Monthly Archives: July 2012

Alonso takes commanding pole position in soaked qualifying

Fernando Alonso will start from pole position for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver mastered the wet conditions, beating his rivals by nearly half a second.

The Red Bulls were 2nd and 3rd, but Mark Webber has incurred a gearbox penalty, and will drop to 8th place. Michael Schumacher impressed for most of the session, eventually taking 4th. The McLarens struggled in Q3, while Felipe Massa languished back in 14th. Here is what happened:

Q1

With the threat of rain imminent, most drivers went straight out onto the track as the session began.

Fernando Aonso was first fastest with a 1:16.7, but the two McLarens went faster by several tenths, with Hamilton leading the charge.

Both Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean were informed that their laps were negated, as they took advantage of the run-off area at turn 1. It didn’t faze Vettel though, as the Red Bull moved up from 15th to 5th.

As Hamilton improved on his time by 0.1 seconds, and was joined by Kamui Kobayashi, the imminent rain clouds convinced most drivers to conclude their runs early. Kimi Raikkonen was one of the few to stay out, slashing over half a second off Lewis’ time, still on the medium tyre.

Several off-track excursions left Grosjean in the drop zone, but the Lotus driver moved into 12th place with 2 minutes to go.

Sergio Perez and Nico Rosberg went 2nd and 3rd, pushing Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber near the drop zone. Incredibly, both them and Vettel struggled massively trying to improve – the Red Bulls only 10th and 13th, and Schumacher jumping up to 17th in a last-gasp lap.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:16.741

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:17.620

20) Vitaly Petrov – 1:18.531

21) Charles Pic – 1:19.220

22) Timo Glock – 1:19.291

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:19.912

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:20.230

Q2

As expected, the rain fell for Q2, and intermediates were the way to go.

The conditons caught out most of the drivers, particularly Romain Grosjean, who slipped and slided across the track lap after lap. The rain got worse as the session continued, so those who set their laps early were at an advantage. This left Hamilton and Schumacher comfortably on top.

However, the worsening conditions caught out several top names, particularly Grosjean and Felipe Massa.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:39.789

12) Sergio Perez – 1:39.933

13) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:39.985

14) Felipe Massa – 1:40.215

15) Romain Grosjean – 1:40.574

16) Bruno Senna – 1:40.752

17) Nico Rosberg – 1:41.551

Q3

The rain eased slightly for Q3, but the two McLaren cars exited the pits still on full wets. A spot of standing water caught out Nico Hulkenberg on the back straight, the Force India spinning into the gravel trap, but managing to keep going.

Fernando Alonso’s 1:44.7 put him on top, until Vettel pipped that time by a single tenth. Hamilton was set to challenge for top spot, but nearly lost the McLaren at turn 8.

On his next lap, Lewis improved on Sebastian’s time by half a second. Schumacher then took an astonishing 1.7 seconds off that, but Vettel swiftly retook the top spot.

Mark Webber then took another half second off that time, then Alonso slashed another 0.7 seconds off the fastest time. Entering the final lap, Vettel and Webber moved within several tenths of the Ferrari, while Schumacher remained 4th. As the McLarens timed their last laps poorly, they were unable to challenge the frontrunners, leaving Alonso to improve again on his time, and take a commanding pole position.

Nico Hulkenberg took a career-best position of 5th place, with Pastor Maldonado just behind. Button and Hamilton were 7th and 8th, with Di Resta and Raikkonen finishing up the top 10.

Since Mark Webber has incurred a gearbox penalty, he will drop 5 places to 8th place.

Maldonado leads another rainy session in Germany

Maldonado made the most out of limited dry running

Maldonado made the most out of limited dry running

Pastor Maldonado surprisingly topped the timesheets for second practice for the German Grand Prix, but the session was again disrupted by rain, even heavier than that in FP1.

Michael Schumacher suffered the worst luck, crashing out with four minutes to go in the session. He languished in 23rd, having not set a time in the dryer conditions earlier on.

In the opening stages, only Bruno Senna went out on track, to assess his repaired car after Valtterri Bottas crashed his Williams in first practice.

As conditions improved, the Ferrari drivers and Romain Grosjean traded fastest laps at the top of the timesheets. While it momentarily appeared as if the track would be dry, rain quickly poured again, ruining all chances of car development for the teams.

