Monthly Archives: April 2011

Ecclestone gives Bahrain GP decision extra time

Bernie Ecclestone has given the Bahrain GP organisers more time

Bernie Ecclestone has given the Bahrain GP organisers more time

Formula 1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone is set to give more time to the Bahrain Grand prix organisers, who are trying to reschedule the race after it was cancelled earlier this year.

Political turmoil and civil unrest caused the event to be called off, and with tension in the region still high, the Grand Prix is still in doubt.

With this in mind, Ecclestone has said that he is willing to allow another month to the organisers:

"We need to wait a little bit to see exactly how progress is made. I suppose we'd be 
safe by early June or something like that.

Things can change in a couple of weeks...so you don't know. All of a sudden everything 
might be peaceful in a month's time and they are happy to run the event and so we are 
happy to be there."

In March the World Motor Sport Council set a deadline of May 1st for the event. However, with a state of emergency in place until the 15th May, and travel offices warning against travel to the Gulf state, there appears to be no end in sight yet to this debacle.

DRS may be banned in Monaco

The adjustable rear wing may not be in place in Monaco

The adjustable rear wing may not be in place in Monaco

The banning of the Drag Reduction System at the Monaco Grand Prix is being considered, after complaints from drivers regarding safety were brought up.

It has been said that a number of drivers are concerned about the unlimited use of DRS in practice and qualifying at the tight and twisting street circuit.

Because qualifying is so important in Monte Carlo, there are fears that drivers may take risks with the DRS system – most notably at the right-hander in the tunnel.

While no decision has been made yet, the FIA are considering banning the device for this one Grand Prix. Discussions will be held with the teams and drivers at the Turkish Grand Prix, with a decision from the FIA expected after that race weekend.

So far, the combination of the DRS unit and Pirelli tyres have brought an extra spectacle to F1 racing this year. Strategies are diverse and unpredictable, and DRS allows overtaking without making the passing too easy.

However, safety must be respected at all times, and in the case of a track where two cars simply can’t run side-by-side, I believe the device should be banned.

Kubica set to leave hospital

Kubica has made good progress on his road to recovery

Kubica has made good progress on his road to recovery

Robert Kubica is poised to leave hospital in the next 10 days, after his rally crash in February.

The Pole has been resting at the Santa Corona hospital ever since his accident, after suffering arm and leg injuries.

In an interview with the Renault F1 website, Kubica has stated that he will soon return to his home in Monaco, then move to the Formula Medicine clinic in Italy to continue his recovery.

He has also stated that his injuries are getting better every day:

"The mobility of my hand is limited but this is pretty normal in this kind of 
situation, because the connected arm muscles are still very weak due to the long 
period of immobility. Things are definitely improving day by day.

As soon as I leave hospital, I'll head to my home in Monaco for a short period of 
rest. Then I'll move to Dr. Ceccarelli's facilities in Italy where I will start a 
deep rehabilitation program and a preliminary soft training programme. The two 
programmes will gradually cross over based on the speed of my recovery."

He also revealed that his team have been keeping him well up to date with their progress in the 2011 season.

In a message to the fans, he raised hopes:

"Well, just continue to enjoy the F1 show even though I'm not there at the moment. 
From my side, I'll try to use my difficult experience to come back as strong as I 
possibly can."

Unfortunately, there was no word as to when Robert predicts a comeback to Formula 1 racing.

News Corp and Carlos Slim looking at F1 takeover

It is being reported that the News Corporation, owned by Rupert Murdoch, and Carlos Slim, currently the richest man in the world, are looking into a joint bid for the ownership of Formula 1.

The global media group – which already owns the rights to many other sports, such as live Premier League football matches – has begun preliminary talks with Slim with forming a consortium to make a bid for F1.

If this deal went ahead, it would be a huge blow for the BBC, as F1 is the only sport in the UK where they own sole broadcasting rights.

At the moment, Formula 1 is owned by private equity group CVC Capital Partners. If News Corp took over, there are fears that the current advertising-free coverage (on the BBC at least) will be replaced by a pay-per-view system, most likely on Sky Sports – which News Corp is also trying to take over.

CVC, who paid $2.5 bn for F1 back in 2005, have currently declined to comment. An official statement from News Corp has described the reports as “rumour and speculation”. However, a source from inside the company has stated:

"News Corp going into this transaction now is premature. They are thinking about F1 
and options they could take but that is all it is at this stage.

They [News Corp] will do nothing until after the next Concorde meeting (most likely 
start of 2012 - it expires at the end of that year) – there is no way to possibly value or plan until after that."

There are several obstacles in the way of a possible takeover. Both the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone are believed to have veto rights on any new owners. Also, car manufacturers in F1 would be unhappy with moving to pay-per-view broadcasting, as it reaches a smaller audience.

