Monthly Archives: November 2010

One year of G-Force

This day last year, I set up this blog, and I have to say it’s gone very well so far. It only seems like yesterday that I started writing, and this site has progressed nicely this year!

There were problems, of course. Lots of work since September has meant that I couldn’t write as much as I could, near the end of the season. Hopefully though I’ll be able to keep writing all the way though the off-season.

Being the site’s first birthday, I thought it appropriate to announce a few changes, coming into place over the next few months:

  • A complete re-writing of the driver and team bios, over the winter
  • Replacing the Forgotten Heroes series (one more article left there) with another one, I’m currently considering a few options as to which one to write about next
  • Introduce more comprehensive reviews of Grand Prix weekends, details will come later

Thanks very much for reading my blog, and here’s to another year of Formula 1!

Ciaran

2010 final driver rankings: 27 – 16

Just like the series of posts halfway through the season, these articles are to rank all of the drivers’ performances this season. Across the next few weeks, more detailed analysis will be written on each driver and team. For the moment, here are the lowest ranked 13 drivers of the year:

27: Sakon Yamamoto

Sakon has shown little to prove himself in F1

Sakon has shown little to prove himself in F1

4 months ago:

“His comic driving is coming at the expense of Chandhok and Senna”

Now:

With Hispania’s financial situation consistently becoming worse and worse, Yamamoto was an obvious choice to keep on for the rest of the year. However, despite the extra time in the car, he has shown absolutely no improvement, and has been vastly out-performed by all of his fellow drivers.

A 15th place finish out of 7 races is all Sakon has to show for this year, and unfortunately this simply won’t do, if HRT are to have any chance of catching up to Virgin and Lotus. Christian Klien, who similarly brings in quite a substansial financial package, has proved himself to be much faster, and it would be in the team’s best interests to switch the drivers for 2011.

26: Lucas di Grassi

Lucas has not stood up to Timo's pace

Lucas has not stood up to Timo's pace

4 months ago:

“While he has not been terrible, he needs to show his potential to stay in F1.”

Now:

His 14th-placed drive in Malaysia was his best of the year, and it must be considered that he did this even with the under-sized fuel tank that Virgin were struggling with earlier on. However, despite this, a lack of pace compared to Timo Glock has put his seat in doubt for next year.

In every race of 2010 where both Virgins finished, Di Grassi was beaten by Glock in every single one. While Timo has plenty of experience in F1, and I wouldn’t have been expecting Lucas to beat him, he still hasn’t proved his mettle to deserve a 2011 spot, which follows on from what I said 4 months ago.

25: Karun Chandhok

Chandhok has had no racing time since July

Chandhok has had no racing time since July

4 months ago:

“He has not been given the car to prove himself in the races.”

Now:

With much disappointment, my end-of season review for Karun Chandhok is exactly the same for his mid-season one, simply because he hasn’t been in an F1 car since.

Two 14th place results are slightly better than what Bruno Senna had to offer, but Karun has still been left on the sidelines since Germany, thanks to Yamamoto and Klien taking his place to keep HRT financially afloat.

Rumours have been moving about that Force India were considering Chandhok for next season, but Vijay Mallya has since snubbed the idea, leaving many in doubt as to whether the Indian can remain in Formula 1.

24: Bruno Senna

Senna has done well against Yamamoto, but less so against Klien

Senna has done well against Yamamoto, but less so against Klien

4 months ago:

“Showing his potential is nearly impossible, but it is certainly visible to see that Senna is the faster of the two Hispania drivers.”

Now:

A painful end to the year for Chandhok has completely evaded Bruno Senna, as he has managed to keep his race seat in all but one race. The HRT car has held him back, but he has at least comprehensively beaten Sakon Yamamoto.

A 14th place result in Korea was the best of the season, in difficult conditions for the Brazilian to survive. Rumours of him being replaced by pay drivers never surfaced, and he has done his best in a car that is rooted to the back of the grid. On the other hand though, Christian Klien has certainly pulled out a few surprises on Senna, particularly in qualifying, so Senna’s potential is still unclear.

23: Christian Klien

Christian Klien has shown good potential in qualifying

Christian Klien has shown good potential in qualifying

Was not racing by the time of the previous review.

