Tag Archives: Jenson Button

Australian GP press conference

Jenson Button, with Felipe Massa and an extremely interested Robert Kubica

Jenson Button, with Felipe Massa and an extremely interested Robert Kubica

Today we saw Jenson Button take his first win for McLaren, and Robert Kubica take a well-deserved second place for Renault. Here is the transcript of the post-race press conference:

Q: Jenson, an incredible race. 50 laps plus on a set of soft tyres. You made the early gamble for the slick tyres and that was the game changer. Was that your call?
Jenson Button:
It was. I think it is a lot easier for the drivers to feel the conditions. The team can see it on TV with the clouds coming in, but we can feel out on the circuit what is happening. I didn’t have a balance on the inters, I was really struggling and I lost a couple of places, so I thought ‘let’s get in, stick the slicks on.’ There was a dry line. A few places were a little bit wet. When I went into the pit lane I thought I had made a catastrophic decision as it was soaking wet in the pit lane. But once I got it going and up to speed, I had a little off at turn three, but the pace was pretty good and I was able to put in some good laps and overtake three or four cars when they stopped and put their tyres on, so it was the right call and I am very happy that I made it.

Q: How do you feel to win on the second race with your new team?
JB:
I mean, it is very special. It has taken me a little while to get to grips inside the car. The team has been fantastic though. They have really welcomed me in, but it has taken me a little bit of time to adapt to inside the cockpit. I don’t know what to say really, it is very difficult to put it into words. But a very special feeling and we will take a lot from this. I feel I am just building in confidence and hopefully when we get to the next race we can do something similar as this feels too good.

Q: Robert, you went from ninth to fourth at the start, then decided not to take a second pit stop for a new set of tyres. How hard was that call for you?
Robert Kubica:
It was difficult because we struggled with the warm-up, so when we saw Jenson being very quick we just pitted in the same lap as Felipe did. Our guys, the mechanics, did a fantastic job and I overtook Felipe in the pit stop but Jenson was much quicker with one or two laps already on the tyres. He built the temperature up, so they are very quick on the straight lines and I was not confident about the conditions as it was my first lap going through the corners with the slick tyres, so it was very difficult to fight with Jenson. It was tough. First of all I thought we would pit again. Then when I had really big degradation I asked my team if we are going to pit again and they said if we can manage we will not do it, so I took a bit more care with the tyres. But on the other hand I had first of all Lewis attacking quite strongly. He came very quickly behind me and I then…, I don’t know, he decided to pit. Then Felipe again, so I was just taking care of the tyres but also keeping good speed and that we would keep second place to the end.

Q: Felipe, it looked like pretty hard work early on and then the race came towards you and two podiums in two races.
Felipe Massa:
It is just fantastic, especially coming to Australia. My best result here was sixth. Having a problem in the qualifying and starting last in 2007 and then getting here which I cannot say was the best race for me. In terms of pace I was struggling a lot yesterday, but I did a fantastic start. We lost some positions on the pit stop and also a little bit on the track because of some mistakes with the difficult track. But it is just fantastic to have one second and one third. We know how important this is for the championship, especially my past. At the beginning of the championship I never had a lot of points like I have now, so this is very nice. The team did a fantastic job, so very happy to finish third in a difficult race like this.

Q: Jenson, Lewis pitted for a second set of tyres and complained about it afterwards on the radio. How did that decision process play out with you and the team and him?
JB:
I don’t know what their idea of pitting was. I guess he was stuck behind Robert and couldn’t get past. I never thought of putting on a second set. I didn’t think that would be an option really. It was always to run the race on one set of tyres if we could after it stopped raining. My pace was not great once I settled into the car. I felt I was starting to damage the rear tyres, so I settled into a pace that was consistent to not destroy the rears. The good thing was Robert was not closing and about 20 laps to go I started pushing just to pull the gap a little more just in case people had pitted and were two to three seconds a lap faster and it was just enough to get me to the end comfortably. We could not have done a better strategy. I think my decision at the beginning was my call but from a lot of feedback from what the circuit was doing and the other cars. It is always a team effort and I need to thank the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team for all their hard work and it is good to see we are improving every step of the way.

Q: Robert, this is the first time you have finished in Melbourne. What does this result mean for you and the Renault team?
RK:
Unfortunately, Australia was never lucky for me. I have been very quick each year and could finish in the last two years easy on the podium but for two crashes I didn’t manage it. To be honest we were not expecting to finish on the podium, so I think for Renault and myself it is a very special result as we were trying to push really hard during the winter. This is the best result we could get from the beginning of the season and it is a big thanks to the guys for all their effort but we have to keep realistic. We are not up to the pace for fighting for the podium in a normal race, so we have to keep pushing, keep working and I am sure we will manage sooner or later to be with the pace of the top teams.

Q: Felipe, a sweet moment for you at the start and a reverse of what happened in Bahrain. You passed your team-mate Fernando Alonso. Tell us about it.
FM:
Actually, I had a fantastic start, so I was able to do the start without wheel spin and I saw many cars in front, especially Fernando and Webber doing some wheel spin and I was able to do a very smooth start and pass them in a good way. I was very happy for the start and also the whole race was very difficult. Lots of slippery, low grip everywhere and to finish the race was very difficult today.

