Monthly Archives: May 2011

Vettel holds off Hamilton in Spain

Alonso pushes the Red Bulls out of the way at the start

Alonso pushes the Red Bulls out of the way at the start

Sebastian Vettel held off a resurgent Lewis Hamilton in the final 20 laps of the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya.

It wasn’t a straightforward win, however – Vettel had to fight his way back to the lead, after Fernando Alonso snatched the lead from Mark Webber at the start. Mark lost out to his teammate at the first corner. Kamui Kobayashi suffered a puncture after a trip into the gravel.

A roar of approval from the Spanish crowd wasn’t enough for Fernando though, as he struggled to shake off the Red Bulls and Hamilton.

An early pit stop for Vettel on Lap 8 prompted a dive into the pits for Alonso and Webber. Lewis delayed his stop, and emerged behind Webber in 3rd.

The same strategy worked much better at the second stop, with Vettel taking control of the lead, and Hamilton dispatching of Webber. Alonso resigned the lead, and slowly began to slip down the order.

A torrid race ended prematurely for Massa with a gearbox failure

A torrid race ended prematurely for Massa with a gearbox failure

Jenson Button made the call to retain a 3-stop strategy, putting him out of sync with the frontrunners. After the others’ second stops, Button made a daring pass on Webber at the first corner to move into 3rd place.

Vettel and Hamilton began to tear away, while a switch to hard tyres proved disastrous for Alonso, as he began to slide away from the leaders, eventually becoming lapped near the end.

An intermittent KERS problem put Sebastian under huge pressure from Lewis. A DRS advantage wasn’t enough for the McLaren though, as the difficult final sector of the lap gave the Red Bull enough breathing space.

Fernando was unable to stem the massive loss in time under the prime tyres, and succumbed to Webber by the end of the race. His teammate was even worse off, spinning and being passed by Nick Heidfeld and Sergio Perez.

Schumacher and Rosberg were unable to match McLaren and Red Bull, and quietly toured the circuit in 6th and 7th. Heidfeld and Perez were 8th and 9th, while Kobayashi recovered well to take a point.

Vettel was superb and on the pace all day long

Vettel was superb and on the pace all day long

Vettel held on by 0.6 seconds to Hamilton, and took a well-deserved win. He now holds a 41-point lead over Hamilton, who is the only driver to finish ahead of him in any race this year.

Massa eventually retired with a gearbox issue, joining Vitantonio Liuzzi (gearbox) and Heikki Kovalainen (crash) on the sidelines.

Pastor Maldonado slumped after his top 10 start, and was 15th. Meanwhile, Perez became the first Mexican in 30 years to score points in Formula 1.

Also, I apologise for the late updates this week. I was away during the weekend, and was in Dublin for Barack Obama’s visit. Well worth it though.

Webber retains advantage in second practice

Webber continued to lead in FP2

Webber continued to lead in FP2

Mark Webber continued to lead proceedings in the Spanish Grand Prix second practice.

However, he was closely followed by Lewis Hamilton, as McLaren hone their latest updates.

Sebastian Vettel was 3rd, 3 tenths off his teammate. Jenson Button was 4th, while Fernando Alonso was held up on his fastest lap, but was still 5th.

Rosberg and Schumacher secured 6th and 7th for Mercedes. Both Saubers got into the top 10.

Vitaly Petrov was half a second slower than Heidfeld in 12th. The Williams drivers were 14th and 16th. Adrian Sutil was the only driver to have been slower than one of the 3 bottom teams. His teammate Paul di Resta was a full second faster than him.

The 107% rule only applied to the two Hispanias in this session.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1.22.470           35 
 2.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes       1.22.509   0.039   27
 3.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault       1.22.826   0.356   37
 4.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes       1.23.188   0.718   32
 5.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari                1.23.568   1.098   34
 6.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes               1.23.586   1.116   35
 7.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes               1.23.981   1.511   30
 8.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari                1.24.278   1.808   30
 9.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari         1.24.290   1.820   33
10.  Nick Heidfeld       Renault                1.24.366   1.896   31
11.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari         1.24.483   2.013   38
12.  Vitaly Petrov       Renault                1.24.786   2.316   43
13.  Sebastien Buemi     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.25.296   2.826   33
14.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth      1.25.303   2.833   38
15.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.25.457   2.987   34
16.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Cosworth      1.25.603   3.133   43
17.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes   1.26.073   3.603   32
18.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus-Renault          1.26.417   3.947   37
19.  Adrian Sutil        Force India-Mercedes   1.27.123   4.653   20
20.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus-Renault          1.27.189   4.719   34
21.  Jerome D'Ambrosio   Virgin-Cosworth        1.28.036   5.566   36
22.  Timo Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1.28.062   5.592   28
23.  Narain Karthikeyan  HRT-Cosworth           1.29.469   6.999   28
24.  Tonio Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth           1.29.476   7.006   31