Now:

Several impressive qualifying results have been heartening for Klien, but with only 3 races under his belt this year, it is still tough to judge his performance.

Both in Singapore and Brazil, Christian out-qualified Senna by huge margins (up to a second). However, in the races, all he has to show for himself is a 20th place finish. On two occasions out of three, his lack of race pace was down to the reliability of the car. Therefore, it would be very difficult to evaluate his drives just yet, but based on his Q3 pace, I would say that Klien made the best of what he had.

22: Vitantonio Liuzzi

4 months ago:

“In no way has Liuzzi justified his race seat this year.”
Now:

Liuzzi was at the back far too often in 2010

Liuzzi was at the back far too often in 2010

A 6th-placed finish was a good end to a dismal season for Liuzzi. While team-mate Adrian Sutil gave Michael Schumacher trouble in the championship table, Vitantonio has been lagging at the back with the Toro Rossos.

6 points finishes in a row was the highlight of Sutil’s season. Yet those 6 top 10 places are all that Liuzzi mustered over the entire year. The Force India car is not up to the pace of the Mercedes or Renault teams, but was well ahead of Williams and Sauber throughout most races. Adrian showed this, yet Tonio was consistently knocked out of Q1. He didn’t start too badly, with 9th and 7th in Bahrain and Australia, but another couple of 9ths were all he could manage until Belgium.

Retiring 4 times in the last 5 races (every time in a collision) was a disastrous end to a year to forget for Liuzzi. I would be hugely surprised if Force India were to retain him for 2011, with talent like Paul di Resta struggling to enter F1.

21: Timo Glock

Glock has not been given the car to succeed

Glock has not been given the car to succeed

4 months ago:

“Now is the time for Virgin and Glock to seize the initiative and get ahead of Lotus.”

Now:

With Lotus starting work on their 2011 car amazingly early, a lot of focus was on Virgin, to see if they could bridge the gap to the best new team of 2010. But, with their testing woes, undersized fuel tank saga, and endless reliability gremlins, the year never developed successfully for Virgin, which left Glock unable to prove his value to the team.

True, Timo only retired 3 times in the last 11 races, but in the other 8 cases, he never finished higher than 14th, and was nearly always stuck back in 17th or 18th place. In both 2008 and 2009, Timo stood up well to team-mate Jarno Trulli, so pace doesn’t seem to be the problem.

A much faster and reliable car is what Timo needs to get himself back up the grid next year.

20: Pedro de la Rosa

De la Rosa was miles off Kobayashi's pace

De la Rosa was miles off Kobayashi's pace

4 months ago:

“If Sauber are to move up the grid, they need a younger and certainly faster driver. Nick Heidfeld would do fine.”

Now:

Not a bad prediction, if I may say so. Pedro de la Rosa was completely lacklustre with the Sauber car this year, despite team-mate Kobayashi often having stunning performances.

One single points-scoring finish is all Pedro has to offer after 14 races, and that simply won’t do. Sauber gave up, and replaced him with Nick Heidfeld, who promptly equalled De la Rosa’s 14-race points tally after only 3 races.

He ended the season without a drive, and 5 times less points than Kamui. HRT are reported to be looking at the Spaniard for 2011, but despite this, his future is in serious doubt.

19: Jaime Alguersuari

Jaime was consistently very close to points

Jaime was consistently very close to points

4 months ago:

“One good points performance is not good enough to prove your place in Formula 1″

Now:

Unfortunately, this review is more of the same for Jaime Alguersuari. Three points finishes is all he could do, with a car that never really looked like pushing for points.

However, he also managed 5 11th-placed results, which shows he was on the pace quite often, and consistently beat Sebastien Buemi in the last 5 races. Therefore, it’s a little bit more difficult to assess Alguersuari compared to Buemi.

Franz Tost has praised Jaime over Sebastien, but I feel that, despite everything, Buemi did earn more points in the end, which is why Jaime ends the year lower down.

18: Jarno Trulli

Jarno has done well, but was still beaten by Kovalainen

Jarno has done well, but was still beaten by Kovalainen

4 months ago:

“While he is not off the pace, retirement seems to be looming for Trulli.”