Q: Jenson, the track was damp at the start but when it dried out why was it so much easier today to overtake? Why was there so much more overtaking than there was in the first grand prix in Bahrain? Can you explain that?
JB:
I think it comes down to degradation. You had a lot of cars out of place which is different to Bahrain. The top eight cars were in the top eight slots pretty much. I think a lot of it is the degradation of the tyres. There was a lot of rear graining, some people did two stops, some people did one stop. Some people were trying to look after tyres, other people were pushing hard. There were lots of different ideas out there and it is great to see as, as you said, Bahrain was not the most exciting grand prix. I love that place and it was disappointing not to have a good grand prix, but here I knew what was going on. I could see quite a bit on the TV screens and it did look like a very exciting race. Hopefully we are going to have more races like this and that is what we all love.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Jenson, second win here in Australia. You must be getting to like the place.
JB:
It is. It is. The start of the race wasn’t perfect for me. I touched with Fernando at turn one. I was half-way alongside him on the inside and I don’t know if he just couldn’t see me because of the mirrors. I don’t know what, but we touched. It obviously cost him a lot of time and it cost me a lot of time. It wasn’t the best start to the race and then on the inters I was really struggling. I just did not have a balance. A lot of oversteer in the car. There were very strange grip levels out there on the tyre and I was really, really struggling. I could see a dry line appearing in most places and at the rate my rear tyres were going away I knew there must have been enough grip for slicks. I made the call to pit early as I thought if I don’t pit early I am just going to keep going backwards. I thought it was a terrible call initially as the pit lane was so wet and after my first lap out of the pits I thought it was a pretty catastrophic mistake. But after that I could get into it. I found on the dry parts I could push pretty hard and then really it was about picking people off as they came out onto the circuit. It was a nice feeling as they are searching for the grip and I know where it is and I am able to overtake. It was a good feeling. I got up behind Sebastian and made a little mistake, ran wide, so I couldn’t really have a go at him. He obviously had his own problems. But from then on I just had to conserve the tyres. I had a big issue on about lap 15 where the rears just started going away from me and I had a lot of graining from the rear and I thought that’s it for me, they’re just going to swallow me up. I took a lot of front wing out, closed the diff and just hoped for the best really. Towards the end of the race I could start pushing and got the balance back and the car felt very good. I was in a very happy place the last 20 laps knowing I had a good gap and it would have been very difficult for anyone to catch me.

Q: What about the pace of Sebastian? Do you think you could have got on terms with him?
JB:
I was catching him initially and it was strange. He would start pulling away and I would start pulling him in. Then the team said you have got to look after these tyres. You are going to try and do the whole race on these tyres, 45, 50 laps, and I thought we will back off a little bit and see where we are. From previous experience, I don’t know if it is the case now, but the Red Bulls have been quite tough on their rear tyres. I just settled into a pace and we would see what would happen. I don’t know. If he had stayed in the race there are always ifs and buts and we don’t know how he would have ended up. The important thing is we came away with a win for whatever reason and I am very happy. The team should be very proud of themselves. We didn’t put a foot wrong.

Q: Robert, surprised to be second?
RK:
After yesterday, yes. Before the season, I think after two tests, I called my friend and I said ‘I think in Australia it will be possible to finish on the podium.’ It was around two months ago. Of course we were planning to finish on the podium with our pace. As we saw yesterday our pace was far off the podium but with this strange race we were able to make a lot of places and finish second.

Q: Do you think the higher temperature today was better for you whereas the low temperature yesterday wasn’t so good?
RK:
We know where we are struggling and I think yesterday was unfortunately a good example. We were very strong in P1 where there was a lot of sunshine and hot track conditions. Extremely competitive. Then unfortunately clouds came in for all weekend and the temperature dropped down and we were just struggling. We were not able to stress the tyre and increase the temperature, especially every lap of their usage. This was the case in qualifying. Okay, we are still not up to the pace of the top cars but today was a good example of not giving up and with a hard job, sometimes you get paid back.

Q: How much of a challenge did you have from the Ferrari?
RK:
I had more challenge from Hamilton and I was very surprised he pitted. First of all I thought it was a drive through as for me it was strange that he was pitting. He was much quicker than me. He was not far behind Jenson and at that point of the race if he had managed to overtake me, most probably he would go for it. He had quite a difficult time to catch me although there were a couple of places where he was very close to me and I think once he overshoot the braking. We were very close to touch, but then I had to take care of my tyres. Felipe came quite quickly behind me but I knew the cars behind they would struggle even more with the tyres, so I just settled to the consistent lap. As soon as I tried to push I did like three or four-tenths quicker a lap but then the lap again was four-tenths slower, so I just put up my pace which I thought would be reasonable without mistakes and try to bring the car home.

Q: Felipe, tell us a little bit about the first corner. What happened there?
FM:
The start?

Q: Yes.
FM:
I just did a great start, so I was able to spin the wheels much less than the cars in front. I was changing gears very quickly just to not get it to go into the wheel spin as the grip was very low. That gave me a lot of possibilities to just go through. I saw Fernando and Mark spinning the wheels and that was just great, especially to arrive at the first corner. It was very slippery to brake at the right place and not try to fight with everybody. It was a good point of the race.

