Monthly Archives: June 2012

Points standings after Canadian Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Lewis Hamilton 88
2 Fernando Alonso 86
3 Sebastian Vettel 85
4 Mark Webber  79
5 Nico Rosberg 67
6 Kimi Raikkonen 55
7 Romain Grosjean  53
8 Jenson Button  45
9 Sergio Perez 37
10 Pastor Maldonado  29
11 Kamui Kobayashi  21
12 Paul di Resta 21
13 Bruno Senna  15
14 Felipe Massa  11
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 164
2 McLaren-Mercedes 133
3 Lotus-Renault 108
4 Ferrari 97
5 Mercedes AMG 69
6 Sauber-Ferrari 58
7 Williams-Renault 44
8 Force India-Mercedes 28
9 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6
10 Caterham-Renault 0
11 Marussia-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0


Hamilton snatches late win in Canada

Lewis Hamilton took a well-deserved victory at today’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver inherited the lead at the first round of stops, but was forced to work hard to re-take it at the end. Varying pit strategies meant he tussled his way back into the lead with only a few laps left. Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez were blessed with last-gasp podiums, while Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso fell back to 4th and 5th. Meanwhile, Jenson Button had a horrific race, eventually finishing 16th. Here is what happened:

Vettel opens up his trademark lead at the start

Vettel opens up his trademark lead at the start

At the start, Vettel retained his lead to the first corner, while Nico Rosberg went side-by-side with Mark Webber. However, he was pushed wide, and was challenged by Felipe Massa.

The Ferrari driver got the slip on Rosberg on lap 2, and moved into 5th position. The Mercedes was much slower, and held up a massive group of cars. Paul di Resta was next to pass the German driver.

After clearing Rosberg, Massa began to catch Mark Webber ahead, but spun at turn 1, dropping the Brazilian to 12th place.

With damaged tyres, he was the first to pit on lap 13, taking on the prime tyres. 5th-placed Di Resta was the next to stop, releasing a huge stream of cars behind. Despite starting on the harder tyres, Jenson Button decided to pit early to change tyres. It failed to improve his race though, dropping him into the middle of the field.

Massa spins and ruins his race

Massa spins and ruins his race

In the middle of the pit stop window, Hamilton was right up Vettel’s gearbox. To avoid a battle, Vettel was the first to pit. However, it wasn’t enough to stop Lewis from undercutting the Red Bull.

This left Fernando Alonso in the lead of the race. He was next to pit, and he emerged ahead of the battling duo. It didn’t last for long though, as Hamilton used DRS to sail past the Ferrari.

While Hamilton began to push out a lead, Alonso struggled for grip, and fell into the clutches of Vettel. Meanwhile, Button’s miserable race continued – unable to pass Schumacher in 12th, he pitted for another set of super-softs on lap 34.

Further back, Michael Schumacher put a brave move on Kamui Kobayashi for 11th. It was short-lived though, as the Sauber driver used DRS on the back straight to recover his position.

Nico Rosberg stopped again on lap 39, out of sync with the rest of the pack. His strategy saw him 9th, but he swiftly made up 2 places at the expense of Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen.

Lewis Hamilton pitted from the lead with 20 laps to go, but yet another slow pit stop cost him time. Despite this slip, he was instantly on the pace on his new primes. In the battle for 5th, Nico Rosberg ran wide at turn 14, losing places to Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez. Perez sliced past the Ferrari, quickly followed by Nico the following lap. It became clear that Massa’s tyres were shot, and he pitted for the third time.

A DRS failure leaves Schumacher out

A DRS failure leaves Schumacher out

An interesting stategical mix-up meant that Alonso and Vettel couldn’t pit alongside Hamilton, as there was no window in which they could emerge. Because of this, both drivers were ordered to stay out until the end, and they were soon being caught by Hamilton.

With 7 laps to go, Vettel was wheel-to-wheel with the McLaren, but opted to allow Hamilton through, as he pitted soon after. This left Alonso all alone to battle the charging Brit.

With 5 laps to go, Lewis got right up next to Alonso at L’Epingle, and easily re-took the lead. Vettel’s stop meant that Romain Grosjean was up to 3rd. He wasn’t satisfied with that though, and forced his way past Fernando for 2nd place.

Amazingly, it still wasn’t over for the Ferrari driver. With massively degrading tyres, it was easy pickings for Sergio Perez, and the Sauber driver snatched a podium finish on the 68th lap. Despite pitting only a few laps before, Sebastian Vettel found his way past the ailing Ferrari.

There were a few surprise faces on the podium

There were a few surprise faces on the podium

Amidst all the last-gasp action, Lewis Hamilton was able to cruise the last few laps to an amazing victory. He was joined on the podium by Grosjean and Perez, as they both stayed out for over 50 laps. Sebastian Vettel was 4 seconds a lap faster than Hamilton on the last lap, and was 4th. Fernando Alonso led a train of cars home – Rosberg, Webber, and Raikkonen.

Lewis’ win means that we have now seen 7 winners in 7 races, and 6 championship leader changes in the same period.

Vettel romps away with Canada pole

Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position for tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The German was 0.3 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber were several tenths further behind, while Jenson Button had another disappointing qualifying session. Here is what happened:

Q1

Despite his fuel coupling issues in practice, Nico Rosberg was the first out of the pits for Q1.

Lewis Hamilton set the first fast time – a 1:16.232. Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi out-braked themselves at turn 1, running over the grass and dumping debris on the tarmac.

The Saubers briefly took first and second, before Fernando Alonso set a 1:15.1 to take top spot. His teammate Massa recovered from his excursion to move up to 3rd.

Michael Schumacher improved on the Ferrari’s time, with a 1:14.8. Sebastian Vettel was the last to set his first time, going 4th. His next time was one tenth faster than the Mercedes.

Kimi Raikkonen had struggled all through Friday, and was first on the super-softs. Despite this, he was unable to beat the frontrunners. Jenson Button, in a similar state, was only 2nd on the softer compound.

Despite clipping the Wall of Champions, Heikki Kovalainen out-qualified his teammate, as well as the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:16.263

19) Vitaly Petrov 1:16.482

20) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:16.602

21) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:17.492

22) Timo Glock – 1:17.901

23) Charles Pic – 1:18.255

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:18.330

Q2

Again, Nico Rosberg was first up, setting a 1:14.568.

Lewis Hamilton then pipped that time by 0.05 seconds. Meanwhile, teammate Button suffered a massive lock-up on his super-softs. Sebastian Vettel improved on the McLaren’s time by another 3 tenths.

After a mistake on his first lap, Fernando Alonso moved to within one tenth of Vettel.

Paul di Resta, Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Hulkenberg all moved into the top 10. Felipe Massa just scraped into 10th place, then improved to 8th.

The two Lotuses struggled massively, with Romain Grosjean only just making it through to the top 10. A crash by Pastor Maldonado meant that Kimi Raikkonen was stuck in 12th.

The yellow flag saved Jenson Button from yet another embarrassing exit from Q2.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:14.688

12) Kimi Raikkonen – 1:14.734

13) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:14.748

14) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:15.078

15) Sergio Perez – 1:15.156

16) Bruno Senna – 1:15.170

17) Pastor Maldonado – 1:15.231

Q3

The McLarens were first out of the pits for Q3. Lewis Hamilton made a mistake on his first attempt, while Jenson Button opted for the prime tyre.

A 1:14.664 put Rosberg briefly on top, before being toppled by Felipe Massa. Hamilton’s next lap put him ahead by 0.02 seconds, before the time was smashed by Vettel by another half a second.

In the final two minutes, all drivers bar Button went out on track. Vettel improved on his time by another tenth of a second, and Hamilton was unable to match it.

Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber tried to beat the Red Bull, but only got 3rd and 4th. This left Vettel to take his 32nd career pole position, 3 tenths ahead of his nearest competitor.

Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean were 6th and 7th. Paul di Resta and Michael Schumacher were behind, the latter of which felt he was held up by Massa. Button was the only driver not to break into the 1:15 zone.

Canadian Grand Prix to be subject to protests?

A sickening poster showing the protestors' complete disrespect for Zanardi

A sickening poster showing the protestors’ complete disrespect for Zanardi

After the furore of the Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 has again become subject to protests, this time from a Canadian students group.

The student group CLASSE has already forced the cancellation of an open day next Thursday before the Grand Prix weekend. Circuit organisers claimed they had received “direct threats” of protests to cause disruption of the event, and it was abandoned for safety reasons.

Furthermore, threatening emails have been sent to around 100 people who bought Grand Prix tickets online:

"If you intend to use a car, know that your road may be barricaded. If you want to 
stay in a hotel, know that we may enter it. If you seek to withdraw money from a 
bank, know that the shattering glass may sting. If you plan on watching a race, 
know that your view may be obscured, not by exhaust fumes but by the smoke of the 
fires we set. Know that the evacuation order may not come fast enough."

Obviously, there may or may not be credibility to these statements, but it is worrying nonetheless.

On the Sunday of the Grand Prix, a protest is being planned at the Berri Metro Station in Montreal, the only metro which will serve the race. To make matters worse, the poster promoting the demonstration shows Alex Zanardi’s horrifying CART crash from 2001, in which he lost both of his legs.

This has absolutely no relevance to F1 whatsoever, and only serves to show the sickening ignorance of some of the protestors.

