drivers went very close to the right barrier here yesterday.

As usual, Red Bull have their own analysis of the Monaco street circuit:

Tyres

Bridgestone are supplying the super-soft and medium tyres for this race. By the data we got yesterday, some teams are struggling with tyre wear on the super-soft compound. The medium compound, on the other hand, is quite a bit slower in terms of pace, though we are not sure by how much. However, there is not too much difficulty with warming them up either.

If drivers do opt for the super-soft tyres for the first stint, then they will only last for about 12 laps. After this, medium tyres will be the preferable choice, but it is unknown if they will last the distance.

Weather

A few days ago, many people were predicting rain for Thursday, but very little for the weekend. So far, we have only seen very slight rain on Thursday. Most weather services are only predicting for a chance of rain on Sunday, but not much of a chance. Therefore, it will probably be a dry weekend.

Air temperature will be around 20C, track temperature around 25C. There will be a slight wind on Saturday, which may cause problems with the drivers in places, but it will slow down by Sunday.

Drivers to watch

Fernando Alonso – After topping both Friday Practice sessions, and the Red Bulls being not as competitive, I would tip Alonso for the pole and win this weekend. The Ferrari has good pace here, despite the lack of the F-duct, due to good mechanical grip. Felipe Massa will only pose a threat to Fernando if he qualifies in front of him, which I doubt.

Michael Schumacher – There’s no denying that the Mercedes team are slowly working the car in Schumacher’s favour rather than Rosberg. Regardless of our opinions, it means that Michael will have a better chance this weekend, thanks to the chronic understeer being mostly fixed. A win is still out of the question, but I think it is within the car’s ability to challenge for a podium. Just as long as he doesn’t forget how to take La Rascasse.

Robert Kubica – Monaco is a circuit that often brings the gap down between the teams, since aerodynamic grip has very little effect here. Because of this, having a slower car won’t disadvantage Robert Kubica too much. He is still the outsider in the title race at the moment, and a good performance in Monaco would certainly help his cause. I’d saty that he has the ability to get a podium this weekend.

Adrian Sutil – Like I said about Kubica, the Force India’s disadvantages are made smaller at the Monaco circuit. In practice, we have seen Sutil do quite well, whereas team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi has been in the lower end of the midfield pack. His skill is undeniable, and he is improving in terms of keeping the car out of the barriers. A few points wouldn’t be too bad here in Monaco.

Monaco Grand Prix practice in pictures

Here are some photos from the Monaco Grand Prix practice from today:

Alonso tops Monaco Friday Practice 2

Fernando Alonso led both Friday Practice sessions in Monaco today

Fernando Alonso led both Friday Practice sessions in Monaco today

Fernando Alonso made it two in a row today, by topping the second practice session of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, as he did the first. This time, however, he was challenged much more by the other drivers.

This session proved to be much more difficult than the first, thanks to slightly damper conditions, as well as traffic on several occasions. Both Felipe Massa and Timo Glock ran wide at Snt Devote corner, for example. Michael Schumacher was repeatedly caught out by the new kerbs at the Turn 11 chicane.

Traffic proved to be a problem again, but not as you would expect. Felipe Massa went too slowly at the last corner, in preparation for the next lap, and Heikki Kovalainen squeezed through. This sort of situation may well prove to be a problem in qualifying, especially in Q1. For Massa’s next lap after this minor scare, he was holding up Timo Glock.

Then, light rain began to fall. It wasn’t hard enough to necessitate intermidiate tyres, but enough for the cars to have trouble. Lewis Hamilton had a moment at the Anthony Combes corner, but just about kept it together. Jaime Alguersuari nearly lost control at the Turn 11 chicane, like Kimi Raikkonen did in 2008, but very skilfully kept it out of the barriers.

Again, Alonso topped the session, but the other drivers were much closer than last time. Nico Rosberg was 2nd, and only one tenth back, and Sebastian Vettel was a further 9 hundreths behind. Felipe Massa was 2 hundreths slower than Vettel, and Michael Schumacher 2 hundreths again back from Massa. Then there was a gap of 5 hundreths of a second to Robert Kubica in 6th.

