Tag Archives: Fernando Alonso

Ferrari top both days of Pirelli tests

Two days of testing on the 2011 Pirelli tyres concluded a few days ago, with Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso each topping one day each. While the tyres were slower than this year’s Bridgetones, most of the paddock appear to be happy with the new rubber.

Day 1

Sebastian Vettel suffered a tyre failure in the evening

Sebastian Vettel suffered a tyre failure in the evening

Only one car ran from each team on these two days. Neither Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Buttom took any part, as Gary Paffett was driving the McLaren. Adrian Sutil, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Paul di Resta all shared the Force India.

On the first day, Felipe Massa was fastest with a 1.40.170, two seconds off Daniel Ricciardo’s time during the young driver test. Sebastian Vettel was 2nd, 4 tenths off the Ferrari. Gary Paffett was 3rd, Kamui Kobayashi 4th, Robert Kubica 5th, and Rubens Barrichello 6th.

Paul di Resta was 7th, but had only run during the second half of the session. Adrian Sutil initially had the car, but an exhaust problem forced him into the pits. He was only 10th.

Nico Rosberg and Jaime Alguersuari were 8th and 9th. Timo Glock was 10th, Heikki Kovalainen 11th, and Pastor Maldonado last, 1.1 seconds behind the Lotus.

Vettel’s day was ended abruptly, after a puncture in the evening. Pirelli have already suffered cuts to their rear tyres, but believe that debris caused the failure.

Times from Day 1:

Driver Car Time
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’40.170s
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’40.500s
3 Gary Paffett McLaren 1’40.874s
4 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’40.950s
5 Robert Kubica Renault 1’41.032s
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1’41.425s
7 Paul di Resta Force India 1’41.615s
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.778s
9 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1’42.019s
10 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’42.859s
11 Timo Glock Virgin 1’44.124s
12 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1’44.686s
13 Pastor Maldonado HRT 1’45.728s

Day 2

Fernando Alonso topped Day 2

Fernando Alonso topped Day 2

Fernando Alonso was quicker on the second day, but was 4 tenths off Massa’s time the day before. Michael Schumacher was 2nd, and Vettel 3rd.

Rubens Barrichello was 4th, Robert Kubica 5th, Gary Paffett 6th, and shared the car with Oliver Turvey, who was 7th. Paul di Resta was 8th, and shared the Force India with Liuzzi, who was 11th.

Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi filled the top 10. Sergio Perez was 12th, Jarno Trulli 13th. Pastor Maldonado was 14th, but caused a red flag after a spin. Timo Glock was several hundreths off Maldonado.

Times from Day 2:

Driver Team Best lap
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’40.529s
2 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’40.685s
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’40.825s
4 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1’41.294s
5 Robert Kubica Renault 1’41.614s
6 Gary Paffett McLaren 1’41.622s
7 Oliver Turvey McLaren 1’41.740s
8 Paul di Resta Force India 1’41.869s
9 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’42.110s
10 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1’42.145s
11 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India 1’42.416s
12 Sergio Perez Sauber 1’42.777s
13 Jarno Trulli Lotus 1’44.521s
14 Pastor Maldonado HRT 1’44.768s
15 Timo Glock Virgin 1’44.783s

Pirelli have declared the test a success, although they now have 11,000 km of data to filter through. Aside from Vettel’s tyre problems, the rubber stood up well, and the switch from Bridgestones to Pirellis shouldn’t be too difficult for the teams.

With this being the final session of 2010, the F1 engines will be switched off until the 1st February 2011, when testing resumes at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

The maths behind the 2010 championship battle

With just one more race to go this year, Formula 1 is about to experience something historic, as this is the first time in history that 4 drivers have entered the last race with a chance of becoming World Champion. With this in mind, there are many ways that each of them can take the title.

With this in mind let’s have a look at each driver individually, starting with the underdog:

Lewis Hamilton

2 DNFs in Italy and Singapore have killed Hamilton’s title challenge, and he comes to Abu Dhabi with an extremely low chance of becoming champion. At the moment, he is 24 points adrift of Fernando Alonso.

His task is simple but very difficult: Take the win while Vettel, Alonso and Webber all finish out of the points. While the McLaren isn’t bad at Abu Dhabi, the likelihood of the other 3 drivers being taken out are slim to say the least.

My prediction: As likely as Nick Heidfeld shaving his beard.

Sebastian Vettel

The first of the Red Bull drivers is in with a better chance than Hamilton, but like the McLaren driver, will need a good performance and a stroke of bad luck to hit Webber and Alonso.

Although he is 15 points behind, a 3rd place (with Alonso scoring no points) will not be enough for Vettel, as Fernando has taken 5 wins already, more than any other driver this year. If Vettel finishes 2nd, he will need Alonso to finish 9th or lower, with Webber 5th or lower.

If Sebastian take the win, which is likely is he is on form, the Ferrari needs to be 6th or lower, while Webber will be knocked out automatically, seeing as even if he was 2nd and level on points, Sebastian would have taken one more win.

While the odds are against this Red Bull, the title is certainly not out of reach, though it will take some luck to push Alonso down the order.

My prediction: If he doesn’t win it, he will at least get very close.

Mark Webber

This Red Bull driver is within better striking range of the Ferrari, although Mark’s title hopes were hit slightly by failing to overtake his team-mate in Brazil. Nevertheless, Webber is in with a good shot.

