Category Archives: Flashback series

Belgium 2009 flashback: Fisichella uses the force

Before everyone’s favourite race of the year, the focus was yet again on Jenson Button, whose lead of the championship had slipped to only 18 points. He hadn’t scored a podium since Turkey, and was being pressurised more and more from Barrichello, Webber and Vettel. Oddly enough, only one former winner of the Belgian Grand Prix was racing here in 2009, a certain Kimi Raikkonen.

Throughout Friday and Saturday practice, there wasn’t much out of the ordinary, apart from Mark Webber suffering Red Bull’s third engine failure in a week. With absolutely no warning, the established backmarker, Force India, slammed themselves into pole position with Giancarlo Fisichella. Their low-downforce package had suddenly emerged as a contender in Spa-Francorchamps’s sweeping track, and now the formbook was on its head for the best race of the year.

Only one predictable event happened, and that was Luca Badoer, who crashed in Q1, bringing out the yellow flags at the end of the session and ruining other drivers’ laps. Jenson Button suffered awful form in Q2, and ended up 14th. Meanwhile, Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld got Toyota and BMW Sauber into the top three.

Raikkonen uses the run-off area to gain several places

Raikkonen uses the run-off area to gain several places

As the race began, Rubens Barrichello destroyed his race within seconds, as he almost stalled his car – again. This left him at the back, and stuck behind the backmarkers. Kimi Raikkonen showed he had absolutely no intention of using the conventional track, as he sailed around the run-off area at La Source, questionably gaining several positions in the process. Adrian Sutil, who was sluggish in qualifying and was 11th, took off part of his front wing in a tangle.

Worse was to come at the Les Combes corner. Raikkonen, who had just swiftly disposed of Robert Kubica in 2nd, ran slightly wide, and the BMW Sauber driver clipped his front wing against the Ferrari. Further back, rookie Romain Grosjean hit the back of Jenson Button, who spun 180 degrees and collided with Grosjean again. Lewis Hamilton backed off, and was hit by another rookie, Jaime Alguersuari, who had lost control after a seperate crash. All four cars were eliminated on the spot, and the safety car was deployed, as cars were streamed all over Les Combes.

Hamilton and Alguersuari crash at Les Combes

Hamilton and Alguersuari crash at Les Combes

After Lap 4, the safety car pitted, and Fisichella was faced with a problem. His strategy was to get away cleanly at the start, and within the first lap get far away enough from Raikkonen to avoid his KERS system. However, the safety car restart had bunched up the field, and now Kimi was within striking range to launch a move within the next lap. Giancarlo tried his best, but at the restart Raikkonen was right behind him as they approached Eau Rouge, and easily got past using his KERS on the straight.

Further back, Rubens Barrichello was recovering from his disastrous start. He out-braked Badoer with no difficulty to get into 13th position. Adrian Sutil invented a new overtaking spot, as he sailed past Luca by using the run-off area at Pouhon. The Ferrari driver was again completely off the pace, and was a second a lap slower later on.

Toyota had got themselves in a good position for the Belgian GP, with Trulli and Glock 2nd and 7th on the grid. But, a mistake with the fuel rig at Glock’s pit stop, combined with a heavy fuel load, dropped him well down the order, while Trulli retired after the first set of stops. Yet again, Toyota had thrown away a good result.

Up at the front, Raikkonen couldn’t get away from Fisichella, who was stuck to the back of the Ferrari’s gearbox. The only thing keeping him behind was Kimi’s KERS system, which disabled the Force India’s better straight-line speed. They both pitted at the same time on Lap 14, and seemed to take on the same amount of fuel. Kimi stayed on the harder tyre, while Fisi switched to softs.

More pit-lane drama occurred, after Mark Webber was released straight into the path of Nick Heidfeld, who swerved to within centimetres of the pit lane wall to avoid a collision. He was swiftly issued a drive-through penalty, and dropped to 9th. Before he served the penalty, Barrichello (who hadn’t made his stop) made a brave dive around the outside at Blanchimont. Meanwhile, after suffering wheel damage on the first lap, Fernando Alonso was forced to retire after his first stop.

On Lap 31, Raikkonen and Fisichella pitted for the second time. No positions were changed between the two, but Sebastian Vettel leap-frogged Robert Kubica 4 laps later. He actually began to catch Kimi and Fisi, but he was so far back he decided to turn down his engine revs to secure 3rd.

Raikkonen held off Fisichella until the very end

Raikkonen held off Fisichella until the very end

With the top 3 settled, as long as Kimi held Giancarlo back with his KERS, the focus moved to the points-scorers. The BMW’s of Kubica and Heidfeld were 4th and 5th, while Kovalainen’s 6th place was being challenged by Barrichello. He could have got past, until Rubens’ engine began spewing oil and smoke in the last few laps. He coaxed his car to the chequered flag, and impressively held off Nico Rosberg to the finish.

With all of this settled, the undisputed king of Spa, Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line first, but not without being chased all the way to the flag by Fisichella. In hindsight, more fuel at his first stop could well have given Giancarlo the win, but Force India’s first points and podium was enough to celebrate for one day. After Rubens Barrichello pitted after the finish, his engine cover soon caught fire, with all of the boiling oil.

Rubens Barrichello's engine cover catches fire in the pit lane

Rubens Barrichello's engine cover catches fire in the pit lane

Adrian Sutil must have been disappointed out of the points, but Luca Badoer was even more concerned. With Ferrari fans mocking him with banners and flags after his dismal drive in Valencia, his last-position finish sealed his fate, and he was surely going to be replaced for Ferrari’s home race at Monza, otherwise he would have been murdered by the Tifosi. Rumours instantly floated around that Fisichella was being asked to fill in for Badoer for the rest of the season.

Fisichella, Raikkonen and Vettel celebrate on the podium

Fisichella, Raikkonen and Vettel celebrate on the podium

So after a race in which the formbook was thrown out the window, attention soon moved to the Italian Grand Prix. But, throughout the paddock, rumours began to surface that fired Renault driver, Nelson Piquet Jr, had one more thing to say…

Hungary 2009 flashback: Massa injured while Hamilton bounces back

Entering the Hungarian Grand Prix, Mark Webber had just taken his first ever career victory, and had entered the title fight. Red Bull were only 19.5 points behind Brawn, while Ferrari were very close to Toyota.

