Tag Archives: F1 2008

Piquet: Massa still blames me for lost championship

Nelson Piquet Jr has revealed that, because of his actions at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Felipe Massa still blames him to this day for losing the 2008 Driver’s Championship. Felipe lost the title by a single point to Lewis Hamilton, and lost 10 points in the Singapore Grand Prix, after a mistake in the pit lane, which was caused by a safety car deployment, which in turn had been caused by Piquet Jr.

If it was a mistake by Piquet that had brought out the safety car, then nothing would have been said of it. But as we all know, Nelson deliberately crashed his Renault, specifically to bring out the safety car to help his team-mate Fernando Alonso win the race.

The problem with Massa’s pit stop had been caused by the Ferrari traffic lights operator releasing Massa too early, causing the fuel rig to be ripped out and was still attached to the car as Felipe left the pits. It has been well acknowledged that this mistake by the light operator was caused by the chaotic nature of the pit lane, which of course was triggered by the safety car.

In my mind, despite other losses of points in other races that year, Massa deserves to blame Piquet for what he did. Nelson, however, seems surprised, in an interview with Portugese magazine Istoe (translation has been verified):

“Massa was very upset with me because he thinks, to this day,
that he lost the 2008 championship because of me.

It is no use arguing that he had a DNF in Hungary, that he and
Ferrari made mistakes. Not to mention his lack of luck. For the
love of God, that last lap in Interlagos was pure luck for
(Lewis) Hamilton (who was the champion) and bad luck to him.

But he is still very upset. I have never talked to him again.
We stumble upon each other every now and then, but we don’t
keep on touch.”

He did not remain on the defense, however, as he soon went on the attack, as he criticised Massa for his actions at the German Grand Prix this year:

"Generally you’d want to make such arrangements in a subtle 
manner. At the end of the straight, a driver breaks a little 
early into a corner, let the team mate close the gap and 
overtake. Alright, with the fight for the first place it is 
harder to make it subtle, but it didn’t have to be so blatant. 
There is where Massa surprised me.

He wanted to expose Ferrari’s team game to cause a bit of a 
mess. Because the situation itself is normal. The most common 
code is the one Ferrari uses, that your team mate is faster 
than you. Massa understood, but wanted to make sure that, if 
it was for him, there would be no overtaking.

Ferrari will never miss the opportunity to let one of its 
drivers close the gap to the championship leaders. If Massa 
does not want that to happen, he needs to accept he is slower 
and race faster. He needs to work to get faster than Alonso. 
There’s no other way."

I’m particularly interested at the part where he says: “Generally you’d want to make such arrangements in a subtle manner.” Well he would certainly know about it wouldn’t he? I can understand his comments on the German Grand Prix debacle, but when it comes to the Crash-gate saga again, I don’t even want him to open his mouth.

For those of you who are interested, Piquet has been racing this year in the, erm, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (a world series held entirely in America, I should note). He has competed in 4 races out of 15, and finished in the top 10 3 times. Before you think that’s impressive, it’s only pickup trucks he’s been racing.

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.

Singapore considering track layout revisions

The Singapore Grand Prix

The Singapore Grand Prix

The organisers of the Singapore Grand Prix have said that they are considering revisons to the circuit, to make it faster.

Both of the Singapore Grands Prix have run nearly two hours long, which is the FIA’s mandatory limit. Significant changes are being considered, to speed up the 3.152 mile track’s laps.

The current lap record was set by Fernando Alonso, a 1m48.240s. It is too late to make revisions to the 2010 circuit in time, but the Singapore Tourism Board are looking at making the changes by the 2011 race.

Justin Chew, the Singapore Tourism Board’s executive director, said:

“We are always looking to see how we can improve the Singapore Grand Prix. If it is for the good of the race and makes it more exciting for fans and drivers, we will consider it.”

The two modifications being considered are cutting Turns 7 to 9 into one 90 degree left-hander around the War Memorial, instead of through it. Also, the bus stop chicane that runs underneath the grandstands may be completely removed. Interestingly enough, this would get rid of the infamous Turn 17, where Nelson Piquet Jr intentionally crashed in 2008.

Alguersuari set to retain Toro Rosso seat

Jaime Alguersuari

Jaime Alguersuari

According to Red Bull’s Helmut Marko, Jaime Alguersuari is set to keep his seat at Toro Rosso for next season.

There have been many doubts about Alguersuari’s place, mainly because Sebastian Buemi had been confirmed months ago. Mirko Bortolotti and Bruno Senna have been rumoured to replace him, but Marko says:

“It will be Alguersuari. We must still resolve some contractual details, but our choice will be him.”

It would be pointless to see Jaime ousted after only 8 races in Formula 1, and I’m sure he needs another season to get up to speed. However, a similar situation occured last year with Sebastien Bourdais, and he was removed halfway through last season.

Hopefully Jaime can prove his ability in the car, as his previous racing history shows us. I’m hoping that he can match Sebastien Buemi next year.

Briatore to sue FIA for “loss of income”

Flavio Briatore, when managing Renault

Flavio Briatore, when managing Renault

Former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore announced today that he is to pursue legal proceedings against the FIA, for the loss of income to his driver managment business.

The FIA had previously banned Briatore from all motorsport, after he was found to have conspired with Nelson Piquet Jr and Pat Symonds to cause a crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Last month, a Parisian court overturned this ruling, saying that the FIA did not have the authority to remove Briatore from the sport. However, the ban had meant that many of Briatore’s drivers had left his agency. This included Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and Lucas di Grassi. Briatore told The Telegraph that the FIA would be sued for the money lost because of this.

“We lost Alonso, we lost [Heikki] Kovalainen, we lost several drivers,” he said. “We will sue the FIA for the money we lost.”

The FIA has already announced that it is to appeal the French court’s decision.

In my opinion, this can only end in disaster. Alonso, Kovalainen and Di Grassi left of their own accord, not because of the threat of having their superlicenses removed. This court battle is only giving negative publicity to a scandal which should have been closed up months ago.

No equalising of F1 engines for 2010

The Cosworth CA2010 engines, being used for 5 teams this year

The Cosworth CA2010 engines, being used for 5 teams this year

The FIA has decided that engine equalisation will not take place for 2010.

Engine equalisation is the process where all the different types of engines (4 of them next year) are balanced out in terms of performance, fuel consumption and reliabilty, by adding, removing, retuning and adjusting certain engine mechanics.

Engines in Formula 1 have been frozen (no development allowed) since 2008. However, teams  were allowed to change parts of the engine for reliabilty reasons. But, some engines had a definitive power advantage, and Renault were left behind. The Mercedes engine, for example, is believed to produce 18bhp more than the Renault engine, which is worth around to 3 tenths of a second per lap.

However, this season there will be an even bigger problem with the engines – fuel consumption. The Renault engine, if filled with the same amount of fuel as the Mercedes engine, can do 3 more laps. Because refuelling is banned for next year, it means that Renault can save around 7kg in fuel, which is a massive advantage to have. The Ferrari engines are the most thirsty engines on track, and they will be hugely disadvantaged by this.

Cosworth, as we know, will be returning to supplying F1 engines for the first time since 2006. The FIA has allowed them to develop their engine, as long as it balances out against the other teams. It is apparent that the most important factor for the engines next year will be the fuel consumption. If Cosworth fail to get their engines up to scratch, it will severely damage the Williams, Lotus, Virgin, USF1 and Campos teams.

So, if engines remain around the same as they did last year, Red Bull will be at the biggest advantage here. Their Renault engine means they have 7kg extra in ballast to move around, meaning more flexibility in their chassis design. Provided that Adrian Newey can deliver the goods, they may well be the team to beat next year.

Massa had quizzed Piquet about Crashgate

Felipe Massa and Nelson Piquet Jr

Felipe Massa and Nelson Piquet Jr

Nelson Piquet's staged crash at Singapore 2008

Nelson Piquet's staged crash at Singapore 2008

Felipe Massa has revealed that he had quizzed Nelson Piquet Jr and Flavio Briatore about the events at the 2008 Singapore GP, even before the scandal had broken out.

In Singapore 2008, Nelson Piquet crashed 2 laps after Fernando Alonso had pitted, and brought out the safety car. This gave a huge advantage to Alonso, who went on to win the race. Massa, who had been leading and dominating the race, pitted when the safety car was over, but a disasterous pit stop meant he finished last. Felipe later lost the championship to Lewis Hamilton by a single point.

However, Massa says that he had always been skeptical about Piquet’s crash, even before the scandal broke out this year. At a Ferrari media event, he said:

“I spoke to him, yeah. I spoke to him before [it became public],” said Massa. “We were going together to drive go-karts in Italy and I asked him about Singapore – I wanted to hear the right story because I was thinking that the combination [of events] was so perfect [for Renault], what happened in that race.”

“And he was laughing, he didn’t want to say the truth. I said ‘okay, you’re laughing, but I understood. Maybe one day we’ll speak again’. And after one month or less, the story came back in the press.”

“I even spoke to Flavio about that in Bahrain last year. I asked Flavio about Singapore and he said ‘no, no, it’s impossible’ and he was even trying to laugh sometimes.”

However, even though he probably lost the championship because of it, he does not wish to revisit the incident.

“But if I spoke to them after I knew? It didn’t change anything,” said Massa. “Why should I go there and speak? We will not go back to the past. We need to think about the present and the future. The past is the past.”

“Everybody knows what happened in 2008. I don’t think we’re going to win anything by going back through all these problems. For sure it was very frustrating what was happening in that race, and it changed many things around the championship.”

“But anyway, we need to think forward. I hope these things don’t happen anymore – for the sport, not just the business. I hope we’ll go back to fighting for the championship and I hope I can be a champion one day. That’s the way I’m thinking.”

Kovalainen “a better driver” after McLaren

Heikki Kovalainen, with Tony Fernandes and Jarno Trulli

Heikki Kovalainen, with Tony Fernandes and Jarno Trulli

Heikki Kovalainen says that, even after 2 difficult seasons at McLaren, he has still come out of it a better driver.

In an interview with Autosport, he said: “I am a better race driver. I can drive the car quicker than when I drove the Renault (2007). I have learned many things – how to work with a team, how to set-up a car, how to go racing. I think I am better in every area.”

Kovalainen was released from McLaren after the 2009 season ended. After negotiations with many teams, he has moved to the new Lotus team, alongside Jarno Trulli. He also said that he believes it was a better option than moving to an established team.

“I just felt that this was the most stable option available to me,” he said. “The other teams were still wondering who was going to own the team, who was going to sponsor the team and who was going to pay the bills.”

“Funnily enough, for a new team I was convinced after I met Tony [Fernandes] and Mike [Gascoyne]. First of all, they have the budget in place. They have the people coming to the team eventually – they will be current people and not people who have been out of the paddock for one or two years.”

When asked about his prospects for 2010, he said: “”I think it will be very tough. Sometimes when I talk to Tony he is very excited and it seems like we are going to win the first race. But, I am being more realistic and I don’t want to build too big expectations.”

When he was with McLaren in 2008, he was outscored on points by Lewis Hamilton with 98 points to 53, although Heikki took his first win. In 2009, he was outscored again, by 49 points to 22, and not even getting on the podium once.

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