Like the previous year, 2012 was a fantastic season for overtaking. Without further ado, let’s have a look at the best passes of the 2012 season:
10th – Sergio Perez on Lewis Hamilton, Japanese Grand Prix
Perez eliminated himself from the Suzuka race later on with an ill-judged pass on Hamilton at the same corner. But his first move was brave, albeit slightly clumsy.
The Sauber came from miles behind at the Turn 11 hairpin, threw his car into the corner, and just about made it stick.
9th – Lewis Hamilton on both Toro Rossos, Spanish Grand Prix
An overtaking article wouldn’t be complete without Lewis Hamilton. Recovering from a disastrous 2011 season, he immediately set out to prove that he is one of the finest drivers on the grid.
Arguably his best pass was on Ricciarado and Vergne in quick succession in Barcelona:
8th – Kimi Raikkonen on Nico Hulkenberg, Grand Prix of America
Nico Hulkenberg performed admirably in the second half of 2012. But he was left completely helpless when Kimi made a ruthless move around the outside in Austin.
Passes like these are very underrated – the sheer level of bravery and confidence required is unparalleled.
7th – Romain Grosjean on Lewis Hamilton, European Grand Prix
Despite the (justified) criticism of Grosjean’s antics this year, he remains a fiesty racer when the opportunity arises.
His best move of the year was this ballsy pass on Hamilton, where he refused to budge and forced the McLaren off the racing line.
6th – Fernando Alonso on Romain Grosjean, European Grand Prix
Before this season, who would have guessed that the Valencia street circuit would throw up one of the best races of 2012?
Another great pass from that race was Fernando Alonso’s incredible move around the outside of turn 1. It’s even tougher than it looks – the exit barriers of that corner close in rapidly, so even a few kp/h too many, and you’re in the wall.
5th – Kimi Raikkonen on Paul di Resta, German Grand Prix
Raikkonen spent several laps behind the Force India before he made a proper attempt to overtake. But it was well worth it.
After attempting to undercut Di Resta exiting the Spitzherhe, he dived around the outside of the following corner, and muscled his way through.
4th – Kimi Raikkonen on Michael Schumacher, Brazilian Grand Prix
Raikkonen and Schumacher were back to their old antics in Brazil. At the same corner, Raikkonen squeezed past Michael on the race of his first retirement in 2006.
This time though, it was around the outside, and not a millimetre of space was shared between the two. Just look at that photo, and that tells you everything you need to know.
3rd – Kimi Raikkonen on Michael Schumacher, Belgian Grand Prix
As you can tell, I’ve hugely enjoyed Raikkonen’s performances this year. He’s been absolutely outstanding all year – but more on that in another post.
This time, he bravely shot down the inside of Schumacher’s Mercedes entering Eau Rouge. It wasn’t as brilliant as Mark Webber’s similar move last year, but still very commendable.
2nd – Felipe Massa on Bruno Senna, Singapore Grand Prix
After a miserable start to the season, Massa picked up his game hugely.
The first sign of Felipe’s comeback was in Singapore, where an incredible slice up the inside of Bruno Senna netted him an extra place. Bonus marks go for the dramatic slide entering the corner. Awesome stuff.
1st – Nico Hulkenberg on Lewis Hamilton & Romain Grosjean, Korean Grand Prix
While the Korean Grand Prix wasn’t a standout race, it brought one of my favourite passes from one of the best upcoming drivers on the grid.
Hulkenberg has been brilliant in the final few races of 2012, and this move was icing on the cake. After waltzing past Grosjean, he proceeded to barge his way alongside Hamilton, and then shoved his way past entering the next corner. Brilliantly calculated, and fantastic to watch – a classic overtake.
Pastor Maldonado has been handed a 5-place grid penalty for a deliberate collision with Lewis Hamilton in qualifying.
Lewis muscled past the Williams on track while battling for position for their last lap in Q2. Maldonado’s lap was heavily disrupted by the battle, and failed to progress to Q3. After the session ended, Pastor swerved into the side of Lewis’ car, damaging the McLaren’s front wing and sidepod.
Hamilton was able to participate in Q3 (with sticky tape on his sidepods, if anyone noticed!) after several minutes of repairs, and qualified second.
The stewards decided that Maldonado had acted dangerously, and the Venezuelan driver will now start from 21st place.
Lewis has received a reprimand for the incident. Here is how he described the incident:
"I was at the end of my Q2 lap and I got to the chicane as I was just finishing and
there were two Williams just sitting there going very, very slow – I think they were
probably preparing to start for another lap, but it was already red light [chequered
flag, end of Q2].
So I tried and get past, which I did. I lost quite a lot of time there but as I was
coming through the exit of turn one I saw Maldonado approaching quite quickly and he
came around me, I didn’t move anywhere, but [he] happened to swipe across me.
I don’t know whether it was intentional or not, but I guess we’ll see shortly.
The front wing was quite badly damaged, my side pod… I thought my front suspension
was damaged, I think the front towing is a little bit out, but fortunately the guys
did a great job to put it back together.
I just think once the flag is out and the red lights are on there’s no need to be
racing, there should never ever be an incident but unfortunately there was.”
I think it was quite serious and just unfortunate that neither of us, and particularly
him, flipped it or had a big, big crash, so I think we’re quite lucky there."
Michael Schumacher has been handed a 20-second penalty for his opportunistic move on Fernando Alonso at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix. On the last corner, when the safety car pitted, Schumacher dived down the inside of Fernando Alonso, believing that racing conditions had resumed.
However, the stewards brought Article 40.13 of the Sporting Regulations into the equation:
If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the
pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the
chequered flag as normal without overtaking.
However, this year, the FIA opted to bring in the “safety car line”. This is a white line that, if you pass it when the safety car pits, you may then drive under racing conditions, which means overtaking is allowed. When Schumacher dived past Alonso, he had already passed the safety car line, which meant that, under the specific rule of the safety car line, the move was legal. In case you’re looking for the safety car line in the replay I have provided, it it below the green electronic flag on the left of the screen.
But, Article 40.13 won the argument, and Damon Hill, the former F1 driver of the stewards in Monaco this weekend (this year, there is 1 F1 driver in the stewards panel every race), decided that a penalty was necessary, and handed Schumacher a 20-second penalty.
This means that Michael drops out of the points to 12th place. Fernando Alonso is elevated to 6th place, and Sebastien Buemi now enters the points. Mercedes have announced their intention to appeal, and a date will be set soon.
Personally, I think it was a stupid decicion. The safety car line was put in this year for a reason, and Schumacher made excellent use of it. It was very sneaky, but an inspired move at the end of a boring second half of the race. Fernando, as you can see in the replay, was still pushing hard, which caused the mistake, which meant that he beleived he was racing under normal conditions as well.
My main argument for this is that Michael only passed Fernando at the start of the Anthon Noghes corner, which is well beyond the safety car line.
What do you think? Is it the fault of Michael to try and bend the rules too much, or was it just very clever and within the regulations? I’ll put a poll up in a few minutes. For the while, have a look at the replay and have a look for yourself (it’s Dailymotion because there’s no chance of it being taken down )
Last weekend, at the Spanish Grand Prix, we saw several incidents occur because of backmarkers in the way, such as Felipe Massa hitting Karun Chandhok, and a slow Lucas di Grassi giving Hamilton a position ahead of Vettel. While the first incident I mentioned was not the backmarker’s fault, it is at least an indicator of the dangers of slower cars on the track.
With the Monaco Grand Prix next weekend, many teams were concerned about Q1 being too congested, with drivers unable to set a fast lap, and possibly an accident. Since then, the idea of a split qualifying session was suggested, but no agreement was reached between the teams.
However, the problem of slow backmarkers is certainly not a new one. Throughout Formula 1 history, there are many occasions of drivers holding up each other in crucial situations, some accidental, some not.
Norberto Fontana, Jerez 1997
This is one you may well remember. In the championship showdown of 1997, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve were battling for the lead, and the title at the same time. They approached the backmarker Norberto Fontana of Sauber. Fontana allowed Schumacher through swiftly, but enraged Villeneuve by holding him up for around half a lap, by which time the gap between him and Schumacher was 3 seconds.
But, it may not have been accidental. Fontana alleged, years later, that he was instructed by Jean Todt, before the race, to hold Jacques up if the situation arised. He said:
"Two or three hours before the race started Jean Todt entered [the
motorhome] and went straight to the point: by strict order of Ferrari,
Villeneuve must be held up if you come across him on the track. To
whoever this applies."
Although Peter Sauber denies this, Martin Brundle made a fair point (in the video) that Sauber were using Ferrari engines. Also, in the years afterwards, Sauber were expected to vote Ferrari’s way when it came to technical rule changes. Have a look for yourself:
Jean-Denis Deletraz – All 3 races of his career
Another well known name, and not for a good reason. Deletraz was signed by Larrousse, who were desperately short of money, and Jean-Denis had plenty of sponsorship. On his debut in Adelade, he had fallen behind by 80 seconds after only 9 laps, and was lapped repeatedly before he retired on Lap 57. He was somehow allowed to drive the Pacific car for the last 5 races of the 1995 season, but didn’t improve. In qualifying at the Nurburgring, he was 12 seconds behind the pole sitter, and actually would have qualified 22nd in a F3000 support race with that time. After 3 laps in the race, he was 40 seconds behind, and was lapped after 7.
You may be wondering where the incidents with the frontrunners are, I’m getting to that. At that same race, he was involved in 2 seperate incidents. First of all, when Michael Schumacher was lapping him (again), Deletraz proceeded to weave on the track, while Schumacher was passing him, leading Murray Walker to ask: What is he doing?
Then, later on in the race, Damon Hill, Gerhard Berger and Michael Schumacher were all battling for position, while Deletraz was about to be lapped up ahead. When Michael went past him, he nearly turned into the path of Damon Hill, who had to lock his brakes to avoid him.
Satoru Nakajima – Interlagos 1990
This was Interlagos’ first ever F1 race, and Ayrton Senna was on course to win his home Grand Prix for the first time. But, when he came up to lap the Tyrrell of Satoru Nakajima, he collided with him, knocking off his front wing. He was forced to pit for repairs, and threw away his chances of winning.
While Senna did make a lunge down the inside, I would still say that Nakajima didmove too close to the inside. Have a look at the video to see for yourself (skip to 8:10):
Jos Verstappen – Interlagos 2001
Sometimes, you have just no excuse. Juan Pablo Montoya was in the lead of the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix, and on course to win the first race of his career. He was comfortably in front, and came up to lap the backmarkers.
He passed Jos Verstappen on the straight after Turn 2, but disaster struck at Turn 3. Jos completely lost his braking point, and smashed into the back of Montoya, taking him out of the race on the spot. They blamed each other afterwards, but when you have a look at the replay, seeing Jos swerve behind Montoya says it all.
Sorry for the stupid music on this video, was the only one I could find:
Eliseo Salazar – Hockenheimring 1982
Another driver being taken out from the lead here. This time, at the 1982 German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring, Nelson Piquet was making his way past backmarkers, when he came up against Chilean Eliseo Salazar. Eliseo failed to brake in time for the chicane, and failed to let Piquet through as well, meaning an imminent crash, and a furious Piquet. A brief fight started, before both drivers left.
A few months afterwards, a BMW mechanic told Piquet that his engine was about to blow before he crashed. So, Nelson called up Salazar, thanking him for sparing BMW embarresment at their home race.
Keke Rosberg – Brands Hatch 1985
Most of the incidents I have listed here were accidents, but what Rosberg did here to Ayrton Senna was absolutely disgraceful.
On Lap 6, Senna and Rosberg collided, which gave him a puncture. Rosberg was furious that Senna had closed the door on him, but was forced to pit. However, when he exited the pit lane, he just happened to exit right ahead of Ayrton, albeit one lap down, with Rosberg’s team-mate Nigel Mansell right behind them.
Keke proceeded to hold up Ayrton for as long as he could, until Nigel took the lead from the Brazilian. Rosberg let his team-mate past, before holding up Senna a little bit more. If he did something like that today, a massive punishment would be in order.
By showing all of this, hopefully we can see that the problem of slow backmarkers is not a new one. Monaco will probably see a collision, but with 6 slow cars, and after watching these videos, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more.
We all know that GP2 is considered the main stepping stone for drivers looking to get into Formula 1. The entire layout and design of the series is centred around familiarising the drivers with Formula 1, so it would be easy to assume that the best of the GP2 drivers will do well in Formula 1. However, this has not always been the case.
As you know, all GP2 cars use the same chassis, engine, and tyre supplier. This is to give an even ground, and good opportunity to all the drivers. In recent years, all of the GP2 champions have made a name for themselves in F1. These include Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock and Nico Hulkenberg. However, at the same time, there have been drivers who do well in Gp2 then flop when they go into F1. Nelson Piquet Jr, Scott Speed and Giorgio Pantano all spring to mind.
The good and the bad drivers all came together in GP2. For example, in 2006, the GP2 championship was fought between Lewis Hamilton and Nelson Piquet Jr, not two names you usually compare. When Lewis got into F1, he immidiately shone, nearly taking the world championship in his first year. On the other hand, Piquet struggled at the back in a Renault, and was being trounced by his team-mate Fernando Alonso. He constantly crashed, accidentaly and on purpose, and left the sport halfway through 2009. So, the question is, why did a driver like Piquet do so well in GP2?
Here is just one of the battles Hamilton and Piquet had in GP2:
One possible answer is that his team, HiTech/Piquet Racing was well funded by his father, Nelson Piquet Sr. This extra funding could have meant that he was getting an unfair advantage. But, this could be cancelled out when you take a look at iSport International. The only link to F1 this team have is that their advisor, Jonathon Williams, is a son of Frank Williams, the boss of Williams F1 Team. However, this doesn’t give them any financial advantage whatsoever. And, their drivers have been doing well, with most getting into F1, such as Timo Glock, Karun Chandhok, Bruno Senna and Scott Speed. So, with a big difference in two successful teams, both can get drivers into F1. This means that the point of overfunded teams doesn’t apply here.
To further confuse matters, you then have to take into account the most successful GP2 team there is: ART Grand Prix. Some of their drivers do well in F1, like Hamilton, Rosberg and Hulkenberg (probably). But, some of their best drivers never worked well when they got to the top. Romain Grosjean springs to mind here. In 2008, he was 4th overall. In 2009, he was withdrawn from the last 4 races, as he was given a drive with the Renault F1 Team. Despite missing the last 4 races, he still managed to get 4th overall again, even though he was with a different team. When a good driver like him goes into F1, you would expect him to slightly challenge his team-mate, even if it is Fernando Alonso. While I feel that he did slightly better than Piquet (neither got any points at all that year, with Piquet getting 10 races and Grosjean 9), he still wasn’t good enough, and was not retained for 2010. He was replaced by Vitaly Petrov, who finished 13th, 7th and then 2nd in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively.
So, as the years went by, Petrov got better and better in GP2. A second place finish in 2009 was enough to get him up into F1 for 2010. So far, he hasn’t done too badly, though he hasn’t scored a point yet. In my opinion, despite his good form in GP2, he won’t last more than a few years in the big league.
Then we get to a very strange case: Kamui Kobayashi. He did well in the GP2 Asia Series, winning it in 2008, but was very poor in the main GP2 series. In 2008 and 2009, he finished 16th both years, only getting 23 points in those years. When Timo Glock was unable to race in Brazil 2009, Kobayashi was given his chance. He took it and ran, qualifying 11th in a rain-soaked session, and finished 9th in the race after a battle with the world champion Jenson Button. He later called the Japanese driver “absolutely crazy”. In Abu Dhabi, he finished 6th, getting his first ever points, and beating drivers like Kimi Raikkonen. He is best remembered for his overtake on Jenson Button, which was the move that got him a drive with Sauber in 2010. So, my question here is, how could such a mediocre driver in GP2 do so well in Formula 1?
I’m not sure there is a definitive answer to these questions. But, we can have a look at the 2010 season this year to see can we learn more. The championship starts in May, has 11 rounds, and ends in November. My favourite for the title is Jules Bianchi, driving for ART Grand Prix. He has been given an unspecified role in the Ferrari team, and there are rumours that if he wins the championship, he could be given a drive with Sauber for 2011. So, if he does win the title, we can see how well (or badly) he does in F1 the year after.
So, as the Barcelona test concluded today, we have learned much about the upcoming season in 2 weeks time. For now, let’s have a look at some of the photos and videos that summarised this year’s testing season.
Mclaren owned by Ferrari:
For the last few weeks, many of us have been worrying about the fact that most of the teams have been trying to hide their diffuser from the others. It’s been a hot topic: Will we see another diffuser battle? Mostly, cover sheets and boxes are used to stop other team mechanics stealing designs of the diffusers. But, in Barcelona, Ferrari went one step further (to the delight of the audience) to get the message through to McLaren.
For my childish side… PWNED!
Felipe Massa onboard head-cam:
Remember last year, when the Ferarri F60 was released, and we were treated to the great onboard footage of Massa’s first lap in the car? This year it’s even better, he’s driving in heavy rain conditions this time. Unfortunately the camera is pointing slightly downwards, so visibility isn’t great, but this video is still well worth a watch. Oh, and it’s also available in HD, which is nice
Life’s a Beach- Virgin Racing
I’ll get this out of the way, I’m not quite sure why they made this video! Still though, it’s got some nice shots of the Virgin car, as well as Lucas di Grassi’s attempts to sound badass, this time without the glasses.
Putting on a brave face!
Like I’ve said before,there’s plenty of worry around the paddock of another diffuser battle this year. So, while most of the teams covered up the back of their cars and hid them away, Sauber put a smile on our face by making their diffuser more pleasant to look at! This is why I love privateers compared to manufacturers
The reconquest begins, apparently...
Note the flags of Oviedo on the left and right. This picture was taken on one of the first days of testing, when Fernando Alonso made his first appearances for Ferrari. Also, the eagle-eyed F1 fans may notce the two aces of clubs and diamonds, the same that Fernando has printed on the back of his helmet, to symbolise his two championship victories in 2005 and 2006(note ’05 and ’06 written in place of numbers on the cards). Obviously, the Spaniards were out in force to greet their hero, and made their presence known. They seem to be very confident of an Alonso comeback this season, and I’m with them!
Brought back down to earth
Like the last picture, this was taken on one of the first days of Alonso’s test with Ferrari. This time, the Spaniard was forced to stop out on track with a mechanical problem. Fernando seemed very dissapointed to let down his fans afterwards, but this is F1.
It seems so long ago to me, but the two Jerez tests were blighted by heavy rain. Teams struggled across the 8 days to find time to do full-length race testing. Here, a Bridgestone technician checks the track to see are conditions improving. In fact, they were.
Back to the 18th February. It was another disastrous day for the Virgin team, as yesterday Timo Glock only got 10 laps in the wet conditions. This day, it got no better, with the German spinning out ar Turn 2. A mechanical problem was believed to have caused the spin, and the wet track didn’t help. After the front wing incident, it became apparent that CFD didn’t make the Virgin car bulletproof.
The news did get better for the team, but it took some time.
More McLaren eagle eyes this time (they never get bored of it do they?). Here, the Red Bull of Mark Webber is being brought back to the pits after a mechanical problem. The McLaren engineers had been closer, but you can see a Red Bull engineer getting them well back. Damn straight
Set sail to Bahrain...
And, quick as a flash, it’s all over. Less than an hour after the chequered flag fell on the last day of testing, the teams were packing up to leave to Bahrain. Without a hint of delay, as I write this (the eve of the final day), most of the teams have already sent their trucks of equipment on their way to Bahrain. It’s kind of strange to see that the F1 world never sleeps.
Today in Jerez, we again saw the weather hamper runnings, but not without some good news. For example, Barrichello proved he has pace in the Williams, and the Virgin finally got up to speed.
Once again, as the session started at 8, the track was damp and required intermidiates. Unlike the other days, all the teams are pessimistic about the forecast. Inside Ferrari simply says on Twitter: “Nothing new at Jerez: just rain, rain and more rain to come…”
The good news is that Timo Glock was straight out of the pits today in the Virgin, and within half an hour had set 15 laps. But, he speared off at the Michelin corner (turn 2), and the red flags were out while his car was being recovered. When the session resumed, Felipe Massa led the way with a 1.30 time. At 9:00, Heikki Kovalainen made his first laps for Lotus, made 3 installation laps, but failed to set a time, and returned to the pits soon after. Yesterday’s power steering issue had been resolved, so the team were confident. Worryingly enough, Glock’s off was more serious than anticipated, as the doors to the Virgin garage were locked off as the car was taken apart for repairs. He didn’t actually hit anything when he spun, but it is believed thata mechanical problem of some sort caused the spin.
Timo Glock after spinning off
By 9:20, Ferrari were reporting a problem with Massa’s car, saying: “We have a technical issue: the stop will not be short… Nothing serious but it will take time to sort it out.” The rain soon got heavier, and more was forecast for later today. The rain got so heavy that all of the electricity sockets in the media centre lost power, because of electrical problems. Lewis Hamilton made the call for extreme wets at 9:40, and his fastest lap in his 5-lap run was a 1.36, showing how bad the conditions had become. By 10:00, the red flag was shown, not for an incident, but because there was so much standing water on the track. While the teams regrouped, it turned out that there was a problem with Kovalainen’s Lotus. It is unclear what happened, but a picture was taken, so you can see for yourself.
A problem in the Lotus pits
In fact, by 10:30, the weather was so bad the teams couldn’t even practice pit stops. The media centre apparently didn’t even have lighting, the journalist’s laptop lights were the only brightness in the room. Let’s make it clear, though, that this is nowhere near the monsoon we saw at Malaysia last year. Vettel, Kovalainen, Glock and Buemi all went out soon, but didn’t manage much, although Glock and Vettel did get good mileage in the conditions. By 11:30, Glock had finished a 13-lap stint, leaving him with 40 laps already under his belt. Plenty of cars braved the conditions, but few set good lap time, mostly in the 1.35 range. At 11:50, Kovalainen ran off at Turn 3, after an 8-lap run, and got stuck in the gravel. His front wing was badly damaged, so Lotus were forced to evaluate the damage to the car.
Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus being towed after his crash
By 12:30, conditions were slightly improving, with no rain falling, but the track still wet and windy. Vitaly Petrov managed a 1.30.6, a good lap in those conditions. Everyone was still on extreme wets at this point. Rubens Barrichello was alternating betwen very fast and very slow laps, getting a 1.27 and a 1.35 in the same 17-lap stint. His best and worst times were 9 seconds apart, showing you how varying the conditions were. It wasn’t the rain that was hampering the team’s efforts, it was the wind. Inside Ferrari reported: “The wind is making the day even more troubled…” The good news was, the track was improving, as Petrov got into the 1.27.8 by 13:00.
By 1, everyone knew that the Lotus would be out of action for the day. Kovalainen was apologetic on his Twitter account, while Mike Gascoyne said: “Slight off for Heikki. Knocked off the front wing. Spare on its way but will not be here until 2am in the morning so no more running today” . “Conditions drying up so a shame not to get any dry running today”. Up to about 14:00, there was little change at Jerez, at the track still wasn’t drying out enough. Paul di Resta handed over his car to Vitantonio Liuzzi at 2, and he got stuck in immidiately, setting a 1.30.6 after 9 laps. Many teams had given up on conditions, such as Ferrari, who decided to practice pitstops, as the Williams crew watched them sometimes.
Pit stop practice for the Williams crew
At 14:30, Timo Glock went out, and was the only man on track for 15 minutes, before Petrov joined him. Glock finished an 8-lap run, his fastest lap being 1.31, and getting up to 46 laps. He pitted, went straight back out, and instantly set a 1.30.4, only 3 seconds behind Barrichello. This pushed them up to 8th in today’s standings. Unfortunately, by 15:00, most of the teams were either practicing pit stops or testing race preparations. While many cars went out at the end for a final run, they were nowhere near the pace they needed, so it was a frustrating end to the day for everyone. Barrcihello’s earlier lap of 1.27.145 was the fastest of the day, followed by Petrov, Vettel, Rosberg, Massa, De la Rosa, di Resta, Glock, Liuzzi, Hamilton, Buemi and Kovalainen. Barrichello set the most laps, with 98, while de la Rosa only got in 8 in the morning. Barrichello’s fastest lap meant that 6 different teams have topped the timesheets in as many testing days. This is very good news for this season, even if most of it was in the wet.
The predicted floods never arrived, but it was close to it in the morning. The good news is, better conditions are forecast for tomorrow.
Update: Virgin have released a video of their day in Jerez. Clearly they had nothing better to do while it was wet (extreme Virgin joke reference possibility!)