The Hungarian Grand Prix also saw a new F1 driver in the paddock, as Jaime Alguersuari was brought in to replace Sebastien Bourdais, who was struggling against rookie team-mate Buemi. While he was the youngest F1 driver ever at 19 years and 125 days, he was unfazed by criticism claiming he was too inexperienced.

Felipe Massa had just taken the first podium position for Ferrari in 2009. However, all hopes for this race were shot when Massa suffered a horrible accident in qualifying. An errant spring had broken off Rubens Barrichello’s car, and was bouncing right on the racing line. Felipe, who had just qualified into Q3 and was on his in-lap, drove straight into the spring, hitting him just above his right eye at 270km/h. The car went straight on, with Massa unable to stop it, and smashed into the barriers.

Having seen the death of Henry Surtees in F2 only a week before, the paddock held its breath, before hearing the news that Felipe was in a critical but stable condition, with a head cut, bone damage to the skull (possibly fractured) and a serious concussion. He underwent successful surgery after the weekend, and remained in intensive care in an induced coma for 3 days after the accident.

"Strength, Felipe, we are with you". A message for Felipe Massa from the Ferrari team

"Strength, Felipe, we are with you". A message for Felipe Massa from the Ferrari team

Once Felipe was taken away, the car removed and the track cleared, qualifying resumed. In Q3, most of the drivers had set their final times, and were heading into the pits to end the session, when the timing screens went blank. The FIA and LG later identified the problem as a broken cable, but nobody had any idea who had taken pole position, with drivers chatting in parc ferme about their respective times, although they did not know each others’. Eventually, the timing screens went to the backup, and a light-fuelled Fernando Alonso was revealed as the pole position winner, while Jenson Button was down in 8th. The reason he was slower was because most of his Q3 was spent repairing the same suspension piece that had broken on Barrichello’s car, as a precaution.

Alonso leads at the start, while Hamilton and Raikkonen make excellent KERS-assisted starts

Alonso leads at the start, while Hamilton and Raikkonen make excellent KERS-assisted starts

At the start, Webber and Hamilton made fantastic getaways, while Sebastian Vettel collided with Kimi Raikkonen, dragging him down to 7th. On Lap 4, Hamilton made further progress, making an excellent move on Mark Webber for 2nd place, using his KERS to the max.

After the fuel weights were released, it was clear that Alonso was 3-stopping, and Renault didn’t disappoint, by bringing him on Lap 11 (out of 70), with a 6.6 second stop. However, there was a communications error, as the car was released while the mechanics were still working on the left front wheel. The spinner, or extended wheel cover, was not properly fixed, and was moving around with the wheel. Fernando asked to immediately pit again, but didn’t make it back unscathed. His wheel detached on the way back, and he three-wheeled his car back to the pits. He changed tyres and went out again, miles behind anyone else, but retired soon after.

This left Lewis Hamilton free, and leading the race. He put his foot down to lap up to half a second faster than anyone else on track, and extended his lead from Webber. The Red Bull was struggling for pace, and was being caught by the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. At the first set of pit stops, a slight delay meant that Webber was released alongside Raikkonen, and lost his position. His team was later given a reprimand for an unsafe release.

There were worse problems for team-mate Vettel. After his first-lap tangle with Kimi, he complained on Lap 21 that his car was undriveable, and there was something broken on the car. With signs of smoke at the back of the car, the team opted to stop him, and sent him out with a new front wing and tyres. However, it didn’t fix the problem, and Sebastian soon retired.

From here on, Timo Glock made the most progress, using 2 long stints to leap up from 13th on the grid. He would have got even higher than 6th if he hadn’t been held up by Kimi Raikkonen after the Finn’s first stop, and Glock was low on fuel.

Jaime Alguersuari did well in his first ever Formula 1 race

Jaime Alguersuari did well in his first ever Formula 1 race

Jaime Alguersuari, despite all the rumours that a 19-year-old F1 driver would cause the apocalypse, drove very well in the heat of Hungary. He received a little present near the end when team-mate Sebastien Buemi spun twice, allowing Jaime through, and finished the race ahead of Buemi in his first ever race.

Lewis Hamilton desevedly takes the chequered flag for the Hungarian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton desevedly takes the chequered flag for the Hungarian Grand Prix

However, the focus was on Hamilton, as he drove fantastically to take the win in dominant fashion, more than 11 seconds ahead of Raikkonen, who led Mark Webber. Nico Rosberg was an impressive 4th, keeping up his string of points finishes in a row for Williams, and he held off Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock. Jenson Button didn’t make any more progress after Lap 1, and remained 7th ahead of Jarno Trulli.

This meant that Mark Webber was now 2nd in the championship, and now a serious contender to unseat Jenson Button at the top. Jenson said during the race: “How can the car be so bad at the moment?”, which was a clear indicator of his frustration with the car, which was not being developed in the way he would have liked. Vettel and Webber were right behind Webber, while Hamilton doubled his points tally in one go, going from 9 to 19 points, although he was still 8th overall.

It was a very quiet last race for Nelson Piquet Jr, who finished yet another race out of the points for Renault. It was announced after the race that he would be replaced for the rest of the season by Romain Grosjean. However, there was one more incident to be dealt with regarding Piquet, which would be revealed later on in the year.

Next up was the European Grand Prix. The main concern was regarding Felipe Massa, who was later declared recovering, and his replacement for the rest of the season. While Michael Schumacher was initially suggested as the replacement, a neck injury ruled him out. So, a face not seen in the paddock for 10 years was about to take everyone by surprise…

Britain 2009 flashback: Red Bull turn the season around

There were two reasons why the 2009 British Grand Prix was memorable in many people’s minds. First of all, Donington Park had been selected to host the 2010 British Grand Prix, so this could well be the last race in Silverstone for years. Secondly, and more importantly, it marked the point where Red Bull finally put the pressure on Brawn GP for the rest of the season.

Jenson Button had just finished his 6th win in 7 races, and held a massive 26 points lead to Rubens Barrichello, who was another 8 points behind the two Red Bulls. However, before the race even began, there was a problem. The FOTA-FIA-FOM war had boiled over, and several teams were now threatening to drop out of the 2010 season because of the infamous budget cap suggestion. The main leaders of FOTA, as well as Max Mosley, remained tight-lipped over the weekend as to the outcome of this argument, but the worst-case scenario was that a breakaway series would be formed. This was the peak of the troubled times in F1 2009, and the British Grand Prix helped everyone be reminded why they were there in the first place: the racing.

With Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button practically switching grid positions from 2008 to 2009, the home crowd were happy to support both over the weekend. However, qualifying proved troublesome for both British drivers. In Q1, Adrian Sutil had a massive crash near the end of the sesssion, thanks to a brake failure, and brought out the red flag. Because of the bad timing of the red flag, many drivers had to abort their finals Q1 runs, leaving Hamilton 19th on the grid.

For the rest of the session, Vettel and Webber were completely unchallenged at the front, as their new raft of aerodynamic updates were working a treat in the cool conditions. Button, on the other hand, finally found the weak spot of the Brawn car: it couldn’t heat its tyres in cooler temperatures. This lack of grid left him 6th, his worst grid spot of the season so far. Vettel had more fuel on board than his rivals, but still got the pole position time. Webber would have been alongside him, but he was held up by Kimi Raikkonen, and fell to 3rd behind Barrichello. After yet another poor qualifying session, BMW Sauber meanwhile announced that they were ditching their KERS programme for good.

Sebastian Vettel leads away at the start

Sebastian Vettel leads away at the start

The second the lights went out, Red Bull were on fire. While Webber was unable to get past Barrichello, Button was held up by Jarno Trulli, and dropped down to 9th place. Sebastian began to pull away from Rubens at a rate of a second per lap, although Mark was struggling to get past the Brawn. Further back, Button finally made progress at Massa’s expense to move up to 8th. Hamilton made some progress as well, jumping 4 positions in the first 2 laps.

While the new fastest team streaked away at the front, it was an incredible sight at the back. From 13th to 16th, there was a huge list of top-level drivers: Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica. Despite their awful cars, they still fought like always, with Kubica initially getting the upper hand on Hamilton, after Lewis ran onto the grass trying to pass Alonso.

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton battle, with Robert Kubica watching closely behind

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton battle, with Robert Kubica watching closely behind

At the first round of stops, Rubens pitted one lap earlier than Webber, and lost 2nd place in the process. This left the Red Bulls completely unchallenged at the front, although the battles at the back were still ongoing. When Hamilton got past Alonso on the pit straight, the crowd went wild, despite it being a pass for 15th place. Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa benefited from the stops, getting up to 4th and 5th respectively.

Lewis, despite trying as hard as he could, was unable to keep his McLaren on track, going off track several times. He finally passed team-mate Heikki Kovalainen for 14th, but when Sebastien Bourdais tried the same move on Heikki, they collided, with Bourdais needing a new front wing, and giving Kovalainen a puncture. Later on, Hamilton spun again, falling behind Alonso yet again.

Heikki Kovalainen and Sebastien Bourdais collide

Heikki Kovalainen and Sebastien Bourdais collide

At the second round of stops, Button took advantage of a longer middle stint to get past Raikkonen and Trulli to get up to 6th position. Massa, meanwhile, used the same tactic to take 4th off Rosberg. When Button caught up to Rosberg and Massa, he decided not to make a move, since he couldn’t risk colliding and losing more points, despite being on the faster tyre compound.

Eventually, after a dominant performance, Vettel crossed the line 1st, and 15 seconds ahead of Webber. Rubens Barrichello was another 25 seconds behind. While he was disappointed not to have challenged for the win, Mark was reasonably happy with 2nd place. Further back, Hamilton finished 16th, but still did some burnouts, to thank the crowd for still supporting him. Having said that, there were better celebrations at Red Bull, where Adrian Newey proceeded to take his Ferrari and do donuts on his own front lawn.

The updated RB5 was unstoppable at the moment, and Brawn had to work hard to sort out the tyre temperature problems. Despite this, Button was still 23 points ahead of Barrichello, who was only 2 ahead of Vettel. The British Grand Prix ended with a statement from Bernie Ecclestone, saying that of construction for Donington Park wasn’t finished in time, the British GP would return to this venue in 2010. A glimmer of hope for Silverstone?

Valencia 2009 flashback: Barrichello breaks 5-year victory drought

After the Hungarian Grand Prix, Jenson Button was starting to realise that his lead was not as strong as it used to be. While he was still considerably in the lead, by 18.5 points to Mark Webber, with Sebastian Vettel only 4.5 points behind him. Red Bull were also catching up to Brawn in the constructors’ championship. The Brawn car was turning against Button, as he was constantly struggling for control. So, when Valencia cam around, there could well be a change of fortunes for his title rivals.

Before any of the sessins began though, Rubens Barrichello showed off his new helmet, paying tribute to Felipe Massa, who was sidelined for the rest of the season after his heavy crash in Hungary. His race seat would be filled by Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer, who had spent an incredible 10 years straight testing for Ferrari. He had said that it was a dream come true for him, to finally get a drive for Ferrari.

It was completely the opposite for Nelson Piquet Jr. After yet another dissapointing performance in Hungary 4 weeks ago, Flavio Briatore snubbed his own (managed) driver, and decided to replace him for the rest of the season. He would be replaced by GP2 driver Romain Grosjean. The 1-race ban on Renault, which was given after Fernando Alonso was unsafely released with a damaged wheel in Hungary, was overturned before Hungary, which allowed Grosjean to make his debut there.

In the practice sessions, it became clear that Force India were starting to make improvements, with Adrian Sutil finishing 6th in both Friday Practice sessions. Romain Grosjean was making a decent debut so far, but Badoer was miles behind anyone else, and was last in FP1 and FP2. In qualifying, it seemed as if Heikki Kovalainen would take pole position, but he locked up and slid into the final corner, and only took 2nd place. This left Lewis Hamilton free to take his first pole position of the year, with the Brawn of Barrichello in 3rd, and Button languishing in 5th. It was the first time that a KERS equipped car had taken pole position in Formula 1.

The McLarens of Hamilton and Kovalainen lead the field at the start

The McLarens of Hamilton and Kovalainen lead the field at the start

With their KERS systems to defend them, the McLarens were unstoppable at the start. Further back, Jenson Button made a terrible start, getting stuck behind Jarno Trulli at the first corner, and falling to 8th. Even worse, he slipped and cut a corner, meaning he was instructed to give 8th place to Mark Webber. To make matters even more complicated for him, he soon started to suffer tyre graining issues. Meanwhile, the new drivers clashed, as Romain Grosjean ran into the back of Luca Badoer, causing him to fall to the back of the grid, after he had made good progress on the first lap.

Sebastian Vettel, at his first pit stop, suffered a fuel rig failure, and was forced to pit again next lap. The extra time spent stationary strained the engine, and it blew a few laps later, leaving Vettel on the sidelines. He had extended his contract with Red Bull on Friday, but he had since lost his chance to take vital points off Button.

At the front, Kovalainen lost 2nd place to Barrichello at the first set of stops, and the Brazilian soon started to challenge Hamilton for the lead. At the very back, Badoer pitted alongside Grosjean. While Luca was released alongside Romain, he made a mistake and allowed him past, and then ruined his afternoon by crossing the white line at pit lane exit, and earning himself a drive-through penalty.

Sebastian Vettel retires with an engine failure

Sebastian Vettel retires with an engine failure

Problems were starting to develop for Hamilton, as his team instructed him to try and cool the rear brakes, as the temperatures were going out of control. This allowed Barrichelllo to break through the 10 second gap to the McLaren between the first and second pit stops. Things got even worse at the second stop, when a miscommunication mean that Lewis pitted before the McLaren mechanics were ready for him. The 14-second pit stop threw the advantage to Barrichello, who had 5 more laps to push before his second stop.

Mark Webber lost out during the second stops, falling behind Button and Robert Kubica. Meanwhile, when Barrichello pitted, he emeged in the lead, well ahead of Hamilton, and was well on course to take the victory. Also, Heikki Kovalainen lost 3rd place to Kimi Raikkonen at his second stop. Behind the top 4, Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso were 5th and 6th, and Button and Kubica taking the final points positions.

While Hamilton made a late charge, it wasn’t enough to stop Rubens taking his first Grand Prix win in 5 years, the first since the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix. It was also the 100th win for a Brazilian driver in Formula 1. He also slammed himself back into contention for the championship, as he was now lying 2nd, 18 points behind Button. He dedicated his win to fellow countryman Felipe Massa, which was shown with his helmet after the race.

Rubens shows us his helmet - the writing says "Felipe, see you on track soon!"

Rubens shows us his helmet - the writing says "Felipe, see you on track soon!"

Romain Grosjean spun later in the race, although he still finished 15th, ahead of Jaime Alguersuari, who was at only his 2nd race. His team-mate, Sebastien Buemi, suffered a brake failure late in the race, while Kazuki Nakajima retired with a few laps to go, thanks to a puncture. Luca Badoer was unable to recover after being hit at the start, and finised last, which meant that it was his 49th Grand Prix without a point, an extension on his record.

With Red Bull not scoring a single point all weekend, Brawn moved away in both tables. With Rubens back in contention, it was clear that it would be a 4-way fight for the title from now in 2009.

Canada 2008 flashback: Kubica takes first ever win

As there was no Canadian Grand Prix in 2009, due to contract issues, I will instead focus on the 2008 race. It was a completely different situation back then, with Lewis Hamilton leading the championship by 3 points to Kimi Raikkonen, who was 2 points ahead of Felipe Massa, who was a further 2 ahead of Robert Kubica.

The track requires repairs overnight

The track requires repairs overnight

In qualifying, the entire grid was hampered by the track, which literally started to rip up and desintegrate in certain places. Hamilton managed to survive though, and put himself on pole position, ahead of Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber. While Mark Webber got through to Q3, he was unable to set a time, as he had damaged his car on the broken track in Q2 on his in lap. Three corners (2, 10 and 11) had to be resurfaced overnight, albeit very cheaply, and the track had to be inspected by Charlie Whiting just before the race start.

Lewis Hamilton leads the field into Turn 2

Lewis Hamilton leads the field into Turn 2

The track survived the inspection, and Lewis Hamilton led the field into Turn 1. Robert Kubica tried his best to keep up with him at the first stint, but he simply couldn’t keep up, and Lewis opened up a 5-second lead by Lap 16. However, soon after this Adrian Sutil had a brake failure, and was forced to park his car in a dangerous position. The safety car had to be called out while the car was being removed, and this was just before the pit stops, meaning a headache in terms of strategy.

When the pit lane opened a few laps later, Hamilton, Kubica, Raikkonen, Massa, Rosberg and Alonso all opted to stop, while everyone else stayed behind the safety car. Though Hamilton was eager to retain his lead, his pit stop was longer than everyone elses. Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica emerged from their pit boxes side by side, but as there was a red light at the end of the pit lane (the field was still passing the start-finish straight) they were forced to stop alongside each other. Lewis approached from behind, and disaster struck.

He failed to notice the red light and stationary cars, and braked far too late to avoid them. He swerved, but ended up harpooning into the back of Kimi Raikkonen’s car, ripping off the front of Hamilton’s front wing and suspension, and taking off Raikkonen’s rear wing. Both cars retired on the spot, and Nico Rosberg made situations even worse by hitting the back of Hamilton’s stationary car, breaking off his front wing, though he was able to continue.

Hamilton and Raikkonen retire on the spot, while Rosberg continues with a broken front wing

Hamilton and Raikkonen retire on the spot, while Rosberg continues with a broken front wing

Now the race was turned on its head. Two of the main contenders were out, and then it emerged that Felipe Massa’s fuel rig had failed, as a joint in the fuel line was broken. He was forced to pit again, and fell well down the pack. This left Robert Kubica leading the race. However, he had to pit soon enough, as he was on a 2-stop strategy.

Over this section of the race, there were 7 different leaders of the race, as each leader was forced to pit. Toyota were the biggest gainers, as both drivers had a stint leading the race despite starting in the midfield. Halfway through the race, and Nick Heidfeld was leading the race, though he hadn’t stopped yet. When he pitted, he still emerged in the lead, though just ahead of team-mate Kubica and Fernando Alonso. Robert had to stop one more time, and needed to get ahead of Heidfeld to take the win. So, he made his move.

Kubica overtakes Heidfeld, while Alonso keeps a close eye on the pair

Kubica overtakes Heidfeld, while Alonso keeps a close eye on the pair

Within a lap of Heidfeld emerging still in front, Kubica snatched the lead from him at Turn 1, and set about blazing a trail away from the German. He needed to be about 25 seconds ahead of Nick by his second stop, so he had to push. Though Alonso was 3rd and in contention for a podium, he soon spun out, handing 3rd place to David Coulthard.

Meanwhile, Felipe Massa was fighting his way back up the field after his botched first stop. One of his finest overtakes was at the final hairpin, where he managed to do a double overtake, on both Rubens Barrichello and Heikki Kovalainen. After he pitted for the third time, he flew past Barrichello again, and set about catching the Toyotas. With only a few laps to go, he managed to get past Jarno Trulli to take 5th place.

There were many other incidents across the race. Nelson Piquet Jr crashed on Lap 39 (surprise) because of excessive brake wear. Kazuki Nakajime broke his front wing after hitting Jenson Button, and subsequently retired when the front wing was lodged under his chassis when he entered the pit, lost steering control and crashed in the entry of the pit lane. Also, Giancarlo Fisichella spun out from last place with a few laps to go.

Kubica had built up such a huge lead that he was completely unchallenged after his second stop. He crossed the line first ahead of team-mate Heidfeld, who was 16 seconds behind. David Coulthard was first, in his last ever podium finish in his career. He ran out of fuel 50 metres before parc ferme, and had to run the final stretch to the podium, quite similarly to Jenson Button in Monaco 2009.

This was the first time that Robert Kubica (or a Polish driver) had ever won a race, and it was the only win and 1-2 finish for the BMW Sauber team. It was the first time since Malaysia 2006 that neither a Ferrari or McLaren was on the podium, and the first time since USA 2006 that a McLaren hadn’t scored a point. It was also the first win for a German constructor since the 1962 French Grand Prix (Porsche), and the last ever victory (to date) of a BMW engine winning a race.

Kubica and Heidfeld celebrate their 1-2 finish

Kubica and Heidfeld celebrate their 1-2 finish

After this shock result, Robert Kubica was now leading the drivers’ championship with 42 points. Both Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton had 38, and Kimi Raikkonen was still on 35 after his retirement. Ferrari was still leading the constructors’ championship, but only by 3 points to BMW Sauber.

From then on, Kubica was pressurising his team to continue development on the current car, rather than the 2009 spec version. However, soon enough the team resisted his plea, and it is the main reason why he couldn’t fully challenge for the title in the end. But, his first ever victory still signaled that he had major talent for the future.

2009 flashback: Button takes 6 out of 7

As the seventh Grand Prix of 2009 approached, it was clear that the Brawn car was still the best of the field. The only competitor to them seemed to be the Red Bull team, the only other team to have won a race this season. In Turkey, Sebastian Vettel knew he would have to take a risk to go for the win.

In qualifying, Vettel dominated all three qualifying sessions to take pole position, ahead of Button and Barrichello, with Mark Webber behind. Lewis Hamilton was still struggling massively with his McLaren, and was knocked out in Q1. When the fuel weights were released, Button was two laps longer than Vettel, so Jenson already had an advantage. Fuel corrected, it was again Button on pole position.

Vettel leads Button at the start, but not for long

Vettel leads Button at the start, but not for long

At the start, it was a disaster for Rubens Barrichello, who had another start-line problem, and fell down to 13th. Jarno Trulli scythed up to 3rd, but fell prey to Webber at Turn 10. Sebastian Vettel retained the lead at the first turn, but a mistake at Turn 9 handed the lead on a golden plate to Jenson, who didn’t pass up the opportunity.

By Lap 2, Button was already pulling away from Vettel, whose team were now planning a comeback. Webber was third, and not troubling either car yet. On Lap 5, Nico Rosberg defied the advantages of KERS to get past both Ferraris to get into 5th place. Rubens Barrichello was wild in trying to get past Heikki Kovalainen, and on Lap 8 collided with the Finn, and spun, and fell to 17th place.

He quickly regained two places. before starting a battle with Adrian Sutil for 14th. On Lap 11, he tried a move on the final corner, and knocked off part of his front wing. He was forced to pit for repairs and a fuel strategy change soon after, but his day was already ruined.

Barrichello spins after a collision with Kovalainen

Barrichello spins after a collision with Kovalainen

While Rubens entertained the audience, the top three were getting away from each other, with Button holding a 4.6 second lead over Vettel by Lap 11, who was 4.9 seconds ahead of Webber respectively. Red Bull decided on their tactics change for Vettel – to switch him to a 3-stop strategy.

On Lap 15, Vettel pitted for the first time, and spent little time refuelling, which was a clear indicator to everyone of his strategy change. Button pitted two laps later, while Webber and Rosberg were in on the next lap. Everyone else was on a 2-stop strategy, so everyone focused on Vettel to see how he coped.

He caught up swiftly to Jenson, but simply was unable to make an overtaking move. Whether this was because of turbulent air or driver inability, we don’t know. The end result was, by the time Vettel stopped for the second time on Lap 29, he had fallen behind team-mate Mark Webber, with both still scheduled for a final stop.

There wasn’t much action then until the second set of stops. Kazuki Nakajima was running 7th, but a faulty wheel gun ruined his race, and he dropped to 12th thanks to the delay. Jarno Trulli fell behind Nico Rosberg, but overtook him after the stops. Rubens Barrichello, still at the back of the field, suffered a gearbox problem and was forced to retire.

After the pit stops were completed, Sebastian started to catch up to team-mate Webber. However, even though he was gaining, his team had other ideas, saying : “Mark is faster, mark is faster. Sebastian: save your car, save your car. Mark is faster.” The real meaning of this message is clear: do not attempt to overtake Webber.

Jenson Button celebrates in the pit lane

Jenson Button celebrates in the pit lane

So, as the chequered flag fell, there was no change in position. Jenson Button took his sixth win out of 7 races, Webber gained 2places to get 2nd, while a disgruntled Vettel was 3rd. Oddly enough, he seemed more annoyed than the strategy mistake than the team order at the end of the race.

This all meant that Button’s 6 out of 7 wins meant he was level with Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Jim Clark in terms of best start to an F1 season. He was also the first Englishman to score 4 wins in a row since Nigel Mansell in 1992. He was now 26 points ahead of Barrichello, ahead of the two Red Bulls. But, Brawns domination was about to come to an end.

2009 flashback: Tyre mastery gives Button a flawless win

The Formula 1 paddock rolled into their most glamorous venue: Monaco. Jenson Button led the driver’s championship, 14 points ahead of Rubens Barrichello, as he had taken 41 points out of a possible 45. Brawn were still the force to be reckoned with, even if the other teams were fighting back.

Red Bull had upgraded their RB5, including a new double-decker diffuser. Force India had added new front and rear wings, in an attempt to score their first ever points. Other teams like Toyota and BMW Sauber had changed thei cars for more mechanical grip.

Lewis Hamilton crashes in qualifying at Mirabeau

Lewis Hamilton crashes in qualifying at Mirabeau

In qualifying, the first event was Lewis Hamilton crashing in Q1, at the Mirabeau corner, and damaging his suspension. He had already set a time, but was still knocked out in 16th place. But, he also changed his gearbox, and had to start 19th. In Q3, Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel dominated the session, until Button cam in with a stunning lap to take pole position. The KERS-equipped Kimi Raikkonen started 2nd, a clear sign that the Ferraris were starting to be competitive.

Before the start, Vettel and both Brawn drivers took on the super-soft tyres, while everyone else stayed with the softer compound. At the first corner, Raikkonen lost second place to Barrichello, despite his KERS advantage. For the next few laps, the main concern was how the super-soft tyres would hold up.

After the start, Felipe Massa was trying to work his way up the field. He had qualified 5th, but failed to make any progress despite his KERS. He tried a move on the 4th placed Sebastian Vettel at the Turn 11 chicane, but locked his tyres, and cut the corner. He accidentaly overtook Vettel, and was instructed to hand the position back to Sebastian, but at the same time keep an eye out for Nico Rosberg behind. But, when Felipe slowed to allow Vettel through, Nico made a daring move to squeeze himself past Massa as well.

On Lap 10, Sebastien Buemi was battling with Nelson Piquet Jr at the back of the field. Buemi missed his braking point at Snt Devote, and smashed into the back of the Renault, taking off Piquet’s rear wing. Both drivers were forced to instantly retire. Piquet was furious at Buemi’s mistake afterwards.

Buemi misses his braking point and takes out Piquet

Buemi misses his braking point and takes out Piquet

Soon enough, it became apparent that the super-soft tyres were disintegrating at a rapid pace, after Lap 12. The Red Bull of Vettel was most harmed by this, as the Brawn cars were more easy in terms of tyre wear. On Lap 15, again at Snt Devote, Sebastian locked his rear brakes, went too quickly into the corner, and crashed. Barrichello had the same problem of heavily worn tyres, and pitted soon after.

Button, on the other hand, was able to perfectly manage his super-soft tyres, and pulled out fantastic laps with them even when they began to wear. He soon pulled out a 15 second advantage over Barrichello after the first pit stop.

However, behind Button’s dominance, it wasn’t a classic race. After the first pit stops, the next piece of action came on Lap 51, when Heikki Kovalainen crashed his McLaren at the Swimming Pool complex, due to a lack of traction exiting the corner. His team-mate Hamilton was having a torrid race also. He brushed with Nick Heidfeld on Lap 10, and couldn’t make progress after that. It couldn’t be a greater difference from 2008, and the same could be said about Jenson Button.

Jenson Button takes one step further to please the fans!

Jenson Button takes one step further to please the fans!

Despite Kazuki Nakajima crashing on the last lap at Mirabeau, nothing could stop Button taking the win. Once he crossed the line, he shouted the famous line: “Monaco baby, yeah!” The only mistake he made all day was after the finish, when he accidentaly parked his car in parc ferme, instead of on the main straight like the top 3 finishers in Monaco are supposed to do. He therefore got out of his car, and ran down the pit straight to the podium! It was an unusual ending to the race for Prince Albert 2nd, who was forced to wait with Barrichello and Raikkonen at the podium while Button casually legged it!

Jenson Button celebrates with Nick Fry after the race

Jenson Button celebrates with Nick Fry after the race

This victory gave Button plenty of records. He now held the third best-ever start to a season in F1, with 5 wins and 1 third place in 6 races. It was also the first time in modern F1 that a single engine won 3 races in a row, the first time since the 1950’s. Also, this was the first time since 2006 that a driver had won 3 races in a row.

Button now stretched out his lead in the standings, with 51 points compared to Barrichello’s 35. Vettel was a further 8 back on 23, while Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli had 19.5 and 14.5 respectively. Brawn now had 86 constructor’s points, ahead of Red Bull (42.5), Toyota (26.5), Ferrari (17) and McLaren (13).

Next up was Turkey, where Button would aim to equal the greatest start to the first 7 races of an F1 season.

Here is the official race review:

2009 flashback: Button’s strategy angers Barrichello

By this time last year, the entire paddock was well aware that the Brawn car was miles ahead of anyone else in every possible area. Jenson Button had won all of the dry races so far (3 out of 4 total), and was aiming for his fourth in Barcelona, Spain. However, he surprised many by saying after Bahrain that the car hadn’t the same pace, and that the others may have caught up to them. Rubens Barrichello had already falled 12 points behind his team-mate, so he was out on a mission to beat him this weekend.

There were plenty of technical changes before the weekend as well. Ferrari had designed a new double-decker diffuser, and reduced the weight of their cars, and decided to use KERS again, despite known reliabiliy issues with overheating of the unit. BMW Sauber had completely redone their car in an attempt to kick-start their season, with new nose, front wing, sidepods, rear wing, and lightened chassis.  They also ditched KERS, and did not implement their new double-decker diffuser just yet. Force India did not use KERS, but indicated that they may use it later in the season.

Rubens Barrichello takes the lead into the first corner

Rubens Barrichello takes the lead into the first corner

Jenson Button claimed another pole position, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Barrichello. But, by the first corner, Rubens had made a great start and took the lead from Button. However, there was carnage behing. Nico Rosberg forced Jarno Trulli wide, who spun, and Adrian Sutil slammed into the Toyota, which quickly took out both Toro Rosso cars as well. Lewis Hamilton avoided the incident, but had to slow, and fell to the back of the grid.

Buemi and Sutil are some of the casualties from the first lap pile-up

Buemi and Sutil are some of the casualties from the first lap pile-up

After 4 laps under the safety car, the racing got underway. Soon enough though, Heikki Kovalainen was forced to retire due to a gearbox failure. Fernando Alonso attempted an overtake on Mark Webber on the main straight, giving the spectators a close-up thrill while he was at it, but Webber made a fantastic switchback move to rip the position out of the Spaniard’s hands. Kimi Raikkonen joined fellow Finn Kovalainen on the sidelines, as he retired with a hydraulic problem on Lap 17.

Very soon, it became apparent that Barrichello and Button were running 3-stop strategies, as they were running away with their 1-2 lead. Button, who was behind Barrichello, was following the Brazilian for the first stint, but felt he could go faster, saying: “Come on Rubens, you can go quicker than this.” The Brawn team decided to switch Jenson to a 2-stop strategy, to make sure he avoided traffic. They did not, however, apply the same tactic to Rubens, and after his first stop, became slightly held up, while Jenson was able to put his foot down. Since Barrichello was unable to put his strategy to the max, he lost the lead to Button at his second of 3 stops.

A change in strategy left Button free while Barrichello fell behind

A change in strategy left Button free while Barrichello fell behind

Further back, Sebastian Vettel was following Felipe Massa for the entire race, and was unable to pass thanks to the Ferrari’s KERS system. But, near the end of the race, he got a surprise gift. There had been a problem at Massa’s final pit stop, and he was one lap short of fuel. He was instructed to back off to save fuel instead of pitting again, and Vettel finally took the opportunity to move into 4th. However, even though Fernando Alonso was 16 seconds behind Massa with 4 laps to go, he was told to push. He gradually burnt out Felipe’s lead over him, and took fifth place on the final lap, to the delight of the crowd.

Button takes his fourth victory of the year

Button takes his fourth victory of the year

At the front of the pack, Button took his fourth victory of the year, with an incenced Barrichello 13 seconds behind in 2nd. Mark Webber took the final podium spot, with Vettel, Alonso, Massa, Heidfeld and Rosberg filling out the top 8. Heidfeld had now finished 25 races in a row, breaking Michael Schumacher’s previous record of 24. After this result, Button extended his lead at the top, while Red Bull overtook Toyota for 2nd place in the constructors championship. But, it wasn’t over yet.

Rubens Barrichello was annoyed that Jenson and he were given different strategies, and felt that Button was given the advantage because of it. While he was happy enough after being given an explanation from Ross Brawn, this argument would heat up later in the season.

2009 flashback: Red Bulls in a China op

Adrian Newey, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button on the podium

Adrian Newey, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button on the podium

Before we look at the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix, let’s have a look back at what happened last year.

2009

Brawn GP and Jenson Button had dominated the first two races, with Red Bull having poor luck in both. However, even before Friday Practice, there was much change in the paddock, much of it KERS related. The Ferraris were to drop the system for this race, for reliability and safety reasons. While Robert Kubica took on the system on Friday, he ditched it for qualifying and the race. After the ruling that the double-decker diffusers were illegal, many teams had brought updated diffusers to Shanghai.

Sebastian Vettel took pole position in the dry conditions, with Fernando Alonso behind him. However, the Spaniard was on an extremely light fuel load, which put him in a difficult position. Mark Webber was third, ahead of Barrichello and Button.

As the race loomed closer, the heavens opened, and rain poured down on the circuit. This turned race tactics on its head, especially for Fernando Alonso, when it was revealed that the safety car would be out for the start of the race. Both Robert Kubica and Timo Glock started from the pit lane, to fill up their fuel tanks. When the race started, Bernd Maylander led the field for the first 8 laps, as conditions were treacherous. Adrian Sutil, Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso all stopped during the safety car period, and took on different amounts of fuel. While Alonso took on a regular amount of fuel, Sutil filled up the tank, and took on a risky tyre strategy.

Bernd Maylander leads the cars in the Safety Car

Bernd Maylander leads the cars in the Safety Car

Lewis Hamilton had started from 9th, and planned to make progress in the tough conditions, even with a poor car. While he did get up to 7th by Lap 11, his first spin of the race meant he lost several places, and was lucky not to get hit. Meanwhile, the Red Bull’s first pit stops came quite early, on Lap 14 and 15 for Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel respectively. While this put them at a slight disadvantage, it didn’t look like Button would be able to catch them.

But, on Lap 17, the safety car was out again. Robert Kubica aquaplaned straight into the back of Jarno Trulli, and took him out of the race, while the Pole had to pit for a new front wing. The debris meant the safety car had to come out again, and it did so until Lap 23. While it was out, Sebastien Buemi, Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello and Adrian Sutil all stopped in the pits. Sutil took on tyres to last him until the end of the race, which was a very risky tyre gamble. Meanwhile, while the safety car was out, Felipe Massa stopped on the back straight, due to an electrical problem.

Jarno Trulli struggles back to the pits, after colliding with Robert Kubica

Jarno Trulli struggles back to the pits, after colliding with Robert Kubica

Nelson Piquet Jr crashed on Lap 28, damaged his front wing, but was able to continue. The very next lap, an interesting battle developed for second place between Jenson Button and Mark Webber. “Vettel is only quicker by fuel effect,” the Brawn team told Button, “and Webber is also shorter.” But, the Briton missed his braking point at the end of the back straight, and Webber went through. But, Mark had to correct a slide 2 laps later at the last corner, and Button got past again. The very next lap, Mark put a great move on Jenson, overtaking him around the outside of Turn 7, which is a long high-speed left hander. This move was emulated from a similar move from Felipe Massa, who had similarly passed Lewis Hamilton earlier in the race.

Even though it was more than halfway through the race, the weather was still just as bad. Nico Rosberg momentarily tried on intermidiates after his second stop, but quickly spun, and had to change back to extreme wets.

Adrian Sutil crashes on Lap 51 with severely worn tyres

Adrian Sutil crashes on Lap 51 with severely worn tyres

Lewis Hamilton continued to make progress after his one and only stop on Lap 33, but 5 spins across the race ensured he couldn’t get far. These spins, especially one near the end, meant Heikki Kovalainen and Adrian Sutil were able to pass him. Adrian was still using the same tyres he had taken on 30 laps ago, and they were completely destroyed, as Adrian was sliding around the racetrack, and nearly crashed when he got past Hamilton. Still, he had got into a points scoring position, which would have been a first for Force India. But, as he generally does, he crashed with only 5 laps to go. One of his tyres bounced across the racetrack. Nick Heidfeld had to avoid the tyre, and Timo Glock and Sebastien Buemi were able to pass him.

While all of this was happening, Sebastian Vettel never lost his lead to take the victory. He was so far in front, he was able to overtake Jenson Button, even before the Briton had made his second pit stop and Vettel had already stopped twice. He did so with ease, a move which seemed similar to a move that would be done by the rainmaster himself in his heyday, Michael Schumacher.

Mark Webber finished second, which was his best Formula 1 finish to date. Jenson Button, despite being outclassed by the Red Bulls, finished off the podium in third. Behind him, the classification read: Rubens Barrichello, Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton, Timo Glock and Sebastien Buemi. Despite getting his best finish of the season so far, Lewis was still hugely dissapointed with spinning so many times in the race. McLaren knew they still had a lot of work to do.

Red Bull celebrate their 1-2 finish in China

Red Bull celebrate their 1-2 finish in China

At the podium ceremony, there was a slight bit of confusion, when God Save the Queen was played for the constructor winner (Red Bull). Even though they operate in England, they are registered in Austria, so this mistake was corrected for the next Red Bull win.

Despite Vettel taking the win, Button led the championship after 3 races, with 21 points. Barrichello had 15, Vettel and Glock had 10, and Webber had 9.5. In the constructors’ championship, Brawn led with 36 points, then it was Red Bull (19.5), Toyota (18.5), McLaren (8), and Renault (4).

Red Bull were delighted with their 1-2 finish, and hoped that they would be able to challenge the Brawns in more races. They would, but it would take more time than they thought.

Here is the official short review:

2009 flashback: Storms cut Malaysia race short

Jenson Button, alongside Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock

Jenson Button, alongside Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock

In a new series, before each race, I will look back on the race in 2009, and look forward to 2010. This time round it is the Malaysian Grand Prix.

2009

In the days after the Australian Grand Prix, Brawn GP were already looking forward to win the Malaysian Grand Prix. When Jenson Button took pole position, it seemed as if it could be two in a row. Jarno Trulli joined him on the front row, which gave more evidence towards Toyota’s pace this year.

But neither led at the first corner. Nico Rosberg, who started from fourth, mugged both of them into the first corner, and took the lead. Jenson was struggling to heat his tyres, and lost further places to Trulli and Alonso as well. Fernando had made perfect use of his KERS at the start. He started ninth on a heavy fuel load, but was third by the first corner. But, once Button had his tyres sorted out, he took third back at Turn 13 on the first lap.

Rosberg steals the lead from Button at the first corner

Rosberg steals the lead from Button at the first corner

For the second race in a row, Heikki Kovalainen was out on the first lap. He was struggling for grip, and lost control on the difficult Turn 5, and spun into the gravel trap. He was travelling beside his team-mate Hamilton. Robert Kubica was also in trouble, with problems getting off the line, and an engine failure soon after.

There was soon a train of cars behind Alonso, as his KERS wasn’t enough to keep his third position. Button got past first, and by the time Barrichello had got through, Jenson was 6.5 seconds up the road. On Lap 10, Kimi Raikkonen got through, followed by Mark Webber two laps later. Timo Glock tried to get through, but failed because of damage to his front wing after previous contact with Webber. Sebastian Vettel was behind Glock, followed by Lewis Hamilton and Nick Heidfeld.

Rosberg pitted from the lead on Lap 15, and Trulli followed him two laps later. This gave Button clean air to push, and after a few blistering laps, he pitted on Lap 19, and emerged in the lead. By now, everybody knew the rain was going to fall, as there were dark clouds everywhere, but it was just a matter of when. The common knowledge in the paddock is “when it rains in Malaysia, it pours”. Even though the rain wasn’t falling yet on Lap 18, Ferrari decided to pre-empt the weather by sending Kimi Raikkonen out on extreme wet tyres, even though the track was still dry. Kimi was running well, so this was a huge gamble.

The rain unnerves the teams as the pit stops approach

The rain unnerves the teams as the pit stops approach

The rain eventually fell on Lap 21, but nowhere near as heavy as people thought. It wasn’t the downpour that was expected, but it was still enough to change tyres. Fernando Alonso was caught out, and nearly spun out into the gravel. More than half the field pitted for extreme wete on Lap 22, but Timo Glock went risky and took on intermidiates. Since the rain fell slowly at first, this was a huge advantage at first for the Toyota driver. While the others had to nurse their tyres until the rain got heavier, Glock sailed past most of the field.

Once the teams realised intermidiates were the way to go, they all changed tyres again, and Glock was in the lead. He was nearly 30 seconds behind Button before his strategy, and was 5-10 seconds a lap faster. Jenson didn’t react quickly enough, and lost the lead when he stopped for intermidiates on Lap 29. Button emerged from the pits just behind Glock, but just then the rain got heavier, making conditions even harder to read.

The next lap, Button made his move to retake the lead, but as he did, Timo pitted again for extreme wets, again outthinking the rest of the field. Sure enough, the rain turned torrential that very lap, cathing out Giancarlo Fisichella, Sebastian Vettel, Sebastien Buemi, and several others. Immidiately the rest of the field pitted for extreme wets, as the safety car was deployed on Lap 32 for dangerous conditions.

Button attempts to sail an F1 car across the Pacific Ocean

Button attempts to sail an F1 car across the Pacific Ocean

As the safety car pounded around the track, there was a problem – the F1 cars couldn’t keep up. The wooden blocks under the cars, used to stop the cars bottoming out in dry conditions, were turning the cars into giant rudders. The leaders, Button, Glock and Heidfeld, all struggled around the track at incredibly slow speeds. By this time, the track resembled a swimming pool, and the race was red-flagged at the right time.

While the other drivers worry about a restart, Kimi feasts on ice-cream and Coke...

While the other drivers worry about a restart, Kimi feasts on ice-cream and Coke...

The cars all lined up on the start finish straight to wait for the race to be resumed. Some waited in the cars, some stood under umbrellas, while a certain someone decided to head off and have an ice-cream. Kimi’s early stop for extreme wets did not pay off, as by the time the rain arrived, his tyres were completely destroyed, and he fell to near the back of the grid. When the race was red-flagged, he had an electrical probelm that meant he wouldn’t be able to restart the race. He changed into a t-shirt and shorts, got an ice-cream and Coke from the Ferrari vending machines (didn’t make that part up!) and hung around watching the drivers anticipate a restart. Good man Kimi, but mint Feasts are much better.

Meanwhile, while Kimi felt the need to cool down in storm rain conditions, the teams soon realised that the race wouldn’t restart. Even though the rain had stopped, the track was completely saturated, and sunlight was falling fast. FIA race director Charlie Whiting correctly decided to cancel the restart, end the Grand Prix after 32 laps, and award half points. This meant that Jenson Button was declared the winner, ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock. These two had to swap positions after the race, after it emerged that Glock had overtaken Heidfeld on the lap before the race was abandoned, which is the lap that is left out of the race result.

For the first time n 18 years, a Formula 1 race hadn’t reached the 75% mark, so half points were awarded. However, this race will most likely be remembered for the fact that this ending could have been avoided. Bernie Ecclestone had requested a later start time for this race, so European viewers could get a better time to watch the race. However, he completely ignored the locals who knew perfectly well that a 5pm race start was right in the middle of a monsoon storm time area. Also, since the race was later, the race couldn’t resume, because it was too dark. Hopefully everyone has learned their lesson for this year.

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