It was another relatively poor session for McLaren. Lewis Hamilton as 7th, after several near misses today. Jenson Button was 9th, but 4 tenths slower than Lewis. Mark Webber was another driver who was dissapointing, as he was 10th overall, and half a second slower than his team-mate.

The two Williams cars were 13th and 14th, with Hulkenberg leading Barrichello by two tenths of a second. Adrian Sutil again did much better than his team-mate Liuzzi, as Sutil was 8th, and 1.1 seconds quicker than Liuzzi in 15th.

The Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen was the fastest of the new teams. Lucas di Grassi split in between him and Jarno Trulli to get 20th. Timo Glock was 22nd, ahead of the two HRTs. It was a complete waste of a session for Bruno Senna, as his car is in need of the repair, and the team will have to wait until the parts are sent to them by Dallara. It is understood that it is a chassis problem, like Senna was saying last week. He therefore was the slowest of the grid this session.

Times from Monaco Friday Practice 2:

Driver Team Fastest lap Gap # of Laps
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.14.904 36
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1.15.013 0.109 40
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1.15.099 0.195 48
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.15.120 0.216 45
5 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1.15.143 0.239 38
6 Robert Kubica Renault 1.15.192 0.288 39
7 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.15.249 0.345 32
8 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1.15.460 0.556 42
9 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1.15.619 0.715 38
10 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1.15.620 0.716 28
11 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1.15.746 0.842 44
12 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.16.276 1.372 46
13 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1.16.348 1.444 48
14 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1.16.522 1.618 38
15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1.16.528 1.624 42
16 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1.16.599 1.695 36
17 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1.16.818 1.914 46
18 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.17.023 2.119 28
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1.18.184 3.28 48
20 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1.18.478 3.574 38
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1.18.667 3.763 13
22 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1.18.721 3.817 42
23 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1.20.313 5.409 36
24 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1.22.148 7.244 11

Alonso leads Monaco Friday Practice 1

Fernando Alonso set the pace in Monaco Friday Practice 1

Fernando Alonso set the pace in Monaco Friday Practice 1

Fernando Alonso set the pace for the start of the Monaco weekend, by topping the timesheets in Friday Practice 1. However, the Red Bulls weren’t far behind.

In the early part of the session, both McLarens of Button and Hamilton traded times, before Felipe Massa took the top spot. In fact, in the first half of the session, Alonso struggled slightly, having a sideways moment at the Anthony Noghes (the last) corner. However, when he went out later on, he beat all of his rivals with a 1.15.927.

The Red Bulls waited until the second half of the session to go out, as did the Force India drivers. However, in their case, Paul di Resta did not make an appearance, as the team felt they needed to develop as much as possible for this race. Sebastian Vettel went into second place 10 minutes from the end, only 0.073 seconds behind Fernando. Mark Webber was fourth, nearly four tenths back from his team-mate.

Robert Kubica had an excellent session, finishing third overall. He was consistently fast throughout, and was only 0.089 seconds slower than Alonso. Vitaly Petrov did not impress, though, as he was 14th, 1.7 seconds behind.

In the Mercedes pits, Michael Schumacher beat Nico Rosberg this time, though it was no fault of Nico’s. Michael was sixth fastest, 6 tenths behind Alonso, but Rosberg spent much of his time in the pits, due to an unspecified problem with the car. He only managed 15 laps, and was 11th.

Adrian Sutil once again got into the top 10, and once again Vitantonio Liuzzi failed to get anywhere near his team-mate. While Sutil was 9th, and right behind the McLarens, Liuzzi was 13th, 9 tenths slower than Adrian. It was a similar situation at Toro Rosso, where Sebastien Buemi impressed with 10th place. However, Jaime Alguersuari was an entire second slower than Buemi, and therefore was only 15th.

