Monthly Archives: May 2012

Monaco GP analysis: Historic season can only get even better

With 6 different winners in 6 different races, we have never before seen such a varied an unpredictable grid. Every race, there are 7 or 8 drivers in with a chance of winning, and nearly as many are in the battle for the championship.

This time last year, we were already becoming certain who was running away with the title. In 2012 however, there is no doubt that it is shaping up to be one of the closest seasons in history.

Heroes to zeroes, and vice-versa

For Felipe Massa, criticism is due where it’s due, but praise equally so. Under massive pressure from the Scuderia after a dismal start, the Brazilian impressed by keeping Fernando Alonso honest on the streets of Monaco.

His pace may have been complimented by Alonso’s conservative driving, but it is still a massive improvement from what we have seen so far.

It’s clear what Ferrari want from him – good, but not great, performances. A driver who can pick up points where Alonso slips, but is otherwise content to finish 5th or 6th. A few more races like Monaco, and Felipe’s season will be back on track.

Pastor Maldonado, meanwhile, has completely wiped out his form from Spain. A thug-like swipe at Sergio Perez in practice left him near the back of the grid, then the Williams driver punted Pedro de la Rosa at the start, ending his race.

It’s hard to imagine that the same driver took the top step of the podium only two weeks ago.

Reputation is a fragile thing in Formula 1, and Pastor may have gone and thrown his away with a single burst of anger. Like the BBC F1 crew commented, to use your car as a weapon is nothing less than disgraceful. After years of safety campaigning, the FIA has thrown it away by allowing such reckless behaviour to go on.

McLaren continue to throw away valuable points

Yet another shocking race for the McLaren team

Yet another shocking race for the McLaren team

Only a quarter of the way into the season, and it is clear that even single points are precious for the frontrunners. With a single race win covering the top 5, the title race could go to the wire.

In such circumstances, McLaren’s dismal form makes them stand out even more. Starting the season with one of the fastest cars, repeated mistakes and slip-ups have cost the team in nearly every race.

Monaco was no exception – Lewis Hamilton was livid after his team lost him a place in the pit stops. He was not informed of Sebastian Vettel’s searing pace up front, and subsequently dropped behind the Red Bull. He claimed afterwards that he could have pushed and stayed ahead, if he was told the information.

He has gone on and stated: “We haven’t had a grand prix weekend where something hasn’t gone wrong” which pretty much sums it up for McLaren.

While Jenson Button’s failures this weekend were largely his fault, Hamilton was frustrated by everything around him, and suffered as a result. It’s so early into the season, and the title may already be slipping away.

Meanwhile, at Sauber…

Just another normal start for Kamui Kobayashi

Just another normal start for Kamui Kobayashi

At the start of the Monaco GP, replays showed Kamui Kobayashi having a more frenzied start than usual. After being clipped by a flailing Romain Grosjean, the Sauber was launched into the air, before bouncing back onto the tarmac, nearly knocking Jenson Button into the barriers in the process.

The replays made it seem spectacular, but the photo attached even more so. That alone was why this extra section was added!

Points standings after Monaco Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Fernando Alonso 76
2 Sebastian Vettel 73
3 Mark Webber 73
4 Lewis Hamilton  63
5 Nico Rosberg 59
6 Kimi Raikkonen 51
7 Jenson Button  45
8 Romain Grosjean  35
9 Pastor Maldonado 29
10 Sergio Perez  22
11 Paul di Resta  21
12 Kamui Kobayashi 19
13 Bruno Senna  15
14 Felipe Massa  10
15 Nico Hulkenberg  7
16 Jean-Eric Vergne  4
17 Daniel Ricciardo  2
18 Michael Schumacher  2
19 Timo Glock  0
20 Charles Pic  0
21 Vitaly Petrov  0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Pedro de la Rosa 0
24 Narain Karthikeyan 0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 146
2 McLaren-Mercedes 108
3 Ferrari 86
4 Lotus-Renault 86
5 Mercedes AMG 61
6 Williams-Renault 44
7 Sauber-Ferrari 41
8 Force India-Mercedes 28
9 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6
10 Caterham-Renault 0
11 Marussia-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0


Webber makes history with Monaco win

Mark Webber has created history at the Monaco Grand Prix, with 6 different race winners in 6 races, a feat never seen before in Formula 1.

Webber fends off Rosberg at the start

Webber fends off Rosberg at the start

The Australian was chased to the flag by Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. The race was a procedure for the first 60 laps, until light rain bunched up the pack and caused a fair few spills in the dying few laps. Here is what happened…

At the start, Webber and Rosberg held the front row, while Romain Grosjean was tipped into a spin by Michael Schumacher. Pastor Maldonado was rear-ended by Pedro de la Rosa, ending both drivers’ races.

The safety car was called for Grosjean’s stray car, allowing the field to cool off after a fiery start.

Grosjean spins while Kobayashi goes airborne

Grosjean spins while Kobayashi goes airborne

The race restarted on lap 4, with Vettel up to 6th on the prime tyre. Fernando Alonso hounded Lewis Hamilton for 3rd, but was unable to pass the McLaren.

Sergio Perez pulled a move on Jean-Eric Vergne, but the Toro Rosso driver cut the chicane in order to keep his position. After a few laps, race control ordered Vergne to hand the position back.

The super-soft tyres lasted longer than most people had expected, with most drivers staying out for up to 30 laps. Kimi Raikkonen was the first of the frontrunners to fall off the cliff, creating a “Raikkonen railway” of cars being held up behind.

After Nico Rosberg pitted from 2nd, followed closely by Webber and Hamilton, Raikkonen stopped and released the train of cars, falling to 11th. At his only pit stop, Fernando Alonso did the undercut on Lewis Hamilton.

The stops left Sebastian Vettel in the lead, yet to stop on the prime tyre. He showed impressive pace, opening up a 17 second gap to his teammate Webber. The other driver on a risky strategy – Button – was having a disastrous race. He stopped on lap 39, and emerged behind Heikki Kovalainen. Unable to make a move, he was stuck there for the rest of the race.

Vettel, meanwhile, came out in 4th after his stop, slicing across Hamilton at pit exit. Sergio Perez was handed a drive-through penalty for a dangerous move on Kimi Raikkonen. As the Sauber entered the pits, he swerved across the Lotus, forcing Kimi to take evasive action.

Michael Schumacher had worked his way up to 7th once the order had died down. However, he was soon on the team radio complaining of an unspecified problem. The team reassured him that it wasn’t critical, but he was still forced to hand 7th to Jean-Eric Vergne. Once the Force Indias carved him up, the Mercedes car was forced to retire.

With only 10 laps to go, light rain began to fall. This bunched the top 6 up, with as little as 3.6 seconds separating them. Jean-Eric Vergne pitted for intermediates with 8 laps to go, causing a shake-up in strategies.

Jenson Button, in a state of desperation, tried a move on Kovalainen after the Swimming Pool, but spun, and gave up on the race.

The light rain bunched up the frontrunners, but nobody was foolish enough to make a move. With the track drying out in the final laps, Mark Webber crossed the line to take his first victory of the season, with 5 cars chasing him to the flag.

Felipe Massa quadrupled his 2012 points tally with 6th, and the two Force Indias, Raikkonen and Bruno Senna filled out the top 10.

Fernando Alonso now leads the world championship, 3 points ahead of Webber and Vettel. After such an unpredictable few races, we may still see out 7th winner in Canada – can anyone rule out Lewis Hamilton?

Schumacher fastest, Webber to start from pole in Monaco

Mark Webber will start from pole position for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix.

However, he didn’t set the fastest time. For the second time in two races, the fastest driver has incurred a grid penalty, but it wasn’t Pastor Maldonado as many had expected. Amazingly, it was Michael Schumacher who took provisional pole from the Red Bull.

After his collision with Bruno Senna in Spain, Michael will start 6th in Monaco. The Red Bulls were 1st and 10th, in contrasting fortunes, while Sergio Perez had another shunt with the barriers. This is what happened:

Q1

Sergio Perez limps back to the pits

Sergio Perez limps back to the pits

Charles Pic was the first to exit the pits, but was blocked by Pedro de la Rosa on his first attempt.

Fernando Alonso was the first to set a fast lap, setting a 1:17.128. However, the red flag was quickly out, as Sergio Perez hit the barrier for the second year in a row. He understeered horribly out of the Swimming Pool, and made heavy contact with the barriers.

The green flag saw a flurry of activity, as drivers scrambled to set a fast lap. Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton swiftly went 1st and 2nd, with Nico Rosberg going 4th. On his next lap, the Mercedes driver improved his lap by more than half a second.

The Lotuses were very late setting their times. Romain Grosjean leaped up to 2nd with 3 minutes to go, while Kimi Raikkonen was held up by Vitaly Petrov, and pitted for super-softs with just a few minutes to go. Vettel and Kobayashi followed the Finn’s tactics.

Kamui Kobayashi went up to 2nd, with Vettel and Raikkonen 4th and 5th. Nico Hulkenberg took top spot, after setting his best lap with over 5 minutes to go.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:16.538

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:17.404

20) Timo Glock – 1:17.947

21) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:18.096

22) Charles Pic – 1:18.476

23) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:19.310

24) Sergio Perez – N/A

Q2

Button caused a shock by exiting in Q2

Button caused a shock by exiting in Q2

Super-softs were the way to go in Q2 as the session got underway.

Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher quickly went 1st and 2nd, before they were split by Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Jean-Eric Vergne was the next driver to make contact with the barriers, breaking off his front wing and damaging his suspension. It did little to disrupt the session, apart from holding up Felipe Massa.

Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean moved into the top 10, displacing Vettel and Kobayashi. Felipe Massa took the top spot, while Vettel went back into 8th.

It soon turned into a mad charge to survive Q2. Bruno Senna was first up, failing to move further than 14th. Kimi Raikkonen slipped into 10th, while Jenson Button was only 13th. Nico Hulkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi were briefly in the top 10, but were pushed out in the final few laps.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:15.421

12) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:15.508

13) Jenson Button – 1:15.536

14) Bruno Senna – 1:15.709

15) Paul di Resta – 1:15.718

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:15.878

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:16.885

Q3

Schumacher was fastest, but will not start on pole position

Schumacher was fastest, but will not start on pole position

Nico Rosberg was first up, but backed off on his first attempt. Romain Grosjean set a 1:14.639 to take top spot, with Nico Rosberg pipping him by 0.05 seconds.

Lewis Hamilton was 0.3 seconds off the pace, with Mark Webber moving into 3rd position. While the track was quiet with 3 minutes to go, Felipe Massa exited the pits. He went 8th, while Kimi Raikkonen took 6th.

Pastor Maldonado was next up, but was slightly held up by Massa. Fortunately, he didn’t vent his anger on the Ferrari like he did in third practice.

Fernando Alonso zipped up to 5th, but Mark Webber shocked many by flying onto provisional pole. Massa took 6th, while neither of the Lotuses improved on their times.

However, it wasn’t over yet. Qualifying was completely turned on its head, as Michael Schumacher blasted his way to the top of the timesheets. His 1:14.301 was marginally faster than anyone else, but his 5 place grid penalty from Spain drops him to 6th. This means that Mark Webber will start from pole position tomorrow.

Nico Rosberg will join him on the front row, with Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean just behind. The Ferraris were split by Schumacher, with Raikkonen, Maldonado and Vettel filling the top 10.

Maldonado handed penalty for deliberate crash

Maldonado swerved into the side of Perez to cause a deliberate crash

Maldonado swerved into the side of Perez to cause a deliberate crash

Pastor Maldonado has been docked 10 places on the grid for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The newest F1 race winner caused a deliberate crash in Saturday practice with Sergio Perez.

As Perez moved off the racing line to allow Pastor past, the Williams driver swerved and slammed into the side of the Sauber, causing damage to both cars. Maldonado crashed several corners later.

After a similar incident in Spa last year with Lewis Hamilton, the stewards have again punished Pastor for another needless crash.

This all but certainly rules him out of challenging for the win on Sunday.

 

Button leads rain-hit Monaco second practice

Jenson Button was fastest in second practice for the Monaco Grand Prix.

All of the fastest times were set in the first 15 minutes, though, as showers of rain throughout the session disrupted the running.

An early dash on the super-softs resulted in a 1:15.746 for the McLaren driver, ahead of Romain Grosjean and the two Ferraris.

There was a small dry period in between the showers, but it wasn’t enough to encourage much running on the super-softs. The final half hour saw the track being sufficiently wet to require intermediate tyres.

Mirabeau proved to be treacherous – Bruno Senna, Pastor Maldonado, Sergio Perez, Felipe Massa and Heikki Kovalainen all going off there.

Times from FP2:

 1. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:15.746           14
 2. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:16.138  +0.392   17
 3. Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:16.602  +0.856   19
 4. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:16.661  +0.915   21
 5. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:16.820  +1.074   18
 6. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:17.021  +1.275   13
 7. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:17.148  +1.402   21
 8. Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:17.153  +1.407   20
 9. Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:17.293  +1.547    9
10. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:17.303  +1.557   19
11. Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:17.375  +1.629   17
12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:17.395  +1.649   19
13. Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1:17.655  +1.909   18
14. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:17.800  +2.054   23
15. Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:18.251  +2.505   22
16. Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:18.440  +2.694   23
17. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:18.522  +2.776   20
18. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:18.808  +3.062   24
19. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:19.267  +3.521   23
20. Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:19.309  +3.563   27
21. Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:20.029  +4.283   13
22. Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:20.240  +4.494   19
23. Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:20.631  +4.885   12
24. Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1:20.886  +5.140   10

Alonso tops shortened Monaco first practice

Fernando Alonso put his Ferrari on top in Thursday practice 1 today.

The session was red flagged with 10 minutes to go, after Heikki Kovalainen’s engine blew. With the racing line covered in oil, no more running was completed.

Michael Schumacher’s session was cut short, after damaging his car at the exit of the Swimming Pool chicane. He suffered front wing and wheel cap damage.

Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen didn’t set a fast lap at all, the Lotus team opting to adjust the steering on his car.

Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean initially traded fastest laps, but it was a 1:16.265 for Alonso that put him on top.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:16.265            22
 2.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:16.630  +0.365   17
 3.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:16.711  +0.446   19
 4.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:16.747  +0.482   12
 5.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:16.760  +0.495   20
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:16.843  +0.578   19
 7.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:17.038  +0.773   21
 8.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:17.190  +0.925   13
 9.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:17.222  +0.957   14
10.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:17.261  +0.996   18
11.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:17.413  +1.148   14
12.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:17.631  +1.366   18
13.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:18.106  +1.841   14
14.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:18.209  +1.944   25
15.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:18.252  +1.987   28
16.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:18.302  +2.037   16
17.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1:18.617  +2.352   20
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:19.039  +2.774   20
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:19.341  +3.076   16
20.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1:20.838  +4.573   26
21.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:20.895  +4.630   18
22.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:21.638  +5.373    9
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:22.423  +6.158   15
24.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         N/A       N/A       1

Schumacher hit with 5-place penalty for Monaco

Schumacher was deemed to have caused an avoidable accident

Schumacher was deemed to have caused an avoidable accident

Michael Schumacher has been punished for causing a collision with Bruno Senna at today’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Under braking at turn 1, Michael hit the back of Bruno’s Williams, causing both cars to spear into the gravel trap. Schumacher retired on the spot, while Senna continued on for half a lap before pulling over.

After the incident, Schumacher branded Senna an “idiot”, claiming he moved in the braking zone, but the stewards saw the event differently.

Michael will drop 5 places in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Explosion in Williams garage post-race

Most of the Williams garage has been completely torched

Most of the Williams garage has been completely torched

Early reports have claimed that an explosion has occurred in the Williams garage after the Spanish Grand Prix.

The BBC report that it was caused by a KERS explosion on Pastor Maldonado’s car, which of course sits just below the fuel tank.

The fire was witnessed by both BBC and Sky F1 teams. It is unclear whether there have been any injuries, but at the moment there are several ambulances leaving the scene.

Will be updated as more news comes through.

Here is footage from the BBC:

And from Sky Sports F1:

And more footage from Sky, this time of the fire from the front:

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 61
2 Fernando Alonso 61
3 Lewis Hamilton  53
4 Kimi Raikkonen  49
5 Mark Webber 48
6 Jenson Button 45
7 Nico Rosberg  41
8 Romain Grosjean  35
9 Pastor Maldonado 29
10 Sergio Perez  22
11 Kamui Kobayashi  19
12 Paul di Resta 15
13 Bruno Senna  14
14 Jean-Eric Vergne  4
15 Nico Hulkenberg  3
16 Daniel Ricciardo  2
17 Felipe Massa  2
18 Michael Schumacher  2
19 Timo Glock  0
20 Charles Pic  0
21 Vitaly Petrov  0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Pedro de la Rosa 0
24 Narain Karthikeyan 0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 109
2 McLaren-Mercedes 98
3 Lotus-Renault 84
4 Ferrari 63
5 Mercedes AMG 43
6 Williams-Renault 43
7 Sauber-Ferrari 41
8 Force India-Mercedes 18
9 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6
10 Marussia-Cosworth 0
11 Caterham-Renault 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0


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