Monthly Archives: July 2010

Ferrari fined $100,000 and WMSC to investigate further

Ferrari have been fined $100,000 after they broke the Sporting Regulations of Formula 1 twice, regarding the team order to Felipe Massa to allow Fernando Alonso through, during the German Grand Prix. Also, the World Motor Sport Council have been referred to, meaning that they will investigate this matter further.

Felipe Massa is ordered to allow Fernando Alonso through

Felipe Massa is ordered to allow Fernando Alonso through

After the race, the team claimed that they had not ordered Massa to let Alonso through, and only “provided him with information”, even though radio transmissions proved otherwise. Also, Massa said that he allowed Alonso through,albeit of his own choosing.

The stewards decided that this incident broke article 39.1 of the Sporting Regulations, which states: “Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.” Also, it was decided that the infamous article 151c of the International Sporting Code was broken , which involves bringing the sport into disrepute.

They decided on a fine of $100,000, even though they fined Ferrari $1,000,000 after Austria, when Rubens Barrichello allowed Michael Schumacher through at the very last second on the final lap, after being shouted at for many laps by the Ferrari boss, Jean Todt.

While the opportunity of further punishment is appealing, the fact of the matter is that the next World Motor Sport Council meeting is in September, by which time the excuse will be “it’s too late for another penalty”. In my opinion, a big loss of constructor’s points would do, as they would lose plenty more money by finishing further down the order. However, the drivers’ points should remain unchanged, as they weren’t the ones who orchestrated this incident, although you could argue that Felipe was a bit spineless letting Alonso through.

Team orders taint F1 yet again by Ferrari

It couldn’t come worse for Felipe Massa. Exactly one year after his crash in Hungary that ruled him out for the rest of the year, his team have turned his back on him, and blatantly taken a rightful win off him. Of course, championship points are what Fernando needs at the moment, but this cannot cover what happened today.

This incident kicked off when Alonso was unable to make a move on Massa for the lead. He complained on the radio: “This is ridiculous”. Clearly, the heads of the team wanted Fernando to get through, and the engineers, specifically Rob Smedley, were fighting for the drivers to battle over the lead themselves. After many laps of arguing over the matter, Smedley dejectedly ordered Massa to lift and allow Alonso through.

After this, nobody on the pit wall spoke to each other, Smedley sitting there, with his arms folded, not saying a word. Stefano Domenicail was in between Smedley and Chris Dyer, who was similarly refusing to talk, although it is not known what side of the argument he was on.

The problem lies within the FIA’s inability to punish Ferrari for this blatant act of team orders. Firstly, the stewards will need to find hard evidence to hand out a penalty, and unfortunately “Fernando is faster than you” just doesn’t cut it as evidence. While there is 100% certainty that the race was manipulated by Ferrari, they have conveniently maneuvered themselves in such a way that they cannot realistically be punished. And secondly…. Jean Todt is FIA president. Do you trust him in this situation? I don’t. But it would be nice to be surprised.

If Ferrari were to be punished, excellent. Team orders would be fully banned (at least in situations in relation to the lead of the race), and it would not happen again. If that were the case, then I would be happy enough, and move on. But, Ferrari, even if they were summoned to the stewards, could use many other blatant team orders to defend themselves. Look at Kovalainen letting Hamilton through in Germany 2008, or Raikkonen and Massa in China ’08. The radio transmission “Driver X is faster than you” has previously been shown to work, and I don’t think that it will change this time.

So, we must point the finger of blame, but I don’t think it should be aimed at Fernando Alonso. While he certainly gained from this, it was the team who made the call, and they are the ones who need to be taught a lesson. On the other hand, Fernando’s complaining about “this is ridiculous” earlier on shows that he was expecting Massa to let him through, as opposed to what happened in Australia, when he was held up by Felipe all race long.

However, should we not criticise Massa, who was obviously slower than Alonso? When Fernando got through, he was up to half a second faster at points, and pulled out a 4 second lead by the end of the race. This situation would never have happened if Felipe had the pace to stay away from Fernando in the first place.