Until these reports develop, CVC are suffering problems of their own. The company is facing scrutiny regarding bribes to former bankers who oversaw the sale of F1 to CVC in 2005. Bernie Ecclestone has been questioned by German authorities, however it has been clarified that he is not the subject of investigation.

Chinese Grand Prix stats and facts

The Chinese Grand Prix saw Sebastian Vettel’s hopes for 5 wins in a row shattered. Here are some stats and facts from this weekend:

  • Vettel’s 18th pole position means he has as many as Lewis Hamilton, Rene Arnoux and Mario Andretti. It is also his 4th consecutive pole position.
  • Sebastian has now started exactly 40% of his career races from the front row, compared to Lewis Hamilton’s 41.89% and Michael Schumacher’s 42.28%.
  • Mark Webber’s 8th fastest lap was more than a seconds faster than any of his opponents. He now has the same amount as Gilles Villeneuve, Lewis Hamilton, James Hunt and Ralf Schumacher.
  • Hamilton’s 15th race win is one less than Stirling Moss.
  • Michael Schumacher’s 7th place means he has finished exactly 75% of his career races in the points (204 out 0f 272).
  • Felipe Massa, driving car number 6, has finished in 6th place in every single official session (FP1, FP2, Sat Practice, Qualifying, Race) this weekend, and is seated 6th place in the title standings.
  • Each driver on the grid has now finished at least one race. Unsurprisingly, the lowest classified finish so far goes to the HRT drivers, but Pastor Maldonado is next, with one 18th place to his name.
  • Vettel is the only driver who has been on the podium every race so far this year. Lewis Hamilton is the only driver to have taken a podium finish twice in 2011.
  • Sebastian has also led 74% of the laps so far this year – while his teammate has led none. Narain Karthikeyan has not gone higher than 20th at any time.
  • Paul di Resta, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Heikki Kovalainen, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg are the only drivers to have out-qualified their drivers in all 3 races so far.
  • Only the drivers from the top 3 teams have scored points in Australia, Malaysia and China.
  • With 23 classified drivers, the 2011 Chinese GP now holds the all-time record for most classified cars in a Grand Prix. The only retirement was Jaime Alguersuari.
  • Despie Rubens Barrichello’s 13th place finish, Williams have suffered their worst start to a season in their history.

Alonso bemoans slow Ferrari

Fernando failed to keep up with the McLarens and Red Bulls

Fernando failed to keep up with the McLarens and Red Bulls

Fernando Alonso has said that a 3-stop strategy would not have helped his challenge for a podium today.

Today’s Chinese Grand Prix saw a mix between 2 and 3-stop strategies, and Fernando finished down in 7th after a lacklustre performance. However, the Spaniard feels that the car simply isn’t fast enough, no matter what the strategy:

"It's very easy to choose the strategy when you have the fastest car and it's very 
hard when you are slow. Webber today showed qualifying is not very important.

The most important thing is to have a good tyre degradation and a good strategy, 
and this year we can overtake. As I say, the easiest thing is to have a quick car, 
like Red Bull, you pit three, two, one times and you end up on the podium.

We need to improve the car above everything. I don't think it would have changed 
much. We were much slower than the cars we had in front so we would ended up with 
a similar result."

Alonso also claimed that his race never had much potential:

"We just weren't fast at any point during the race and we kept on losing positions 
little by little.

Then we opted to go for two stops so it looked like we were in a good position 
during some points of the race and others where they were flying like bullets from 
behind. We had to try to hold on and finish the race in whatever position."

Fernando is currently 5th in the points standings, 42 points away from Sebastian Vettel.

Points standings after Chinese Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 68
2 Lewis Hamilton 47
3 Jenson Button 38
4 Mark Webber 37
5 Fernando Alonso 26
6 Felipe Massa 24
7 Vitaly Petrov 17
8 Nick Heidfeld 15
9 Nico Rosberg 10
10 Kamui Kobayashi 7
11 Michael Schumacher 6
12 Sebastien Buemi 4
13 Adrian Sutil 2
14 Paul di Resta 2
15 Jaime Alguersuari 0
16 Jarno Trulli 0
17 Rubens Barrichello 0
18 Jerome D’Ambrosio 0
19 Heikki Kovalainen 0
20 Timo Glock 0
21 Segio Perez 0
22 Pastor Maldonado 0
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi 0
24 Narain Karthikeyan 0

Constructor Standings:

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 105
2 McLaren-Mercedes 85
3 Ferrari 50
4 Renault 32
5 Mercedes GP 16
6 Sauber 7
7 Toro Rosso 4
8 Force India-Mercedes 4
9 Lotus-Cosworth 0
10 Williams-Cosworth 0
11 Virgin-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0

