Daily Archives: April 21, 2012

Force India shut out of qualifying TV coverage

Force India have experienced the nasty side of what is supposed to be a fair sporting event

Force India have experienced the nasty side of what is supposed to be a fair sporting event

As many viewers of the Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying session had noticed, the Force India team were completely isolated in terms of television coverage.

While Paul di Resta made it through to Q3, absolutely no shots of either Force India car were shown at all during the three qualifying sessions. During a certain point when only Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg were out on track, the cameras focused on a Mercedes in the pits instead.

The team had pulled out of second practice yesterday, to alleviate employees’ fears of a repeat of the violence they were caught up in on Wednesday night.

Because of this, many have speculated that Bernie Ecclestone had ordered his FOM company – who organise and run the camerawork for all F1 events – to completely block the team out of today’s coverage.

A quote from Ecclestone only served to increase these calls:

"Nobody cares if someone is ninth or 11th. Only the people that are watching a 
particular team. I spoke to our people and they were more or less concentrating 
on who was going to be on pole, rather than somebody going to be 10th."
[Seems as if Bernie forgot that the cars in 9th and 11th were Fernando Alonso 
and Kimi Raikkonen"]

As well as this, MetroF1 correspondent Adam-Hay Nicholls had some worrying things to say on the incident over Twitter:

"Not the 1st time they've been instructed not to film a certain team"

[When asked what team was subject to a similar blackout] "All I'll reveal is 
that the name of the team no longer exists"

This was backed up by former FOM employee Nick Daman:

"When I worked for FOM it was well known that the punishment for stepping out 
of line was a TV Blackout ......"

What makes this incident so sickening is that Force India pulled out for the safety of their employees, not to take a stand against FOM or the Bahrain regime. It is understood that Ecclestone offered the team an armed escort back to the team hotel [provided they took part in FP2] but the team declined, opting to head home early.

Personally, I don’t know which is more worrying – that a team would be shut out for protecting its employees, or that this has been done before, and we haven’t noticed.

Vettel takes first pole of 2012 in Bahrain

Sebastian Vettel is back on pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix. The 2-times world champion pipped Lewis Hamilton by a tenth of a second, with teammate Mark Webber in 3rd. Nico Rosberg was 5th, while neither Michael Schumacher or Kimi Raikkonen were in the top 10. Here is the full report:

Q1

Paul di Resta was the first out on track, as a headwind at turn 4 hindered some teams’ setups. Nico Hulkenberg set the first fast lap of 1:35.970.

Fernando Alonso surprised many by taking on the softer tyres, indicating that Ferrari wish to conserve the medium tyres for the race tomorrow.  While teammate Massa went slower than the Force Indias and Daniel Ricciardo, Kamui Kobayashi set the fastest time by half a second.

The bar was soon lowered by Mark Webber, and then Jenson Button. Unsurprisingly, Alonso’s softer tyres soon put him on top.

Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean beat the fastest time by another 0.5 seconds. The track went quiet until the final few minutes, when Jean-Eric Vergne and Felipe Massa pulled themselves out of the drop zone.

Because track evolution is such a factor in Bahrain, Kamui Kobauashi went 2nd, then Daniel Ricciardo went on top using the soft tyres. Sergio Perez then pipped the Toro Rosso by 0.1 seconds to end the session on top.

Michael Schumacher was pushed down to 17th by Pastor Maldonado, then a last-gasp flyer by Heikki Kovalainen put him into Q2, and knocked the Mercedes out of Q1. Amazingly, the track evolution was so severe that the McLarens were left 15th and 16th.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Michael Schumacher

19) Jean-Eric Vergne

20) Vitaly Petrov

21) Charles Pic

22) Timo Glock

23) Narain Karthikeyan

24) Pedro de la Rosa

Q2

There was a slow response to the start of Q2, with Felipe Massa finally exiting the pits after a few minutes.

He set the intial pace, but was quickly beaten by Perez by 0.6 seconds. Hamilton and Rosberg both set 1:33.2s to take the top 2 spots.

Massa’s later attempt put him 9th. However, he was soon pushed out by Daniel Ricciardo. Paul di Resta went 5th, with the fastest final sector of any driver.

Fernando Alonso was pushed down to 13th, but his final lap put him back up to 4th. Romain Grosjean moved up to 3rd, but at the expense of teammate Raikkonen, who was knocked out of Q2.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Kimi Raikkonen

12) Kamui Kobayashi

13) Nico Hulkenberg

14) Felipe Massa

15) Bruno Senna

16) Heikki Kovalainen

17) Pastor Maldonado

Q3

With track evolution still a massive factor, the end of the session proved to be the climactic finish everyone was expecting.

A nasty lock-up slowed Webber’s first lap, but he still set a 1:32.785. Button was several hundreths off, while Hamilton went a tenth faster than the Red Bull.

Only 4 drivers set times in the first half of Q3, as everyone waited until the final 3 minutes to set their fast laps.

Nico Rosberg was first up, losing out by one tenth of a second. Mark Webber went fastest, before having his lap time shattered by teammate Vettel. Hamilton was 0.1 seconds off Sebastian, while Jenson Button aborted his final lap to finish 4th.

This left Vettel on pole position for the first time in 2012, with Hamilton close behind. Webber and Button will fill row 2, with Rosberg and Ricciardo behind. Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez were 7th and 8th, with Fernando Alonso and Paul di Resta not setting a time.

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