But that’s not justifying the team order. What happened today has happened many times before, and it needs to stop now. The McLaren and Red Bull bosses are saying that they treat their drivers equally (cough *Webber* cough), and that Alonso is gaining an unfair advantage by using Massa to help himself to some extra points, and this is perfectly true. Look at what happened in Turkey, when Vettel and Webber collided. While what happened was completely unnecessary, at least the team allowed them to race each other, rather than ruin the excitement (before the crash, that is) by issuing team orders.

In fact, the shining example of how to treat your drivers comes from McLaren, who have been excellent so far in giving equal treatment to both Button and Hamilton. While the “save fuel” incident initially caused concern, the team later said that it was a mistake by Hamilton’s engineer, and I would believe them. If the world championship ended today, then McLaren would totally deserve to win it. Button or Hamilton? Doesn’t really matter.

You know what the worst part of this is for me? While in London, I bought a Ferrari shirt, and I’m wearing it as I write this.  Looking back, not a perfectly timed purchase.

Alonso leads Ferrari 1-2 amid team orders in Germany

Fernando Alonso won the German Grand Prix today, ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa. However, this result was overshadowed by a coded team order from Ferrari to Felipe Massa, instructing him to allow Alonso through during the race. Behind the two Ferraris, Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull.

At the start, Vettel was slow to start, and both Alonso and Massa took 2 different routes to get around him. Fernando Alonso was pushed up by Vettel close to the wall, but still got through, while Felipe sailed around the outside and took the lead. At the hairpin, the Toro Rossos collided, with Jaime Alguersuari ripping off Sebastien Buemi’s rear wing, putting him straight out, and Jaime pitting for a new front wing.

Vitantonio Liuzzi hit the debris and pitted for repairs, but Adrian Sutil also pitted on the same lap. In a huge mix-up, the Force India team put each other’s tyres on both cars, which led to the FIA instructing the team to change the tyres again on both cars.

Jenson Button fell to 6th at the start, behind Mark Webber, who was overtaken by Lewis Hamilton. The top 6 began to swiftly move away from the rest of the field, as the super-soft tyres were holding up much better than expected. Sebastian Vettel got the ball rolling on Lap 12, when he switched to the hard tyres. This prompted a flurry of stops from the frontrunners, with nearly all of his rivals stopping in the next few laps.

Everyone except Jenson Button, that is. He opted to stayo out until Lap 22, and when he did change tyres, he got out ahead of Mark Webber to move into 5th place.

After this, the main battle was for the lead, with Alonso pressurising Massa. Up until Lap 28, Felipe kept Fernando at bay, until the Spainard decided to c0nserve fuel for a few laps, giving Massa a few seconds of room. However, within a few laps, Alonso had already began to catch up, and was less than 2 seconds behind.

Massa holding him up allowed Sebastian Vettel to close up behind Alonso, and this angered the team. Under no circumstances would they allow their 1-2 to be compromised, and they also felt that Alonso needed the extra points. So, on Lap 48, after a few laps of the team engineers arguing, Rob Smedley dejectedly sent a message to Massa: “Felipe, Fernando… is… faster… than… you. Can you confirm you understood that message?”

Clearly he did, as Massa slowed down to allow Alonso through on the next lap. Smedley simply said “sorry” to Felipe, as Fernando sailed away into the distance. Now, the focus switched to Mark Webber, who was under instruction to lift off on the straight, as he had an engine oil consumption problem. He managed it well, but he lost the opprtunity to challenge Button for 5th place.

While many were furious about the team order, it was very clear that Alonso was now much faster than Felipe, as Sebastian Vettel began to close on Massa. While he got within 1.4 seconds, he was unable to make a move for 2nd place.

Most drivers started on the super-soft, then switched to the harder tyre. However, both Pedro de la Rosa and Nico Hulkenberg decided to start on the hard tyre for most of the race first, then use the soft at the end. The strategy did not work though, as Hulkenberg and De la Rosa were 13th and 14th respectively.