Now:

With hindsight, retirement may not come so soon. Jarno has hinted at staying at Lotus for 2011, and with a much improved car expected, Trulli seems to remain a valuable asset to the team.

Excellent qualifying pace, but poor race pace, has always been Trulli’s downfall. However, now being near the back of the grid, this no longer occurs, as Jarno balanced out his pace between qualifying and races this year.

Japan is where the Lotuses performed best, with Kovalainen leading Trulli to 12th and 13th. In the races where both finished, Heikki was mostly ahead of Jarno, so despite his improvements, Trulli was still beaten by his team-mate. 2011 will tell us if he still has what it takes.

17: Sebastien Buemi

Buemi out-scored Alguersuari in 2010

Buemi out-scored Alguersuari in 2010

4 months ago:

“Maybe some good luck could show his real potential in the second half of 2010.”

Now:

The good luck never arrived for Buemi. A poor car, teamed with dissappointing pace in the final few races, left the Toro Rosso driver with only one points-scoring finish in the last 10 races.

On the other hand, he gave us a glimpse of his potential, by leading the Canadian Grand Prix, and holding back Hamilton and Alonso considerably well. He finished 8th, which was the best of the year for him. Despite this though, he was out-performed by Alguersuari near the end of the year, and has been critisised by the team for his lack of pace.

Daniel Ricciardo was being pushed to replace him, but after he was assigned the test driver role, 2011 is Buemi’s last chance to keep his race seat at Toro Rosso.

16: Nick Heifeld

Heidfeld impressed in only 5 races

Heidfeld impressed in only 5 races

Was not racing at time of last review.

Now:

A replacement for Pedro de la Rosa rather than a driver for next year, Nick Heidfeld still impressed many by beating Kamui Kobayashi in the final few races.

Arriving back to the paddock at the Singapore Grand Prix, after testing for Pirelli, Heidfeld was swiftly hit by the news that he would not be racing for Sauber in 2011, as rookie Sergio Perez was being brought in. Nevertheless, Nick got to work, getting more points than rookie sensation Kobayashi in the last 5 races. While he was overtaken easily by his team-mate in Japan, Nick still obtained 8th and 9th places in Suzuka and Korea.

I still believe Nick is a hugely talented driver, who richly deserves his first race win, but he will need to work fast just to get a drive for next year.

Part 2 will be up soon.

Ricciardo to drive in Friday Practice for Toro Rosso for 2011

Daniel Ricciardo will drive the Toro Rosso on Fridays in 2011

Daniel Ricciardo will drive the Toro Rosso on Fridays in 2011

It has been announced today that Australian Daniel Ricciardo has been confirmed as the test and reserve driver for Toro Rosso for 2011, and will be driving the car during the Friday Practice sessions throughout the year.

Sebastien Buemi’s drive for 2011 had been in some doubt in recent days, after team boss Franz Tost complimented Jaime Alguersuari, but said that Buemi had “struggled” at times during the year. However, with this news, Alguersuari and Buemi now have confirmation of their contracts with Toro Rosso for next year.

Ricciardo finished 2nd in this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 Series, and won the 2009 British F3 championship last year. More recently, he finished 1st on both days of the young driver last week, setting the fastest lap of the Yas Marina circuit in the process.

Ferrari top both days of Pirelli tests

Two days of testing on the 2011 Pirelli tyres concluded a few days ago, with Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso each topping one day each. While the tyres were slower than this year’s Bridgetones, most of the paddock appear to be happy with the new rubber.

Day 1

Sebastian Vettel suffered a tyre failure in the evening

Sebastian Vettel suffered a tyre failure in the evening

Only one car ran from each team on these two days. Neither Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Buttom took any part, as Gary Paffett was driving the McLaren. Adrian Sutil, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Paul di Resta all shared the Force India.

On the first day, Felipe Massa was fastest with a 1.40.170, two seconds off Daniel Ricciardo’s time during the young driver test. Sebastian Vettel was 2nd, 4 tenths off the Ferrari. Gary Paffett was 3rd, Kamui Kobayashi 4th, Robert Kubica 5th, and Rubens Barrichello 6th.