If none of his rivals scored a point (although Hamilton can still win the race in this situation) Mark only needs 5th to take the title. If he gets 4th place, Alonso will need to be 9th or lower, with Vettel not taking the win. If he is in 3rd position, Alonso can be 7th or lower, and Vettel not to take the win.

If Webber takes 2nd place, Fernando has to be 6th or lower, while Sebastian again cannot take the race win (effectively 3rd or lower). Meanwhile, if Mark wins the race, Vettel is taken out no matter where he finishes, while Fernando would have to be 3rd or lower in order for Webber to take the title.

There are many more possibilities as you can see, and it demonstrates why Webber needs to be pushing as hard as he can coming into this final race.

My prediction: A good chance, although he may find trouble keeping Vettel (and Alonso) behind him.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando comes into this race with the title lead, and 8 points to spare against his rivals. He may have the point margin, but his Ferrari will probably be slower than the Red Bull this weekend, so he needs to be very careful.

If he takes either the win or 2nd place, then the championship is his, no questions asked. However, seeing as the Red Bulls are probably going to be on form in Abu Dhabi, this is unlikely, so now the fun begins. If he takes 3rd place, Webber would need to take the race win, and Sebastian Vettel would be knocked out.

If he is 4th, Webber will again need to take the win, and Vettel would still be out of the running.

However, if the Ferrari is 5th, Webber yet again needs to win, and the same goes for Vettel. However, you might notice a small problem there. If Vettel were to win, and Alonso was 5th, then they would be equal on points. FIA rules regulate that the winner would be the driver with the most 2nd place finishes, and both Alonso and Vettel have the same amount. The rule would then move to 3rd place finishes, and -surprise surprise – they have the same amount again! However, Sebastian has two 4th places to Fernando’s one, so this would most certainly be an interesting end to the championship to say the least.

If Alonso is 6th, Webber will need 2nd place, and Vettel would need to win the race. If Fernando was 7th, Mark would have to be on the podium, and Sebastian again requiring the race victory. The exact same requirements for the Red Bulls are needed if the Ferrari is 8th.

In the event of Alonso being 9th, Webber needs 4th, and Vettel needs 2nd or 1st. If Fernando is 10th, Mark would need 5th or higher, and Vettel again requires 1st or 2nd.

In the unlikely event of the Ferrari not taking any points at all, or retiring, Mark Webber would need 5th or higher, and Sebastian Vettel once again has to take 1st or 2nd. If Alonso was not to score, with Vettel 3rd and Webber 6th, then all 3 would be tied on points, but Alonso would take the title because of the “most wins” tiebreaker rule.

My prediction: Best mathematical chance, but needs to watch his back.

Round-up

As you can see, with a 4-way battle for the first time ever, the amount of mathematical possibilities are greater than ever before. With all of these chances of winning the title, we are in for an epic showdown in Abu Dhabi in just a few days time!

Alonso wins while Red Bull disintegrate in Korea thriller

Fernando Alonso won a chaotic Korean Grand Prix, while disaster struck the Red Bull team, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber retiring in separate incidents. Lewis Hamilton had a chance to win but running wide at one of the race restarts scuppered his hopes.

Before the race had even begun, there were huge worries, as heavy rain flooded down on the track, and the start was suspended for 10 minutes. Eventually, the safety car led the cars around for 3 laps, but it became quickly apparent that conditions, particularly visibility, was too poor to race in, and the race was red flagged.

The safety car leads the pack for 3 laps, before the race is red-flagged

The safety car leads the pack for 3 laps, before the race is red-flagged

The cars lined up again, as everyone waited for the rain to clear. After 40 minutes of waiting, the race restarted, again under the safety car. The next problem for Charlie Whiting was getting the race completed before darkness fell on the circuit, and with the soaked track, getting past the 75% mark to award full points.

However, 1 hour after the original start, Bernd Maylander led the cars around again, but many were still complaining of the torrid track. While Lewis Hamilton was keen to get going, drivers like Alonso and Felipe Massa wanted the safety car to stay out for longer, and so it did until Lap 17, when it finally pitted and the racing got underway.

Hamilton lost a place to Nico Rosberg at the restart, but a bigger shock was to come. Only two laps into proper racing, and Mark Webber ran wide onto the grass  at Turn 14, and hit the barriers. He was unable to stop his car moving back across the track, and Nico Rosberg, despite taking to the grass, was unable to avoid slamming into the Red Bull, taking out both cars and prompting another safety car.

By Lap 23, the debris was cleared, and the championship situation had been turned on his head, with the title leader now out. Sebastian Vettel still led, with Fernando Alonso up to second, ahead of Hamilton. Further back, Jarno Trulli and Bruno Senna collided, smashing off Trulli’s front wing, and he retired with suspected suspension damage.

Jenson Button had just been overtaken by Michael Schumacher, as his extreme wet tyres were wearing quickly on the track, which was still quite wet. He made the choice to pit for intermediates, a decision which had previously won him the Australian Grand Prix, but the same would not happen here. This is because on Lap 31, only two laps after he pitted, the safety car came out again, this time for a collision between Sebastien Buemi and Timo Glock, who had been running well in 11th place. Buemi tried to out-brake the Virgin, but hit the side of the car, ripping off his own wheel, and dealing terminal damage to Timo.

With this next safety car, all the frontrunners dived into the pits for inters, Schumacher, Massa and Hamilton on Lap 32, then Vettel and Alonso on Lap 33. These two got away with this stop because they had not been caught behind the safety car, but the same couldn’t be said for Button, who was now stranded in 12th.

Hamilton got ahead of Alonso, thanks to his stop a lap earlier. But, when the safety car peeled away a few laps later, Lewis ran wide at Turn 1, handing 2nd place on a plate to the Ferrari. Vettel begins to move away yet again at the front, Alonso decides to conserve his tyres, Hamilton tried to keep stuck behind the Ferrari, while Massa moves away from Schumacher in 5th.

Adrian Sutil was having a Grand Prix that could maybe be described as adventurous to say the least. He battled hard with Button, shoving the McLaren wide, but both cars lost positions. Soon, he tried a move on Kamui Kobayashi, but ran straight on at Turn 4, losing even more time. Later on, he made another dive, and ended up breaking his own suspension on the Sauber, then crashed into the barriers, though Kobayashi continued without considerable damage.

Vitaly Petrov has a huge crash at the final corner

Vitaly Petrov has a huge crash at the final corner

By Lap 41, there were fears of another safety car, as Vitaly Petrov had a huge crash at the final corner, dropping the car and goes backwards into the tyre barriers. Despite the debris, the racing continued, though Vitaly had thrown away a great chance of a handful of points.

Fernando Alonso, after several laps of tyre conservation, began to apply pressure on Vettel’s lead, bringing the gap down to 1.3 seconds by Lap 42. At this specific lap, the race had passed the 75% mark (meaning full points would be guaranteed if the race was stopped), and suddenly, with some vigour, Vettel began complaining about track visibility, saying that there wasn’t enough light to continue. Charlie Whiting didn’t blink, and signalled that the race would be able to complete all 55 laps in less than the 2 hour limit.

But, in the cruellest twist, Vettel would never get to race those final few laps, as his engine let go! He pulled over on the back straight with smoke pouring out of his now on-fire car. Alonso inherited the lead, while Hamilton took 2nd, and Massa was in the final podium position.

With this latest shock, the championship predictions were thrown out of the window yet again. As it stood, Vettel was going to lose out massively, while Alonso would now take control at the top. The only chance that could now occur was if Hamilton could make a move on Alonso, but he simply didn’t have the pace, dropping 10 seconds behind by the time the chequered flag fell.

Crushed hopes for Vettel as he retires with engine failure

Crushed hopes for Vettel as he retires with engine failure

Robert Kubica stole 5th place off Rubens Barrichello in the dying few laps, while Nico Hulkenberg pitted after a puncture, but managed to fight his way back up to 10th place. Michael Schumacher and Vitantonio Liuzzi were very impressive in 4th and 6th respectively. Kamui Kobayashi and Nick Heidfeld were 8th and 9th.

Despite Vettel’s fantastic performance, to finish first, first you have to finish. Fernando Alonso took the win, in rapidly decreasing sunlight, at the Yeongam track, to take the lead of the drivers’ championship.  He is now 11 points ahead of Mark Webber, who is 10 ahead of Lewis Hamilton, with Sebastian Vettel another 4 points back. While Jenson Button is still in contention, he is now trailing Alonso by 42 points with 2 races to go, and has since given up his championship aspirations. The full standings are available here.

After a 3 hour race, filled to the brim with drama, crashes and incidents, heartbreak and tears of joy (and a little dash of rain), I would declare the first ever Korean Grand Prix to be an outstanding success. With this race has come a series of twists to the 2010 saga, which sets us up for an epic race at Interlagos in 2 weeks time.

Fernando Alonso celebrates in parc ferme

Fernando Alonso celebrates in parc ferme

Alonso revives title challenge with win at Monza

Fernando Alonso took the victory today the the Italian Grand Prix, to revive a title challenge that many had thought had already disappeared. He lost the lead to Jenson Button at the first corner, but kept the pressure on throughout, and his patience was rewarded by jumping the McLaren in the pit stops.

While Button led most of the race, he succumbed to Alonso’s charge on Lap 40, and was 2nd. Felipe Massa was close behind in 3rd, but never really made a move. However, Lewis Hamilton retired on the first lap after collision damage with Massa. The Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber were 4th and 6th.

At the start, Alonso was sluggish, and was caught out by the McLaren. At the first chicane, both cars got too close, and Fernando clipped the back of Button, taking a very small amount out of the undertray. At the second chicane, Hamilton tried to dive down the inside of Massa, but broke the left front wheel and steering, and understeered into the gravel trap at the Lesmos corners.

Hamilton’s only consolation was that his main title rival, Mark Webber, fell to 9th on the first lap. On the other hand, Nico Rosberg made a great start, and leaped up to 4th.

The top 3 started to move away, while Rosberg led Robert Kubica, Nico Hulkenberg and Sebastian Vettel. The Force India of Adrian Sutil was caught up in the first lap melee, and ran into the gravel trap, emerging in 22nd. He pitted instantly and changed to the harder tyre for the rest of the race.

The only other car who joined Hamilton on the sidelines was Kamui Kobayashi, who suffered more gearbox problems which had caused him to start from the pit lane. He was joined later on by Bruno Senna.

While Alonso hounded Button, Vettel was complaining of an engine problem with his Red Bull. He lost control of his 7th place, and fell behind Webber and Michael Schumacher. However, after a few laps of the Renault engine mechanics trying out a few different settings, the engine healed and Vettel began to set fastest laps. The problem was later diagnosed as electrical.

As opposed the the normal race strategy, the softer tyres were lasting much longer than expected, which allowed the first stint to be extended into around Lap 35. While Robert Kubica pitted on Lap 34, there wasn’t much of a performance difference on those tyres, so both McLaren and Ferrari opted to lengthen their soft tyre stint for as long as possible.

Sakon Yamamoto pitted on Lap 30, but a nasty incident occurred. While one of his mechanics was working on the radio transmitter behind his helmet, which was apparently broken, the lollipop man released the car, and Sakon drove off, running over the mechanic while he was at it. An ambulance had to be deployed, which closed the pit lane for two laps.

In the battle for the lead, Button blinked first, and pitted on Lap 35. Ferrari reacted within a minute, pitting Alonso and then Massa one lap later. A faster pit stop, combined with better pace from Fernando, allowed Alonso to take the lead from Button, and Massa remained in 3rd.

Sebastian Vettel, who had fallen back after his engine trouble, decided on a new strategy. He stayed on his soft tyres until the final lap, a choice that was mimicked by Vitaly Petrov, then pitted to change to the harder tyre. This allowed him to leapfrog Hulkenberg, Kubica, Webber and Rosberg to take 4th place. Petrov wasn’t so successful, falling back to 13th.

His team-mate Webber was furious after being held up for a lot of the race by Nico Hulkenberg, who cut chicanes on three separate occasions. While he gained an advantage or not can be debated, but it prompted Webber to complain to the stewards. However, they believed that Hulkenberg did not gain an advantage, so Mark was forced to make the move on track with 3 laps to go.

Further back, Schumacher had a solid race in 9th, while Rubens Barrichello struggled in 10th. Sebastien Buemi was within one second of a points-scoring position, while Vitantonio Liuzzi was 12th. Adrian Sutil’s strategy only got him 16th place, while Timo Glock was the best of the new teams in 17th, while Jarno Trulli and Lucas di Grassi retired.

Alonso was unchallenged after the stops, and won the Grand Prix 3 seconds ahead of Button, who held off Massa until the end. Like yesterday, it was an almost-perfect result for the Tifosi, with Alonso leaping back into the title hunt, now 1 point ahead of Button and only 21 shy of Webber, who retook the lead off Hamilton.

There are now only 25 points, or a single win, separating the top 5, and it will be a fantastic battle into the final 5 flyaway races. The standings are updated and available here.

Alonso storms to pole at Monza

Fernando Alonso took pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, ahead of Jenson Button. Felipe Massa was third, and Mark Webber 4th. Sebastian Vettel was back in 6th. Here is the full report:

Felipe Massa, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button after qualifying

Felipe Massa, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button after qualifying

Q1

While Timo Glock went out at the start, all of the other cars remained on the grid. But, by the time he had reached the first corner on his flying lap, he was blocked by Vitaly Petrov leaving the pits, leaving the Russian in danger of a penalty. Lewis Hamilton was the first top driver to go out, but was again blocked by Sakon Yamamoto.

Jenson Button suffered no such problems, setting a 1.23.6. Rubens Barrichello got within a few hundreths, but both were soon beaten by Felipe Massa, who was then promptly knocked back by Fernando Alonso, and then by Hamilton. The two Red Bulls were struggling, with Vettel and Webber 8th and 9th.

Fernando Alonso, knowing he needs a good result this weekend, soon took the fastest lap. His team-mate, Massa, soon topped that by a quarter of a second. Meanwhile, Adrian Sutil, who would have been expecting to get into the top 10, was only 11th, while Vitantonio Liuzzi was struggling in the dropout zone. Even worse, there was a problem with the car, meaning he couldn’t set a new time, leaving him out of Q1.

Sebastien Buemi, sitting in 17th and in danger of being knocked out, improved to 13th. Further back, Jarno Trulli managed to get ahead of Liuzzi into 18th place.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Jarno Trulli

19) Heikki Kovalainen

20) Vitantonio Liuzzi

21) Timo Glock

22) Lucas di Grassi

23) Bruno Senna

24) Sakon Yamamoto

Q2

Unlike Q1, many cars went out at the beginning. The thing to note was the tyres, as all of the top drivers apart from Lewis Hamilton stayed on the harder tyres. This would be hinting at Hamilton running a different strategy for the race. Alonso’s first lap of 1.22.7 set the benchmark.

However, Hamilton went straight into the 1.24.4 zone. Alonso soon went 2 tenths faster, while the Red Bulls continued to fall behind in 7th and 8th. In fact, they were so slow that Nico Rosberg soon edged out Vettel for 8th. He soon improved to 4th, but still well down on the Ferraris and Hamilton.

Rubens Barrichello soon got into the top 10, while Jenson Button went 4th. Kamui Kobayashi, struggling with the car, only got 13th. Adrian Sutil knocked Rubens out to take 10th. However, once Barrichello reclimed 10th, Sutil was stuck in 11th.

Michael Schumacher messed up his final 2 runs, leaving him 12th. At the last second, Jenson Button got within a few hundreths of Alonso at the front.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Adrian Sutil

12) Michael Schumacher

13) Kamui Kobayashi

14) Sebastien Buemi

15) Vitaly Petrov

16) Jaime Alguersuari

17) Pedro de la Rosa

Q3

Within the first few seconds, both McLarens, Ferraris and Robert Kubica went out. Felipe Massa went fastest first, before team-mate Alonso blasted his way into the 1.21 mark. Lewis Hamilton struggled and could only manage 4th, while Webber and Kubica were 5th and 6th.

Jenson Button, who held back at the start, went into 2nd. While most of the frontrunners pitted, Massa stayed out and took advantage of the empty track. While he set personal best sectors, he stayed 3rd. With only 4 minutes to go, both Williams cars and Rosberg went out.

While Hulkenberg was 8th, Barrichello made a mistake and cut the first corner. At the final set of runs, Button and Massa set personal bests, but could only manage 2nd and 3rd. Mark Webber got 4th, and Hamilton didn’t improve on his time, leaving Fernando Alonso on pole position.

This was the best possible result for the Tifosi, and it was only the second time this year that a Red Bull has not been on pole position. It is also the first time since Italy 2009 that a Red Bull was not on the front row. Also, it was the first time this year that Jenson Button was on the front row.

Full times from qualifying:

Pos.
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1′22.646 1′22.297 1′21.962
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1′23.085 1′22.354 1′22.084
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1′22.421 1′22.610 1′22.293
4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1′23.431 1′22.706 1′22.433
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1′22.830 1′22.394 1′22.623
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1′23.235 1′22.701 1′22.675
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1′23.529 1′23.055 1′23.027
8 Nico Hülkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1′23.516 1′22.989 1′23.037
9 Robert Kubica Renault 1′23.234 1′22.880 1′23.039
10 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1′23.695 1′23.142 1′23.328
11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1′23.493 1′23.199
12 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1′23.840 1′23.388
13 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1′24.273 1′23.659
14 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1′23.744 1′23.681
15 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1′24.086 1′23.819
16 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1′24.083 1′23.919
17 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1′24.442 1′24.044
18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1′25.540
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1′25.742
20 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1′25.774
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1′25.974
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1′26.847
23 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1′27.020
24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1′25.934

Ferrari decision revealed: WMSC ignores recommendations, Todt says: “Not enough evidence”

The reasoning of the World Motor Sport Council letting Ferrari off with charges of team orders has been explained today, and it’s not a pretty sight. The WMSC ignored a reccomendation from the Reporter (investigator) to penalise Fernando Alonso, while Jean Todt claimed there was “not enough evidence”.

Lars Osterlind, one of the top names of the FIA since Max Mosley took over years ago, and tipped for Presidency in the future (currently Vice-President), was appointed as the Reporter for this case. Put simply, he was in charge of investigating every single aspect of the team orders case, and he showed the WMSC some truly damning evidence to incriminate Ferrari.

For example, he found out that both drivers, before the team order, were instructed to turn their engines down, presumably to save fuel or the engine. However, Lars found that Alonso soon turned up the revs on his car “without Mr. Massa being informed. Mr Fernando Alonso was therefore benefiting from a definite performance advantage over Mr Felipe Massa in the moments preceding the contentious overtaking.”

He then went on to explain why the ethics of sport were broken:

“Motor racing ought to be unpredictable, as it has been to
date. Part of that competitive element is to take equal
interest in all competitors. Irrespective of their fitness,
talent or position in the race, competitors should be able
to rely on themselves for purposes of winning the race
without any form of external aid influencing their sporting
performance.”

He presented his full findings in a 160-page document, and gave it to the World Motor Sport Council. The FIA acknowledged that Ferrari had interfered with the race, but refused to increase the penalty, stating:

"There were many examples of what could have been said to be 
team orders in Formula 1 in recent years, and therefore there 
has been inconsistency in its application.

Also its application to indirect team orders via messages 
where drivers raise no complaints is uncertain and difficult 
to detect and police."

They even admitted that rules 39.1 (no team orders) and 151.c (bringing the sport into disrepute) were broken, but still found no reason to full prove that Ferrari’s messages directly interfered with he race, rather Felipe Massa made a “decision based on the evidence presented” to him by the team.

Ferrari claimed that “team orders were different from team strategy”, meaning that there would be a difference between a “supply of information or a request for what a team would like a driver to do” and direct orders.

The WMSC also noted that they had received letters of support for Ferrari from Frank Williams and Peter Sauber, heads of the Williams and Sauber teams.

Meanwhile, FIA president Jean Todt claimed that there was “not enough evidence” to fully prove Ferrari’s guilt. Seeing as he was in charge of Ferrari during the biggest team order scandals in F1, why are we not surprised?

Really, this is a scandalous day for Formula 1. This completely undermines the team orders ban, and will almost certainly destroy the championship battle in terms of team-mates racing each other. Ferrari, the FIA, and the WMSC should hang their heads in shame.

No further punishment for Ferrari after team orders

The World Motor Sport Council have decided that Ferrari will escape any further punishment for their team orders in Germany this year. They also announced that the $100,000 fine imposed by the FIA will continue to be upheld.

However, no reason has yet been disclosed for their decision to let them off. A statement will be added here when it is made.

All I can say is that this is absolutely disgraceful. Even if the WMSC couldn’t prosecute them under the rule banning team orders, they could just have easily used rule 151c (bringing the sport into disrepute) to serve justice.

Put simply, the WMSC have just shown themselves as being spineless cowards. It’s not as if the fans were looking for Ferrari to be thrown out altogether, maybe a larger fine and suspended ban would have done fine. A $100,000 is nothing compared to the damage Ferrari have done to the sport in recent weeks.

More on this soon.

Update: Ferrari do have to pay the FIA’s legal costs, but this surely isn’t much. Also, the Sporting Working Group are to look into whether the team orders ban should stay or not. Ferrari have released a short statement:

“Ferrari has taken note of the decision of the FIA World Council, relating to the outcome of this year’s German Grand Prix and wishes to express its appreciation of the Council’s proposal to review article 39.1 of the Formula 1 sporting regulations, in light of what emerged during today’s discussions.

Now, all the team’s efforts will be focussed on the next event on track, when the Italian Grand Prix takes place at Monza this weekend.”

Alonso continues to lead through Belgian FP2

Fernando Alonso topped the second practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix today, as the rapidly drying track allowed some fast laps at the end. He was only one tenth ahead of Adrian Sutil, who in turn was just ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

The session started with the usual Spa conditions, with the track still requiring extreme wet tyres. However, soon enough the sun started to appear, and intermidiates were swiftly attached to the cars. Later on, Jaime Alguersuari was the first to try slick tyres, and his first lap time was 3 seconds faster than his previous ones on the inters.

However, as the track was still slippy, it was sure to catch out a few drivers. Vitantonio Liuzzi spun at Rivage, while Timo Glock crashed after only 3 laps, at the next corner.

Adrian Sutil was leading for most of the session, before a very strange red flag emerged. Charlie Whiting was dispatched in the course car, to ensure that no fans were standing in a dangerous zone. It is believed that a group of kids climbed over a debris barrier at Rivage (Turn 8). This was a disaster for some drivers, as it ruined 10 of the 15 dry minutes of the session that they had.

When the session restarted, all the cars were queued up to take one last set of flying laps. The two Ferraris went out together, but Alonso pulled away from Massa by 0.6 seconds in the middle sector. This allowed Fernando to take the fastest lap of the session, a 1.49.032, to beat Adrian Sutil.

Robert Kubica was 4th, Felipe Massa 5th, and Sebastian Vettel 6th. Rubens Barrichello was again 9th, and Vitantonio Liuzzi struggled again down in 16th. The slowest of the non-new teams was actually Mark Webber, who was 2.6 seconds off the fastest time. The Lotuses were back on form, with Kovalainen and Trulli fastest of the new teams.

Lucas di Grassi was 21st, Senna 22nd, while Sakon Yamamoto was only 0.3 seconds behind his team-mate in 23rd.

Times from FP2:

Pos. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1′49.032 25
2 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1′49.157 0.125 17
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1′49.248 0.216 14
4 Robert Kubica Renault 1′49.282 0.250 20
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1′49.588 0.556 23
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1′49.689 0.657 19
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1′49.755 0.723 20
8 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1′50.081 1.049 27
9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1′50.128 1.096 22
10 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1′50.200 1.168 24
11 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1′50.251 1.219 24
12 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1′50.341 1.309 23
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1′50.382 1.350 21
14 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1′50.682 1.650 25
15 Nico Hülkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1′50.831 1.799 20
16 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1′51.520 2.488 17
17 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1′51.523 2.491 25
18 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1′51.636 2.604 19
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1′53.480 4.448 15
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1′53.639 4.607 21
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1′54.325 5.293 17
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1′55.751 6.719 24
23 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1′56.039 7.007 21
24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2′03.179 14.147 3

Alonso leads soaked first session in Spa

Fernando Alonso topped the first practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, but it was the weather that made the most news today. The track was already saturated, then more heavy rain made the track very difficult to drive. Because of this, no driver got below the two-minute mark.

Fernando Alonso in FP1 at Spa today

Fernando Alonso in FP1 at Spa today

Alonso’s best time, a 2.00.797, was 0.8 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton in 2nd place, although he only went out for 7 laps. Robert Kubica was 3rd for Reanult, running their new F-duct. The Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber were 4th and 7th. Adrian Sutil was 5th while Jenson Button was 6th, having done only 6 laps.

Rubens Barrichello, celebrating his 300th Grand Prix entry with a special message on the car, was 9th behind Kamui Kobayashi. Michael Schumacher completed the top 10. Felipe Massa was a disappointing 11th, 2.8 seconds slower than his team-mate.

Vitaly Petrov struggled in 17th, while Sebastien Buemi was only 0.017 seconds faster than Timo Glock, although he was suffering gearbox trouble throughout the session, and only did 6 laps. Behind Glock in 19th was Lucas di Grassi. Trulli and Kovalainen were off the pace in 21st and 23rd. Meanwhile, Sakon Yamamoto was last, 1o seconds slower than Alonso, and an unbelievable 2.8 seconds off Bruno Senna’s time.

