Monthly Archives: July 2010

British Grand Prix qualifying in pictures

Sebastian Vettel took pole position today, which was Red Bull’s 9th of the season. Here are the pictures from today’s racing:

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Liuzzi given 5-place penalty for impeding Hulkenberg

Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi has recieved a 5-place penalty for the British Grand Prix, after being deemed by the stewards to have held up Nico Hulkenberg in Q2 in qualifying. At the Becketts corner, Liuzzi was too slow ahead of Nico, and also moved across slightly just before the corner.

This means that Liuzzi will drop 5 places, from 15th to 20th on the grid. The penalty was issued because blue flags were waving as Liuzzi exited the pits, into the path of Hulkenberg.

Vettel storms to pole in Silverstone

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the British Grand Prix, ahead of Mark Webber, after a dominant performance from the Red Bull team. Fernando Alonso was 3rd, Lewis Hamilton 4th, but Jenson Button didn’t even make it through to Q3. Here is the full report:

Q1

As the session started, every single car remained in the pits, although it seemed unclear why. After 3 minutes, Schumacher and the Lotus cars finally went out, and the session was underway. The teams were quick to warn their drivers that the wind was picking up, and would cause troubles at the high-speed corners.

The tyre choices were nicely mixed for Q1. The first fast lap was set by the Lotus cars, but was swiftly beaten by Jenson Button’s 1.32.668, although he was clearly held up by Vitantonio Liuzzi. Fernando Alonso went fastest, and Schumacher went 2nd.  His team-mate, Nico Rosberg, then went fastest of all drivers so far. Lewis Hamilton’s first lap was abandoned after he ran wide at Club corner.

Mark Webber was the first driver to get under the 1.31 mark, getting a 1.31.9. Sebastian Vettel then went 2nd fastest, although he was half a second off Webber’s time. Webber and Alonso improved their times, but Vettel then got a 1.30.8 to get on top.

As Q1 neared its end, Button was lying in 15th place, and Jaime Alguersuari nearly took him down another spot, although he remained 17th. This left Vitantonio Liuzzi in the dropout zone, even though he was only 1.6 seconds slower than Vettel. He tried again, and got 16th place, knocking Alguersuari out, as a miscalculation in times meant he couldn’t go out for another run.

The last flying lap was by Sakon Yamamoto. He was completely miles off the pace, and would have been excluded from the race under the 107% rule. His neck seemed completely worn out, after only 8 laps today. The Lotus and Virgin cars improved their times, and impressively were only 2.1 seconds slower than Sebastian Vettel.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Jaime Alguersuari

19) Heikki Kovalainen

20) Timo Glock

21) Jarno Trulli

22) Lucas di Grassi

23) Karun Chandhok

24) Sakon Yamamoto

Q2

Unlike Q1, most cars were out quickly enough in Q2. Fernando Alonso was first out, although he abandoned his lap because of backmarkers, as did Felipe Massa. McLaren were incredibly nervous about failing to get through to Q3, so they sent out Button and Hamilton on soft tyres, and it was clear that both drivers were pushing hard. Hamilton managed a 1.31.2 on his first run.

However, both Alonso and Webber were easily able to beat that time, with Webber getting a 1.30.4 on the harder tyre. Jenson Button was quickly on the radio, complaining of a lack of rear grip. With 7 minutes left in the session, all the cars pitted before their final runs. Vitaly Petrov needed a little push though, as his car suffered a loss of power.

The final runs commenced with 4 minutes to go, and Vettel was first out, setting a 1.30.48, going 2nd behind Webber. Meanwhile, Nico Hulkenberg was held up by a dangerous manouvere by Liuzzi at Becketts, and the stewards would probably investigate soon.

As the session concluded, Button was in the knockout zone, and couldn’t improve his position, ad remained 14th. Pedro de la Rosa and Rubens Barrichello were 2 surprise entrants to Q3, but the main shock was Button’s exit. Also, Adrian Sutil failed to get through to Q3, meaning both Force Indias were out in Q2.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Adrian Sutil

12) Kamui Kobayashi

13) Nico Hulkenberg

14) Jenson Button

15) Vitantonio Liuzzi

16) Vitaly Petrov

17) Sebastien Buemi

Q3

Like Q2, the Ferraris were the first out, with Vettel not far behind. Webber and Hamilton were also out soon after. The other 5 drivers appeared to be going for 1 run rather than 2. Felipe’s time was the first, a 1.31.7. Soon though, Mark Webber blasted the timesheets with a 1.29.7, and this was promptly beaten by Sebastian Vettel, with a 1.29.6.