Hamilton snatches dramatic win in Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton took victory at the Chinese Grand prix, snatcing victory in the dying laps from Sebastian Vettel. Mark Webber was 3rd, after a heated dash through the field. Jenson Button was a potential winner, but a disastrous mistake at the pit stop left him 4th. Here is the full report:

Button leads from Hamilton, while Rosberg pressurises Vettel

Button leads from Hamilton, while Rosberg pressurises Vettel

At the start, Vettel got bogged down, while Button sailed into the lead. Lewis nearly hit the grass trying to get around the Red Bull, and overtook him at the first corner. Mark Webber only took one position from 18th on the first lap, while Kamui Kobayashi made a move on Jaime Alguersuari.

Mark got up to 15th within a few laps, but was quickly passed by Sergio Perez, as the Red Bull began to lose pace on the prime tyres. Jaime Alguersuari was the first to stop on Lap 10, but a badly fitted back right wheel caused it to fall off after a few corners, sening the Toro Rosso into retirement.

Webber and Schumacher, who had got up to 9th, stopped a lap after. Perez gained another place at the expense of Barrichello, while Rosberg stopped from 4th, who was holding up Massa and Alonso.

Button and Vettel stopped on Lap 13. However, Jenson made a howler of a mistake, when he tried to stop at the Red Bull pit box instead of the McLaren box. He never stopped, and got out of Sebastian’s way, but the damage was done, as he lost 2nd place.

Lewis stopped a lap after, and after being held up on track, lost the lead – but not to Vettel. Nico Rosberg’s early stop had paid dividends, and he was 5 seconds ahead of Vettel.

Webber was now up to 11th after his early stop, up against Kobayashi in 10th, who was suffering with nosecone damage. Di Resta and Sutil were 8th and 9th for Force India. Further up the pack, Alonso and Schumacher were battling for 6th place. After a few laps, Fernando muscled past the Mercedes. However, replays indicated that the Ferrari had used its DRS off the main straight.

Jenson stopped on lap 25, indicating that he was on a 3-stop strategy. Race leader Rosberg and Webber stopped one lap later. This left Sebastian back in the lead of the Grand Prix. Nico soon passed Alonso for 3rd.

The race leader soon suffered a setback, as his radio began to fail. His pace slowed slightly, as Alonso soon lost 4th place to Button. Vettel’s pace wasn’t good enough for his stint, so he stopped on lap 33 for a set of hard tyres, which left Felipe Massa in charge of the Grand Prix. He pitted 2 laps later, leaving Rosberg back at the top.

Hamilton and Button dice it out

Hamilton and Button dice it out

The McLarens were second and third, and hearts must mave skipped a beat on the pit wall when Hamilton dived down the inside of Button to snatch 2nd place. It was close, but both drivers gave each other room.

With his race compromised, Button stopped for the final time, taking on hard tyres, while Hamilton matched him a lap later, and he exited the pit lane in front of his teammate. Further back, Webber shoved his way past Michael Schumacher for 6th place.

In between all of the action, the stewards announced a drive-through penalty for Sergio Perez. The Mexican driver ran wide at turn 1 and slammed into Adrian Sutil, causing front wing damage to the Force India.

Nico was promising for a podium position, but a problem was apparent when it was revealed that he was running low on fuel. Backing off forced him to concede 3rd place to Hamilton. Lewis wasn’t happy with that, though, and soon pushed Massa aside for 2nd place. With only 10 laps to go, it looked as if the McLaren could challenge for the win.

Within a few laps, Lewis had completely eroded Vettel’s lead, and a fantastic battle for the lead emerged. Dives down the inside at turn 14 were fruitless, so Hamilton caught everyone out by taking Vettel halfway throught the lap.

Webber keeps Button at bay

Webber keeps Button at bay

With the lead settled, focus soon switched to Mark Webber, who had made a stunning comeback away from the cameras, and was now 4th. With Button concentrating on Vettel ahead, scintillating pace from Mark, as well as a wheel-to-wheel battle, put him in a podium spot, a massive achievement considering his 18th placed grid spot and poor tyre choice.

Jenson tried to dive back, and clashed wheels, but Mark held his ground for 3rd place. Lewis Hamilton took the race win by 5 seconds, to Vettel and Webber. Button was 4th, ahead of Rosberg and Massa. Alonso and Schumacher battled to the flag, while Petrov and Kobayashi got points finishes. Paul di Resta and Nick Heidfeld battled for 11th all the way to the flag, and clashed with 2 corners to go, which will be investigated after the race.