Paul di Resta was 7th, but had only run during the second half of the session. Adrian Sutil initially had the car, but an exhaust problem forced him into the pits. He was only 10th.

Nico Rosberg and Jaime Alguersuari were 8th and 9th. Timo Glock was 10th, Heikki Kovalainen 11th, and Pastor Maldonado last, 1.1 seconds behind the Lotus.

Vettel’s day was ended abruptly, after a puncture in the evening. Pirelli have already suffered cuts to their rear tyres, but believe that debris caused the failure.

Times from Day 1:

Driver Car Time
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’40.170s
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’40.500s
3 Gary Paffett McLaren 1’40.874s
4 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’40.950s
5 Robert Kubica Renault 1’41.032s
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1’41.425s
7 Paul di Resta Force India 1’41.615s
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.778s
9 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1’42.019s
10 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’42.859s
11 Timo Glock Virgin 1’44.124s
12 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1’44.686s
13 Pastor Maldonado HRT 1’45.728s

Day 2

Fernando Alonso topped Day 2

Fernando Alonso topped Day 2

Fernando Alonso was quicker on the second day, but was 4 tenths off Massa’s time the day before. Michael Schumacher was 2nd, and Vettel 3rd.

Rubens Barrichello was 4th, Robert Kubica 5th, Gary Paffett 6th, and shared the car with Oliver Turvey, who was 7th. Paul di Resta was 8th, and shared the Force India with Liuzzi, who was 11th.

Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi filled the top 10. Sergio Perez was 12th, Jarno Trulli 13th. Pastor Maldonado was 14th, but caused a red flag after a spin. Timo Glock was several hundreths off Maldonado.

Times from Day 2:

Driver Team Best lap
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’40.529s
2 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’40.685s
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’40.825s
4 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1’41.294s
5 Robert Kubica Renault 1’41.614s
6 Gary Paffett McLaren 1’41.622s
7 Oliver Turvey McLaren 1’41.740s
8 Paul di Resta Force India 1’41.869s
9 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’42.110s
10 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1’42.145s
11 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India 1’42.416s
12 Sergio Perez Sauber 1’42.777s
13 Jarno Trulli Lotus 1’44.521s
14 Pastor Maldonado HRT 1’44.768s
15 Timo Glock Virgin 1’44.783s

Pirelli have declared the test a success, although they now have 11,000 km of data to filter through. Aside from Vettel’s tyre problems, the rubber stood up well, and the switch from Bridgestones to Pirellis shouldn’t be too difficult for the teams.

With this being the final session of 2010, the F1 engines will be switched off until the 1st February 2011, when testing resumes at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

Ricciardo dominates both days in young driver test

Daniel Ricciardo was by far the fastest man in the last two days in Abu Dhabi, as he topped the timesheets in both days of the young driver test on Tuesday and Wednesday. He was driving for the Red Bull team, and managed to beat Sebastian Vettel’s pole position lap by an entire second.

Dean Stoneman ran with aerodynamic equipment on his Williams

Dean Stoneman ran with aerodynamic equipment on his Williams

Tuesday

On the first day, Ricciardo was a second faster than Oliver Turvey, who was driving for McLaren. Antonio Felix de Costa, a 19-year-old for Force India, was third.

Esteban Gutierrez, who is Sauber’s test driver, was 4th, ahead of Dean Stoneman (Williams) and Mikhail Aleshin (Renault). Jean Eric Vergne was 7th for Toro Rosso, followed by Paul di Resta, who shared his car with Antonio Felix de Costa across the day.

Sam Bird was 9th for Mercedes, Jerome D’Ambrosio 10th for Virgin, Pastor Maldonado 11th for HRT, and Jules Bianchi was 12th for Ferrari. Rodolfo Gonzalez was 13th in the Lotus car, and 17-year-old Rio Haryanto (Virgin) was last, although he only completed 21 laps, only a quarter of many other drivers’ totals.

Daniel’s time of 1.39.616 was an excellent time, but it must be considered that the track was approximately 1.1 – 1.4 seconds faster than the Grand Prix there last weekend.