As well as Schumacher, Daniel Ricciardo was also caught out in the tricky conditions, running wide and getting stuck in the gravel at turn 13.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:27.476           14
 2.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:27.564  +0.088   24
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:27.902  +0.426   24
 4.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:28.402  +0.926   26
 5.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:28.420  +0.944   20
 6.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:28.495  +1.019   22
 7.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:28.513  +1.037   23
 8.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:28.516  +1.040   16
 9.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:28.877  +1.401   21
10.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:29.327  +1.851   22
11.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:29.364  +1.888   26
12.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:29.719  +2.243   15
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:29.785  +2.309   24
14.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:30.090  +2.614   19
15.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:30.220  +2.744   16
16.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1:30.291  +2.815   22
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:30.331  +2.855   26
18.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:30.437  +2.961   14
19.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:30.617  +3.141   16
20.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:31.207  +3.731   20
21.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:32.241  +4.765   22
22.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1:32.349  +4.873   17
23.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:32.777  +5.301   18
24.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:42.566  +15.090   8

Button heads rain-disrupted Germany first practice

Button may have taken another step towards curing his recent poor pace

Button may have taken another step towards curing his recent poor pace

The rain once again made a mockery of the Formula 1 paddock, as the German Grand Prix weekend opened to persistent showers and rain. It was Jenson Button who took top spot, as he set his times early, avoiding the rain showers later on.

Teammate Lewis Hamilton was nearly half a second behind, with McLaren testing new sidepods for this weekend. Lewis’ time came at the end of the session, when the track began to dry out.

Williams test driver Valterri Bottas almost beat Button’s time, but a crash in the Stadium section at the end of his lap left him 13th overall.

While Pirelli attempted to run their experimental hard tyre today, the rain ruled out much signs of usable data. Mark Webber set his fastest time on the developing compound, but was 3.5 seconds off the pace in 20th place.

Lotus have brought a raft of upgrades to this Grand Prix, the most interesting being two “ear” intakes on each side of the engine intake. Kimi Raikkonen spent most of FP1 doing short runs, rarely setting a fast time. A “double DRS” system was planned to be raced, but after today’s washout the team have decided not to run the device.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:16.595          27
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes        1:17.093  +0.498  22
 3.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1:17.370  +0.775  21
 4.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                1:17.382  +0.787  20
 5.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari          1:17.413  +0.818  28
 6.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    1:17.599  +1.004  17
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1:17.915  +1.320  27
 8.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1:17.995  +1.400  22
 9.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault        1:18.020  +1.425  20
10.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault           1:18.130  +1.535  21
11.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari          1:18.226  +1.631  22
12.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1:18.339  +1.744  21
13.  Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault        1:18.422  +1.827  28
14.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:18.709  +2.114  30
15.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault           1:18.831  +2.236  14
16.  Jules Bianchi         Force India-Mercedes    1:18.972  +2.377  21
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:19.039  +2.444  34
18.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault        1:19.674  +3.079  24
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault        1:19.963  +3.368  24
20.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1:20.122  +3.527  27
21.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth       1:20.169  +3.574  20
22.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth       1:20.539  +3.944  18
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth            1:21.138  +4.543  24
24.  Dani Clos             HRT-Cosworth            1:21.740  +5.145  27

Grosjean to take gearbox penalty in Germany

Romain Grosjean will drop 5 places on the grid for the German Grand Prix next weekend.

The Lotus team has revealed that it has been forced to change the gearbox on Grosjean’s car, after a problem developed in the closing laps of the British Grand Prix.

Technical director James Allison noted “we are very fortunate that Romain didn’t have the problem earlier in the race.” The Lotus car was adjusted before the Silverstone race, to reduce strain on the alternator, which had failed previously at the European Grand Prix.

Under current technical regulations, gearboxes must last 5 races in a row. Unlike engine rules, there is not a stipulated amount of gearboxes that can be used, rather a certain amount of races in which each must be raced.

From the stands: British Grand Prix

I’ll remember this year’s British Grand Prix as the first ever F1 race I visited. Even casual fans have heard of the calamitous weather that struck Silverstone and much of the UK last weekend, so clearly it wasn’t the most optimal start to my fanaticism.

Still, it was a fantastic experience, and a trip I can absolutely reccommend to any Formula 1 fan.

I thought I would describe my experiences at the circuit with a more detailed than usual article, possibly to serve as advice for first-time spectators next year.