Hamilton wins, 5 seconds ahead of Vettel

Hamilton wins, 5 seconds ahead of Vettel

It was a fantastic race, action-packed from the very beginning, with a mix between raw pace and strategy. Ultimately, stopping 7 laps earlier was a mistake for Sebastian, and Lewis made many excellent passing moves across the day. Also, we cannot forget Mark’s stunning ascension through the field while under pressure.

Pirelli announce tyre compounds for Turkey, Spain and Monaco

Pirelli will bring soft and hard tyres to Spain and Turkey

Pirelli will bring soft and hard tyres to Spain and Turkey

Pirelli have announced their choice of tyre compounds to bring to the Turkish, Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.

The hard and soft tyres will be continued to be used for Turkey and Spain, the same compounds that have been used all so far this season. It is also the same choice that Bridgestone made last year.

The Monaco Grand Prix, meanwhile, will see the introduction of the super-soft tyre, accompanied by the soft tyre.

This means that the medium tyre will be the only tyre that hasn’t been used yet this season.

Also bear in mind that from the Turkish Grand Prix onwards, Pirelli will be using a new system to differentiate the softer tyre from the harder tyre, although their system has not been announced yet.

Vettel unchallenged to China pole position

Sebastian Vettel took his 3rd pole position of the year for the Chinese Grand Prix. Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were 2nd and 3rd, while Mark Webber was knocked out of Q1. Here is the full report:

Q1

Webber lost out and will start 18th

Webber lost out and will start 18th

A quiet start to Q1 was marked by only Sergio Perez setting a lap, a 1.38.295, and soon improving to a 1.37.585. A huge lock-up hindered Paul di Resta, while Jenson Button soon went fastest.

Vettel soon overturned the McLaren’s first place, but Webber languished in 7th. Kobayashi was the last driver to set his first time, going 5th only 4 tenths off Sebastian.

Nick Heidfeld made a mistake at Turn 14, but still got within 2 tenths of the Red Bull.

The Ferraris soon took 1st and 2nd, albeit on soft tyres. Vitaly Petrov, initially struggling in 18th, went 1 hundreth faster than Alonso to go fastest, but was swiftly overturned by Rosberg.

Mark Webber decided to stay out on the harder tyres, a decision which completely backfired. Pastor Maldonado went 15th, and shoved the Red Bull into 18th, and out of Q1.

HRT failed to beat the Virgin cars in qualifying, but still got within the 107% rule.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Mark Webber

19) Heikki Kovalainen

20) Jarno Trulli

21) Jerome D’Ambrosio

22) Timo Glock

23) Vitantonio Liuzzi

24) Narain Karthikeyan

Q2

The cars line up for the last 2 minutes of Q2

The cars line up for the last 2 minutes of Q2

Jaime Alguersuari started Q2 significantly faster than his teammate Buemi. Jenson Button set a 1.34.662, which was sure to raise eyebrows at Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton went quicker by 2 tenths, while Vettel was in the 1.34.7 range.

Nico Rosberg went 10th on the hard tyres, and soon switched to the softs after lacking pace. Buemi went 5th, splitting the Ferraris. Vitaly Petrov jumped to 4th on his first run.

The Renault soon slowed after a gearbox problem, and the red flag came out as his car was recovered. As there were only 2 minutes to go, a huge amount of cars had to queue up at the end of the pitlane at the restart.

A huge train of cars crossed the line with less than 30 seconds to go. Paul di Resta was incredibly lucky to cross the line with only one second to go.

Masa went 5th with Rosberg 9th. Schumacher was 13th, and Heidfeld 16th, with both drivers knocked out of Q2. Di Resta didn’t end up setting a lap, but stayed in 10th position.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Adrian Sutil

12) Sergio Perez

13) Kamui Kobayashi

14) Michael Schumacher

15) Rubens Barrichello

16) Nick Heidfeld

17) Pastor Maldonado

Q3

Vettel was 7 tenths clear of Hamilton and Button

Vettel was 7 tenths clear of Hamilton and Button

Vitaly Petrov failed to show in Q3 after his car troubles in Q2. Sebastian Vettel easily beat Jenson Button by 7 tenths of a second, setting a 1.33.706. These were the only 2 drivers going for 2 runs, as the others stayed in the pits at the beginning of the session.

The two Toro Rossos failed to match the frontrunners’ pace, going 2.3 and 2.4 seconds off the pace. Lewis Hamilton deciced to conserve one of his soft tyre sets for race day, as the drivers went out on their final run.

Alonso was well off the pace of Vettel, more than a second off the Red Bull. Nico Rosberg went 3rd, while Hamilton made several mistakes en route to 3rd.

With his fastest time unchallenged, Vettel called off his final run, as did 2nd placed Button. Lewis was disappointed not to challenge for pole, although Rosberg was surely pleased with 4th position.

While it’s another pole for Vettel, the McLarens are poised to capitalise on any mistake tomorrow.

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