Times from Day 1:

Position
Driver Car Best lap Gap
Laps
1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1.39.616 83
2 Oliver Turvey McLaren 1.40.725 1.109 85
3 Antonio Felix da Costa Force India 1.41.381 1.765 77
4 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1.41.432 1.816 88
5 Dean Stoneman Williams 1.41.522 1.906 70
6 Mikhail Aleshin Renault 1.42.073 2.457 58
7 Jean Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1.42.489 2.873 93
8 Paul di Resta Force India 1.42.736 3.120 28
9 Sam Bird Mercedes 1.42.985 3.369 67
10 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin 1.43.518 3.902 36
11 Pastor Maldonado HRT 1.43.750 4.134 108
12 Jules Bianchi Ferrari 1.43.894 4.278 59
13 Rodolfo Gonzalez Lotus 1.44.924 5.308 83
14 Rio Haryanto Virgin 1.49.439 9.823 21

Wednesday

The last ever Bridgestone tyres ever to be used in Formula 1

The last ever Bridgestone tyres ever to be used in Formula 1


 

On Day 2, Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest time again, and this time was a second a lap faster than Vettel’s pole lap on Saturday. Sebastian’s time of 1.39.394 was beaten by Ricciardo, D’Ambrosio and Bird. Like last time though, the track has rubbered in hugely since last weekend.

Jerome D’Ambrosio was 7 tenths behind, followed by Sam Bird and Gary Paffett, who took over from Oliver Turvey in the McLaren.

Jules Bianchi improved to 5th, Sergio Perez got his first taste of the Sauber car he will be driving next year, and took it to 6th place. Paul di Resta was 7th, just ahead of Pastor Maldonado. Jean-Eric Vergne was 9th, but had his day interrupted by an engine problem with his Toro Rosso engine.

Yelmer Burrman shared the Force India with Di Resta, and took 10th position. Davide Valsecchi, driving the Hispania car, was 11th. He shared that car with Josef Kral, who was 13th. Luiz Razia was 12th for Virgin.

The Lotus car was at the back of the timesheets, in the hands of two different drivers, with Rodolfo Gonzalez going much faster than Vladimiar Arabadzhiev.

Wednesday was the last ever day of Formula 1 cars using the Bridgestone tyre. The Japanese company have made over 700,000 racing tyres for F1 in the last 14 years, and fitted the last set to the Lotus cars.

Times from Day 2:

Driver Car Best lap

Gap
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1.38.102 0
Jerome d’Ambrosio Renault 1.38.802 0.700
Sam Bird Mercedes 1.39.220 1.118
Gary Paffett McLaren 1.39.760 1.658
Jules Bianchi Ferrari 1.39.916 1.814
Sergio Perez Sauber 1.40.543 2.441
Paul di Resta Force India 1.40.901 2.799
Pastor Maldonado Williams 1.40.944 2.842
Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1.40.974 2.872
Yelmer Burrman Force India3 1.41.178 3.076
Davide Valsecchi HRT 1.43.013 4.911
Luiz Razia Virgin 1.43.525 5.423
Josef Kral HRT 1.44.143 6.041
Rodolfo Gonzalez Lotus 1.44.312 6.21
Vladimiar Arabadzhiev Lotus 1.45.723 7.621

Toyota Motorsport split with Hispania

HRT have lost another technical partnership

HRT have lost another technical partnership

Toyota Motorsport, who have, for this year, been offering technical support to the struggling Hispania team, have today said that they will cease operations with the team. Toyota claim that this contract cancellation is because of a lack of “contractual payment obligations”.

HRT have already split up with another technical partnership, the last one was with Dallara, their chassis provider, back in May. However, this time it is more serious, as Toyota have been supplying the team with a wind tunnel, driving simulator, and an engineering services supplier. Without this, the team is in much worse state for the 2011 season.

Toyota’s statement reads as follows:

 Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) confirms that all cooperation 
with Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) has been terminated and 
will not resume.

TMG retains all intellectual property rights to its current 
F1 car and is completely free to pursue other projects and 
support new customers for its high-performance engineering 
services.

TMG regrets that HRT has not met its contractual payment 
obligations and will pursue all available options to reach
a satisfactory conclusion to this matter.

If you ask me, the HRT team are becoming more and more of a joke. Their “technical facilities” don’t exist any more, they have been strangled with a lack of investment from their owner, and are simply miles off the pace compared to their rivals. Some have compared the team to Minardi, but I remember people actually liking Minardi.

A complete takeover is needed of the team before it embarresses Formula 1 even more.

Nico Hulkenberg to leave Williams

Nico Hulkenberg has said today that he will be leaving the Williams team for the 2011 season onwards. This comes only two weeks after he obtained his first ever pole position at the Brazilian GP.

On his official website, he said:

 I heavily regret that, because I would have been happy to 
stay with Williams. I want to thank the team for a great 
time and I wish Williams all the best for the future.

However, his manager Willi Weber, who used to manage Michael Schumacher, has said that Nico will definitely be driving for another team for the 2011 season. It is heavily suspected that the man to replace him at Williams will be Pastor Maldonado, the current GP2 champion.

While Hulkenberg has already said he doesn’t want to drive for Hispania, he will take part in testing with them this Wednesday.

Nico Hulkenberg will be leaving Williams this year

Nico Hulkenberg will be leaving Williams this year

Although Nico scored 22 points this season, compared to seasoned veteran team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who took 47, I’m surprised at this decision. His pole position in Brazil was hugely impressive, and he has been improving steadily over the second half of this season.

But, as it seems to do too much these days, money talks, and Maldonado brings a huge sponsorship package from Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA.

Thoughts on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

So, the season finale of the 2010 Formula 1 season gave us our youngest ever world champion, but that’s not half of the story. Both Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso fell prey to mistakes in Abu Dhabi, though not through driver error.

First of all, when rating this race, it’s important to separate the title battle from the actual race. In the context, I would have said that the Abu Dhabi GP was actually very poor, as like last year, the track prevented overtaking, and restricted activity to strategy and not the driver skill.

However, it was the strategy aspect which threw away the title for Alonso today. His team opted to pit him early to cover Mark Webber, which deposited the Ferrari in a line of traffic, from which he never recovered. While Fernando can easily blame the team for putting him into this situation, the fact of the matter is that he failed to make a single overtaking move, not even on a rookie driver in a Renault.

Fernando’s actions after the race were simply disgraceful. To blame a fellow driver for doing his job demeans the entire sport. Not every driver on the track is like Felipe Massa, Vitaly was driving to secure a seat for next year, and he is expected to simply move out of the way? Any driver who expects this does not deserve the championship.

Meanwhile, as Alonso was stuck in 7th, the opportunity was present for Mark Webber to capitalise on this, but he too failed. He was struggling for pace all weekend, and never even looked like progressing up the field. Again, a performance like that does not earn you any titles.

A title well deserved for Sebastian Vettel

A title well deserved for Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian, on the other hand, put in a dominant performance like we have seen so many other times this year. He never looked like letting go of the lead, and with his title rivals slipping when they had to push, gave Vettel a well deserved world championship. I’ll have a separate post on this later.

But of course, there was more than the title to settle here. As I said earlier, Vitaly Petrov did extremely well to keep Fernando Alonso back for nearly the entire race, just like he did in Turkey. He has impressed me in his rookie season, and definitely deserves to keep his seat for 2011. His team-mate Robert Kubica also did well, starting from his worst qualifying spot of the year, to leap as high as second in the race, and he too did well in keeping back a much faster car, in the form of Lewis Hamilton.

Jaime Alguersuari is another driver who deserve a shout-out for his performance. Starting 17th, he progressed calmly up the field, almost invisible to the viewers, and ended up 9th, only 6 seconds behind Mark Webber. Both Toro Rosso drivers have disappointed in recent races, but this was a good way to end the year for the Red Bull sister team.

Schumacher's and Liuzzi's crash was far too close for comfort

Schumacher's and Liuzzi's crash was far too close for comfort

Nico Rosberg did very well to jump up to 4th, and was one of several drivers who threw the spanner in the works of Alonso’s title bid. Even before the race, he told journalists that he was planning to pit early, and so he did, utilising his strategy perfectly to move from 9th to 4th. His collision with Michael Schumacher at the start could have been avoidable, but I don’t think it was anyone’s fault, just the lightest of contact. However, the subsequent crash with Vitantonio Liuzzi needs to be scrutineered more closely, as the Force India came to a rest just centimetres from Schumacher’s head.