With no more moves until the end, Alonso crossed the line first, 4.1 seconds ahead of Massa, with Vettel another second behind. The McLarens just didn’t have the pace today, as Hamilton and Button were 4th and 5th, more than 25 seconds behind Alonso. Mark Webber was another 14 seconds slower than Button, in a poor result for Red Bull.

With all the focus at the front, the other points-scorers went practically unnoticed. Robert Kubica was 7th, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. Vitaly Petrov was 10th, getting in the points for the first time since China.

It was a poor day for the new teams, with both Lotus cars retiring, followed by Lucas di Grassi and Sakon Yamamoto. Only Glock and Senna were classified in the finish. It was a disaster for Force India, with Liuzzi and Sutil 16th and 17th.

So, the German Grand Prix is over now, but the controversy over team orders has just begun. A post about it will be up soon.

The standings have also been updated, you can view them here.

Vettel pips Alonso to pole in Germany

Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position for the German Grand Prix – but only by 0.002 seconds, ahead of the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. Mark Webber made a mistake on his final lap, and could only start 4th. Here is the full report:

Q1

Before the session even began, it emerged that Lucas di Grassi would be unable to take part, as a gearbox issue had forced him out. While he did go out, he pitted instantly, suggesting a ratio problem. A later gearbox change sealed his fate at the back of the grid.

After only 5 minutes, the session was halted when Vitantonio Liuzzi crashed into the pit wall after the final corner, in a very similar fashion to Timo Glock here in 2008. Ironically, it was Glock who had to swerve to avoid one of Liuzzi’s detached tyres.The session later restarted, and Mark Webber did a 1.16.024 to go fastest on an old set of tyres, before Lewis Hamilton got a 1.15.505 on a new set.

Sebastian, on a new set of tyres, unlike Mark, could only go a few tenths faster, but still was 2nd. Jenson Button was 3 tenths off Hamilton, before Vettel went around again to blast 4 tenths off the fastest time. Further back, Nico Rosberg was struggling in the dropout zone, after 2 previously failed attempts, but finally got a 1.16.1 to get up to 6th.

Then, Fernando Alonso set the fastest time of the weekend so far, with a 1.14.808. This left the Lotus, Virgin and HRT cars all out, alongside Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Jarno Trulli

19) Heikki Kovalainen

20) Timo Glock

21) Bruno Senna

22) Vitantonio Liuzzi

23) Sakon Yamamoto

24) Lucas di Grassi

Q2

The first set of laps were mostly done on the harder tyres, except for Felipe Massa, who opted to do his first lap on the super-softs. This allowed him to set the fastest time early on, with a 1.14.607. He could have gone even faster, but a mistake in the final sector cost him the lap.

However, once the other frontrunners switched to the super-soft tyres for their second runs. Team-mate Fernando Alonso raised the bar for fast laps even higher, with a 1.14 dead. The Mercedes drivers were 11th and 12th with 6 minutes remaining, while Adrian Sutil was struggling in 14th with a suspected gearbox problem.

In the final few minutes, Nico Rosberg edged out Schumacher by 0.008 seconds, leaving them 9th and 10th. However, Nico Hulkenberg went faster than both of them, leaving Michael 11th and out of Q2. He was joined by both Sauber drivers, Toro Rossos, Vitaly Petrov and Adrian Sutil, who will drop a further 5 places thanks to a gearbox change.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Michael Schumacher

12) Kamui Kobayashi

13) Vitaly Petrov

14) Adrian Sutil

15) Pedro de la Rosa

16) Jaime Alguersuari

17) Sebastien Buemi

Q3

At the start of Q3, Fernando Alonso got the fastest lap in first, while Sebastian Vettel was unable to beat that time, also on super-soft tyres. Mark Webber’s first lap was a 1.14.3, but he was unable to improve upon it later.

At the second runs, Sebastian Vettel did a stunning lap, to snatch pole position by 0.002 seconds from Alonso, setting a 1.13.791. While Felipe Massa was 3rd, he was a half a second slower, and Webber ran wide at Turn 1 on his final lap, leaving him in 4th. Jenson Button edged out Hamilton by one tenth, leaving them 5th and 6th.