The Saubers were the slowest of the midfield, finishing 17th and 18th. Kamui Kobayashi had another eventful session, as he hit the barriers after the kerb at the swimming pool corner. The crash resulted in damaged suspension and no front wing. Despite this, he still set 32 laps, which was more than most of the field. Pedro de la Rosa set 38 laps in comparison.

The Virgin of Timo Glock was the fastest of the new teams for once. He impressed by only being 3.6 seconds slower than Fernando Alonso. The two Lotus drivers of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli were behind Glock, half a tenth and 3 tenths slower respectively. Lucas di Grassi was a further 7 tenths slower than this group, ending up in 22nd.

The HRT drivers filled the back row again. Bruno Senna beat Karun Chandhok by two tenths, but set 22 more laps. This is because Chandhok spun his car at Massenet, and did not set a lap time after that.

At the end of the session, there were 22 cars out on track, which gave everyone a good impression of what will happen in Q1 on Saturday.

Times from Monaco Friday Practice 1:

Driver Team Fastest lap Gap # of Laps
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.15.927 32
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1.16.000 0.073 27
3 Robert Kubica Renault 1.16.016 0.089 28
4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1.16.382 0.455 25
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.16.517 0.59 30
6 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1.16.589 0.662 21
7 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.16.647 0.72 32
8 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1.16.692 0.765 30
9 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1.16.805 0.878 23
10 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.16.857 0.93 31
11 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1.17.149 1.222 15
12 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1.17.331 1.404 28
13 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1.17.704 1.777 27
14 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1.17.718 1.791 39
15 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.17.991 2.064 37
16 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1.18.397 2.47 39
17 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1.18.434 2.507 38
18 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1.18.547 2.62 32
19 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1.19.527 3.6 24
20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1.19.606 3.679 32
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1.19.902 3.975 31
22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1.20.566 4.639 18
23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1.21.688 5.761 28
24 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1.21.853 5.926 6

American Cypher Group hoping to apply for 2011 grid spot

The American Cypher Group, who are planning to submit an entry for 2011

The American Cypher Group, who are planning to submit an entry for 2011

The American Cypher Group, which is a group of Formula 1 engineers, is hoping to build up a budget to apply for the grid spot for 2011.

With USF1 failing to make it to the grid this year, the American Cypher Group are now hoping to take advantage of the empty grid spot for the 2011 season. They would be based in North Carolina if their plan went ahead, but they have no links with the dead USF1 team. However, they are stressing that their plan is in a preliminary phase at the moment:

"We will only place a full application should we achieve fully the 
budget we believe is required to do this properly.

Even though we have some ex US F1 members in our mix, Cypher Group 
was not born of disgruntled ex US F1 employees. Cypher Group and 
its international members simply saw the potential of a US-based F1 
team, the disappointment of the fans and the dreams of many young 
American engineers of having a home team. Hence we wish to give 
America the shot it deserves.

Again we recognise that the time frame is not ideal, however we feel 
it has to be done now, due to the availability of a grid slot. But 
as we have stated, we will not submit a full entry unless we can 
fully achieve the budget we believe is required to do this properly."

This is strange, as I don’t think anyone has heard of them. I had a look around, they do have Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as a website, which is about as far as USF1 got. Still, if they are good engineers, then I’ll give them a shot. Not give them the spot, mind you, but give them a chance to get a budget together and to get started on the car.

I really can’t say much otherwise at the moment, knowing so little about them. What do you think?

2009 flashback: Tyre mastery gives Button a flawless win

The Formula 1 paddock rolled into their most glamorous venue: Monaco. Jenson Button led the driver’s championship, 14 points ahead of Rubens Barrichello, as he had taken 41 points out of a possible 45. Brawn were still the force to be reckoned with, even if the other teams were fighting back.

Red Bull had upgraded their RB5, including a new double-decker diffuser. Force India had added new front and rear wings, in an attempt to score their first ever points. Other teams like Toyota and BMW Sauber had changed thei cars for more mechanical grip.