 

At the end of it all, there wasn’t very much racing action, yet plenty to keep our nails being bitten right to the very last lap. The podium was a lovely spectacle, I thought, as the three champions from the last 3 years were 1st, 2nd and 3rd. To make it better, Lewis Hamilton had the pressure off him for this race, so there were no sullen faces, just happiness for Vettel’s victory, which is great to see.

These 24 drivers have made 2010 a legendary Formula 1 season

These 24 drivers have made 2010 a legendary Formula 1 season

And finally, I’d just like to say that this has been one of the greatest Formula 1 seasons in history, and most certainly the best that I have ever watched. Never before has the world championship been so enthralling for me, and at the end of the day, the best man won, and the cheaters fell at the final hurdle.

Not that this is the end of my work. Throughout the winter, I hope to keep the blog well alive, keep writing all the way through the off-season, and also the introduction of a new series, which I’ll post about later. Stay tuned!

Vettel unaware of championship victory until last lap

In the post-race press conference, 2010 world champion Sebastian Vettel has said that his team did not inform him he was about to win the title until the very last lap.

Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber were stuck down in 7th and 8th places repsectively, meaning that Vettel was 4 points clear of the Ferrari when the chequered flag fell. However, as Sebastian tells us, he didn’t know much about it:

 To be honest I didn’t know anything until I took the 
chequered flag. The last ten laps I was wondering because 
my race engineer Rocky was trying to give me advice in 
the last ten laps to bring the car home. And I was think
 “why is this guy so nervous? We must be in a bloody good 
position.”

And then crossing the line he came on the line very 
silently and said “it’s looking good, we have to wait 
until the cars finish” and I was thinking “what does he 
mean?” Because I hadn’t seen the screens, I just wanted 
to make sure not to get any distractions, just focus on 
myself.

And then he comes on the radio and screams at me that we’ve
 won the world championship.

I have to say thanks to a lot of people, I will surely 
forget a lot of those but to start with the team, all the 
guys here at the race track, all my mechanics – all the 
mechanics in the team, not only my mechanics – everyone.

The engineers – sorry I’ve made this a bit long – we have 
an extremely strong amount of people together working in 
harmony. Back in Milton Keynes the guys are pushing like 
hell and I think they’ll enjoy this moment as much as 
last year.

Back in Austria, all the people that have been supporting 
me from the beginning. It’s been an incredible season with 
Red Bull and after this season’s ups and downs, to come 
here and lead the world championship at the last race is 
unbelievable.

Thanks and also thanks to all the people back in karting, 
some of them are in Kerpen supporting me, but also back 
in my home town, Heppenheim, I just want to say thank 
you very much.

 

Vettel snatches victory and the title in Abu Dhabi

Sebastian Vettel took victory at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, and wrenched the world championship out of Fernando Alonso’s and Mark Webber’s hands. Fernando suffered badly when he pitted to cover Webber early on, and he was held up by Vitaly Petrov for the rest of the race. Here is what happened:

At the first corner, Jenson Button made a successful move on Fernando Alonso, putting the Ferrari back into 4th place. At Turn 4, Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher made the lightest of contact, Michael lost out and spun. The cars behind tried their best to avoid the Mercedes, but Vitantonio Liuzzi failed to do so, and smashed straight into him, with the Force India jumping just over Schumacher’s helmet.

The safety car was deployed for the crash, with the two cars and debris all over the track. For the next few laps, all of the cars tried to keep the heat in their tyres, although Lewis Hamilton was complaining of cold brakes. Bernd Maylander pitted on Lap 6, and the racing resumed.

Robert Kubica made a wonderful move on the outside of Adrian Sutil for 9th place. Kamui Kobayashi dived down the inside of Rubens Barrichello, but overshot the corner and Rubens retook the position. Nico Rosberg, who pitted for the harder tyre under the safety car, overtook Nico Hulkenberg for 13th.

Within a few laps though, both of the Red Bulls began to lose pace, with their rear tyres graining. Hamilton began to get right up behind Vettel, while Webber was falling away from Alonso. Mark made the call to switch to hard tyres on Lap 11, and fell to 16th. Ferrari were about to pit Massa, but decided to keep him out.