Robert Kubica was 7th, Rubens Barrichello 8th, Nico Rosberg 9th and Nico Hulkenberg finishing off the top 10.

While starting 1st is the best place to be, the two Ferraris will be in place to keep Sebastian Vettel on his toes tomorrow. Also, Button and Hamilton are not to be excluded, as their faster straight-line speed will help them keep up.

Alonso leads dry German FP2

Fernando Alonso pipped Sebastian Vettel today in Friday Practice 2, as the track was dry for most of the session. Despite a brief rain shower at the start, the track quickly got back up to temperature, and slick tyres were used for the first time this weekend. Lewis Hamilton was forced to sit out most of the session, thanks to his crash in FP1.

Fernando Alonso was ahead of Sebastian Vettel in German FP2 today

Fernando Alonso was ahead of Sebastian Vettel in German FP2 today

In Friday Practice 1, the fastest lap was a 1.25.701. In contrast, Alonso’s fastest lap in FP2 was a 1.16.265, more than 9 seconds faster. Sebastian Vettel was 0.029 seconds slower in 2nd place. Felipe Massa and Mark Webber were 3rd and 4th, while the Mercedes drivers of Rosberg and Schumacher were 5th and 6th. Lewis Hamilton, Robert Kubica, Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg topped off the top 10.

Kamui Kobayashi was 11th, followed by Vitaly Petrov, Pedro de la Rosa and Adrian Sutil. Jenson Button was unable to keep up the pace from FP1, and was 15th. Vitantonio Liuzzi was 16th, followed by the two Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.

Timo Glock was again the quickest driver of the new teams, ahead of Jarno Trulli and Lucas di Grassi. Heikki Kovalainen was 22nd, and Bruno Senna was 23rd. Sakon Yamamoto was last, and 1.1 seconds slower than Senna.

Sutil leads in the rain in German FP1

Adrian Sutil topped a heavily rain-affected Friday Practice 1 session at the Hockenheimring. The track started out very wet, and then slowly started to dry out as the session continued, although times were still very slow, the fastest of which were in the 1.25s. The biggest surprise came when Lewis Hamilton crashed out after only 8 laps.

Adrian Sutil topped FP1 in the Hockenheimring today

Adrian Sutil topped FP1 in the Hockenheimring today

McLaren had fitted the new and fully working blown diffuser to Hamilton’s car this weekend, but information was going to be limited in the wet conditions. Matters were made even worse when Lewis lost control at the end of Turn 3, and hit the barrier nose-first, then rotated and hit the left-rear. This left the McLaren out for the rest of the session.

Adrian Sutil was faster by an entire second to Felipe Massa, who spun several times on the drying track. Behind him were Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Vitaly Petrov, Nico Rosberg, Sebastien Buemi, Nico Hulkenberg, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Pedro de la Rosa in the top 10.

Further back, Sebastian Vettel was 11th while Timo Glock was 12th for Virgin. Behind them, it was Robert Kubica, Mark Webber, Jarno Trulli, Jaime Alguersuari, Lewis Hamilton, Lucas di Grassi, Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi. Fairuz Fauzy made another appearance at Lotus, but was 1.7 seconds slower than Trulli, and ended up 21st. Bruno Senna took back his seat, and was 22nd, followed by Michael Schumacher. He was running full wets at the end of the session, even when the track was drying out, as the car was suffering from a rear wing problem. Sakon Yamamoto was 24th, and an entire second away from his team-mate as usual.

Looking at Hamilton’s crash, it seemed to be that he stamped on the throttle a little too early, which shows how bad the conditions were out there. Here is the footage:

By the way, I know I said that I wouldn’t be around today, but I was back earlier than expected, so I was able to get the reports up today. Qualifying coverage will still be delayed tomorrow.

Delay in articles this weekend

Apologies for the inconvenience, but I’m away in London this week, and unfortunately can’t write up some of the race weekend reports and articles.

I should be able to get the qualifying report up on Saturday evening, and the race report won’t be affected, but all of the other articles won’t be up, as I simply don’t have the time at the moment. I’ll be back on Saturday, so normal service will be resumed then.