Lewis Hamilton crashes in qualifying at Mirabeau

Lewis Hamilton crashes in qualifying at Mirabeau

In qualifying, the first event was Lewis Hamilton crashing in Q1, at the Mirabeau corner, and damaging his suspension. He had already set a time, but was still knocked out in 16th place. But, he also changed his gearbox, and had to start 19th. In Q3, Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel dominated the session, until Button cam in with a stunning lap to take pole position. The KERS-equipped Kimi Raikkonen started 2nd, a clear sign that the Ferraris were starting to be competitive.

Before the start, Vettel and both Brawn drivers took on the super-soft tyres, while everyone else stayed with the softer compound. At the first corner, Raikkonen lost second place to Barrichello, despite his KERS advantage. For the next few laps, the main concern was how the super-soft tyres would hold up.

After the start, Felipe Massa was trying to work his way up the field. He had qualified 5th, but failed to make any progress despite his KERS. He tried a move on the 4th placed Sebastian Vettel at the Turn 11 chicane, but locked his tyres, and cut the corner. He accidentaly overtook Vettel, and was instructed to hand the position back to Sebastian, but at the same time keep an eye out for Nico Rosberg behind. But, when Felipe slowed to allow Vettel through, Nico made a daring move to squeeze himself past Massa as well.

On Lap 10, Sebastien Buemi was battling with Nelson Piquet Jr at the back of the field. Buemi missed his braking point at Snt Devote, and smashed into the back of the Renault, taking off Piquet’s rear wing. Both drivers were forced to instantly retire. Piquet was furious at Buemi’s mistake afterwards.

Buemi misses his braking point and takes out Piquet

Buemi misses his braking point and takes out Piquet

Soon enough, it became apparent that the super-soft tyres were disintegrating at a rapid pace, after Lap 12. The Red Bull of Vettel was most harmed by this, as the Brawn cars were more easy in terms of tyre wear. On Lap 15, again at Snt Devote, Sebastian locked his rear brakes, went too quickly into the corner, and crashed. Barrichello had the same problem of heavily worn tyres, and pitted soon after.

Button, on the other hand, was able to perfectly manage his super-soft tyres, and pulled out fantastic laps with them even when they began to wear. He soon pulled out a 15 second advantage over Barrichello after the first pit stop.

However, behind Button’s dominance, it wasn’t a classic race. After the first pit stops, the next piece of action came on Lap 51, when Heikki Kovalainen crashed his McLaren at the Swimming Pool complex, due to a lack of traction exiting the corner. His team-mate Hamilton was having a torrid race also. He brushed with Nick Heidfeld on Lap 10, and couldn’t make progress after that. It couldn’t be a greater difference from 2008, and the same could be said about Jenson Button.

Jenson Button takes one step further to please the fans!

Jenson Button takes one step further to please the fans!

Despite Kazuki Nakajima crashing on the last lap at Mirabeau, nothing could stop Button taking the win. Once he crossed the line, he shouted the famous line: “Monaco baby, yeah!” The only mistake he made all day was after the finish, when he accidentaly parked his car in parc ferme, instead of on the main straight like the top 3 finishers in Monaco are supposed to do. He therefore got out of his car, and ran down the pit straight to the podium! It was an unusual ending to the race for Prince Albert 2nd, who was forced to wait with Barrichello and Raikkonen at the podium while Button casually legged it!

Jenson Button celebrates with Nick Fry after the race

Jenson Button celebrates with Nick Fry after the race

This victory gave Button plenty of records. He now held the third best-ever start to a season in F1, with 5 wins and 1 third place in 6 races. It was also the first time in modern F1 that a single engine won 3 races in a row, the first time since the 1950’s. Also, this was the first time since 2006 that a driver had won 3 races in a row.

Button now stretched out his lead in the standings, with 51 points compared to Barrichello’s 35. Vettel was a further 8 back on 23, while Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli had 19.5 and 14.5 respectively. Brawn now had 86 constructor’s points, ahead of Red Bull (42.5), Toyota (26.5), Ferrari (17) and McLaren (13).

Next up was Turkey, where Button would aim to equal the greatest start to the first 7 races of an F1 season.