With 5 minutes to go, the other 5 drivers went out on their runs, and the previous 5 drivers soon joined them as the session neared its conclusion. Rubens Barrichello went 6th, which was matched by Felipe Massa. Oddly enough, the Ferraris and Renaults were struggling in this session, and Alonso was further infuriated when he was held up by Nico Hulkenberg.

Mark Webber’s lap time was not enough to take pole, so Sebastian Vettel, even though 1st was already sealed, he further improved his time to rub it in and take pole position. Lewis Hamilton took 4th, Nico Rosberg was 5th, Barrichello 8th, De la Rosa 9th, and Michael Schumacher 10th.

Full times from qualifying:

Senna-Kolles dispute was behind Yamamoto drive

It has emerged today that the reason Bruno Senna was replaced this weekend by Sakon Yamamoto was because of a dispute between Senna and team principal Colin Kolles. While this switch is only for the British Grand Prix, it was revealed today that it was because for “disciplinary reasons”, as well as the HRT team needing extra funds, which Yamamoto can supply.

Sakon Yamamoto has his sponsors to thank for his drive in the British GP

Sakon Yamamoto has his sponsors to thank for his drive in the British GP

While most news sources are still uncertain over the cause of Senna’s replacement, an argument with Colin Kolles is now appearing as the cause. Bruno Senna has yet to talk to the media or fans this weekend about this issue.

Sakon Yamamoto is sponsored by Japanese companies Sanho and Zoff, and is also supported by Arai Helmets and K-Point. Meanwhile, Bruno Senna’s only sponsors are the ones that are linked to the HRT team. If you go onto Bruno’s website (currently under construction), there is a large box linking to his email saying “Sponsor me”, which says it all. While Senna has been the fastest of the HRT drivers this year, unfortunately the team needs money, and Yamamoto’s once-off drive can bring this.

However, to do this, the team would have had to find a reason to replace one of their drivers. The dispute between Senna and Kolles was believed to have been about sponsorships and HRT’s drivers for next season.

Strangely enough, the exact same situation occurred to Ayrton Senna. In 1984, Ayrton’s first year in Formula 1, he was involved in a dispute with his Toleman team. When he signed for Lotus for the 1985 season without telling his team, he was suspended for one race. History has an odd way of repeating itself.

Webber leads British FP2 session

Mark Webber led the way for the second practice session of the British Grand Prix, at the revised Silverstone circuit. Mark was fastest, ahead of Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa. However, McLaren seemed to make a step back in this session, after introducing new upgrades to the car.

Several top drivers made mistakes this session, such as Vettel, Massa and Hamilton. Nico Rosberg was 5th, ahead of team-mate Michael Schumacher and Vitaly Petrov. The McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were 8th and 13th respectively.

There were problems this session for Lotus. Jarno Trulli took back over his car from Fairuz Fauzy, but his car broke down after only 3 laps. Heikki Kovalainen stopped out on track with a steering issue near the end of the session.

Since Trulli only managed 3 laps, and therefore didn’t set a fast lap, Sakon Yamamoto was again the slowest driver this session, as he was 7 seconds off the pace, and 1.3 seconds slower than team-mate Karun Chandhok. For the second session in a row, Heikki Kovalainen was the fastest of the new teams.

Times from FP2:

Vettel fastest in new Silverstone in FP1

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in Friday Practice 1 at the revised Silverstone circuit. He finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica. This session also saw the appearances of test drivers for Lotus, HRT and Force India, as Fairuz Fauzy, Sakon Yamamoto and Paul di Resta took over from their team-mates.

There were many difficulties this session, most notably at the Abbey corner. The bumps there were causing many drivers, including Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, to run wide. The first lap of the new track was set by Jenson Button, a 1.37.994, but this time was cut by more than 5 seconds as the session concluded.

Mark Webber was 4th, followed by impressive finishes by Adrian Sutil and Nico Rosberg. Nico Hulkenberg was 7th, while Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello finished off the top 10.

As they seem to do in Friday Practice sessions, the Ferraris were very poor, with Fernando Alonso 13th and Felipe Massa 17th. Paul di Resta was 14th, but Fairuz Fauzy and Sakon Yamamoto were 23rd and 24th respectively.