Webber dominates Spanish first practice

Webber was a second faster than Vettel

Webber was a second faster than Vettel

Mark Webber led teammate Sebastian Vettel by a full second in first practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.

A 1.25.142 was 1.009 seconds faster than Vettel, who headed Nico Rosberg in 3rd.

It wasn’t a completely satisfactory session for the Red Bull team though, as Vettel was instructed to disable his KERS after another reliability issue early on in the session.

Fernando Alonso was 4th, ahead of Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton. Nick Heidfeld was the only Renault in the top 10, while Jenson Button struggled with his tyres and was 9th.

Daniel Ricciardo took over Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso, and was 1.5 seconds faster than Jaime Alguersuari, although the Spaniard only completed 9 laps with an engine problem.

Felipe Massa was 16th, 3.5 seconds off the pace. Pastor Maldonado spun off, but was 13th.

4 cars were outside of the 107% rule: Both HRT cars, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock.

Times from FP1:


 1.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1.25.142    	   27 
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1.26.149   1.007  20
 3.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1.26.379   1.237  29
 4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1.26.480   1.338  27
 5.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1.26.738   1.596  26
 6.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1.26.988   1.846  19
 7.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1.27.016   1.874  32
 8.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault               1.27.132   1.990  21
 9.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1.27.138   1.996  22
10.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1.27.212   2.070  20
11.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1.27.241   2.099  22
12.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.27.471   2.329  23
13.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1.28.005   2.863  11
14.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1.28.027   2.885  26
15.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1.28.163   3.021  22
16.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1.28.654   3.512  28
17.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1.28.819   3.677  23
18.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.28.995   3.853  9
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1.29.231   4.089  21
20.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1.30.896   5.754  18
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1.31.235   6.093  24
22.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth          1.31.268   6.126  23
23.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault         1.31.418   6.276  12
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1.32.106   6.964  25

FIA make changes to blown diffuser rules

The exhaust blown diffuser has been limited by the FIA

The exhaust blown diffuser has been limited by the FIA

The FIA has informed all F1 teams of changes to the technical regulations concerning blown diffusers, which will come into effect at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

One of the main points of development for the teams this year has been the blown diffuser, which channels exhaust gases onto the diffuser, which initially only brought downforce benefits while the driver was on the throttle.

However, several teams, particularly Red Bull, have been believed to have exploited the blown diffuser, by allowing the system to work even while the throttle is not being used. A constant flow of gas through the exhaust system is rumoured to be the cause for this.

This is the innovation that the FIA will soon ban. They have written to all the teams, instructing them that the use of the throttle is only to increase torque, not for aerodynamic performance.

If any team is caught to evade this ruling, they will have broken Article 3.15 of the technical regulations, which bans movable aerodynamic pieces or devices.

McLaren believe that this exploitation may be the key to Red Bull’s scintillating qualifying pace, so it will be interesting to see how Vettel and Webber perform in Barcelona this weekend.

Update: The FIA has decided not to go ahead with this regulation for this weekend, after several “unforeseen and unintended consequences” were brought to their attention. However, they are planning to move ahead with the new ruling as soon as possible.

Sutil “involved in brawl” after Chinese GP

Sutil and Eric Lux are at the centre of international media attention

Sutil and Eric Lux are at the centre of international media attention

Reports over the last few days have emerged claiming that Force India driver Adrian Sutil was involved in a fight in a nightclub after the Chinese Grand Prix.

Website 422race.com stated that the other person involved was Eric Luz, chief executive of Genii Capital, who owns the Renault F1 team. They also claim that Sutil injured Lux with glass during the altercation, which left Lux with blood streaming down his neck.

Lewis Hamilton was also at the nightclub at the time, as he is well known to be friends with Sutil. He was quickly rushed by his bodyguards out of the VIP room.

Interestingly, Adrian had to leave China the next day to escape legal trouble.

Neither Force India or Genii have issued statements, but Sutil has since apologised:

"In response to the rumours that have appeared in the media regarding an incident in 
a Shanghai club, I wish to make the following statement:

After the Grand Prix in Shanghai I attended a party on the Sunday evening away from 
the track where I unintentionally injured another guest. I have unreservedly 
apologised for this.

As this is a private matter, which has nothing to do with Formula 1, I will make no 
further public comments on this subject."

The FIA are not believed to be investigating this incident.

830m DRS zone for Spain

The Spanish GP will have an 830m DRS zone

The Spanish GP will have an 830m DRS zone

The Drag Reduction System is to be even more crucial in the Spanish Grand Prix, as the FIA have announced an 830 metre activation zone – the longest so far this year.

While the adjustable wing system has brought an extra spectacle this year, it suffered complaints at the Turkish Grand Prix, where many noticed that it was too easy for cars to overtake using DRS (the zone was around the high 700 metre mark, I never found a precise figure).

The Chinese Grand Prix DRS zone was reduced from 902 metres to 752m, after the FIA believed that 900m would make it too easy to overtake.

While it hasn’t been confirmed yet, it is almost certain that the DRS zone for Barcelona will be on the start/finish straight.

While many will be worried of more over-simplified overtaking, it is good to remember that the Spanish Grand Prix has a reputation for being difficult to pass on, unlike Turkey.

No DRS ban for Monaco

DRS will be used in Monaco

DRS will be used in Monaco

The FIA has decided that there will be no ban on the Drag Reduction System for the Monaco Grand Prix, despite safety concerns from drivers.

The unlimited use of the adjustable rear wing in the tunnel is the primary concern from some drivers, who feel that it is an unnecessary risk.

However, some teams voiced their support for retaining the system, claiming it would be difficult to create a Monaco-specific rear wing.

Williams technical director Sam Michael has said that Charlie Whiting has told the teams there will be no ban, as only a handful of teams objected to the device:

"Charlie told us this morning. There were some teams that did not think DRS would be 
good there, but other teams were saying they did not agree [with the ban] and did not 
understand on what basis [it would be banned].

So Charlie was quite straightforward about it. He said that there wasn't a strong 
enough argument to not have it, so it is staying. We were neutral on it, we didn't 
mind."

On the other hand, several drivers are unhappy with using DRS on the street circuit. Rubens Barrichello in particular feels that the sport’s governing body has made the wrong call:

"I just think it is wrong. I would love the people at the top to sit in the car and 
try to do the tunnel with the DRS open.

In my opinion, they are waiting for something bad to happen. And when it happens, 
they will just say, 'oh, next year we will not have it for Monaco'.

The drivers have not been listened to right now and I think it is the wrong 
decision.

I can see a race [filled] with safety cars. If they could listen still: I think 
Monaco is what it is. It is not overtaking territory.

Do they think they can introduce overtaking through the DRS? They possibly can, but 
they might hurt someone. That is a voice from experience."

Points standings after Turkish Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 93
2 Lewis Hamilton 59
3 Mark Webber 55
4 Jenson Button 46
5 Fernando Alonso 41
6 Felipe Massa 24
7 Nick Heidfeld 21
8 Nico Rosberg 20
9 Vitaly Petrov 19
10 Kamui Kobayashi 8
11 Sebastien Buemi 8
12 Michael Schumacher 6
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 148
2 McLaren-Mercedes 105
3 Ferrari 65
4 Renault 40
5 Mercedes GP 26
6 Sauber 8
7 Toro Rosso 8
8 Force India-Mercedes 4
9 Lotus-Cosworth 0
10 Williams-Cosworth 0
11 Virgin-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0

Vettel takes third win of the season in Turkey

Rosberg takes P2 at the start

Rosberg takes P2 at the start

Sebastian Vettel took a convincing victory at the Turkish Grand Prix. A perfectly-executed strategy, combined with excellent pace, left him ahead of Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso, who battled for most of the race. Lewis Hamilton was 4th, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button. The Renaults were 7th and 8th, while Sebastien Buemi took his first point of the year. Kamui Kobayashi jumped up 14 places to finish 10th. Here is the full report:

At the start, Webber predictably had a slow start from the dirty side of the grid. Rosberg snatched 2nd place, while Lewis Hamilton ran wide at Turn 4 and lost several places. Both Sergio Perez and Michael Schumacher pitted for new front wings.

Kamui Kobayashi got on with the job, passing 4 cars in the first half of the first lap. Meanwhile, Hamilton and Webber began to pressurise Button and Rosberg for P5 and P2 respectively.

DRS gave Webber an easy pass past Rosberg, while Button and Hamilton began dicing it out for 5th place. Combining DRS and KERS at different parts of the circuit led to several overtaking moves in the first few laps between the McLaren drivers.

Massa gets alongside Hamilton in the pit lane

Massa gets alongside Hamilton in the pit lane

Just after passing Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Lewis both pitted on Lap 10. However, as Felipe exited his box, Lewis did what Sebastian Vettel did in China 2010, and pushed him into the mechanic side of the pit lane. Massa eventually yielded, but the stewards intervening was certainly a possibility.

Alonso and Rosberg pitted a lap later, the Mercedes driver losing pace after his great start. Vettel, now 5 seconds in front of Webber, took on a new set of softs on Lap 12. Renault nearly suffered a disaster, as Vitaly Petrov pushed Nick Heidfeld into the pit lane entry while battling for position. Luckily Heidfeld avoided entering the pits, but gesticulated angrily at his teammate.

After holding up Vettel for several laps, Jenson Button retired the lead to the Red Bull, switiching to a used set of soft tyres. Kamui Kobayashi surprised Schumacher by diving down the inside, and was soon followed by Adrian Sutil. Massa attempted several passes on Rosberg for 5th position, but Nico held his ground.

Felipe eventually muscled past Nico, but Button made a fantastic move at the final corner, sweeping around the outside of the Mercedes. Rosberg conceded defeat and pitted for a new set of soft tyres.

Nick Heidfeld easily outbraked Paul di Resta for 11th place. Vettel pitted for a second time, and emerged 8 seconds ahead of Webber. Fernando Alonso began to close in on the Aussie. The Ferrari breezed past the Red Bull at Turn 12 for 2nd place.

Vettel held a 9 second lead to Alonso, while Hamilton pitted from 4th. A disastrous pit stop, with a sticking wheel nut, and holding the McLaren while cars went past, cost Lewis about 10 seconds. Rosberg stopped from 7th, and went from hards onto softs.

Massa ran wide onto the marbles at Turn 8, losing 3 places to Schumacher, Di Resta and Kobayashi. The Ferrari quickly recovered to take 13th off the Sauber.

After most of the frontrunners had made their third stop, Alonso had slightly reduced the gap to Vettel, but now had the problem of possibly having to stop again, while Sebastian was on a definite 3-stopper. Further back, Pastor Maldonado received a penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

With 13 laps to go, Rosberg stopped for a fourth time, keeping the softer compound. Webber followed this strategy, stopping from 3rd position, emerging in the same place. While he was under no pressure, Alonso opted to cover Webber, stopping a lap later. This left Vettel in complete control of the Grand Prix.

Paul di Resta rolled to a halt in his Force India after leaving the pit lane. Hamilton and Massa decided to copy this 4-stop strategy on Lap 47. This left Jenson Button in 4th place, but Lewis was only 2 seconds behind on quicker tyres. Surprisingly, Vettel chose to cover Alonso, pitting on Lap 48.

The two McLarens were very close together with 9 laps to go. Jenson chose not to battle Lewis, and allowed a DRS-assisted pass move Hamilton up to 4th. Rosberg was now a threat, closing in by nearly a second per lap.

Mark Webber shoved his way past Alonso for 2nd, driving around the outside of Turn 12. He held off a spirited challange from the Ferrari driver to hold his position on the pit straight.

Sebastien Buemi, in 7th place for Toro Rosso, spent the last few laps in a tussle with Schumacher and Massa. Michael used his trademark technique to push Buemi out of the way, which allowed Massa through as well. However, Felipe dived down the inside of the Mercedes at turn 1, shoving Schumacher aside, and leaving him in the clutches of Buemi. However, he survived the Toro Rossos assault to keep 8th.

With 3 laps to go, Rosberg sided past Button for 5th position. Nick Heidfeld got past teammate Petrov, taking 7th place.

Vettel was unchallenged in the end to take his 3rd victory of the year. Webber and Alonso took well-deserved podiums, after battling all day long. Kamui Kobayashi was one to note, having leaped up to 10th after starting from the back. His Sauber companion Sergio Perez recovered from his front wing damage on the first lap to finish 13th.

Vettel takes Turkey pole position in the pits

Sebastian Vettel took pole position ahead of tomorrow’s Turkish Grand Prix. The German, supremely confident with a previous lap time set, decided to sit out the final few minutes of qualifying, and was untouched by any of the other drivers.

Mark Webber was 2nd, while Nico Rosberg impressed to take 3rd place. Here is the full report:

Q1

Liuzzi impressed by beating Virgin in Q1

Liuzzi impressed by beating Virgin in Q1

Kamui Kobayashi was the first out of the pits as the session began. However, his car rolled to a halt on his first lap, and left him stranded outside of the pit lane, leaving him out of Q1.

A hard tyre run from Vettel gave him a 1.27.039, more than 2 seconds faster than Paul di Resta. Michael Schumacher, who was within one thousandth of a second of Vettel in Saturday practice, was 0.6 seconds off.

Mark Webber matched Sebastian, while Rosberg went into 3rd place. The McLarens went 3rd and 4th, but Lewis’ lap was ruined after being held up by Michael Schumacher.

Vettel, Webber and Button failed to improve on their times. The Renault drivers went out with only 5 minutes to go. Petrov was 5th, while Heidfeld was classified 11th. Sergio Perez set the fastest sector time in sector 3 to go 10th.

In 17th place with 2 minutes to go, Felipe Massa took the safe option, and set another lap on the soft tyre. He went fastest. but only by 2 hundreths, considering all his rivals used the harder tyre.

His teammate Alonso, still on the hard tyre, was within 3 tenths of Massa.

Jarno Trulli’s session was hampered by a DRS issue, and will start 21st. Jerome D’Ambrosio was 20th, but a 5-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags in FP2, and will start at the back of the grid.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Heikki Kovalainen

19) Jarno Trulli

20) Vitantonio Liuzzi

21) Timo Glock

22) Narain Karthikeyan

23) Kamui Kobayashi

24) Jerome D’Ambrosio *

*5-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags in FP2

Q2

Barrichello was just knocked out of Q2

Barrichello was just knocked out of Q2

On worn hard tyres, Michael Schumacher set the first lap, a 1.27.458. Webber set the benchmark for soft tyres, with a 1.26.0.

Button went second, while Vettel smashed his teammate’s lap by half a second. Hamilton and Alonso went 2nd and 4th respectively.

The final 5 minutes saw the rest of the field try out the softer tyres. Vitaly Petrov went 6th, Massa took 7th, while Rosberg leaped up to 2nd place.

In the dying seconds of Q2, both Paul di Resta and Rubens Barrichello had a sniff at Q3, but a last-gasp lap from Nick Heidfeld took both drivers out of the session.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Rubens Barrichello

12) Adrian Sutil

13) Paul di Resta

14) Pastor Maldonado

15) Sergio Perez

16) Sebastien Buemi

17) Jaime Alguersuari

Q3

Nico Rosberg seemed content with 3rd on the grid

Nico Rosberg seemed content with 3rd on the grid

The sound of silence at the start of Q3 confirmed the rumours that most drivers would attempt a 1-lap run for Q3.

Left to right: Rosberg, Vettel and Webber after qualifying

Left to right: Rosberg, Vettel and Webber after qualifying

Vitaly Petrov soon got the ball rolling with a 1.26.411. Fernando Alonso set a 1.25.8, while Webber went another 4 tenths faster than the Ferrari. Hamilton got within 1 tenth of the Red Bull.

With 5 minutes to go, Vettel set out for his one and only lap attempt, and destroyed the opposition with a 1.25.0.

In the final 2 minutes, Nick Heidfeld went 9th, while Felipe Massa aborted his run to save his tyres. Upon realising that none of their rivals could beat their times, both Red Bulls parked up in the garage, content with their performance.

Their prediction was correct, as the only driver who got near them was Nico Rosberg, who went 3rd. Lewis was demoted to 4th, while Alonso starts 5th for the 3rd race in a row. Jenson finished 6th, Petrov was 7th, while Schumacher was 1.5 seconds off the pace of Vettel in 8th position.

The searing pace of Vettel remains as feared as ever. Rosberg will be one to watch tomorrow, as he starts on the clean side of the grid, though it remains to be seen can he challenge for the race win. Both Schumacher and Massa disappointed hugely in their final runs.

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