This uproar does have a cause, but it has absolutely nothing to do with motorsport. Students have been voicing their disapproval at raised tuition fees (an extra $325 per year) for some time, and it has recently turned into periodic demonstrations. Emergency legislation was passed to curtail the demonstrations, but students say it infringes on their right to protest.

This rasises one important question: If this has nothing to do with Formula 1 – and it doesn’t – then why are they targeting race-goers? There appears to be some convoluted logic from the protestors’ side, I feel.

We will have to wait and see if these threats are actually carried out. However, it sets a dangerous precedent – F1 has already been targeted for political reasons, and it would do well to avoid such a conflict here.

Red Bull RB8 floor deemed illegal

The FIA has instructed Red Bull to modify its floor system before the Canadian Grand Prix, as it has now been deemed illegal.

The team came under pressure from Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes in Monaco, after they protested that the holes in the RB8’s floor were against the rules. While they refrained from a post-race protest, which may have got Mark Webber’s race win thrown out, the FIA sought to clear matters with the teams.

The holes were located just ahead of the rear wheels, and were believed to have provided a moderate performance advantage.

The design took advantage of a “grey area” in the technical regulations, but the FIA have now clamped down on this exploitation.

F1 paddock divided over unpredictable season

The unprecedented start to the 2012 F1 season has put F1 in the spotlight for many different reasons. With 6 different winners from 6 races, we still have absolutely no idea who will be leading the championship by the next race.

However, with such excitement comes plenty of controversy, as F1 followers are used to.

Over the past few weeks, complaints have grown about the “unpredictability” of the season so far. Die-hard purists have been disappointed with the topsy-turvy grid order, and some have speculated that this may turn fans away from the sport.

Mark Webber was one of several drivers to note the “random” nature of this season, saying:

"It's very unusual, normally in seasons gone by you had a clear break of people who 
were going to be favourites for the Championship but it's very difficult to know 
which teams or drivers are going to be in the best position with three or four races 
to go.

I think for the fans it's interesting for them, but I don't know if they will get 
sick of seeing so many different winners.

It's nice to have so many different winners but also it's always good to have 
rivals, people fighting for the Championship and having lots of different people 
always fighting."

Interestingly, this comment was made before his win at the Monaco Grand Prix, and he has not repeated this statement since. However, McLaren driver Jenson Button has not backed down, claiming that numerous different winners will turn fans off from the sport:

"Clearly everyone is excited about so many different winners, which initially was 
great for the fans and great for the sport.

But there will come a time when the fans will say, 'So anyone can win a grand prix, 
everyone can lose a grand prix like that?' (snaps his fingers). I think they're 
finding it a little bit strange now."

Button has of course suffered a drop in form in recent races, and has not competed for a race win since Melbourne.

Former world champion Niki Lauda has been the most vocal of all:

"We have been surprised. But if it continues, we’ll lose spectators as the main 
public wants to see world champions winning.

We need two races with known winners and then the crazy stuff can start again."

It should be noted that when he won the world championship in 1984, there were only 5 race winners in the entire season. Also, I feel the need to add that 4 of the 6 race winners so far this season are “known winners”.

However, it has not been all complaining from the F1 paddock. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh attacked what he called the “180 degree change” of opinion from many people:

"If people now say randomness is unattractive, then that is a 180 [degree change] 
from what people felt a few years ago when it was very predictable.

On balance I am sure that people want a lack of predictability. You want to go to 
each event not knowing who is going to win. You want to go through the course of 
the weekend not sure what is going to happen in each session, and you want to go 
through the race not knowing what is going to happen. Every one of our races this 
year has been tremendously exciting."

Pirelli, who are the cause of much of this unpredictability, were adamant that their tyres provide a well-needed shake-up of the F1 grid. Motorsport director Paul Hembery claimed that this type of racing was exactly what the fans wanted to see:

"The vast majority of feedback we get is that people are enjoying the races. At 
the start of the year, if we had said five different winners and five different 
cars then everyone would have suggested you had been smoking something - but we 
have got it.

And I think the vast majority of fans will be pleased to see exciting races. 
Anyone who begrudges Maldonado's win in Spain with Williams is someone who needs 
to get out a bit more, because the whole paddock was delighted. I think for a 
lot of people's views, that is what they want to see."

Obviously, there will be many different opinions on any debate in F1. However, I feel that the most important quote from this debacle comes from Sebastian Vettel, the driver who effectively flattened the 2011 title race. After a processional battle for the title last year, Vettel came out in full support of the 2012 formula:

"If you look back ten years there was heavy criticism of a boring F1 because 
of Michael Schumacher winning all the time. Now we hear F1 is unpredictable 
and a lottery.

You cannot satisfy all of the people all of the time. But I think we have a 
good show, a lot of overtaking, good action now.There is more tension – for 
people who watch and for us inside the cars. I think I like the way it is 
going. However, we have to be careful not to create something artificially."
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