Full times from FP1:

Yamamoto to replace Senna for British GP weekend

There is confusion in the paddock this weekend, as it appears that Sakon Yamamoto will replace Bruno Senna for the entire weekend of the British Grand Prix. The initial reports were saying this switch was only for Friday, but it now seems that Yamamoto will be driving for HRT all weekend.

Test driver Sakon Yamamoto will replace Bruno Senna for the British GP weekend

Test driver Sakon Yamamoto will replace Bruno Senna for the British GP weekend

Colin Kolles confirmed this switch today, although he refused to be officially quoted ahead of the team announcement tomorrow. He said that the full report will be out shortly, most likely Friday morning. This will be the first time that Yamamoto has driven in an F1 race since the end of the 2007 season.

It is believed that HRT made this decision because they are running short of money, and Yamamoto is very wealthy and has more sponsors than Senna. His signing as a HRT test driver this year appeared to be purely for money, and not for driving skill.

If this is the case, this is disgraceful. Running Yamamoto in practice sessions is fine, where it can get the team some extra money, but this is awful for Senna, who apparently didn’t even hear of the announcement. I realise that HRT need money, but moves like this will do them no favours with the fans, and their pace cannot improve with drivers like Yamamoto instead of Senna.

Update: HRT have confirmed that this change is only for the British GP weekend, and it is a combination of financial and disciplinary matters.

Cypher Group submits F1 2011 application

The American Cypher Group has announced that they have submitted an official application to race in the Formula 1 2011 championship, after announcing a tie-up with American driver Jonathan Summerton. This comes after the failed attempt from USF1 to enter Formula 1.

Jonathan Summerton has become part of the Cypher Group's application

Jonathan Summerton has become part of the Cypher Group's application

It believed that certain members of the failed USF1 team have joined the Cypher Group, who adamantly believe that America can still produce a successful Formula 1 team. Their statement reads as follows:

"We have officially submitted our candidature and hope that we will 
shortly be selected by the FIA as the 13th entry in the 2011 FIA 
Formula One World Championship. We aspire to bring America's red, 
white, and blue back into Formula 1."

Jonathan Summerton has previosuly raced in A1GP, Formula 3 and the Atlantic Championship, and competed in Indy Lights earlier this year. The team said this about him:

"Jonathan is capable of racing against the top Formula 1 drivers and
we hope to be able to give him a competitive car. We look forward to
the opportunity of being on the starting grid in 2011."

At the moment, the Cypher Group appears to be competing against Epsilon Euskadi, Stefan GP and Durango for the 13th grid spot. ART were rumoured to be applying, but dropped out recently. As it stands, Stefan GP looks like the best-equipped outfit, but we will have to wait and see.

Britain 2009 flashback: Red Bull turn the season around

There were two reasons why the 2009 British Grand Prix was memorable in many people’s minds. First of all, Donington Park had been selected to host the 2010 British Grand Prix, so this could well be the last race in Silverstone for years. Secondly, and more importantly, it marked the point where Red Bull finally put the pressure on Brawn GP for the rest of the season.

Jenson Button had just finished his 6th win in 7 races, and held a massive 26 points lead to Rubens Barrichello, who was another 8 points behind the two Red Bulls. However, before the race even began, there was a problem. The FOTA-FIA-FOM war had boiled over, and several teams were now threatening to drop out of the 2010 season because of the infamous budget cap suggestion. The main leaders of FOTA, as well as Max Mosley, remained tight-lipped over the weekend as to the outcome of this argument, but the worst-case scenario was that a breakaway series would be formed. This was the peak of the troubled times in F1 2009, and the British Grand Prix helped everyone be reminded why they were there in the first place: the racing.

With Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button practically switching grid positions from 2008 to 2009, the home crowd were happy to support both over the weekend. However, qualifying proved troublesome for both British drivers. In Q1, Adrian Sutil had a massive crash near the end of the sesssion, thanks to a brake failure, and brought out the red flag. Because of the bad timing of the red flag, many drivers had to abort their finals Q1 runs, leaving Hamilton 19th on the grid.

For the rest of the session, Vettel and Webber were completely unchallenged at the front, as their new raft of aerodynamic updates were working a treat in the cool conditions. Button, on the other hand, finally found the weak spot of the Brawn car: it couldn’t heat its tyres in cooler temperatures. This lack of grid left him 6th, his worst grid spot of the season so far. Vettel had more fuel on board than his rivals, but still got the pole position time. Webber would have been alongside him, but he was held up by Kimi Raikkonen, and fell to 3rd behind Barrichello. After yet another poor qualifying session, BMW Sauber meanwhile announced that they were ditching their KERS programme for good.