Friday

We (me and my dad) stayed in Northampton for the weekend, taking a bus from the bus station at 8 every morning. Sounds simple enough, right?

Not so on Friday. After spending nearly an hour in a seemingly endless traffic jam, one man told the bus driver to turn off the motorway, and take the back roads instead. It worked, and half an hour later we were trudging our way through mud to the circuit.

We had turned off a few metres before the end of the junction, and if we had stayed on the main road, we would have been caught in the infamous 6-hour jam that caught up thousands of fans, and even some F1 personnel. Disaster avoided by millimetres.

The classic F1 cars are a different world compared to modern machines

The classic F1 cars are a different world compared to modern machines

We arrived at the circuit slightly late, and my first hearing of an F1 car was over half a mile away from the track. It wasn’t any bit quieter though, as the screaming V8 engines rattled the insides of my eardrums (note: you must bring earplugs). The sound is something you can never get used to – as it approaches, it’s innocently quiet(ish), but as it blasts past, the exhausts blast out 18000 rpm of unbridled screaming. Awesome stuff.

For Practice 1, we sat at Woodcote corner, which was excellent for watching the cars accelerate out of Luffield, and power all the way down to Copse. As a budding amateur photographer, I moved down to the standing section at the bottom of the grandstand, but after a few minutes was asked to move back by the stewards. In hindsight, I was probably blocking someone’s view!

The F1 cars did limited running on Friday, but it doesn’t seem that way from the spectator’s point of view. As long as there’s a few cars out on track, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. We watched GP2 practice and Historic F1 from the same spot, and moved on after lunch.

One of my favourite shots from Friday

One of my favourite shots from Friday

For Practice 2, we moved on to the International Pit Straight. FP2 was notable for having very little on-track action, but again we were entertained, this time by the entire grandstand, aided by the Club stand, performing half-mile mexican waves during the wait. The Marussia mechanics eventually came out of their garage, and applauded us for keeping up the atmosphere.

Kamui Kobayashi was a joy to watch – he threw his Sauber around the corners lap after lap, and earned himself a cheer every time he went around. By far the bravest of the drivers in very challenging conditions, and I’ve earned a lot more respect for him.

In terms of traffic, it was by far the worst day. Once back in the hotel, we heard about the horror stories of being stuck in 8-hour jams, and of F1 engineers not being able to get to the track. It’s a complete joke – no matter how much Richard Phillips pretends to apologise, his organisation of the race was a farce, and he must be held accountable. This has been going on for years, and fan facilities are still on par with something you’d see at Glastonbury.

Saturday

Alonso and Hamilton battle it out - the best moment from the weekend

Alonso and Hamilton battle it out – the best moment from the weekend

For Saturday, we started off back at Woodcote, as we got held up in traffic again, and had to run to the nearest grandstand before Saturday practice began. We saw Sergio Perez run wide onto the grass (missed by the cameras I think), and plenty more on-track activity.

For qualifying, we made the brave choice to move to an open grandstand at Stowe – a very bad call from myself. Within minutes of Q2 we were completely soaked, and with no umbrella between us, we hid underneath the scaffolding of the stand, as it’s design allowed us (and some marshals!) to shelter from the rain.

This went on for far too long

This went on for far too long

With the red flag thrown, it was a miserable hour-long wait for the sky to clear. Listening to the chatter on Radio Silverstone was entertaining enough, but soon lost its charm. We raced over to Club corner, and somehow found the last 2 seats in the covered area, a spot of magnificent luck.

Even better was the sights we saw in the rest of qualifying. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso went wheel-to-wheel battling for clear track, and Alonso shoved his way around the outside of the McLaren – an absolutely fantastic and unnecessary move.

Colletti goes thundering through the standing water

Colletti goes thundering through the standing water

Nico Rosberg went clattering into the gravel, soon followed by Romain Grosjean, who was beached and ended his day prematurely. Hamilton earned a roar of support every time he went past, but it wasn’t enough for him to challenge the frontrunners. I was very impressed by Webber’s pace, but ultimately Alonso was deservedly on pole.

We stayed put for GP2, which started under the safety car. This went on for far too long, as the track was visibly drying before racing got underway. Luckily, the next two safety car appearances only lasted for a lap each, so it didn’t slow down the action too much. Luiz Razia was very impressive, passing many cars right in front of us. Fabio Lemer was well in control of the race, and should have won, but unfortunately strategy ruined his day.

There was nearly a nasty crash when Stefano Colletti plowed straight through the standing water on the grass, and nearly clashed with another car on the exit of the corner. Luckily, he regained control of the car and continued on.

GP3 was viewed from Abbey corner, which I wouldn’t reccommend as much as the others. It’s not bad, but you only can see the beginning of the Village sequence, and can’t even see down the pit straight or even half of the pit lane, as half of it is lowered.

The race was relatively uneventful, aside from one wheel-to-wheel battle, when it occurred to me how insanely close these cars were battling. You have to see it with your own eyes to understand how brilliant these drivers are, to not smash their cars into the barriers at every pass.

Sunday

Paul di Resta had another off on Lap 2, unknown to the cameras

Paul di Resta had another off on Lap 2, unknown to the cameras

Despite the doomsday reports from Sky News, the weather stayed put, and the traffic somehow managed to calm itself. It was lucky for both the fans and Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips – another farce like Friday and he would have been forced to step down.

We had grandstand tickets in Becketts, one of the finest corners in modern F1. The views are unbeatable – you can see all of Becketts, the Village sequence, the Wellington straight and even a tiny bit of Stowe. There was a screen opposite the corner, and staying tuned to Radio Silverstone kept us in the loop.

In the GP2 sprint race, there was very nearly a horrible accident. After one of the Marussia Manor cars got beached on a kerb, the marshals ran out to move the car, but astoundingly the safety car wasn’t called out. Another car approached the corner, and in his haste to slow down, span and nearly wiped out everyone involved. Far too close a call.

In the F1 race, Felipe Massa earned a cheer for holding off Sebastian Vettel through Becketts. Lewis Hamilton did extremely well in his first stint, staying with the frontrunners despite being on inferior tyres. Taking the lead for a solitary lap, as well as duelling with Alonso again, was a joy to watch.

Paul di Resta had a puncture, as seen on TV, but his second lap after his pit stop was even more dramatic. He spun halfway through Becketts, and limped back to the pits, his race well and truly over.

Hamilton and Button applaud the fans

Hamilton and Button applaud the fans

The first half of the race was a complete blur, with passes and overtakes enough to keep us all entertained. The second half was less exciting, but the strategic battle up front was mesmerising. Webber and Alonso thrashed their cars in and out of Becketts lap after lap, the gap changing by milliseconds every time.

Eventually, Webber pushed his way into the lead with a few laps to go, earning another roar of approval from the crowd. Personally I would have preferred an Alonso victory, but Webber is fine too!

Afterwards, the marshals let everyone onto the track after half an hour, after they had a chance to clear up fire extinguishers from their posts – or so they told us. Many I heard from were disappointed they couldn’t get in sooner, and were unable to watch the podium celebrations. Still, we walked part of the track, and picked up some tyre marbles as souvenirs. They’re really odd to look at, being shredded bits of rubber and all, but it was nice to keep a bit of an F1 car with us.

Review

It was a fantastic weekend, and I can reccommend the trip for anyone, but this track isn’t without its downfalls. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous circuit, and a joy to see and hear the cars, but the surrounding infrastructure is absuloutely pathetic.

Being one of the greatest racing tracks, I’d love to push it as the one and only racing venue to go to, but European F1 circuits are so much more modernised and accessible. Walking to the track – everyone has to do it, no matter how you get there – is a shambles, with more mud than anything else. Tiny sections had temporary walkways, but that was it. You’d find better organisation at a garden fete.

If you”re going to go, dress like you’re going to Glastonbury, and I’m not joking. I wore normal shoes, and left the track every day completely soaked as a result. Wellies are in the majority at Silverstone, not the tiny minority like I initially thought.

Once you get past the rubbish infrastructure, it’s an unforgettable experience, though. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

Advice

  • Wear boots or wellies for footwear. Nothing else will do.
  • Earplugs may not be 100% necessary, depending on your sensitivity and where you’re standing, but you can’t leave such a massive risk. Bring plenty of spares, as you may need to loan out some as well.
  • If you’re looking at taking decent-quality photos, take a telephoto lens with at least 150mm of focal length. I used a Sigma 70-300 DG for all my photos, and they came out much better than I would have expected. I brought a 50mm prime as well, but had no use for it.
  • For grandstands, I reccommend Club or Becketts as my favourites. Close behind is the International Pit Straight. All of these have the great atmosphere, views, and sound that you would expect. Stowe is good for only one corner – you can’t see down to Club.
  • Avoid the food around the track. You can probably tell why.
  • Bring coats and umbrellas, no matter how good the weather looks, we’re talking about British weather here!
  • Enjoy yourself, this may be a once in a lifetime experience, and you’ll want to get the most out of it. For Friday and Saturday, pick some grandstands, and watch the cars fly by. For Sunday, if you’re using a General Admission ticket, there’s still a few good spots even at 9 or 10 in the morning, so keep an eye out. The Hangar Straight is extremely close to the track, and fairly scant of supporters compared to other corners.

Webber to stay with Red Bull through 2013

Webber has turned down a switch to Ferrari

Webber has turned down a switch to Ferrari

After his recent victory at the British Grand Prix, Mark Webber has announced that he will stay on at Red Bull until at least 2013.

Webber admitted that he had held discussions over moving to Ferrari, but felt that staying with the Milton Keynes squad was the right choice.

Since joinin Red Bull in 2007, Mark has achieved 10 pole positions, 9 wins and 31 podium finishes. He currently lies second in the driver’s championship, 16 points off Fernando Alonso, and 13 ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.

In an announcement today, Webber stated:

"I’ve been with Red Bull Racing since 2007 and have achieved nine Grand Prix wins 
during that time. I’m high on confidence at the moment and firing on all cylinders. 
I know the team well and I’m very comfortable here; we have grown together over 
the years and it feels like absolutely the right thing to stay with Red Bull for 
another season.

The team is constantly working hard to improve in all areas and we’ve shown that 
together we can win races. It’s great to be able to make this announcement off 
the back of the win in Silverstone at the weekend and I’m looking forward to 
competing on the edge and pushing myself in every race again next season.

There were discussions with Ferrari, but my decision was to stay here.

Obviously with Seb [Vettel], we’ve worked very, very close together for a long 
period of time now. I think no-one would really have envisaged how long we have 
worked together, so that’s probably been a bit of a surprise.

There are not many team-mates staying together for that long in Formula One, but 
it’s proved to be a successful partnership with both of us working very hard with 
the key technical members of the team. It’s been a potent operation.

We’re still competitive when we hit the track, no question about it, especially 
in 2010 and this year. Last year there wasn’t much racing between Sebastian and 
I, but in 2009, 2010 and this year, there have been some great battles.

That’s been enjoyable for the team, sometimes stressful too as it’s not easy for 
both of us to be at the front and I can understand that, as both of us are 
thinking about ourselves sometimes, but ultimately we know that we need to get 
the cars home and get the best results for us and the team."

 

Points standings after British Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Fernando Alonso 129
2 Mark Webber 116
3 Sebastian Vettel 100
4 Lewis Hamilton 92
5 Kimi Raikkonen 83
6 Nico Rosberg 75
7 Romain Grosjean 61
8 Jenson Button 50
9 Sergio Perez 39
10 Pastor Maldonado 29
11 Paul di Resta 27
12 Michael Schumache 23
13 Felipe Massa 23
14 Kamui Kobayashi 21
15 Bruno Senna 18
16 Nico Hulkenberg 7
17 Jean-Eric Vergne 4
18 Daniel Ricciardo  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 176
2 Ferrari 137
3 Lotus-Renault 126
4 McLaren-Mercedes 122
5 Mercedes AMG 92
6 Sauber-Ferrari 60
7 Williams-Renault 45
8 Force India-Mercedes 44
9 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6
10 Caterham-Renault 0
11 Marussia-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0

Webber snatches late win in Silverstone

Paul di Resta's race is ruined on Lap 1...

Paul di Resta’s race is ruined on Lap 1…

Mark Webber has won the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, after taking the lead with only a few laps to go. Fernando Alonso controlled most of the race from the front, but was unable to halt the Aussie’s assault in the closing laps.

...And gets even worse on Lap 2

…And gets even worse on Lap 2

Sebastian Vettel made progress in his first stint, but lacked the pace to catch his teammate, finishing 3rd. Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean impressed, while the British duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button disappointed. Here is what happened:

Alonso defended his lead at the start, while teammate Massa moved past Sebastian Vettel. Paul di Resta was hit on the first lap, and pitted to replace a punctured tyre. However, a spin on the following lap ruled him out of the race.

Kamui Kobayashi made a fantastic move around the outside of Romain Grosjean and Jenson Button. Massa attempted to pass Michael Schumacher for 3rd, but slipped wide and lost a position to Vettel instead.

The Ferrari soon found a way past again, and by lap 9 was all over the back of Schumacher again.A few laps later, he pushed his way past at Stowe corner. Further back, Sergio Perez incurred the wrath of Pastor Maldonado, after attempting to pass the Williams. Pastor ran wide, and knocked the Sauber off the track and out of the race.

Massa fends off Vettel at Becketts

Massa fends off Vettel at Becketts

By lap 19, Hamilton had still not pitted, and found himself leading the race – albeit briefly. The charging Alonso quickly caught the McLaren, and passed Lewis with relative ease.

Once on fresh tyres, Hamilton found a way past Michael Schumacher for 7th place, following Kimi Raikkonen a few corners earlier.

Romain Grosjean was forced to pit early with a broken front wing, but soon made progress through the field. By lap 35, he passed Jenson Button for 9th place, and was stuck to the back of Hamilton’s McLaren. Effective use of DRS allowed the Lotus through to 8th position.

A bad day was made worse for Sauber, as Kamui Kobayashi clattered into his mechanics at his final pit stop. Several were taken to the medical centre for checks, but fortunately there were no serious injuries.

Up front, the battle for the lead began to materialise. With 15 laps to go, Webber was running on the prime tyres, while Alonso took on the options, which surprisingly the Ferrari struggled on. This allowed the Red Bull to close up on the Ferrari by half a second per lap.

Alonso was visibly struggling on the options, unable to get the tyres into the operating temperature. With 5 laps to go, Mark finally made his move, pushing past the Ferrari on the Wellington Straight, and sailing around the outside of Brooklands to take the lead.

Further back, Bruno Senna and Nico Hulkenberg had an exciting battle for 9th, with the Williams winning out. Hulkenberg ran wide at Copse, allowing Jenson Button to steal a point on the final lap.

The McLarens were disappointed, but thank the fans regardless

The McLarens were disappointed, but thank the fans regardless

Kimi Raikkonen was catching Felipe Massa for 4th place hand over fist, but a mistake on the final lap.

Alonso had no response to Webber, who crossed the line to take his second win of the 2012 season, and his second British Grand Prix win in three years. The Aussie has now closed in on Alonso in the drivers’ championship, and Red Bull have cemented their lead in the constructors’ standings.

Lotus now are ahead of McLaren in the championship, as the Woking squad retreat and analyse what has gone wrong in the 2012 season.

Playing catchup

I’m sure you’ve noticed a lack of articles in recent days, sorry about that. I was off in Silverstone for the race last weekend, and haven’t had a chance to update the blog.

On the plus side, I’ll be putting up a few articles about the fan experience of the British Grand Prix, as well as a few photos I took across the weekend.

That’ll be later though – I’m absolutely wrecked, and need a good night’s sleep! Normal service will resume tomorrow…

Marussia driver Maria de Villota seriously injured in testing crash

Maria De Villota was taking part in her first F1 test

Maria De Villota was taking part in her first F1 test

Marussia’s test driver Maria de Villota has been seriously injured, possibly sustaining “life-threatening injuries” in a testing crash in Duxford today.

The 32-year-old female driver was entering the pit section after her first run, when her MR-01 suddenly accelerated into the back of an articulated lorry, at around 20-30mph.

The lorry had a loading board extended at the time, and it is believed that De Villota’s helmet collided with it first, as the rest of the car would have gone underneath the lorry.

While it is still unclear how this sudden acceleration occurred, it is possible that she was caught out by the car’s anti-stall system, which can throw a car forward if the driver is not careful. The only other F1 car De Villota has driven – a Renault R29 – did not have an anti-stall feature installed.

BBC Cambridgeshire presenter Chris Mann described the crash:

"She got into the car, fired it up and did a test run at probably about 200mph in 
the rain.

The car was slightly misfiring but there didn't seem to be any concerns.

She came back into the area we were in with the engineers. She slowed down but then 
suddenly, inexplicably accelerated through the crowd and smashed into the side of 
the truck.

The top of her car and her helmet seemed to take the brunt of it. She didn't move 
for about 15 minutes. Fire crews were there within seconds and the ambulance within
minutes.

After a while we thought we saw some movement of her hands but she appeared to be 
unconscious or unable to move for quite some time."

De Villota joined the Marussia team in March, and has reportedly been waiting for this testing day all year. Based on reports so far, we will have to wait and see will she be able to take part in another one again.

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