Daily Archives: August 27, 2011

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

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