Sebastian Vettel leads away at the start

Sebastian Vettel leads away at the start

The second the lights went out, Red Bull were on fire. While Webber was unable to get past Barrichello, Button was held up by Jarno Trulli, and dropped down to 9th place. Sebastian began to pull away from Rubens at a rate of a second per lap, although Mark was struggling to get past the Brawn. Further back, Button finally made progress at Massa’s expense to move up to 8th. Hamilton made some progress as well, jumping 4 positions in the first 2 laps.

While the new fastest team streaked away at the front, it was an incredible sight at the back. From 13th to 16th, there was a huge list of top-level drivers: Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica. Despite their awful cars, they still fought like always, with Kubica initially getting the upper hand on Hamilton, after Lewis ran onto the grass trying to pass Alonso.

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton battle, with Robert Kubica watching closely behind

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton battle, with Robert Kubica watching closely behind

At the first round of stops, Rubens pitted one lap earlier than Webber, and lost 2nd place in the process. This left the Red Bulls completely unchallenged at the front, although the battles at the back were still ongoing. When Hamilton got past Alonso on the pit straight, the crowd went wild, despite it being a pass for 15th place. Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa benefited from the stops, getting up to 4th and 5th respectively.

Lewis, despite trying as hard as he could, was unable to keep his McLaren on track, going off track several times. He finally passed team-mate Heikki Kovalainen for 14th, but when Sebastien Bourdais tried the same move on Heikki, they collided, with Bourdais needing a new front wing, and giving Kovalainen a puncture. Later on, Hamilton spun again, falling behind Alonso yet again.

Heikki Kovalainen and Sebastien Bourdais collide

Heikki Kovalainen and Sebastien Bourdais collide

At the second round of stops, Button took advantage of a longer middle stint to get past Raikkonen and Trulli to get up to 6th position. Massa, meanwhile, used the same tactic to take 4th off Rosberg. When Button caught up to Rosberg and Massa, he decided not to make a move, since he couldn’t risk colliding and losing more points, despite being on the faster tyre compound.

Eventually, after a dominant performance, Vettel crossed the line 1st, and 15 seconds ahead of Webber. Rubens Barrichello was another 25 seconds behind. While he was disappointed not to have challenged for the win, Mark was reasonably happy with 2nd place. Further back, Hamilton finished 16th, but still did some burnouts, to thank the crowd for still supporting him. Having said that, there were better celebrations at Red Bull, where Adrian Newey proceeded to take his Ferrari and do donuts on his own front lawn.

The updated RB5 was unstoppable at the moment, and Brawn had to work hard to sort out the tyre temperature problems. Despite this, Button was still 23 points ahead of Barrichello, who was only 2 ahead of Vettel. The British Grand Prix ended with a statement from Bernie Ecclestone, saying that of construction for Donington Park wasn’t finished in time, the British GP would return to this venue in 2010. A glimmer of hope for Silverstone?

Kubica commits to Renault until 2012

Robert Kubica has announced that he is committing to the Renault team, after signing a new contract that will see him remain at the French outfit until the end of 2012. The Polish driver has, in his limited time with the team so far, made a huge impression and has scored massive points for the team.

Robert Kubica will continue to race at Renault until 2012

Robert Kubica will continue to race at Renault until 2012

Kubica said this about the new deal:

"It was a straightforward decision for me to continue with a team 
where I feel at home.

What’s important for me is to be in the right atmosphere, with a 
good group of people, where everybody is pulling in the same 
direction. This is what we have tried to build from the beginning 
of my time with Renault."

Team boss Eric Boullier outlined his plans for Kubica until 2012:

"There have been many rumours surrounding his future in recent 
weeks, which were a tribute to how well he has driven this year, 
and we are very happy to have agreed a multi-year deal.

Our clear goal is to become title contenders over the next two 
years. To do so, we need a driver of Robert’s calibre: somebody 
who is fast, totally committed and doesn’t make mistakes. His 
performances during the first half of the 2010 season were flawless,
and we hope to achieve great things together in the future."

This really was a no-brainer for Kubica, as there was no spaces available at any of the top teams, with Felipe Massa and Mark Webber both recently extending their contracts at Ferrari and Red Bull respectively. As Boullier said, the aim for Renault now should be to be in contention for championships by 2012, which should be no problem with Kubica at the wheel, provided the car is up to scratch.

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