Here is the official race review:

Senna claims HRT chassis is damaged

Bruno Senna's recent poor qualifying may have been caused by chassis damage

Bruno Senna's recent poor qualifying may have been caused by chassis damage

Bruno Senna believes that his HRT chassis may be carrying a problem, which has been causing him difficulties in recent races.

His team-mate, Karun Chandhok, out-qualified him in Spain by 4 tenths of a second, and Bruno believes that this may have been caused by damage to the chassis. He is quoted by Brazil’s Globo as saying:

"There is something wrong at the back and we have still not found 
what it is. I only know that it has been eating up the tyres.
Perhaps the floor is loose, we don't know, but whatever it is, it's 
serious. If we don't find what it is then it is possible I will 
have to make several pitstops, because the tyres are not going to 
last. (referring to Spanish GP)"

It may well explain why Chandhok has out-qualified him in 2 out of the last 3 races. If it was the case, I would be amazed as how to the HRT mechanics haven’t spotted it yet, especially if it with the floor as he suggests.

Driving the worst car on the grid must be extremely challenging for Senna and Chandhok, and problems like this really don’t help at all. For Monaco next weekend, their critical lack of downforce will mean they will almost certainly be stuck at the back.

Slow backmarkers – We’ve seen it before

Last weekend, at the Spanish Grand Prix, we saw several incidents occur because of backmarkers in the way, such as Felipe Massa hitting Karun Chandhok, and a slow Lucas di Grassi giving Hamilton a position ahead of Vettel. While the first incident I mentioned was not the backmarker’s fault, it is at least an indicator of the dangers of slower cars on the track.

With the Monaco Grand Prix next weekend, many teams were concerned about Q1 being too congested, with drivers unable to set a fast lap, and possibly an accident. Since then, the idea of a split qualifying session was suggested, but no agreement was reached between the teams.

However, the problem of slow backmarkers is certainly not a new one. Throughout Formula 1 history, there are many occasions of drivers holding up each other in crucial situations, some accidental, some not.

Norberto Fontana, Jerez 1997

This is one you may well remember. In the championship showdown of 1997, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve were battling for the lead, and the title at the same time. They approached the backmarker Norberto Fontana of Sauber. Fontana allowed Schumacher through swiftly, but enraged Villeneuve by holding him up for around half a lap, by which time the gap between him and Schumacher was 3 seconds.

But, it may not have been accidental. Fontana alleged, years later, that he was instructed by Jean Todt, before the race, to hold Jacques up if the situation arised. He said:

"Two or three hours before the race started Jean Todt entered [the
motorhome] and went straight to the point: by strict order of Ferrari,
Villeneuve must be held up if you come across him on the track. To
whoever this applies."

Although Peter Sauber denies this, Martin Brundle made a fair point (in the video) that Sauber were using Ferrari engines. Also, in the years afterwards, Sauber were expected to vote Ferrari’s way when it came to technical rule changes. Have a look for yourself:

Jean-Denis Deletraz – All 3 races of his career

Another well known name, and not for a good reason. Deletraz was signed by Larrousse, who were desperately short of money, and Jean-Denis had plenty of sponsorship. On his debut in Adelade, he had fallen behind by 80 seconds after only 9 laps, and was lapped repeatedly before he retired on Lap 57. He was somehow allowed to drive the Pacific car for the last 5 races of the 1995 season, but didn’t improve. In qualifying at the Nurburgring, he was 12 seconds behind the pole sitter, and actually would have qualified 22nd in a F3000 support race with that time. After 3 laps in the race, he was 40 seconds behind, and was lapped after 7.

You may be wondering where the incidents with the frontrunners are, I’m getting to that. At that same race, he was involved in 2 seperate incidents. First of all, when Michael Schumacher was lapping him (again), Deletraz proceeded to weave on the track, while Schumacher was passing him, leading Murray Walker to ask: What is he doing?

Then, later on in the race, Damon Hill, Gerhard Berger and Michael Schumacher were all battling for position, while Deletraz was about to be lapped up ahead. When Michael went past him, he nearly turned into the path of Damon Hill, who had to lock his brakes to avoid him.

Satoru Nakajima – Interlagos 1990

This was Interlagos’ first ever F1 race, and Ayrton Senna was on course to win his home Grand Prix for the first time. But, when he came up to lap the Tyrrell of Satoru Nakajima, he collided with him, knocking off his front wing. He was forced to pit for repairs, and threw away his chances of winning.

While Senna did make a lunge down the inside, I would still say that Nakajima didmove too close to the inside. Have a look at the video to see for yourself (skip to 8:10):

Jos Verstappen – Interlagos 2001

Sometimes, you have just no excuse. Juan Pablo Montoya was in the lead of the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix, and on course to win the first race of his career. He was comfortably in front, and came up to lap the backmarkers.

He passed Jos Verstappen on the straight after Turn 2, but disaster struck at Turn 3. Jos completely lost his braking point, and smashed into the back of Montoya, taking him out of the race on the spot. They blamed each other afterwards, but when you have a look at the replay, seeing Jos swerve behind Montoya says it all.

Sorry for the stupid music on this video, was the only one I could find:

Eliseo Salazar – Hockenheimring 1982

Another driver being taken out from the lead here. This time, at the 1982 German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring, Nelson Piquet was making his way past backmarkers, when he came up against Chilean Eliseo Salazar. Eliseo failed to brake in time for the chicane, and failed to let Piquet through as well, meaning an imminent crash, and a furious Piquet. A brief fight started, before both drivers left.

A few months afterwards, a BMW mechanic told Piquet that his engine was about to blow before he crashed. So, Nelson called up Salazar, thanking him for sparing BMW embarresment at their home race.

Keke Rosberg – Brands Hatch 1985

Most of the incidents I have listed here were accidents, but what Rosberg did here to Ayrton Senna was absolutely disgraceful.

On Lap 6, Senna and Rosberg collided, which gave him a puncture. Rosberg was furious that Senna had closed the door on him, but was forced to pit. However, when he exited the pit lane, he just happened to exit right ahead of Ayrton, albeit one lap down, with Rosberg’s team-mate Nigel Mansell right behind them.

Keke proceeded to hold up Ayrton for as long as he could, until Nigel took the lead from the Brazilian. Rosberg let his team-mate past, before holding up Senna a little bit more. If he did something like that today, a massive punishment would be in order.

By showing all of this, hopefully we can see that the problem of slow backmarkers is not a new one. Monaco will probably see a collision, but with 6 slow cars, and after watching these videos, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more.

Hamilton crash confirmed as rim failure

The cause of Lewis Hamilton's crash has been confirmed as rim failure

The cause of Lewis Hamilton's crash has been confirmed as rim failure

Martin Whitmarsh today confirmed that the crash for Lewis Hamilton near the end of the Spanish Grand Prix was caused by rim failure.

Lewis was running second on the penultimate lap, when his front right tyre failed, and he crashed into the barriers at Turn 3. He was fine, but it threw away the opportunity for McLaren drivers to be running 1-2 in the drivers’ standings. Since then, the cause of the crash has been confirmed as rim failure.

On the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in, Whitmarsh said that the team are still investigating the crash:

"We flew the parts back yesterday and had Bridgestone here. We do 
not believe that the deflation was caused by a puncture or tyre 
failure. From all the evidence it looks like the rim failed which 
caused deflation.

The rim failure is being investigated. It could be debris related, 
it could be an issue of deflection, it could be an issue of 
tightness or lack of in the wheel nut allowing some flexing.

So what we know is, the rim failed, probably human error somewhere 
in that process caused that, which led to deflation and the 
accident."

Another tyre failure for McLaren, and if it was human error, it wouldn’t be the first time. In the Nurburgring 2007, Hamilton crashed heavily in qualifying, because the right front wheel wasn’t properly secured by the mechanics. In Barcelona 2008, Heikki Kovalainen had a horrible smash at Campsa corner, caused by a manufacturing fault on the left front wheel.

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