Q: And you had quite big challenges from both Mark and Lewis during the race.
FM:
Yes, I made some mistakes. My tyres were suffering, trying to keep the tyres in the right condition, at the right temperature, especially at the beginning of the race. I was suffering from that yesterday as well. But then after 20 laps, let’s say, they started to improve a lot. Maybe I picked up the pace with a bit of degradation and I started to do my race twenty laps after I changed my tyres. For sure, we had some fights and I lost some positions in the race. But the team did a great job with the strategy, not to stop, and I think that was a great job for the top three.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Jenson, would you have ever thought that it would take you only two races to win your first race with McLaren?
JB:
No. I thought it would take longer than this, but a lot of it depends on what sort of car you come out of the box with. This race was obviously unusual. I don’t know where we would stand in general pace but it’s not what all racing is about. It’s about strategy, it’s about thinking and it’s about conserving and we did it correctly today and we came away with a good victory. This is very special. Whatever happens over the next few races, this means a lot to me, to be in this position right now. After being with one team for seven years and clinching the title and here, after two races, getting a victory is very special to me. A lot of that goes to the team for their efforts and making me feel welcome within the team, because that’s something I do need, to be competitive, and I have that. So now we’ve just got to look at improving the car because out and outright pace in qualifying is something that we’re lacking a little bit, so it’s an area we desperately need to work on. When you can get good points’ finishes like this it really does mean a lot to you when you don’t have a car that you think is quick enough to win races every weekend, so these are important points for us and we’ve just got to work hard and hope that we can bring some good packages to the next few races.

Q: Jenson, there’s been a lot of talk over the last couple of days over Bahrain; is this the race that might put the suggestions to rest for a while?
JB:
I don’t think there’s any getting away from the fact that we probably all thought that the last race was not the most exciting and what were we going to do about it now, but I’m glad that we haven’t really jumped to too many conclusions or ideas, because I think this race was a great race. I had a lot of fun; obviously when you win the race you have more fun than any other position but overtaking cars on the circuit and watching on the screen I could see that there was a lot of action going on. I hope it’s not just because of the weather conditions. I hope that we can have races like this because this is what we love and hopefully these sorts of races are here to stay. You are going to have races that aren’t the most exhilarating experience for us but that’s the way it is. Not every football match is fun to watch. It’s got to be a bit of a balance, I think. One thing that was pretty tricky in this race was the light. I had a clear visor and at the end of the race I was struggling to see on the last few laps. It seemed a lot darker than last year. I suppose it was because there was no sunlight, it was all behind clouds, so that might be something we need to look at a little bit.

Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Felipe, did you have a real chance to catch Robert, and what about the duels you had during the race with Fernando, except of course the first one at the first turn?
FM:
Well, I caught Robert but we didn’t have very good top speed on the straight and when I got very close, I lost a lot of grip, so it was not possible to get close enough to try to pass. So the only time I was passed was because I made a mistake in the second last corner, and then Lewis passed me and then I also made a mistake in turn one and then Mark passed me, so that was the only way I lost a position. So when you get very close, it was quite difficult and also Fernando, when he was behind me, sometimes he was just locking wheels. Then you see a guy coming closer and then you just do two good laps and then he’s far away with no possibility to pass, but it was a good fight from everybody, not just from me and Fernando but from most of the cars on the track. Most of the cars on the track were fighting the whole race, I think.

Q: (Joris Fioriti – AFP) To all of you; Red Bull has the fastest car but they are off the podium for the second race running. What do you think of that?
RK:
Better for us.
JB: I think they have got a very quick car and for whatever reason they aren’t here. I think reliability was the issue for Sebastian at the first race and I don’t know what happened here, so I can’t really say much on that.

Q: (Sudhir Chandran – Chequered Flag) Robert, you mentioned about those laps with Lewis behind you. Was it as difficult to keep him behind you as it appeared to us?
RK:
It was quite difficult because we are quite quick on the straight but McLaren, with the device that they are using, they are extremely quick and it was very, very difficult. He was much quicker than me, his tyres were in better shape and he had a more competitive car. I knew that without a mistake it would be difficult for him to overtake me, but I think he once tried before corner eleven and I didn’t see him in the mirrors and I thought he was on the inside. I left a space and it just shows that they were really quick. Jenson was side-by-side with me in the middle of the straight going into turn 13. That’s how it is. I was surprised when he pitted. It was very good for me, because I could just concentrate on saving the tyres, driving my pace and not concentrating on looking in the mirror and just blocking him, so it was a much better, much easier race for me.

Q: (Chris Lines – Associated Press) Jenson, could you tell us about the decision-making within McLaren? You stayed out, Lewis was called in. How much of that was the driver’s call and how much of it was the team’s call? Also, your thoughts on the first corner: Fernando got caught between you and Michael (Schumacher).
JB:
It’s always a very tricky corner here. It’s very, very narrow. When one person gets a bad start it can be a bit of a nightmare. Fernando got a poor start, so that meant that I was on the inside, Michael was on the outside and it’s difficult for three cars to get through turn one as we saw. But when you’re in a racing environment it’s very difficult and it can also be very dangerous to back out of that situation, because if you hit the brakes during the straight, you can cause a big accident behind you. I think it was just one of those things and I’m sorry for Fernando that he was turned around. It cost me a lot of places as well. So that was turn one, really. It was very slippery as well, so it was tricky for us on heavy fuel.
As for the stops, I don’t know if it was Lewis’s decision or the team’s. For me, I didn’t think we would be pitting at all, because that was never the idea for us, and that’s why I was looking after the tyres. Maybe he was graining the rears or maybe he flat-spotted a front or something, I don’t know. But it’s very tricky to look after the tyres when you’re behind another car as we’ve seen many times before, so maybe his tyres were getting seriously damaged behind Robert.

Q: An open question: how difficult is it to pass, with the cars’ aerodynamics the way they are, because we saw Hamilton and Webber really struggling towards the end with obviously better tyres. Is it extremely difficult this year or is it just the same as other years?
JB:
I found it very difficult in Bahrain. You’ve got a much smaller front tyre, so mechanically you have less grip, so when you lose the downforce by following other cars, which inevitably happens, you have less mechanical grip, so you have less grip. I think it’s more difficult this year. If we have another race like this where we have mixed conditions and the tyres are graining and people do two stops and some people do one, I think we can have a great race and especially in somewhere like Malaysia where it’s wide, it’s open, you can overtake, I think we can have a really exciting race, but here you’re a little bit limited to overtaking, so I’m surprised there was so much.
RK: I don’t think it’s just the tyres. For me actually it’s easier to overtake this year than it was in the past, because I’m driving a car that has better top speed. There’s quite a lot of percentage if you have good top speed or not and you want to overtake. If you are the quickest car in a straight line it’s easier to overtake than if you are the slowest. I don’t think it’s just the tyres, it’s everything. It’s always been very difficult to overtake in F1.

Q: (Tom Cary – The Daily Telegraph) Jenson, you appear very calm at the moment; how does the first win for McLaren compare with you first win with Brawn 12 months ago?
JB:
You can’t really compare victories like that. They are both very special but they are very different and the emotions that were going through my head before and after the race were very different also than last year. This one is a special victory because I’ve only been with this team for a short period of time but this is one of the main reasons why I wanted to be here. I think that the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team is pretty much always fighting it out for victories and as a driver you want to be in that situation. But on the other hand, I think the conditions helped us in this race, definitely. We’re not in the position to go to the next two or three races and walk away with victories, so we’ve got to enjoy this moment and think that we’ve got some good points when we’re not the quickest and we’ve got to work on the areas where we think we’re weak. We’re doing that right now and I think that every race we go to from here we will be closer and closer to the front when it comes to qualifying and hopefully race pace is pretty much there now.

Button triumphs in Melbourne as Vettel crashes out

Jenson Button the race winner, ahead of Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa

Jenson Button the race winner, ahead of Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa

Sebastian Vettel was robbed of a probable victory in Australia as a mechanical problem cost him the lead halfway through the race. Anyone getting a sense of deja vu?

The German led well for the first half of the race, before a front left brake failure meant he spun out at Turn 13. This left the door wide open for Jenson Button to win the race, who had made good progress from a slick tyre gamble at the start of the race.

Button, Alonso and Schumacher all collide at Turn 1

Button, Alonso and Schumacher all collide at Turn 1

When the cars lined up for the formation lap, the track was wet, so all cars were on intermediates. The wet conditions meant it was even more dangerous at the first corner. Like I predicted, there was a first-corner crash, but not in the way we expected. Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher all went for the same piece of track, and Alonso ended up back to front, while Schumacher had to pit for a new front wing. Both of these drivers fell to the back, but benefited from the safety car being called out for another crash. With another sense of deja vu, Kamui Kobayashi had a front wing failure at Turn 3, and smashed into Nico Hulkenberg and Sebastien Buemi, taking both out on the spot.

Kobayashi takes out Hulekenberg and Buemi after another front wing failure

Kobayashi takes out Hulekenberg and Buemi after another front wing failure

Even with the safety car deployed, there were more retirements to come. Jarno Trulli and Bruno Senna fell prey to their new cars’ reliabiliy problems, and stopped soon enough after the start.

After the safety car pitted on Lap 5, the race got underway. Mark Webber lost a place at the start to Felipe Massa, then was overtaken by Robert Kubica at Turn 1 when the race resumed. By the next lap, Button made the very risky move to switch to slick tyres, seeing as how the track was still damp in places. On the first corner after he pitted, he ran straight off, but recovered well to be setting fastest laps in 2 laps time.

This news resulted in a mad scramble for tyres on Lap 8, with most of the field bar the Red Bulls pitting that lap. Sebastian Vettel stopped the next lap, and got away with it, but Webber’s stop on Lap 10 was too late, and he lost further positions. He attempted to make it up by making a move on Felipe Massa, but ran wide, and lost even more places.

Meanwhile, at the back, Alonso and Schumacher had work to do. While Fernando got stuck into getting past the backmarkers, which he did well, Schumacher had a disaster, struggling to get past Jaime Alguersuari for most of the day, and completely ruined his race. When he tried a move on Lucas di Grassi a few laps earlier, the Brazilian responded by taking the position back the next corner, resulting in many smiles in the Virgin garage. While he didn’t keep the position, it must have been a great sight to see a new driver in a new team keeping his own against Michael Schumacher.

While one Ferrari worked his way up the grid, the other was defending himself against Lewis Hamilton. The Briton made a move at Turn 1, and got away with it, but damaged his front wing in the process. The damage wasn’t enough to nessecitate a pit stop though.

Vettel loses control after a suspected brake failure

Vettel loses control after a suspected brake failure

Vettel was still leading at this point, but not for long. On Lap 25, he crashed out at Turn 13, ending his chances of a win for the second race in a row. He reported on the team radio that there was a front left brake failure, but this is yet to be confirmed. His crash handed the lead to Jenson Button, who took the lead and never let go of it throughout the race.

The next issue concerned the entire field. By around Lap 30 out of 58, there were two options: Pit once more and put on the soft tyres, or keep going on the same set for the rest of the race. When the track had dried out at the start, all the drivers except Robert Kubica had taken on the soft tyres. When the chance to pit again later cam around, most some took it while others stayed out. Button, Kubica, Massa and Alonso were the frontrunners who opted to stay out. Schumacher, Rosberg, Hamilton and Barrichello decided to pit, and all took on the soft tyres. Don’t forget that since there was rain, both compounds of tyres do not have to be used throughout the race.

The gamble to pit did not pay off for these drivers. Schumacher still wasn’t going anywhere, Rosberg’s car wasn’t quick enough to catch up to Kubica, and Hamilton got stuck behind Massa and Alonso while trying to catch up to Button.

After the mad scrambles around the track for the first half, the main battle in the second half was between Rosberg, Massa, Alonso, Hamilton and Webber. Lewis rued the decision to pit, as he had become stuck behind the Ferraris for the rest of the race. Amazingly, while Button had conserved his tyres well, Hamilton ripped up his tyres even after his pit stop, which further hampered his efforts.

This battle for third all went horribly wrong with 3 laps to go. Hamilton tried a move on Alonso at Turn 15, Webber made a mistake and slammed into Hamilton, which broke Webber’s front wing and meant Rosberg got ahead of Hamilton. Mark pitted instantly, but fell to 9th. He apologised to Hamilton after the race, but Lewis was more angry about the strategy mistake.

Jenson Button celebrates after taking his first win for McLaren

Jenson Button celebrates after taking his first win for McLaren

While all this was happening, Button was sailing away to his first victory with McLaren. Smooth tyre managment and good pace throughout, as well as good tactical choices, meant a comfortable finish for the Briton. He crossed the line first, with Robert Kubica 12 seconds behind, and Massa finished off the podium. Alonso got 4th to keep his lead in the championship, Rosberg benefited from Hamilton’s and Webber’s woes to finish 5th, then Hamilton ended up 6th. Vitantonio Liuzzi drove clean and consistently to finish 7th, Barrichello was 8th, Webber was 9th, and Schumacher was 10th after overtaking Alguersuari and De La Rosa in the final few laps.

Lotus and HRT got their first finishes, albeit 2 and 5 laps down respectively. Heikki Kovalainen, like I said, did a good job to get 13th, while Karun Chandhok survived a few mistakes to finish 14th. Both of the Virgin drivers, Trulli and Senna all had mechanical problems.

It was a fantastic race, which firmly shut up all the whingers who complain about Formula 1 being boring. Interestingly enough, the rain wasn’t really needed to make a great race, so we can all look forward to Malaysia next weekend.

Drivers and Constructors championship standings have been updated, you can view them here.

Pictures and analysis to follow soon.

Full result:

Driver Team Gap # of laps
1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 58
2 Robert Kubica Renault 12.034 58
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 14.488 58
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 16.304 58
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 16.683 58
6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 29.898 58
7 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 59.847 58
8 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 60.536 58
9 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 67.319 58
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 69.391 58
11 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 71.301 58
12 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 74.084 58
13 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2 Laps 56
14 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 5 Laps 53
Not Classified
15 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 17 Laps 41
16 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 32 Laps 26
17 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 33 Laps 25
18 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 49 Laps 9
19 Vitaly Petrov Renault 49 Laps 9
20 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 54 Laps 4
21 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 58 Laps 0
22 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 58 Laps 0
23 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 58 Laps 0
24 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 58 Laps 0

20th February- Testing results: Button on top in final day at Jerez

Jenson Button in the McLaren in Jerez today

Jenson Button in the McLaren in Jerez today

The Jerez testing fortnight finally ended today. Note the “finally”, because the teams must have been completely exasperated by the horrible weather conditons we have had over the last 2 weeks. Nevertheless, Jenson Button finished the test on a high, as he topped the timesheets today.

The Briton’s time of 1.18.871 was the fastest of the entire testing fortnight,  ahead of Robert Kubica (1.19.114) and Kamui Kobayashi (1.19.188). The weather was excellent today, as shown by the fact that the 3 fastest times of the last 2 weeks were set today. Most of these fast laps were set in the morning, as everyone switched to heavy fuel running in the afternoon.

Unlike the other days, we didn’t have scrambling of strategies to suit the conditionsm as the teams focused mostly on long fuel runs. Therefore, we didn’t see as much action as we have over the last few days. However, one of the main causes of concern was for Mark Webber, who suffered a serious mechanical problem. This has not been explained yet by Red Bull, but his engine was changed as a precautionary measure. Also, the only other red flag today was for Timo Glock, who stopped after another hydraulic problem for the Virgin car.

In fact, before the problem, he was really on the pace, lapping the same as the rest of the midfield, before the hydraulic gremlins showed up again after only 28 laps. Jarno Trulli and the Lotus team fared much better. Although their best lap was 1 second slower than Glock, they managed 141 laps in total, the highest of any driver today.

The rest of the paddock all were as solid as Lotus. Jaime Alguersuari got in 139 laps, followed closely by Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso (137). Nico Rosberg got 130 laps, while Kubica and Kobayashi managed 117. Otherwise, Button got 108, Webber got 87 and Liuzzi got 80. Over the last 4 days, Nico Hulkenberg has got the most mileage in, with a mammoth 275 laps.

Statistics from the entire test will be up soon.

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.18.871 108
2. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.19.114 +0.243 117
3. K. Kobayashi Sauber C29 1.19.188 +0.317 117
4. A. Liuzzi F. India VJM03 1.19.650 +0.799 80
5. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.20.061 +1.190 130
6. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.20.436 +1.565 137
7. J. Alguersuari T. Rosso STR5 1.21.053 +2.182 139
8.9.

10.

11.

M. Webber

N. Hulkenberg

T. Glock

J. Trulli

Red Bull

Williams

Virgin

Lotus

RB6

FW32

VR-01

T127

1.21.194

1.21.919

1.22.433

1.23.470

+2.323

+3.048

+3.562

+4.599

87

137

28

141

Pictures from the test:

19th February- Testing results: Webber leads in the dry conditions

Mark Webber topped the timesheets today in a sunny Jerez

Mark Webber topped the timesheets today in a sunny Jerez

At last, the sun breaks through in Jerez, as Mark Webber makes full use of the glorius sunshine to top the timesheets today.

In fact, there were torrential downpours last night in the area, as many personnel struggled to even get out of the track. In the morning, although the track was slightly damp, the sun was out, so it would clear very quickly. Nearly everyone was confident of good weather today. In the first half hour, there were only a few installation laps to check the conditions, but not much else. But, at 08:30, Heikki Kovalainen stopped out on track with a clutch sensor problem. The team brushed it off as a small problem, but the Finn was forced to wait on the sidelines until 12:00 to get out again. Meanwhile, by 09:00, the sun was out in full force, track temperatures had risen, and the track had completely dried out.

Many drivers were lapping either cautiously or very heavy with fuel. The fastest times were in the 1.23 and 1.24 zone. At 09:40, there were reports that Lucas di Grassi had crashed at Turn 12. It soon  turned out that he didn’t hit the barriers, but only just avoided them. This was to be the second red flag of the day, after Kovalainen. However, once the session restarted, Kobayashi instantly brought the session to a halt again, but it is unclear what happened. It seems as though he simple stopped on track. Once the session restarted, it was time for slick tyres, with Alonso, Kubica, Sutil and Webber out to take the most from it. Webber’s 5-lap run left him in the 1.24′s, while Alonso, and then Alguersuaria and Schumacher, all got into the 1.23′s. Jenson Button headed out at 10:30, had the track to himself for a while, and immidiately got a 1.22.6 as his reward.

Lucas di Grassi after crashing at Turn 12

Lucas di Grassi after crashing at Turn 12

Kamui Kobayashi after stopping on track

Kamui Kobayashi after stopping on track

Track temperature was now 22 degrees, and there was less wind than yesterday, so fastest laps were estimated to be nearly as quick as the ones last week. Lucas di Grassi did one installation lap, to inspect for any damage to his car, and pitted quickly, and many believed the car was fine. At 10:30, Fernando Alonso got a 1.21.969, after a 7-lap run. Button got back out again, and by 11:00 got a 1.21.435. Webber and Alonso soon got 1.21.7 and 1.21.8 repsectively, which meant the track had rubbered in well. After 6 laps, all of Button’s laps were in the 1.21′s, which shows he was really on the pace. Webber was 5 laps into his stint, all in the 1.22′s, when he stopped out on the straight, with a suspected mechanical problem.

At 11:30, it seemed that Nico Hulkenberg was mixing lap times with pit stop practice, but only getting into the 1.25 mark with his laps. This, however, was believed to have been a full race simulation, which means he would have been full up on fuel.  Soon though, Button broke into the 1.20 zone, as part of a 7-lap run. By 12:30, Adrian Sutil was the next to improve his times, getting a 1.22.5. Schumacher, after a 10-lap run, got a 1.21.9, with most in the 1.22 or 1.23 range. At 13:00, Alonso went back out, and was suddenly firing on all cylinders, getting straight down to 1.20.115, then 1.20.1, 1.20.6, 1.20.5, 1.20.6, and 1.20.7. This great consistency shows the Ferrari has true pace this year. Kovalainen was out at 13:00, to test two different types of tyre compound rather than fuel,but his fastest lap was only 1.26. He soon had to pit though, because of a cracked exhaust.

At 14:00, Webber got a 1.19.3, putting him 7 tenths clear of the rest of the field. He soon managed a 1.19.6 before pitting. At 14:20, Lucas di Grassi caused another stoppage, this time at the Dry Sack hairpin. When the session resumed 20 minutes later, Webber immidiately got a 1.19.299. Kovalinen got back on track at 15:00 after his exhaust problem, and got a 1.24.924 on one of his first laps out. From then until the end, it was just race simulations, so no new fast times were set. The session was ended 3 minutes early, after Hulkenberg stopped at the Dry Sack corner, but we’re not sure what the problem was this time. Despite this, he managed the most laps today, with 138, ahead of Alonso on 132, Alguersuari on 120, Webber on 115, Button on 101 and Kubica on 100. Di Grassi only got 34, while Kobayashi got 28.

All of today’s times:

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. M. Webber Red Bull RB6 1.19.299 115
2. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.20.115 +0.816 132
3. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.20.394 +1.095 101
4. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.21.432 +2.133 138
5. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.437 +2.138 79
6. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.21.916 +2.617 100
7. A. Sutil F. India VJM03 1.21.939 +2.640 69
8.

Red9.

10.

11.

K. Kobayashi

J. Alguersuari

L. di Grassi

H. Kovalainen

Sauber

T. Rosso

Virgin

Lotus

C29

STR5

VR-01

T127

1.22.228

1.22.564

1.23.504

1.23.521

+2.929

+3.265

+4.205

+4.222

28

120

34

68

Pictures from the test:

11th February: Testing results

Kamui Kobayashi put in a low-fuel run near the end of today’s testing, to take the fastest lap of today’s running in Jerez.

Sebastien Buemi had led for most of the day, with a 1.20.026, but Kobayashi’s lap of 1.19.950 was enough to see him on top. However, there was concern at Virgin, where Timo Glock had a “front wing mounting problem”, which basically ment the front wing fell off. This was only after 11 laps, and even worse, there was a shortage of components, which meant that the team will have to wait until tomorrow to continue testing. Glock has managed a miserable 16 laps in 2 days, and has finished last on both occasions.

Back at the top, Jenson Button was behind Kobayashi and Buemi in third (1.20.618), and was followed by Hulkenberg, Liuzzi, Schumacher, Alonso, Kubica, Webber and then Glock.

There was another problem, however, in the form of yesterday’s intermediate tyres wearing too quickly. Many of the drivers were today complaining about excessive wear on the tyres, even when the track was saturated with water. Nico Hulkenberg said:

“Even though we were picking up a lot of water on the track they still seemed too soft. They were wearing a lot quite quickly.”

Jenson Button, however, believes the problem is with the Jerez circuit itself:

“It’s quite an abrasive surface here. The wet tyre felt like it would last forever but the intermediate had a much shorter lifespan. I think that was the same for everyone. It’s about keeping a balance so you’re not destroying one end. It is an abrasive surface and layout here and we saw the same thing last year.”

On another subject, Hulkenberg has said that there is definitely a power increase with this year’s Cosworth engine, compared to last year’s Toyota one. He said:

“It’s good, I’m very positively surprised about it. There’s been no issues with reliability and drive-ability’s very good. It feels better, it feels stronger [than the Toyota].”

Times from today’s test:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. K. Kobayashi Sauber C25 1.19.950 103
2. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.20.026 +0.076 121
3. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.20.618 +0.668 83
4. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.20.629 +0.679 67
5. V. Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1.20.754 +0.804 80
6. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.003 +1.133 124
7. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.21.424 +1.474 129
8.

9.

10.

R. Kubica

M. Webber

T. Glock

Renault

Red Bull

Virgin

R30

RB6

VR-01

1.22.003

1.22.043

1.29.964

+2.053

+2.093

+10.014

103

99

11

Pictures from today’s testing:

10th February: Testing results

Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets today, in a rain-soaked session.

The Mercedes driver clocked in a fastest lap of 1:20.927, which was set in the morning, before the rain came out. Timo Glock was the only driver who was completely caught out by this, and could only set 5 laps, at a point where the track was at its wettest. His time was a 1:38.734.

Sebastien Buemi was second fastest (1:21.031), followed by Nico Hulkenberg for Williams (1:22.243). The other drivers, in order, were Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi, Jenson Button, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Vitaly Petrov, Mark Webber, and Glock.

Mark Webber was the first to bring out the red flags, when he stopped out on track half an hour after the session had started at 9 in the morning. It was described as a “simple component failure”, which later turned out to be an oil leak. However, the fault meant that the engine had to be changed, which stopped him running until 4.45 pm. Then, he only got 3 laps after that, when Rosberg stopped out on track, bringing out the red falgs and ending the session.

Nico Rosberg attributed his fastest lap to a better seating position in the car:

“The car felt very good today,” he said. “Compared to Valencia where I was sitting too low which affected my visibility and the set-up wasn’t perfect, today I felt really comfortable and I could push so it was an enjoyable day and a good start to the test for me.”

The times are as follows:

Driver Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.20.927 57
2. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.21.031 +0.104 84
3. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.22.243 +1.136 118
4. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.22.895 +1.968 88
5. K. Kobayashi BMW Sauber C25 1.23.287 +2.360 55
6. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.24.947 +4.020 68
7. V. Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1.24.968 +4.041 71
8.

9.

10.

V. Petrov

M. Webber

T. Glock

Renault

Red Bull

Virgin

R30

RB6

VR-01

1.25.440

1.26.502

1.38.734

+4.513

+5.575

+17.807

27

50

5

Pictures from the test:

3rd February: Testing results

Yet another day with Ferrari on top of the timesheets today in Valencia, but this time it was Fernando Alonso who led the way.

A massive crowd of over 35,000 (compared to 7,000 for the last 2 days) greeted Alonso at the track. His fastest lap was a 1m11.470s. This was not only a great lap, but it was at the start of a long stint, so it wasn’t just a loght fuel load that was pushing him on. However, Alonso has remained cautious, saying:

“I think maybe if we topped the times the three days is related to fuel load or whatever, or maybe because it’s true we are competitive. But before being competitive we need to make sure we do a lot of laps and that the car is strong and can finish all the grands prix. We are at that period of winter testing.”

“We need to make the car very, very strong and until Barcelona or the last test at Jerez I think we will not look for the performance.”

He added: “The first impression is always good. It was very good last year, and I was not in Q3 very often. For that I’m very, very cautious.”

Pedro de la Rosa continued to set fast laps, coming in 2nd with a best lap of 1m12.094s. It is understood that the Mercedes car does not have its full diffuser integrated yet, but Michael Schumacher still came third with 1m12.438s.

Behind them, Jaime Alguersuari was fourth, followed by Jenson Button, Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg. Nico was involved in an incident with de la Rosa earlier in the day, where the two clashed. Hulkenberg’s car was believed to be marginally damaged. He still managed to get 126 laps out of the car across the day.

Times from the day:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Alonso        Ferrari              (B)   1:11.470  127
 2.  de la Rosa    BMW Sauber-Ferrari   (B)   1:12.094   80
 3.  M.Schumacher  Mercedes GP          (B)   1:12.438   82
 4.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)   1:12.576   97
 5.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes     (B)   1:12.951   82
 6.  Petrov        Renault              (B)   1:13.097   75
 7.  Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth    (B)   1:13.669  126

Pictures from today's testing:

Kobayashi will keep aggressive driving style

New BMW Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi

New BMW Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi

New BMW Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi has said that he does not plan to change his very aggressive driving style.

The Japanese driver impressed last year, even though he only drove in 2 races, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. His extreme driving style won him many instant fans, including myself. To put it this way, in only his second race, he got past the newly crowned world champion, Jenson Button.

Because he needed to perform well to get a seat for 2010, many people feared that he would become less aggressive. However, Kamui disagrees, saying:

“I don’t think it is something special for me, it’s just my style. I will keep like this, of course without crashing. It is my style and I won’t change.”

He also feels that he is better prepared this season:

“We come in to this season having enough time to prepare for it,” Kobayashi said. “The last two races [last year] I had no testing, so it was really difficult, but now I have so many tests and we can work with the car from the beginning of the season.”

Kobayashi said that he was unwilling to make predictions for 2010 before testing, but said:

“I will try to be the first Japanese driver to win, this is my ultimate goal. But at the moment it is too far away to think about that and I am just focused on my tests now.”

My analysis of his driving style staying is short and sweet: Yay!

McLaren MP4-25 launched (pictures)

The new McLaren MP4-25

The new McLaren MP4-25

McLaren’s new MP4-25 was released today, though some picture were leaked early online.

At the launch in Newbury, Lewis Hamilton was joined by new team-mate Jenson Button.

The most striking part of the new car is the shark fin engine cover. The red stripe on it looks brilliant! Otherwise, the wheelbase has been largely lengthened, with the driver area moved forward to accomodate this. The bargeboards are now shorter, with a higher angle of attack.

The front wing has many new sections, including a completely revised bridge wing. The endplates are also heavily changes, with two main vertical sections. Also, the front wing is higher, wider and more flat.

To be honest, I think it’s much vetter looking than last year’s car. I’m dissapointed that the paint scheme is nearly exactly the same, as I would have loved them to revert to their traditional black, or even orange!

F1 Fanatic have done some great pictures comparing the McLaren and the Ferrari, and the McLaren against last year’s car.

Here is a part of the launch (I didn’t include the full launch, it was just talk!):

More pictures from the launch:

Button’s new helmet revealed?

Photo of Jenson Button's new helmet

Photo of Jenson Button's new helmet

Jenson Button’s helmet for 2010 may have been posted online on Twitter.

A tweeter called @honeybee85 won the chance to be a part in the McLaren photoshoot at the McLaren Technology Centre. She later posted a picture of Button’s picture online.

It appears to be quite like the old blue and red Union Jack design he used at Honda, before he changed it to the flourescent yellow to suit the Brawn GP livery.

Whether this is the new 2010 helmet, we will have to see.

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