Tag Archives: Giancarlo Fisichella

Mixed results for F1 drivers at 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 24 Hours of Le Mans has concluded today at the Circuit de la Sarthe, with Audi roaring away with 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th places.

There were 22 drivers there today who have previously raced in Formula 1. Some finished well up the field with consistent drives, while others were involved in terrifying crashes. Here is the report of the F1 drivers from today’s race:

Brundle & Brundle impress in LMP2

Sky F1 commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle, along with his son Alex, competed in the LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) category.

Clocking in an impressive 340 laps overnight, the father-son pairing finished 5th in class, and 15th overall. However, during the race, they were forced to switch to right-foot braking – a first for Alex – after problems began to develop on the car.

Alternator and throttle issues prevented them from battling for a podium finish, but the elder of the two stated he was pleased with his racing return.

Davidson lucky after horrific crash

Further up the field, 2007 Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson was competing for the overall victory with the resurgent Toyota team. He took control of the #8 car, about 80 laps into the race.

However, a horrific smash with a Ferrari 458 (GTE Pro category) sent Davidson flying into the barriers, and the Toyota out of the race. After being sent to hospital to treat him for shock and back pain, it was confirmed that Davidson had suffered two broken vertebrae in the crash.

However, from watching the replay, you could argue that he is lucky to be alive:

Teammate Sebastien Buemi, a former Toro Rosso driver, drove a fantastic stint to bring the #8 Toyota within 3 seconds of the lead beforehand. Stephane Sarrazin – a once-off driver for Minardi, also drove well in his opening stints.

McNish and Gene throw away vital positions for Audi

2002 Toyota F1 driver Allan McNish has moved on to the Audi Le Mans team, this year racing the #2 R-18 e-tron quattro, a hybrid 4-wheel drive car. He inherited the lead from the #1 car, and was in contention for the race win.

However, when lapping a backmarker, McNish spun out and hit the barriers, losing vital time with repair work:

Amazingly, just minutes beforehand, fellow Audi driver Marc Gene (former Minardi and BMW Williams driver) had clashed with another barrier, this time on one of the Mulsanne chicanes. Earlier in the race, the same car was crashed in the exact same spot by Romain Dumas.

Both cars were repaired, at the same time, by the Audi crew, and sent out within 10 minutes – an incredible performance by the team.

Wurz and Nakajima suffer bad luck at Toyota

Besides Davidson’s crash, the sister Toyota car was in the wars as well.

The #7 car was running second after a safety car restart, with former Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima at the wheel. However, he clashed with the radical Nissan Delta Wing, forcing both cars to undergo extensive repairs.

The Delta Wing was out, while the #7 Toyota never recovered. Benneton and Williams racer Alexander Wurz brought the car out of the pits, but it repeatedly stuttered to a halt.

It was a disappointing end to a promising campaign for the Toyotas, but they’ll be back even stronger next year.

Bruni and Fisichella win GTE Pro category

2004 Minardi driver Gianmaria Bruni and Jordan, Renault and Ferrari driver Giancarlo Fisichella experienced success at this year’s Le Mans.

They won the GTE Pro category in the #51 Ferrari 458. While Fisichella was the one who crashed the car on Friday, forcing the car to start at the back of the grid, he did well to move 3 laps clear of his nearest competitor.

Brabham and Chandhok impress in JRM HPD

David Brabham – son of 3 times world champion Jack Brabham – and Karun Chandhok (2010 HRT racer) finished 6th overall in the LMP1 category.

They were racing for the JRM team. Despite some stalling while Chandhok attempted to leave the pits, the #22 car was brilliantly reliable, and briefly ran ahead of some of the Audi R18s.

Heidfeld splits the Audis with Lola

Nick Heidfeld, who has had a stunted career in F1 to say the least, was driving for the Lola team, and managed to finish ahead of one of the Audi cars.

He was driving with Nicolas Prost (son of Alain Prost) and Neel Jani (Lotus test driver), both of which are aiming for drives in F1 in the future.

With excellent reliability, the trio worked their way up to 4th place overall, and ruined a 1-2-3-4 finish for the Audi team. In fact, had any major problem befallen the top 3 cars, Heidfeld and co. would have finished on the podium!

Belgium 2009 flashback: Fisichella uses the force

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

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

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

Raikkonen uses the run-off area to gain several places

Raikkonen uses the run-off area to gain several places

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

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

Hamilton and Alguersuari crash at Les Combes

Hamilton and Alguersuari crash at Les Combes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raikkonen held off Fisichella until the very end

Raikkonen held off Fisichella until the very end

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

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

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

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

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

Fisichella, Raikkonen and Vettel celebrate on the podium

Fisichella, Raikkonen and Vettel celebrate on the podium

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

Fisichella joins Ferrari Le Mans team

Giancarlo Fisichella

Giancarlo Fisichella

It has been announced that Giancarlo Fisichella will join former F1 driver Jean Alesi at the AF Corse in a GT2-class Ferrari 430.

He will share the car with regukar AF Corse driver Toni Vilander. This will be Ferrari’s first season in the full Le Mans Series, having only contested the 24-hour race for the last 3 years.

I’d prefer to see Fisi in Formula 1, but if there’s no seat available for him, there’s no reason for him to stay.

Fisichella to join Le Mans Series

Giancarlo Fisichella

Giancarlo Fisichella

It has been announced that Giancarlo Fisichella will race in the Le Mans Series this year, effectively ending his F1 career.

After spending last year with Force India, Fisi got the team its first ever podium. He moved to Ferrari to replace Luca Badoer for the last few races, but failed to score a point. Ferrari announced that Giancarlo was to be their reserve driver for 2010, but Fisichella did not want this, so he has moved on.

It is unknown what category he will be racing in. However, Maserati, Ferrari’s sister team, races in GT2 and GT1 respectively.

I’ll be honest, I’m really sad to see him go. His reputation was damaged after 2 poor years with Renault in 2005 and 2006, but I’ll always remember him as the hero who drove the terrible Jordan EJ13 to victory, in horrible weather, in Brazil 2003. Also, his well deserved 2nd place in Belgium last year was something special.

Since joining Formula 1 in 1996, he has always had a reputation of being brilliant in terrible cars, and poor in great cars. However, it’s bad to just look at the Renault years here. As well as Jordan and Force India, he endured many poor years at Benneton, and one at Minardi.

I’ll write more on this tomorrow.

Ferrari F10 unveiled (pictures)

The new Ferrari F10

The new Ferrari F10

Today Ferrari has unveiled their 2010 challenger, dubbed the F10.

However, the internet streaming did not go as planned, as a record 3 million people went onto the Ferrari site, and crashed the servers for anyone else trying to get on.

Regardless, the event went ahead, except without the promotional video. This is because the Fiorano track had practically frozen over, with temperatures barely getting over the freezing mark. Just a thought, we would have preferred it if they had filmed it on ice!

Felipe Massa will test the car first, on Monday in Valencia. He will then hand the car over to Fernando Alonso, who will drive it for the other 2 days.

Lets have a look at the car. First of all, it sports the nose arch hornlet featured by Red Bull last year. The rear wing has a new support structure, and a slightly revised engine cover. The bargeboards are different, and the wing mirror/turning vane now reaches much lower down. The front wing also has new endplates and other downforce-generating sections.

As expected, the car has a longer wheelbase, to deal with the enlarged fuel tank. Ferrari have kindly released specifications for the car:

Chassis

Carbon-fibre and honeycomb composite structure
Ferrari longitudinal gearbox
Limited-slip differential
Semi-automatic sequential electronically controlled gearbox – quick shift
Number of gears: Seven, plus reverse
Brembo ventilated carbon-fibre disc brakes
Independent suspension, push-rod activated torsion springs front and rear
Weight with water, lubricant and driver: 620 kg
BBS Wheels (front and rear: 13 inch)

Engine

Type: 056
Number of cylinders: Eight
Cylinder block in sand cast aluminium: 90-degree V
Number of valves: 32
Pneumatic distribution
Total displacement: .2398 cm3
Piston bore: 98 mm
Weight: > 95 kg
Electronic injection and ignition
Fuel: Shell V-Power
Lubricant: Shell Helix Ultra

F1 Fanatic have done some great comparison pictures with this year’s car and the old F60. You can view them here.

A Youtube video of the launch is also available here:

More pictures are also included here:

Ferrari to stream launch live

Last year's launch of the Ferrari F60

Last year's launch of the Ferrari F60

Ferrari have ann0unced that the unveiling of their 2010 car will also be broadcast live on the internet.

The car is being launched in Maranello, on Thursday. The presentation will begin at 10:30 local time (9:30 GMT) . Drivers Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella will also be present. The name of the 2010 car will also be revealed at this time.

Weather permitting, the car will take part in a promotional video at the Fiorano track. You can follow the launch at the team’s website.

Renault: Money not incentive for Petrov interest

Eric Boullier, team boss of Renault

Eric Boullier, team boss of Renault

Renault team boss Eric Boullier has denied that the team are looking into having Vitaly Petrov as a driver because of his sponsorship, saying that the first priority is talent.

The Frenchman, who relaced Flavio Briatore as team principal last year, says that he is considering many other drivers.

He told ESPN:

“I am not just talking to five drivers but actually to everyone who does not have an F1 contract. I have been speaking with Nick Heidfeld (now confirmed as Mercedes’ reserve driver) and also with Takuma Sato, Christian Klien and Romain Grosjean, amongst others.”

“I am looking for talent first and foremost, but then after that I do need to consider the sponsorship opportunities; people say we are only looking at Petrov because he is bringing a lot of money, but he is not the richest driver we are talking to.”

So I was right in saying that Renault were interested in Klien, Sato and Grosjean. But, none of these 4 have really proved themselves. Klien seems to be pushed aside a lot, and tends to go as test driver. Sato is a bit dangerous for a team that wants to distance itself from crashing (owned!!). And Grosjean does deserve another chance, but I doubt that anyone will offer it to him.

Petrov has shown form in the GP2 series, but possibly not enough of it. This may leave Renault in a tough spot. If they wanted proper talent, they should have gone for Heidfeld while he was still there. Fisichella is still in the market, however.

At the end of this, however, I still think Renault will sign Petrov. MegaFon (who sponsor Renault) are underdstood to have interest in the Russian, he has huge backing behind him, and the GP2 guys always deserve a chance.

Ferrari livery revealed? (updated)

First pictures of Ferrari's 2010 car

First pictures of Ferrari's 2010 car

The first images of Ferrari’s 2010 challenger have been released on the internet.

Spanish website and newspaper Marca claims to have the exclusive first pictures of the new car.

Also, Ferrari have released pictures of Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella in racing overalls. Both the car and overalls seem to have the same design, the usual red now with a revised Santander logo. Instead of white writing on a red background (which is the norm for Santander), it is the othe r way around.

Personally, I quite like the overalls, but I’m already starting to despise the car. The white front and rear wings are horrible, in my opinion. Ferrari really need to bring back the old red and black combination from the early 1990’s, it looked much better.

More photos of the new Ferrari and the drivers:

Update: The picture of Fernando Alonso driving the car was the F60 with the 2010 livery. It couldn’t have been the 2010 car, since testing this year’s cars are banned until February.

Fisichella may be Sauber driver for 2010

Giancarlo Fisichella at the Vrooom Ferrari event

Giancarlo Fisichella at the Vrooom Ferrari event

Giancarlo Fisichella is reportedly on his way to getting a race seat with the Sauber team for this year.

The Italian, who is currently Ferrari’s test driver, flew up to the team’s base in Hinwil, Switzerland. He had already driven for the team before, in 2004, alongside Felipe Massa.

The 37-year-old now looks likely to be joining Kamui Kobayashi for the 2010 season. The team which was previously owned by BMW will be running with Ferrari engines in 2010, and the Italian team has already admitted that it will not prevent Fisichella from joining another team should he wish to do so.

Alonso makes first official appearance for Ferrari

Fernando Alonso has made his first official appearance as a Ferrari driver for the first time.

He appeared at the annual Vrooom media event, which is organised by Ferrari. It is also the first time he has been photographed wearing Ferrari clothes. Below are pictures of him with his new team.Fernando Alonso at the Vrooom Ferrari event

Giancarlo Fisichella at the Vrooom Ferrari event

Felipe Massa at the Vrooom Ferrari event

Fernando Alonso at the Vrooom Ferrari event

Giancarlo Fisichella at the Vrooom Ferrari event

Felipe Massa at the Vrooom Ferrari event

Also, here is a video of Alonso’s first appearance for Ferrari:

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