Times from FP1:

Pos.
Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2′00.797 17
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 2′01.567 0.770 7
3 Robert Kubica Renault 2′02.081 1.284 14
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2′02.450 1.653 11
5 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 2′02.646 1.849 14
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2′02.913 2.116 6
7 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 2′02.926 2.129 11
8 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 2′03.401 2.604 17
9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 2′03.424 2.627 7
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 2′03.489 2.692 9
11 Felipe Massa Ferrari 2′03.601 2.804 17
12 Nico Hülkenberg Williams-Cosworth 2′03.649 2.852 17
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2′03.654 2.857 6
14 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 2′03.851 3.054 17
15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 2′04.145 3.348 12
16 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2′04.250 3.453 16
17 Vitaly Petrov Renault 2′04.690 3.893 15
18 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2′05.680 4.883 6
19 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2′05.697 4.900 18
20 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 2′06.695 5.898 14
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 2′07.189 6.392 15
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 2′07.737 6.940 13
23 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2′07.955 7.158 15
24 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 2′10.507 9.710 18

Massa and Alonso grilled in press conference

Both Ferrari drivers, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, have been hounded by the press following the team orders controversy surrounding the German Grand Prix. After Felipe was ordered to allow Fernando through, who went on to win the race, they were promptly summoned to the press conference, where they just about survived a grilling.

Normally, the first part of the press conference is an extremely boring affair, with lots of “for sures” and “the team did a great job” statements. However, the second part is much more interesting, when the newspaper journalists get to ask any question they want, and the drivers must respond. So without further ado, here are the stinging questions that Felipe and Fernando endured:

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Fernando and Felipe, via a coded message it appears that we’ve just witnessed a clear case of team orders being handed out. To Fernando, do you feel embarrassed about taking such a win, and to Felipe do you feel angry about having to give up such a win?
FM:
For sure, you always want to win. That’s always what we’re working for. For sure we don’t have team orders, so we just need to do the race that we can and if you see that you cannot do the race that you can, you need to think about the team. I think that’s the most important thing.
FA: Yeah, same. What’s important is the team result, so I’m happy.

Q: (Fredrik Af Petersens) Felipe, you said earlier that you lost out to Fernando on the hard tyres. How come that after you were passed, that you were doing more or less exactly the same lap times, a couple of times even faster?
FM:
I was pushing hard as well but maybe I think he slowed down, I don’t know. He was controlling the pace.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Felipe, after this afternoon, do you now think you’re the number two driver at Ferrari?
FM:
Well, I cannot say that I’m there fighting for first position in the championship. I’ve lost many points, important points, and the only thing I can say is that I know what I can do, I can win races, that’s what counts and everybody saw today that I can win races and I can be competitive. For sure, what happened today is something that has happened in many races this year: when I put on the hard tyres I struggle. This is exactly what happened in the race. On the soft tyres, I was very strong and then when we went onto the hard, I was struggling again, so there’s no news about that. So I know why sometimes I’m a little bit penalised, it’s just because of the very hard tyres that we have this year. I don’t think it’s a good thing, to be honest, because you don’t have strategies any more. Then also the grip level on hard tyres for me was always a little bit of an issue this year, and most of the races that we used these tyres I was struggling. And this is another one where I was very good on the soft tyres in the first part of the race, and then we put on the hard tyres and I was struggling again. It’s a similar issue that we have had in some races.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Alonso, in a normal race, do you think you could have overtaken Massa, and Massa, in a normal race do you think Alonso could overtake you?
FM:
Well, I think I was holding in a good way anyway, but the race is long and you always have many laps, so you never know what can happen in 20 laps. So maybe yes.
FA: Yeah, I think there was one moment also on (I don’t know) which lap it was but we were side-by-side into turn six, especially with the people we were lapping – always there is a better chance to overtake and even though we didn’t see too many overtakings here today we’ve seen a lot in the past on this circuit but this year maybe with the new cars etc we didn’t see too many.

Q: (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Fernando, you said after Valencia that the race had been manipulated in favour of Lewis. Those words seem a bit hollow now. Where will this victory rank in your career, is it up there with Singapore 2008?
FA:
I think you have a very strong result from Ferrari today, one and two, a very strong performance all weekend and if the final thought of the weekend is your question it’s because maybe you didn’t see the whole practice, qualifying and the race, so maybe it’s too early for you that Ferrari came back so strong.

Q: (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Team orders are banned in Formula One. They were banned in 2002, that was blatant team orders.
FA:
Sure.

Q: (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Eddie Jordan just said that you two should be kicked out of the race.
FA:
Again, if this is the final thought of the weekend for you, I think it is because you didn’t see the performance of the team and the performance from our car this weekend.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Fernando, I think we all know what happened on lap 48 and we don’t need any fairy tales about tyres or anything to be clear of that. I just want to ask you, because in 2006 in Monza you said that Formula One is not a sport any more for you but was that which we saw today a sport?
FA:
I think we tried to do our race, we tried to do as good as we can. We are professional drivers, we try to work in a team and we try to do the best we can every day, not only here on the track but also between the races, at the factory etc, preparing the races. Again, I think we’ve been doing a good job over the last couple of races and finally we got a strong Sunday with a strong result. I think we are happy with this, although there are things which are more for you if you want to write all these things.

Q: (Carlos Miquel – Diario AS) Fernando, do you feel that some people are worrying because you are back in the championship?
FA:
Maybe it seems like this, yes.

Q: (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) Fernando, what have you got to say to the people who would call this a dirty win and if you win the championship, a dirty champion?
FA:
I have 19 races to… look at the overall races, there are a lot of points that we win sometimes and a lot of points that we lose sometimes. As I said, today was a good day, some other races were bad days for us, disappointing but as I said before, we need to remain focused, keep working, keep developing the car, not to be too excited when we win, not to be too down when we lose. In November, (we need to) try to be in the fight for the championship, not forgetting that Red Bull has so far been very dominant, not scoring many points on Sunday, or the points that they should have scored on Sunday, but remain very strong and McLaren as well, leading both championships, so there is still a long way to go for us.

Q: (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) The reality is, though, that you couldn’t beat him on the track, so you had to get the team to do it for you.
FA:
If that’s your opinion.

Q: (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) I’m asking you, is that not your opinion?
FA:
No.

Q: (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) He had to give you this win, didn’t he, Fernando?
FA:
No.

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Fernando, you’ve said that you’re happy with this win but to be honest, I’ve never seen a driver look less happy in the middle of a podium there today, and in the middle of this press conference here. Why can’t you just be honest with us for once, and just admit that this win was handed to you on a plate today?
SV:
Can I go?

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Go Sebastian! Sebastian, give us your thoughts?
FA:
Hopefully the next question is for Sebastian. No, stay, stay. As I said, I think we were competitive on Friday, I was very competitive on Friday, first position. Finishing second in qualifying by 12 centimeters, I heard yesterday and today I think we scored the fastest lap of the race, so overall I don’t think I was very slow this weekend.

Q: (Miran Alisic – Korpmedia) I have a question for Sebastian. I think you had some not similar but close situations with Mark as well. Do you feel proud that what has happened at Ferrari today hasn’t happened in your team?
SV:
Don’t you have another question maybe? Yeah, maybe they should have crashed. I don’t know, I haven’t seen the incident. I was too far back. I always saw them going into the hairpin when I was coming out of turn five, so I don’t know what you’re all talking about. I can guess but I don’t know. For sure my advice would not be it’s better to crash because also then you get a lot of questions that you have to answer so… Yeah, for me I was focusing on my own race and trying to do my thing, trying to stay close enough, trying to get closer, trying to put them under pressure. It didn’t work, so I’m not pleased with that. No matter who you race, it’s always difficult in Formula One to pass people and sometimes you have to take a lot of risk. When you don’t have to race your team-mate, you’re racing for the team, both of you, both drivers and on the other hand everyone looks for his own advantage. We had a couple of situations this year in our team, so it’s quite a comedy that we are not in focus at this stage but life changes quickly, so… It’s never wise to say anything that you might regret. Maybe in a week’s time. I’m happy where we are now, as a team. Again, I can only repeat that from the outside there was more of a fuss made than there was inside. I can assure you that Mark and myself are always looking to do our best but on top of that, I think we understood many times this year that the team is the main priority and we are racing for the team, in the end. We don’t get our cheque from you guys, we get it from the team. I think that’s something we always have to respect.

Q: (Ralf Bach – R & B) Felipe, you said it was your decision to let Fernando past, so my first question is why did you take this decision, as a racing driver in Formula One, and my second question is do you have any idea why Rob Smedley said sorry to you? FM: No. (Regarding your first question) As I said, because I was not so strong on the hard, so we need to think about the team.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Felipe, Rubens damaged his image a lot in Brazil when he did what you did today. Until now you had the support of the country; aren’t you worried that now after you did what Rubens did you have deeply damaged your image in Brazil?
FM:
For sure not, for sure not. I’m very professional and I’ve showed in my career how professional I am. You are professional as well, you work for a company. I believe you are doing what you have to do, so I’m professional and today I showed how professional I am. That’s it.

Q: (Tony Dodgins – Tony Dodgins Associates) Fernando you’re getting quite a bit of flak but as you say, you’ve been the quicker Ferrari driver for most of the weekend. We see it so often that the guy who is second on the grid gets beaten away by the guy who is third. Is there ever a case for actually asking to reverse the positions on the grid?
FA:
I think there are some circuits where the clean side is an advantage. There are some circuits where it is not an advantage, for example in Hungary next weekend, it will be crucial to be on the clean side. There are other circuits like that. There’s nothing we can do. We have a fifty percent chance of being on the clean or dirty side of the grid, unless you are the quickest which secures the clean side. The only thing we can do is to fight for pole position which allows you to be on the clean side. If not, I don’t see any other possibility. Maybe there should be more distance. Instead of eight meters, maybe 12 or whatever.

Q: (Tony Dodgins – Tony Dodgins Associates) Take today, if you’d been able to opt to start third instead of second and actually swap places, would you have done it?
FA:
Maybe I would have done a bad start, you never know. I think it was a good start today, overtaking Sebastian and that was our target today. You never know.

Q: (Anne Giuntini – L’Equipe) To both Fernando and Felipe, we always talk about the show, the necessity of the show in Formula One. Can you conceive that race lovers and show lovers might be a bit frustrated today?
FA:
Well, I think we try to put on a good show always for people, for spectators but as Felipe or Sebastian said, we work for companies, we work for teams. Sometimes, as we saw this year, there are crashes between team-mates and the loss of 42 points for the team. Today Ferrari has 42 in their pocket, so I think it’s what we are here for.

Q: (Ted Kravitz – BBC Sport) Fernando, after the pit stop, when you were behind Felipe, we heard a radio message, it wasn’t very clear, but it sounded like you were telling the team guys ‘think of the victory.’ Did you say that?
FA:
No.

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