However, the next lap, Felipe Massa stopped for harder tyres, but emerged behind Webber still. Mark was being held behind Jaime Alguersuari, but the Spaniard decided to allow the Red Bull through next up for Webber to overtake was Vitaly Petrov.

Fernando Alonso pitted on Lap 15, and despite nearly hitting the wall, pitted and emerged just ahead of the Red Bull, to the relief of Ferrari. If Webber had cleared Alguersuari a lap earlier, he could well have jumped Fernando in the stops.

The focus soon switched to Vettel and Hamilton at the front, and both seemed to be utilising the super-soft tyres better than anyone else, with both staying out longer than their rivals. Nico Rosberg was now crucial to the championship battle, as Vettel now had to stay out, then pit and emerge ahead of the Mercedes. By Lap 20, however, Sebastian’s tyres had finished the graining stage, and he could now push in the lead for longer.

With Alonso and Webber being held up behind Vitaly Petrov, the situation now had another twist. If Nico Rosberg’s strategy was to work, and he jumped up to a podium position, this would push Alonso down to 5th, and hand Vettel the title. With this in mind, Alonso was instructed to push and try and get past Petrov.

On Lap 24, Alonso made a dive on the Renault, but ran wide and lost some time, although he stayed ahead of Webber. Meanwhile, Hamilton pitted, and Sebastian was ordered by his team to push like hell. He pitted one lap later, and was still ahead of Lewis. Even better, Kamui Kobayashi and Robert Kubica were in between the Red Bull and the McLaren. To make it even better for Vettel, they began to battle, with Kubica out-braking Kobayashi around the outside, a stunning move.

Jenson Button was now left in the lead of the race, although he was still yet to stop. Robert Kubica was now holding up Lewis Hamilton, as they were in 3rd and 4th places. Kamui Kobayashi pitted from 5th, and was back out in 16th. Nico Hulkenberg stopped a few laps later, and promoted Alonso to 9th.

The title was shifting closer and closer to Sebastian, and he showed that by setting fastest lap after fastest lap. Sebastien Buemi stopped, giving Fernando 8th position. On Lap 40, Jenson Button finally pitted, after an astonishing 40 laps on the super-soft tyres, which gave Sebastian Vettel the lead, and Button was now 4th.

As well as Nico Rosberg being crucial to the title, Robert Kubica was now entering the equation. The average pit stop time lost was 22.5 seconds (Williams estimate), and Kubica was 19 seconds ahead of Alonso. The Renault was lapping half a second faster than the Ferrari, thanks to Vitaly Petrov holding Alonso up, so now Fernando could lose another position when Kubica was to pit.

On Lap 45, Hamilton and Alonso were still stuck behind other cars, and Hamilton wiped out another trackside camera trying to catch Kubica. Timo Glock, meanwhile, retired on track with a gearbox problem. Kubica pitted on Lap 47, and tortured Alonso a little bit further by emerging ahead of the Ferrari. However, he ran a little bit wide at pit exit, and went a little too close to incurring the stewards’ wrath. Adrian Sutil pitted from 4th, and left Alonso 7th.

With this, and only 5 laps to go in the 2010 Formula 1 season, the dust began to settle. Alonso began to realise it was all over, and Webber was told he could try an overtaking move on the Ferrari, although he failed to do so. Apart from Jarno Trulli’s rear wing collapsing, little happened in the last few laps, to settle the hearts on the Red Bull crew. And with that, Sebastian Vettel cruised to the finish line, to take race victory, and the 2010 world championshp!

Fernando Alonso crossed the line 7th, but he wasn’t done yet. As the cars slowed, he gave the middle finger to Vitaly Petrov, who was simply doing his job, and, with hand gestures, signalled to Alonso: “What did you expect me to do?”

But that was swiftly disregarded, as the youngest world champion took to the top step of the podium. And with that, Sebastian Vettel wore the biggest smile in the world in Abu Dhabi, and Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber retreated to lick their wounds. Plenty of posts will be up in the next few days, but I’ll make it clear here: Sebastian fully deserved the 2010 title.

The standings have been updated for the final time, you can view them here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers