Monthly Archives: July 2011

Buemi takes 5-place grid drop for Hungary

Buemi will take a grid drop after colliding with Heidfeld in Germany

Buemi will take a grid drop after colliding with Heidfeld in Germany

Sebastien Buemi has been ordered to take a 5-place grid penalty for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The stewards decided that he was at fault for causing a collision between the Toro Rosso and Nick Heidfeld early on in the German GP.

Approaching the Veedol chicane, Heidfeld was squeezed onto the grass by Buemi, then the Renault was launched into the gravel trap and out of the race. Buemi continued, but pitted for repairs to his rear right tyre.

Although the television images suggested Buemi squeezed Nick off the track, Sebastien claims “Heidfeld drove into me”.

This follows Buemi being disqualified from qualfying, after a fuel irregularity with his car.

In related news, the FIA has stated it will not take any action against Nick Heidfeld, who was issued a drive-through penalty (for colliding with Paul di Resta) before he crashed out.

Hamilton takes superb victory in Germany

Lewis Hamilton took one of his greatest wins in the German Grand Prix today. Lewis drove his heart out all race long to beat Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber to the top step of the podium. Sebastian Vettel had a dire race, struggling to 4th on the final lap. Adrian Sutil silently took an excellent 6th, while Kamui Kobayashi made a brilliant comeback from 18th. Here is what happened:

Webber continued his streak of bad starts, allowing Hamilton to leap into the lead at the first corner. Fernando Alonso pushed Vettel aside to move into 3rd.

Hamilton takes the lead while the Red Bulls fall back

Hamilton takes the lead while the Red Bulls fall back

Nick Heidfeld and Paul di Resta came together, sending both cars to the back of the grid. They remained ahead of Karun Chandhok, who pitted for a new nosecone after a few laps.

Slipping wide at Turn 3 cost Alonso 3rd place to Vettel. The other Ferrari, back in 6th, was stuck behind Nico Rosberg, and was being urged to pass the Mercedes to avoid “ruining” his race. Even with DRS, Massa failed to pass.

His teammate, without DRS, barged his way past Vettel at Turn 1, giving Alonso back 3rd position.

On Lap 10, the world champion shocked viewers around the world, by succumbing to pressure and spinning at Turn 10. He kept 4th, but was now under pressure by Rosberg and Massa.

This 3-way battle allowed Massa to get closer to Rosberg, and the Ferrari driver pushed his way into 5th. Further back, Sebastien Buemi accidentaly pushed Nick Heidfeld off the track, launching the Renault into the air and into the gravel trap.

Heidfeld is launched into the air after colliding with Buemi

Heidfeld is launched into the air after colliding with Buemi

The focus soon switched to the frontrunners, as the top 3 drivers began to close up to each other. Lewis made a mistake exiting the Veedol chicane, allowing Webber to slide past into the lead. Hamilton wasn’t having any of it though, using a wider line onto the pit straight, and shoving his McLaren along the pit wall to retake the lead.

Webber pitted from 2nd on Lap 16, followed by Hamilton and Alonso a lap later. However, as the three drivers came together at Turn 1, Felipe Massa – who was yet to stop – was in the middle of the battle. Pushing Webber wide, he took the lead, but Mark was still past Hamilton.

After Felipe pitted, Webber took control of the race. Michael Schumacher emulated Vettel by spinning off at Turn 10. Jenson Button finally stopped on Lap 25, indicating a 2-stop strategy.

Webber surprised many by stopping earlier than expected on Lap 31. With traffic and a poor out lap, Hamilton retook the lead after stopping a lap later. Mark tried a move around the outside of Turn 2, but Lewis pushed him onto the grass to retain the lead.

In a complete contrast to the regular undercut, Alonso pitted on Lap 33, and managed to move into the lead. However, his lead didn;t last long – Hamilton did what Webber couldn’t, and sailed around the outside of the Ferrari to retake the lead again.

Vettel jumps Massa on the final lap - albeit in the pits

Vettel jumps Massa on the final lap - albeit in the pits

In the battle for 6th, Nico Rosberg did very well to hold off a faster Button on both the back and main straights. However, running wide at Turn 1 handed Jenson the position. It was short-lived though, as a hydraulic failure caused the McLaren to retire.

Sebastian Vettel began to pick up the pace, and tried a move on Massa at the Veedol chicane. It failed to materialise, as Sebastian locked up and went straight on at the chicane.

Hamilton celebrates a fantastic win

Hamilton celebrates a fantastic win

Into the final 10 laps, the battle for the top 5 positions were decided by the final set of pit stops. The medium tyres were delayed for as long as possible, but with the rain holding off, using the slower tyre was inevitable.

Hamilton was the first to react, diving into the pits on Lap 52. Alonso followed him in a lap later, but failed to pass the McLaren. Oddly enough, even though Lewis was faster on the primes, Mark decided to stay out for several laps, to try a different strategy.

If failed to work, as the Red Bull emerged in 3rd again, well behind Alonso in 2nd. Meanwhile, the battle for 4th was decided on the final lap. Both Massa and Vettel pitted on Lap 59, but a slow stop by Ferrari allowed Sebastian to take 4th position.

Alonso hitches a lift from Webber back to parc ferme

Alonso hitches a lift from Webber back to parc ferme

A last-gasp battle for the lead was short-lived, allowing Hamilton to cross the line to take one of the finest wins of his career. After a stunning lap on Saturday, he was on the pace every single lap, and pushed the Red Bulls past their limit. Fernando Alonso was also impressive, but the drama didn’t end after the chequered flag for him. After running low on fuel, the Spaniard stopped as a precautionary measure – and Webber gave him a lift back to the pits on the Red Bull sidepod!

Adrian Sutil was the unsung hero of the race, quietly moving up the field to take a well-deserved 6th place. Rosberg and Schumacher were behind the Force India, while Kamui Kobayashi recovered well to take points after qualifying 18th.

Update: Sebastien Buemi has received a 5-place grid penalty for Hungary, after the stewards concluded he was at fault for the collision with Nick Heidfeld. More to follow.

Webber snatches pole in Germany

Mark Webber will start on pole position ahead of the German Grand Prix. He will start ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who pulled out a stunning lap at the end of Q3 to move ahead of Sebastian Vettel in 3rd. Fernando Alonso failed to beat the Red Bulls after a promising start to the weekend. Here is the full report:

Q1

Ricciardo went within 0.02 seconds of Liuzzi

Ricciardo went within 0.02 seconds of Liuzzi

As expected in Q1, most of the frontrunners did their best to conserve their soft tyres. Felipe Massa was the only driver in the top 6 who felt the need to put on the options in Q1.

Daniel Ricciardo got much closer to Vitantonio Liuzzi compared to last race – only 0.025 seconds away. Karun Chandhok split the two Virgin cars to go 21st.

Timo Glock was 20th, but complained to his team, claiming they were “making his life difficult”. Heikki Kovalainen was comdfortably the fastest of the bottom 3 teams.

Sauber’s strategy of holding their drivers in the garage for the first half of Q1 failed to pay off. A 1:33.786 wasn’t enough for Kamui Kobayashi to make it through the session, and he will start the race 18th.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:33.786

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:35.599

20) Timo Glock – 1:36.400

21) Karun Chandhok – 1:36.422

22) Jerome D’Ambrosio – 1:36.641

23) Vitantonio Liuzzi – 1:37.011

24) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:37.036

Q2

Perez struggled for pace in Q2

Perez struggled for pace in Q2

Lewis Hamilton was the first man of the weekend to enter the 1:30’s, leading the two Red Bulls.

Vitaly Petrov pushed Michael Schumacher out of 10th, before he was de-seated by Paul di Resta.

Schumacher moved back into the top 10, while Adrian Sutil went 7th to knock his teammate out of Q2. Nick Heidfeld improved on his time to stay 10th, before Petrov came back to go 9th.

Pastor Maldonado and Rubens Barrichello were 13th and 14th, with Sergio Perez 15th. The Toro Rossos of Buemi and Alguersuari were 16th and 17th.

Update: Buemi has been excluded from qualifying because of fuel irregularities. He will start tomorrow’s race either last, or from the pit lane.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nick Heidfeld – 1:32.215

12) Paul di Resta – 1:32.560

13) Pastor Maldonado – 1:32.635

14) Rubens Barrichello – 1:33.043

15) Sergio Perez – 1:33.176

16) Sebastien Buemi – Excluded

17) Jaime Alguersuari – 1:33.698

Q3

Webber resisted a charge from Lewis to take pole

Webber resisted a charge from Lewis to take pole

Fernando Alonso led the way out of the pits for Q3. He briefly went fastest, before Hamilton beat the Spaniard by one tenth.

However, the searing Red Bull pace quickly propelled Mark Webber in front by 0.4 seconds. Vettel was a single tenth behind his teammate.

Massa’s and Button’s times were well off the pace, while Petrov went 7th. Neither Mercedes or Adrian Sutil set a time n the first 5 minutes, instead electing to go out while the frontrunners were in the pits.

Fernando Alonso pushed his Ferrari to the limit, but only moved into 3rd. Mark Webber improved by a tenth to stay on top, while Lewis Hamilton pulled out an incredible lap to split the Red Bulls, after Vettel moved into 3rd place.

Nico Rosberg pipped a dissappointing Button to 6th, while Adrian Sutil was 8th. Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher finished off the top 10.

Lewis was delighted with his 2nd position, describing it as a “wicked lap”, going over a second faster than teammate Button.

While a Red Bull on pole was not too surprising, it was a joy to see Alonso and particularly Hamilton push their cars to the absolute limit. The gap to the previously invincible Red Bulls has disappeared, and it has set up for a fantastic race tomorrow, with rain on the forecasts…

Single DRS zone remains for Nurburgring

The Nurburgring features DRS approaching the Veedol chicane

The Nurburgring features DRS approaching the Veedol chicane

One DRS zone will be used at the German Grand Prix this weekend.

The activation zone will be on the back straight, approaching the Veedol chicane. In previous years, drivers have attempted passes, but nearly always fell short.

The detection point will be at the approach to Turn 10 – the Kumho-Kurve. Drivers will be then able to open the rear wing exiting Turn 11 – the Bit-Kurve.

As in previous races, DRS will remain open until the braking point of the Veedol chicane.

The Nurburgring has proven difficult in terms of passing in recent years. Hopefully, with Pirelli tyres and a decent DRS zone, that will change this weekend.

Chandhok to replace Trulli for German GP

Chandhok will make his first racing appearance since Silverstone last year

Chandhok will make his first racing appearance since Silverstone last year

Karun Chandhok will take over Jarno Truli’s car for the German Grand Prix, the team confirmed today.

The Indian driver has taken part in 4 practice sessions with the team so far this year. It will be his first race in F1 since the 2010 British Grand Prix.

Trulli has struggled with power steering problems all year in the Lotus. He is due a steering upgrade in Hungary, so many believe that this temporary replacement is simply to allow Trulli to cool off.

Despite losing his seat for one race, team principal Tony Fernandes has confirmed that the team is still in negotiations with Jarno regarding a contract for next year.

Despite this, it is still suspected that Trulli will make way for Chandhok at the inaugral Indian Grand Prix as well.

F1 technical regulation changes for 2014 season

The FIA has released the technical regulations for the 2014 season, with innovative changes regarding the cars’ actions in the pit lane.

For a start, the cars will only be allowed to run on electrical power while in the pit lane, with no ignition or fuel supply to be engaged in the pits. Here is the breakdown of the changes:

Pit lane adjustments

As previously stated, one of the larger changes will be the introduction of electric-only F1 cars in the pit lane.

Self-starting motors will be mandatory on all cars, meaning that stalled cars can continue racing, as they will restart without outside assistance. This of course applies to stalls both in the pit lane and out on track.

Two energy recovery units

For the first time in motorsport, two different energy recovery units will be used at the same time. KERS will now be joined by the ability to recover energy from exhaust heat.

The KERS unit will not remain the same, however. Its power output will double, with 120kW being available.

It is currently unknown how much power the exhaust recovery unit will produce.

Expected engine changes

As expected, the engine in a Formula 1 car will undergo drastic changes. As previously reported, 1.6 litre V6 turbocharged engines will be used. The turbocharger must be inside the “V” of the engine (the 90 degree angle “V” shape remains for the engine), while the exhausts must be outside of the engine “V” area.

RPM output will be restriced to 15,000rpm, as opposed to the current 18,000 rpm.

A fuel flow limit will be introduced, restricting cars to 100kg/h (kilograms per hour). This goes with the FIA’s intentions to reduce dependency on fuel for the sport.

Weight and front wing adjustments

The minimum weight of the cars will be increased again – from 640kg to 660kg. This coincides with the much larger KERS and new exhaust recovery units, also taking into mind the reduction in engine size.

There will also be a minimum weight for all power units (engine, KERS, exhaust recovery) – 155kg. In previous years, only the engine was set a minimum limit of 95kg.

Current-generation “snowplough” front wings will become smaller, from 1,800mm wide to 1,650mm. This means that the front wing will no longer be wider than the width of the main car.

Eighth forward gear added

2014 will see 8-speed gearboxes in F1 for the first time. No fewer gears will be allowed.

The FIA also notes that:

"Each competitor must nominate the forward gear ratios (calculated from engine
crankshaft to drive shafts) to be employed within their gearbox. These
nominations must be declared to the FIA technical delegate at or before the
first Event of the Championship. For 2014 only, a competitor may re-nominate
these ratios once within the Championship season, in which case the original
nomination becomes immediately void. Ratio re-nominations must be declared as
a set and may only be effected by the substitution of change gears."

2011 mid-way driver rankings: 5 – 1

This is the final article in a 3-part review of the drivers’ performances so far this season.

5 – Nico Rosberg

Rosberg continues to lead Mercedes instead of Schumacher

Rosberg continues to lead Mercedes instead of Schumacher

Ranking in 2010: 6th

Review from 2010 ranking: “He never crashed on his own, only finished out of the points twice, and a brilliant qualifying in soaking conditions in Malaysia proved he has the talent when it counts most.”

Like 2010, Rosberg has never retired of his own accord. He drives as consistently as Nick Heidfeld, with the pace to match. It’s just a pity he still can’t race for wins.

Within firing range of Felipe Massa, Rosberg has the chance to finish in the top 6 for the first time – but this won’t be enough. Nico won’t rest until he gets a championship-winning car, and Mercedes doesn’t look up to the task.

With this in mind, a switch to Red Bull replacing Mark Webber could be on the cards. But what would Rosberg have to show for his performances so far? For one, he has trounced a 7-time world championship race after race for the past season and a half.

It’s not a move that’s out of the question – personally, I’d love to see it happen. But in the meantime, consistently beating Schumacher will do his reputation a world of good.

4 – Lewis Hamilton

A troubled year amid controversy for Hamilton

A troubled year amid controversy for Hamilton

Ranking in 2010: 5th

Review from 2010 ranking: “While Lewis showed good pace this year, he let himself down when he needed results most.”

Every year, we see a new improvement to who is undoubtedly a fantastically talented driver. Still, Lewis Hamilton’s reputation has taken a battering this year.

Outbursts against the press and the stewards have done him no good. Questionable driving in Monaco earned him stern words by past champions, to which he responded petulantly.

To make matters worse, the collision between him and Button in Canada has fractured what was a very good team relationship. Lewis’ anger at the team was also at boiling point last race, where it was revealed he wanted drastic reductions in the number of sponsor events in his next contract.

Perhaps this is too harsh on Hamilton. To be fair, he was doing 4 sponsor appearances every day for 2 weeks between Valencia and Britain.

Also, his spirited driving has not left him, as shown at Silverstone, where he wowed the crowd with a splendid comeback from 10th to 4th.

He is currently level with Button on points, but Lewis will never be satisfied being nearly 100 off Vettel.

You can be guaranteed some dramatic performances – good or bad – this season, and every one after. Despite this, Hamilton needs to ease off at times, and learn which battles to fight and which to avoid.

3 – Jenson Button

Button has improved in many sectors compared to 2010

Button has improved in many sectors compared to 2010

Ranking in 2010: 7th

Review from 2010 ranking: “The McLaren car was far better than what Button delivered, and this must be improved on for 2011.”

Aside from his retirement at Silverstone, Button has finished in the top 6 at every race so far. He has been stronger at McLaren than last year, where he constantly struggled for race pace.

Holding back slightly in Monaco may have cost him the race win, but his performance was still excellent. He produced one of the greatest drives in years in Canada, getting a taste of every single position, before scything through the field with blistering pace.

Strangely enough, his wet weather pace was rather poor in Britain, where he slipped behind Massa, Hamilton and Di Resta, before fighting back in the dry conditions.

Still, he has shown himself as a more complete driver this year, and unlike his teammate, shows restraint where necessary. Unfortunately, the title is probably well out of reach by now, but beating Hamilton in the standings would still be a good achievement.

2 – Fernando Alonso

Is Alonso the only man who can take down Vettel?

Is Alonso the only man who can take down Vettel?

Ranking in 2010: 3rd

Review from 2010 ranking: “Despite the controversies, Alonso is still a driver to be feared.”

Many were against Alonso last year, after Ferrari manipulated Massa to grant Fernando extra points. This year, no such controversy exists, as Fernando may well be the only driver with the skill to take down Vettel.

The Ferrari car has been inconsistent to say the least. Within 30 laps, Alonso went from leading the Spanish Grand Prix to being lapped, thanks to unpredictable behaviour on the hard tyres.

In the hands of a normal driver, this would be no car to challenge the championship with. However, Fernando is no ordinary driver. His fiercest enemies and rivals still fear him, and for good reason. Alonso has thrashed the Ferrari to its absolute max in the search for performance, and recently his endeavours have been rewarded.

When granted a sniff at victory in Britain, Alonso took it and ran, stretching out a 20-second lead to Vettel. At times, he was up to a second a lap faster than the Red Bull.

Still, a 92-point gap exists between Fernando and the championship leader. Don’t rule the Ferrari out, though. 2010 saw a similar situation, where, after Silverstone, he declared he would win the championship, despite a massive points deficit. We all know what happened next – he came perilously close to clinching the title – a defiant Renault standing in his way being the only obstacle.

It would be the stuff of legends if anyone were to still take the title fight to Vettel. But if there’s anyone on the grid who can do it – it will be Fernando Alonso.

1 – Sebastian Vettel

Clever and calculating - Vettel has managed his lead perfectly

Clever and calculating - Vettel has managed his lead perfectly

Ranking in 2010: 1st

Review from 2010 ranking: “I believe he truly is the best driver of 2010.”

It’s an accepted fact that drivers will always make a mistake. Jenson Button failed to see Lewis Hamilton in Canada, and squeezed him into the wall. Lewis made a badly judged move on Felipe Massa in Monaco. Fernando Alonso pushed Button too close to the kerbs in Canada, while Mark Webber has struggled for pace on occasions.

And Sebastian Vettel? He slipped wide and lost a place. That’s it.

That slip, of course, occurred on the final lap of the Canadian Grand Prix, costing him the win. But compared to the mistakes others have made, Vettel has proven himself as almost bulletproof in reliability.

In a complete contrast to 2010, clean, consistent and careful races are the order of the day. Never cracking under pressure, Sebastian has utilised the Red Bull’s searing pace to the maximum, slicing out an 80-point lead over his teammate.

Nearly utterly faultless all season, Sebastian is more complete a racing driver. With a favourable position in the team, the stage is set for back-to-back championships.

Or is it? Fernando Alonso took a valiant victory at Silverstone, and marked his return to the very top. With Ferrari pushing to surpass Red Bull, there may well still be a fight for the title.

In which case, Vettel’s mettle will be tested severely. Or, Alonso’s charge may fail to materialise, and Vettel may cruise to the title. Hopefully it will be the former, and we will see Sebastian’s true talent tested.

2011 mid-way driver rankings: 14 – 6

Here is part 2 of the mid-season review of all the Formula 1 drivers. This article tackles drivers ranked 14th up to 6th.

14 – Felipe Massa

Massa has found himself being beaten by all his rivals

Massa has found himself being beaten by all his rivals

Ranking in 2010: 14th

Review from 2010 ranking: “No race wins, no pole positions, no fastest laps, and no hope for 2012 if he doesn’t improve fast.”

To lag behind Sebastian Vettel in 2011 is to be expected. But to have only a quarter of the German’s points, while driving a Ferrari, is nothing short of laughable.

This year was where the Pirelli tyres would leap Massa back through the field. Nothing of the sort has occurred. Take the Spanish Grand Prix for example – Fernando Alonso tussled for the lead in the early stages, while Massa was being beaten by the Force Indias in the envious battle for 10th.

With less than half of Alonso’s points, and not even a sniff at a podium finish, Felipe has been completely dominated. He has yet to out-qualify Fernando at any point in 2011.

While it would be incredibly difficult for Ferrari to find a driver as talented as Alonso, they need a second driver who can consistently take podiums, not struggle for 6th.

13 – Paul di Resta

Di Resta has had a solid start in F1

Di Resta has had a solid start in F1

Ranking in 2010: N/A

Review from 2010 ranking: N/A

Ragged drives have lost him points, but nevertheless a decent start to his F1 career for the Scot.

Di Resta’s best performances so far have been in qualifying, as he has out-qualified teammate Sutil 7 times in 9 races, with over 0.6 seconds in the average gap between the two.

However, despite spending more laps in front of Sutil than vice-versa, Paul has struggled for results, with only 2 points to his name. He was on course for a large points haul in Britain, before a tyre mix-up ruined his chances.

Poorly-judged moves, particularly in Monaco and Canada, have also cost Di Resta. However, with more consistency and experience, he may be able to challenge Sutil in the driver’s championship.

12 – Jaime Alguersuari

Alguersuari has improved in recent races

Alguersuari has improved in recent races

Ranking in 2010: 19th

Review from 2010 ranking: “Three points finishes is all he could do, with a car that never really looked like pushing for points.”

Alguersuari came very close to being replaced, but several good drives have rescued his career.

3 points-scoring finishes in a row have kept Jaime his Toro Rosso race seat from going to Daniel Ricciardo. The Spaniard now lies one point ahead of Sebastien Buemi.

His qualifying results have been poor, but in recent races Alguersuari has been able to turn Q1 knockouts into points on race day.

Both of the Toro Rosso drivers’ futures still hang in the balance though, so it will be interesting to see which driver ends the season on top.

11 – Nick Heidfeld

Heidfeld has not performed up to expectations

Heidfeld has not performed up to expectations

Ranking in 2010: 16th (Only 5 races)

Review from 2010 ranking: “He will need to work fast just to get a drive for next year.”

Hailed as a consistent replacement for the injured Kubica, Heidfeld has not had the required impact at Renault so far.

The German has only just taken the lead in the championship standings battle with Vitaly Petrov. With 11 years of F1 experience, much more was expected, especially going up against a rookie driver.

Heidfeld has been soundly beaten in qualifying, being knocked out in Q1 on more than one occasion. Reliable driving as always has helped him in the races, but a lack of raw pace is holding Nick back.

10 – Michael Schumacher

Driver errors are still an issue for Schumacher

Driver errors are still an issue for Schumacher

Ranking in 2010: 12th

Review from 2010 ranking: “Schumacher’s 2011 campaign entirely hinges on the W02.”

Expected to be soundly beaten this year, Michael Schumacher has surprised some by showing much improvement from last year.

While his qualifying record against Nico Rosberg is still extremely poor, race day has allowed Schumacher to make huge progress, often held back by misfortune.

Punctures in Australia and Britain, DRS difficulties in China, as well as being swamped near the end of the Canadian GP, show that Michael’s points tally doesn’t reflect his occasionally great drives this year.

12 points is a gap that could be easily bridged with good luck. Further improvement this year would be the main aim for Schumacher.

9 – Vitaly Petrov

Petrov has improved compared to last year

Petrov has improved compared to last year

Ranking in 2010: 10th

Review from 2010 ranking: “2011 should see Petrov improve even more.”

A first-ever podium in Australia, followed by leading Heidfeld for most of this year – 2011 has not gone badly for the Russian.

Consistently out-qualifying Nick, often by huge margins, shows that Petrov has improved alongside Renault this year. However, it is still apparent that neither driver could hold a candle to Robert Kubica, who surely would be dicing it with the Red Bulls at this stage.

The hot-blown diffuser crackdown has hugely hurt the team, so expect to see Petrov and Heidfeld slip down the order. Still, it will be up to Petrov to take the majority of Renault’s points this year.

8 – Sergio Perez

Perez is arguably the rookie of the year

Perez is arguably the rookie of the year

Ranking in 2010: N/A

Review from 2010 ranking: N/A

Already a master of the 1-stop strategy, impressive pace has led many to praise Perez as rookie of the year.

With 7th place in his first ever F1 race, his talent was clearly apparent. Poor luck in Malaysia and China held him back, before another points finish in Spain.

His year was disrupted by a heavy crash in Monaco, ruling him out for 2 races. However, the smash did nothing to faze the Mexican, taking 11th on his return, then a career-best 7th in Britain.

A large tally of points could have been taken in Monaco and Canada, so Perez’s current total doesn’t reflect his excellent performances so far.

Two energetic rookies may not seem like an intelligent combo, but it has worked wonders for Sauber so far. With luck, Perez could even challenge to finish in the top 10 in the championship.

7 – Mark Webber

Webber has been dominated by his teammate

Webber has been dominated by his teammate

Ranking in 2010: 2nd

Review from 2010 ranking: “Dominant at times, disappointing at others, but still a wonderful campaign.”

While Sebastian Vettel continues to rip up tarmac at the front, Mark Webber seems to be lacking in pace, and is at risk of being overtaken by Fernando Alonso. What’s going on?