And while I’m at it, I saw a Koenigsegg CCXR in electric blue yesterday :)

Hartley dropped as Red Bull reserve driver

Red Bull have stated that reserve driver Brendon Hartley has been dropped from the Red Bull Junior Team, and therefore will not be the reserve driver for Toro Rosso and Red Bull either. This leaves Australian Daniel Ricciardo as the only test driver for either of the two teams owned by Dieter Mateschitz.

Brendon Hartley, seen here testing for Red Bull, has been dropped from their Junior Team

Brendon Hartley, seen here testing for Red Bull, has been dropped from their Junior Team

Hartley is currently 6th in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, and no reason has been supplied by Red Bull Racing as to his departure. However, it is believed that Red Bull made the decision to drop Hartley, rather than him leaving by himself.

I would have to say that I’m disappointed by this news, as I had tipped him for the Toro Rosso seat in 2012. This leaves the door wide open for Australian Daniel Ricciardo to replace either Buemi or Alguersuari in a few years’ time, and possibly Red Bull in the future.

Chandhok: Hispania to rotate drivers

HRT driver Karun Chandhok has said that he respects the decision of the team to replace him with Sakon Yamamoto for the German Grand Prix, and went on to say that the Hispania team will continue to rotate its drivers for the rest of the season.

After Bruno Senna was relieved of his race seat for the British Grand Prix, rumours began to circulate about a dispute between him and Colin Kolles. However, since then, it has emerged that the team needs sponsorship money, which has since resulted in Chandhok pushed aside for Yamamoto for next week’s German GP.

Both Chandhok and Senna will be forced to rotate their driver seats with Yamamoto and Klien

Both Chandhok and Senna will be forced to rotate their driver seats with Yamamoto and Klien

It has been revealed that Yamamoto will appear more times across the year, with other test driver Christian Klien also making an appearance somewhere down the line. Karun, however, was not downbeat, saying:

“The team have taken the decision that they’re going to rotate 
drivers between the four of us that are on contracts with the 
team.

At the end of the day we’re not fighting for the World 
Championship or for points and, with the current testing 
regulations, it’s quite difficult for them to evaluate 
drivers during a season. 

All four of us are Superlicence drivers, so we can’t do the 
young driver days at the end of the season, and we also 
missed the pre-season testing. 

It’s a team decision and I’ve got to respect that.”

The problem is that neither Senna or Chandhok had any idea this would happen at the start of the season. It’s very unfair on them, as they have been forced to deal with a dog of a car without any testing. While Klien and Yamamoto both have personal sponsors to bring money to the team, it will cost them a huge amount of time in the development race.

Just look at Minardi for inspiration as to how to run a small F1 team. They resisted using pay drivers, produced a future world champion (Alonso), and were famous for years of fighting away at the back. HRT is as far away as they could get, as they rotate drivers just to stay afloat.

If HRT continue to use pay drivers into next season, I’m afraid to say that they will never get away from the back of the field.

Durango confirms partnership with Villeneuve Racing

Durango, a GP2 team who have submitted an entry to the 2011 F1 World Championship, have announced that they are entering a partnership with another potential entrant, Villeneuve Racing. As the name suggests, this plan was started by 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve.

The Italian Durango team had applied for a grid spot months ago, but there were large obstacles in their way. They didn’t even have enough money to stay afloat in GP2, and there have been many controversies about the team, who are currently under investigation for criminal tax evasion, and also badly and dangerously repaired their GP2 cars in 2006. (More in a separate article)

However, it is unclear what Villeneuve and his original plan will bring to the table. His manager, Rick Gorne, was one of the founders of BAR, and that seems about it. After looking for a drive with Stefan GP last year, it is possible that he could drive for Durango, provided they get the spot, as well as run it.

Little is known about this combined plan. Durango’s base will still be in Italy, and they have talked to Toyota about a technical partnership, like Stefan GP did last year. Also, Dallara could be a possibility for supplying the chassis.

Still, Durango looks like a dodgy choice for the 2011 spot. I’m currently writing a separate article on all of the new applicants, more on this story soon.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers