Monthly Archives: August 2011

Turkey dropped from 2012 calendar

The calendar for the 2012 Formula 1 season has been reduced to 20 races, as the Turkish Grand Prix was formally dropped from the listings today.

The Istanbul Park track was finished in 2005, but has suffered poor attendance due to being located in the middle of nowhere.

Negotiations have been ongoing for months between the circuit organisers and Bernie Ecclestone, but financial difficulties forced the track into pulling out of F1.

The revised calndar was yesterday unanimously approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council via fax vote.

In other changes to the calendar, there will now be 6 back-to-back races. The Australian Grand Prix keeps the season opener slot, but is still in doubt after 2015. The Bahrain Grand Prix will be the fourth race of the year, in mid-April.

The new United States Grand Prix is the penultimate round, with Interlagos in Brazil hosting the finale.

Also, on a slightly related note, the 2012 season now begins on my 18th birthday!

18/03  Australia
25/03  Malaysia
15/04  China
22/04  Bahrain
13/05  Spain
27/05  Monaco
10/06  Canada
24/06  Europe
08/07  Great Britain
22/07  Germany
29/07  Hungary
02/09  Belgium
09/09  Italy
23/09  Singapore
07/10  Japan
14/10  Korea
28/10  India
04/11  Abu Dhabi
18/11  United States
25/11  Brazil

Two independent DRS zones for Monza

Monza is expected to have two independent DRS zones per lap

Monza is expected to have two independent DRS zones per lap

The FIA is planning to use two DRS zones for the Italian Grand Prix – each with its own detection zone.

The Canadian Grand Prix saw the debut of double DRS zones, but both were activated by the same detection zone, which many believed gave an unfair advantage.

With this, a seperate detection zone for each area was improvised. It is believed that the DRS zones will be on the start/finish straight, and the straight from 2nd Lesmo to the Ascari chicane.

The extreme low-downforce nature of Monza means that the effect of DRS will be smaller compared to other races, but it is believed to be still significant.

As opposed to Jenson Button’s high-downforce strategy last year (utilising the F-duct), most teams are expected to run minimally angled rear wings.

Kubica undergoes final successful surgery

Kubica's road to recovery is improving

Kubica's road to recovery is improving

Robert Kubica has undergone his final operation on his injured right arm, which has since been described as a “total success”.

After a rally crash before the season began, Kubica has been left with massive damage to his right arm, which has taken three operations to allow him to heal.

With this final operation, it is believed that Kubica can regain full control of his right arm and albow. It has been reported that there were no complications during the surgery, and that the operation was 100% successful.

Robert’s manager Daniele Morelli has stated:

"Robert has left the surgery room just a few minutes ago. Luckily I can confirm that 
the operation was completely successful, so the whole elbow joint has been restored 
and functionality is now fine.

Certainly this one will be the final surgery, so we can say that tomorrow starts the 
final phase with full recovery of the arm movement functionality, and Robert will be 
able to start training specifically to regain full control of his functionality."

Apparently when Kubica regained concsiousness after the operation today, the first thing he asked was for the results of today’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Unfortunately, no estimate can be made on his possible return to Formula 1. However, his manager added that his future will become clearer by mid-October.

Hamilton accepts blame for Kobayashi collision

Lewis Hamilton turns into Kamui Kobayashi in Spa

Lewis Hamilton turns into Kamui Kobayashi in Spa

Lewis Hamilton has made a U-turn on his previous statements, and now says that he accepts responsibility for colliding with Kamui Kobayashi.

Lewis moved to overtake Kamui in the early parts of the race, but moved back onto the racing line, where Kobayashi had already parked his car. The McLaren crashed out, while the Sauber struggled on to 12th place.

The McLaren comes off much worse in the collision

The McLaren comes off much worse in the collision

After initially claiming that Kobayashi was at fault:

"As far as I was concerned, I was ahead of whoever it was I was racing, and I got
hit by them, and that was my race over."

Lewis has now accepted that he was at fault. A brief statement from his Twitter feed reads:

"After watching the replay, I realise it was my fault today 100%. I didn’t give
Kobayashi enough room though I thought in was past. Apologies to Kamui and to 
my team. The team deserves better from me."

Kamui seemed surprised that Lewis had initially blamed him, saying:

"I know I cannot fight because he is much quicker than me. He overtook me. I 
don’t know if he was using the rear wing, I was just using the KERS. I think 
we have very low downforce, that’s why I catch up him. Just at the end of the 
straight I was staying left, and he was in the middle of the track.

He came back and we just made contact. If you see the replay later, I was 
following the white line always, I don’t change at all my line. So I don’t 
know what I need to do – maybe I have to go to the gravel for him? That’s 
stupid, you know. He had to stay in the middle, not come back [towards me].

Definitely I was not trying to overtake him, just staying on my line, doing 
my race. It’s a little bit difficult situation, because he’s fighting for 
the championship. I am doing a different race!

The stewards have stated that there will be no investigation into the collision.

Points standings after Belgian Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 259
2 Mark Webber 167
3 Fernando Alonso 157
4 Jenson Button 149
5 Lewis Hamilton 146
6 Felipe Massa 74
7 Nico Rosberg 56
8 Michael Schumacher 42
9 Vitaly Petrov 34
10 Nick Heidfeld 34
11 Kamui Kobayashi 27
12 Adrian Sutil 24
13 Sebastien Buemi 12
14 Jaime Alguersuari 10
15 Sergio Perez 8
16 Paul di Resta 8
17 Rubens Barrichello 4
18 Pastor Maldonado 1
19 Jarno Trulli 0
20 Vitantonio Liuzzi 0
21 Jerome D’Ambrosio 0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Narain Karthikeyan 0
24

25

26

27

Pedro de la Rosa

Timo Glock

Daniel Ricciardo

Karun Chandhok

0

0

0

0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 426
2 McLaren-Mercedes 295
3 Ferrari 231
4 Mercedes GP 98
5 Renault 68
6 Sauber-Ferrari 35
7 Force India-Mercedes 32
8 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 22
9 Williams-Cosworth 5
10 Lotus-Cosworth 0
11 HRT-Cosworth 0
12 Virgin-Cosworth 0

Vettel leads Red Bull 1-2 in Belgium

Rosberg slices up the field, while Webber falls back at the start

Rosberg slices up the field, while Webber falls back at the start

Sebastian Vettel has won the Belgian Grand Prix, after a safety car period granted him a tyre strategy advantage. He led home teammate Mark Webber, with Jenson Button taking an excellent 3rd after having started 13th.

Exactly like last year, Mark Webber bogged down at the start, and was swamped by the cars behind. Nico Rosbrg made a stunning start, slicing up to 2nd at the first corner, and taking Sebastian Vettel at Les Combes to take the lead.

However, on Lap 3, Vettel retook the lead with the help of DRS. Replays showed Bruno Senna making contact at the first corner, Alguersuari breaking his suspension, and the Lotuses making contact.

Both Lotuses clash at La Source

Both Lotuses clash at La Source

Both Webber and Jenson Button pitted on Lap 4, Jenson for a rear wing, Mark for prime tyres. With Vettel released into the lead, a 4-way battle emerged for 2nd. Fernando Alonso dived down the inside of his teammate for 3rd, but ran alongside him for several corners. He got past, and Lewis Hamilton muscled his way past Massa also.

As well as an extra pit stop, Bruno Senna would soon receive a drive-through

As well as an extra pit stop, Bruno Senna would soon receive a drive-through

Vettel pitted on Lap 6, taking on new options. Bruno Senna and Timo Glock both received a drive-through penalty for causing a collision at the start.

A fantastic straight-line speed advantage gave Alonso the lead at Rosberg’s expense. Hamilton was on Nico’s tail the next lap, passing with him at ease after Eau Rouge.

Vettel was flying on the new options, as Alonso followed the strategy on Lap 9. He emerged just ahead of Mark Webber, but the Australian shoved his way through – at the entry to Eau Rouge.

DRS wasn’t even necessary for Fernando, his Ferrari’s speed allowing him to slide past the Red Bull. Vettel made an incredible move around the outside of Blanchimont to pass Rosberg – who hadn’t even pitted yet.

Lewis Hamilton turns into Kamui Kobayashi

Lewis Hamilton turns into Kamui Kobayashi

Hamilton pitted from the lead, leaving Sebastian in control again. However, he was soon complaining of blistered tyres, and Alonso in 2nd was picking up the pace. The safety car was to close the gap, as Lewis Hamilton crashed out of the Grand Prix. The McLaren moved off the racing line to defend against Kamui Kobayashi. The Sauber took the racing line to attack,, Lewis moved back in, without realising the Sauber was there, and collided.

This safety car allowed Vettel to pit and not lose too much time, but he still succumbed the lead to Alonso, with Webber 2nd. When the safety car peeled into the pits, Vettel moved past Webber, and pushed to challenge Alonso for the lead.

Assisted by DRS, Sebastian passed the Ferrari around the outside of Les Combes. Sergio Perez was handed a drive-through penalty for causing a collision, while Jenson Button got past Michael Schumacher for 7th place. A brave dive around Adrian Sutil the following lap promoted him to 6th. Another brilliant move then pushed him past Felipe Massa.

Being no slouch, the McLaren quickly made mincemeat of Nico Rosberg on Lap 26. Button was now the fastest man on track, and chasing down the top 3 drivers.

Alonso pitted from 2nd on Lap 30, taking on the primes until the finish. Vettel made the same move a lap later, emerging behind Button. Rosberg and Massa stopped on the same lap.

Sebastian used DRS to retake the lead on Lap 32. Button decided to pit, and take on fresh soft tyres. This left Vettel being chased by Alonso for the race win, with Webber 5 seconds behind.

However, the options gave Webber a massive increase in pace, catching Fernando by a second per lap. He leaped past the Ferrari on Lap 37, then set his sights on Sebastian Vettel.

However, it quickly became apparent that he lacked the pace to catch his teammate, and so the focus turned to the battle for 3rd. With 3 laps to go, Button replicated his previosu passes, and moved around the outside of Les Combes to clinch the final podium spot. In a similar fashion, Michael Schumacher overtook Rosberg for 5th position.

Vettel recovers from poor tyres to cross the chequered flag

Vettel recovers from poor tyres to cross the chequered flag

Vettel crossed the line to take his first win since the European Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso took 3rd in the driver’s championship, while Button moved into 4th ahead of Hamilton.

Adrian Sutil finished 7th. Felipe Massa passed Vitaly Petrov on the last lap to take 8th, with the Russian pulling over on the pit straight. Hooligan of the week, Pastor Maldonado, took his first points in Formula 1 with 10th place.

FIA must make example of Maldonado

Only a few years ago in Formula 1, if a team used a new engine after less than two Grands Prix, they were docked 10 places on the grid – a standard penalty.

Today, we have seen Pastor Maldonado’s blatant swerve at Lewis Hamilton, replied to by the stewards with nothing more than a 5-place grid drop.

The steward’s actions today seem to indicate that there was very little dangerous about Maldonado’s incident – which is completely untrue.

First of all, and most obviously, the clash occured right beside a spectator area, with only a wire fence protecting the fans. The chances of a piece of debris hitting a spectator cannot be ruled out.

Secondly, this sets a terrible example for up-and-coming race drivers. Trying to take out another driver might be acceptable on F1 2010 online (it pretty much is), but it cannot be a part of the highest class racing series in the world.

This kind of incident has happened before – in the GT1 championship, Stefan Mucke accidentaly took out Richard Westbrook, after Mucke moved alongside the driver to complain about an incident, before slamming into him and taking both cars out.

Such behaviour in high-level motorsport is unacceptable, and the FIA must put a stop to it. Extremely lenient penalties have been given to Mucke and Maldonado, which is no example to give to young drivers.

Opinions differ on this matter, but I feel that Maldonado made a deliberate attempt to damage Hamilton’s car. I’m sure he wasn’t aiming to take him out, but this very easily could have been the case.

5-place grid penalty for Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado has been handed a 5-place grid penalty for a deliberate collision with Lewis Hamilton in qualifying.

Lewis muscled past the Williams on track while battling for position for their last lap in Q2. Maldonado’s lap was heavily disrupted by the battle, and failed to progress to Q3. After the session ended, Pastor swerved into the side of Lewis’ car, damaging the McLaren’s front wing and sidepod.

Hamilton was able to participate in Q3 (with sticky tape on his sidepods, if anyone noticed!) after several minutes of repairs, and qualified second.

The stewards decided that Maldonado had acted dangerously, and the Venezuelan driver will now start from 21st place.

Lewis has received a reprimand for the incident. Here is how he described the incident:

"I was at the end of my Q2 lap and I got to the chicane as I was just finishing and
there were two Williams just sitting there going very, very slow – I think they were
probably preparing to start for another lap, but it was already red light [chequered
flag, end of Q2].

So I tried and get past, which I did. I lost quite a lot of time there but as I was
coming through the exit of turn one I saw Maldonado approaching quite quickly and he
came around me, I didn’t move anywhere, but [he] happened to swipe across me.

I don’t know whether it was intentional or not, but I guess we’ll see shortly.

The front wing was quite badly damaged, my side pod… I thought my front suspension
was damaged, I think the front towing is a little bit out, but fortunately the guys
did a great job to put it back together.

I just think once the flag is out and the red lights are on there’s no need to be
racing, there should never ever be an incident but unfortunately there was.”

I think it was quite serious and just unfortunate that neither of us, and particularly
him, flipped it or had a big, big crash, so I think we’re quite lucky there."

Here is a video of the incident:

And onboard footage from Hamilton:

Vettel snatches pole for Belgian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel will start on pole position for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton was set to take pole, but will start 2nd, with Mark Webber 3rd. Bruno Senna, in his first qualifying session for Renault, took a fantastic 7th place. Here is the full report:

Q1

Schumacher hits the wall after his wheel detaches

Schumacher hits the wall after his wheel detaches

As the cars left the pits for their first laps on intermediate tyres, a crash disrupted the session. Michael Schumacher was on an out lap, when his back right wheel detached, and the Mercedes spun and crashed into the barriers.

While the double yellows were out straight away, the session continued. Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in the first few minutes with a 2:09.506.

Within minutes though, that time had been reduced by 3 seconds. With 8 minutes to go, Mark Webber posted a 2:04.481.

Both McLarens soon topped that, Jenson Button taking a 2:01.813. The track was drying out, but not quickly enough for drivers to put on the slick tyres. Both Ferraris pitted with 3 minutes to go, while the Force Indias took on new sets of intermediates.

A spin by Paul di Resta on his penultimate lap, and Heikki Kovalainen pushed him into the drop zone.

Michael Schumacher will start 24th, the worst qualifying performance in his entire career.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Paul di Resta – 2:07.758

19) Jarno Trulli – 2:08.773

20) Timo Glock – 2:09.566

Outside 107% rule

21) Jerome D’Ambrosio – 2:11.601

22) Vitantonio Liuzzi – 2:11.616

23) Daniel Ricciardo – 2:13.077

24) Michael Schumacher  – No time

Q2

Another accident - this time it's Sutil in the wall

Another accident - this time it's Sutil in the wall

Intermediates were still the way to go, as Q2 began. A small shower of rain before the session slowed the cars a little, with the fastest time being a 2:06 by Webber.

However, with 7 minutes to go, the red flag was thrown for the second crash of the day. Adrian Sutil used too much kerb at the exit of Eau Rouge, spun and hit the left-hand side barriers.

The cars all queued up as the session restarted, with all the drivers looking to get a quick lap in before potential rain.

Before any cars could start their laps, medium intensity rain hit part the circuit. In 11th position, Fernando Alonso braved the conditions to go fastest, pipping Sebastien Buemi and Vitaly Petrov.

However, the times soon began to crash once again – Vettel posting a 2:03.317. Pastor Maldonado was held up by a Lotus car, then Lewis Hamilton pushed him aside on the final corner on a last-gasp run. Maldonado was forced to stay 16th, while Hamilton went fastest.

Pastor wasn’t finished with Lewis yet, though. On their cool-down lap, Pastor swerved into Lewis’ car, damaging the McLaren. The stewards are investigating the incident.

Bruno Senna took a fantastic 5th place, while Fernando Alonso took top spot. Jenson Button allowed his teammate past on the final lap, and was unable to post a faster lap, dropping out of Q2.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Sebastien Buemi – 2:04.692

12) Kamui Kobayashi – 2:04.757

13) Jenson Button – 2:05.150

14) Rubens Barrichello – 2:07.349

15) Adrian Sutil – 2:07.777

16) Pastor Maldonado – 2:08.106

17) Heikki Kovalainen – 2:08.354

Q3

Senna excelled to take 7th position in the dry conditions

Senna excelled to take 7th position in the dry conditions

An interesting tyre situation emerged at the start of Q3, as the drivers took on soft tyres on a damp track. Felipe Massa running into a gravel trap just showed how difficult the conditions were.

Alonso set a 1:54.550, while Webber went 8 tenths faster. Sebatsian Vettel struggled slightly to 4th position.

Webber soon improved to a 1:50. Lewis Hamilton, carrying sticky tape on his sidepods after the clash with Maldonado, went 3rd.

Webber and Hamilton’s times continued to crash as they entered the final lap. Mark made a mistake at Pouhon, allowing Lewis to post the fastest time as the chequered flag fell. However, Vettel crossed the line half a second faster than anybody else, snatching pole position out of the McLaren’s hands.

Felipe Massa was 4th, well ahead of Alonso in 8th. Nico Rosberg was 5th, while it was an amazing qualifying session for Jaime Alguersuari and Bruno Senna, taking 6th and 7th respectively.

Times in Q3:

1) Sebastian Vettel – 1:48.298

2) Lewis Hamilton – 1:48.730

3) Mark Webber – 1:49.376

4) Felipe Massa -1:50.256

5) Nico Rosberg – 1:50.552

6) Jaime Alguersuari – 1:50.773

7) Bruno Senna – 1:51.121

8 ) Fernando Alonso – 1:51.251

9) Sergio Perez – 1:51.374

10) Vitaly Petrov – 1:52.303

Webber leads second practice before rain arrives

Webber took advantage of a brief dry period to go fastest

Webber took advantage of a brief dry period to go fastest

Mark Webber nipped in a fast lap just before a rain shower to head second practice in Belgium.

The session began in damp conditions, as the Renaults of Petrov and Senna traded fastest laps. As the track dried out, most of the frontrunners decided to test out their long-range strategies on the harder (medium) tyre.

However, the prospect of further rain forced drivers to take on the soft tyre earlier than expected. Mark Webber posted a 1:50.321 to take top spot, ahead of Fernando Alonso.

Both McLarens were 3rd and 4th, while Sebastian Vettel was only 10th after not setting a time on the option tyre.

Hulkenberg and Sutil in 8th and 9th were separated by 0.026 seconds. A steering issue left Vitaly Petrov in the pits during the dry conditons, and the Russian ended up in last place.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1:50.321           22
 2.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1:50.461  + 0.140  18
 3.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1:50.770  + 0.449  9
 4.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1:50.838  + 0.517  9
 5.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1:51.218  + 0.897  14
 6.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1:51.242  + 0.921  22
 7.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1:51.655  + 1.334  20
 8.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes  1:51.725  + 1.404  17
 9.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  1:51.751  + 1.430  8
10.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1:51.790  + 1.469  13
11.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1:51.922  + 1.601  22
12.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Cosworth     1:52.750  + 2.429  20
13.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1:52.780  + 2.459  25
14.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:52.911  + 2.590  24
15.  Sébastien Buemi     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:53.009  + 2.688  24
16.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth     1:53.156  + 2.835  17
17.  Bruno Senna         Renault               1:53.835  + 3.514  20
18.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus-Renault         1:55.051  + 4.730  20
19.  Timo Glock          Virgin-Cosworth       1:55.494  + 5.173  22
20.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus-Renault         1:56.202  + 5.881  15
21.  Jerome D'Ambrosio   Virgin-Cosworth       1:56.816  + 6.495  20
22.  Tonio Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth          1:57.450  + 7.129  19
23.  Daniel Ricciardo    HRT-Cosworth          1:57.612  + 7.291  24
24.  Vitaly Petrov       Renault               2:02.234  + 11.913 12
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