It’s not like the days of Ferrari domination, though. Back then, when Schumacher crushed his opponents to win, Barrichello would come around in 2nd place. This year, a single 2nd place is all Webber can muster so far.

In Australia, for example, Mark had absolutely no pace. His first pole position (Spain) was ruined by a bad start, relegating him to 4th after the chequered flag.

Webber has had good moments though. A spirited charge through the field in China saw him take 15 places back after a qualifying disaster.

However, his second pole saw him suffer a similar fate, slipping to 3rd during the race.

On the plus side, the Australian is yet to finish outside the top 5. Still, that doesn’t mean much when your teammate hasn’t fallen lower than 2nd at any point.

6 – Kamui Kobayashi

Kobayashi is as impressive as ever

Kobayashi is as impressive as ever

Ranking in 2010: 9th

Review from 2010 ranking: “Kobayashi has breathed fresh life into Formula 1 with his “unique” [driving] style.

Still as exciting to watch as ever, Kobayashi continues to punch well above his weight with scintillating drives.

If people were asked which car was quicker – the Mercedes or the Sauber – there would be little doubt that the Mercedes has much better pace. Because of this, seeing Kobayashi only 3 points behind 7-time world champion Schumacher will demonstrate how much Kamui is extracting from the car.

6 points finishes in a row is much better and more consistent than many drivers – only the Red Bulls, McLarens and Alonso can claim better records.

While teammate Perez is taking headlines for his special 1-stoppers, Kobayashi tends to take the 2-stop route. Compared to the rest of the grid, both Perez and Kobayashi have taken the least pit stops this year, which is a massive advantage.

Like Perez, a top 10 finish in the championship is well within Kamui’s reach.

Red Bull eyeing up Webber replacement?

Less than 3 days after Mark Webber sensationally ignored team orders at the British Grand Prix, rumours are abound that Red Bull is looking for a replacement for the Aussie.

Lagging 80 points behind world champion Sebastian Vettel, and clearly not gelling with the team’s bias towards Seb, Webber has made his feelings clear in the last few days:

"I am not fine with it [team orders]. No. That's the answer to that. If Fernando 
retires on the last lap we are battling for the victory so I was fine until the 
end. Of course I ignored the team as I want to try and get another place."

However, the Red Bull team appear to disagree with Webber’s view. Helmut Marko, well known as giving little attention to anyone but Vettel, has hinted at replacing Mark:

"We have other options but I don’t want to talk about them now."

In recent days, it has emerged that the team are in secret talks with Kimi Raikkonen, 2007 F1 world champion and current WRC driver. These reports were first made by German newspaper Bild, and they claim this leak comes from a source “at the highest level”.

Raikkonen himself has recently said to a journalist: “I have never said that my Formula 1 career is over.”

British Grand Prix stats and facts

The most notable record from yesterday’s British Grand Prix was that Fernando Alonso has equalled Jackie Stewart’s 27 Formula 1 victories. Here’s more stats from this weekend:

  • Alonso also set the fastest lap, his 19th of his career, as many as Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill and Stirling Moss. It is the 225th fastest lap by a Ferrari driver.
  • Pirelli have claimed that 585 overtaking moves have been completed so far this season (not including undercutting in pit stops, or any move on the first lap). 547 overtakes were made in the whole of the 2010 season.
  • Interestingly, Vettel’s domination of 2011 almost exactly matches Alonso’s start to the 2006 season. In both cases, both drivers took 6 wins and 3 2nd places in the first 9 races.
  • This was Sebastian Vettel’s 14th front row start in a row. He has 32 in total (22 from pole) out of 71 race entries, a rate of 45% – which is the 4th highest in F1 history. Only Clark, Fangio and Senna have higher percentages.
  • Vettel has also secured 11 podium positions in a row – a record only beaten by Alonso and Schumacher.
  • 9 of those podiums were from the start of this season, as many as Lewis Hamilton (2007) and Fernando Alonso (2006). Only Michael Schumacher has more podiums in a row from the start of a season, taking 17 in a row in 2002.
  • Renault suffered their worst qualifying this year – with 14th and 16th places for Petrov and Heidfeld.
  • In terms of most career points without becoming world champion, Mark Webber has moved into 2nd place, 0.5 points ahead of David Coulthard.
  • Sergio Perez equalled his best result with 7th place.
  • Daniel Ricciardo’s debut means that there are two Australian F1 drivers for the first time in 34 years.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers