Tag Archives: McLaren

Hamilton leads McLaren 1-2 in wet second practice

Hamilton set his time early on in FP2

Hamilton set his time early on in FP2

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button streaked ahead of the opposition in second practice for the Korean Grand Prix.

Both Brits set fast times early on in the session, when the track was at one of its drier points. For much of the 90 minutes, the McLarens were 2 seconds in front of the rest of the field.

Jaime Alguersuari took a risk on the super-soft tyre in the damp conditions, but was hit by Nico Rosberg, the Mercedes sliding wide at Turn 1 and hitting the Toro Rosso. While Rosberg was not given a penalty for his mistake, he was fined €10000 (€5000 suspended) for failing to appear “in a timely manner” to the stewards afterwards.

The field was split between worn intermediates and super-softs – with neither choice working out. Drivers on slicks, such as Sebastien Buemi, spun out, and the intermediates eventually ran out of grip, as Bruno Senna and both Ferrari drivers can attest to.

As no driver could even get near the McLarens, Hamilton and Button ended the session miles in front.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1:50.828          26
 2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:50.932   0.104   19
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1:52.646   1.818   30
 4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1:52.774   1.946   25
 5.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1:53.049   2.221   27
 6.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:53.402   2.574   25
 7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1:53.707   2.879   24
 8.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1:53.914   3.086   18
 9.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:53.948   3.120   27
10.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1:53.957   3.129   32
11.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1:54.200   3.372   26
12.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:54.392   3.564   26
13.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:54.831   4.003   30
14.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1:54.965   4.137   21
15.  Bruno Senna           Renault                1:55.187   4.359   28
16.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1:55.203   4.375   24
17.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1:55.544   4.716   23
18.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1:56.067   5.239   22
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1:56.669   5.841   20
20.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault          1:57.173   6.345   19
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1:58.269   7.441   25
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1:59.458   8.630   26
23.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth           1:59.958   9.130   19
24.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth           2:00.165   9.337   20

Button wins, while Vettel seals title in Suzuka

Vettel retains his lead, while the McLarens switch places

Vettel retains his lead, while the McLarens switch places

Sebastian Vettel is the new 2011 Formula 1 world champion!

The German driver finished 3rd in today’s Japanese Grand Prix, with Jenson Button winning the race, ahead of Fernando Alonso. Vettel lost the lead at the second round of pit stops, then fell behind the Ferrari later on. However, with no obligation to race for the win, he calmly sat back and clinched his second world title. Here is the full report:

At the start, Button made the best getaway, but was blocked by the Red Bull in front. This allowed Lewis Hamilton to sweep around the outside of Turn 1 and take 2nd place. Local hero Kamui Kobayashi slipped to 12th.

However, Button was less than pleased with the German’s move, and was complaining to his team for a penalty. Fernando Alonso easily moved past teammate Felipe Massa for 4th place.

While Lewis clung on to Vettel at the start, he appeared to slow with a slow puncture on Lap 9. He pitted, releasing Button to catch the Red Bull.

Buemi's race ends in the gravel trap

Buemi's race ends in the gravel trap

Sebastian pitted on Lap 10, while Button and Alonso picked up the pace. Both cars, plus Mark Webber, all stopped the following lap. Once the running order calmed down, it became clear that Hamilton had lost two places from his tyre problems.

Sebastien Buemi became the first retirement of the day, as a faulty wheel came off during his pit stop, and the Toro Rosso coasted to a halt in the gravel trap.

The gap between first and second was only 2 seconds, while the top 6 were separated by just 9 seconds. Oddly enough, it soon became apparent that Lewis Hamilton was again struggling with his tyres, allowing Felipe Massa and Mark Webber to give chase behind.

Vettel’s tyres wore off quicker than expected, with both Red Bulls pitting on Lap 20 – with only a few seconds between each pit stop. Jenson followed the same strategy, and emerged just ahead of the championship leader.

Within a few laps, the safety car was deployed. As Felipe Massa tried a move on Lewis Hamilton at the final chicane, Lewis squeezed the Ferrari and broke off a piece of Massa’s front wing, which landed in the middle of the track. The debris was causing cars to swerve to avoid it under braking, and the situation was deemed unsafe.

The safety car pitted after several laps, and Jenson tore away by over half a second per lap. Nico Rosberg continued his ascent through the field, pushing Vitaly Petrov aside to take 11th.

After being reeled in by Alonso, Vettel chose to switch to the harder tyre on Lap 34. Webber followed the tyre call the following lap, indicating heavy tyre wear by the Red Bulls.

Sebastian emerged behind Adrian Sutil, getting badly held up for a lap before passing the Force India. Despite being on the prime tyre, he set the fastest sector 1 time the next lap, prompting Button to bring forward his stop.

Button wins, while Vettel causes the biggest celebrations

Button wins, while Vettel causes the biggest celebrations

Fernando Alonso pitted two laps later, and emerged ahead of Vettel. Meanwhile, Hamilton made a slightly more safe pass on Massa on the pit straight. For a few laps, Michael Schumacher was actually granted the lead of the race due to the pit stop, the German leading a race for the first time since the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix.

However, he soon pitted, slipping to 6th. Meanwhile, the battle for 2nd place began to heat up, with Vettel attempting several passes on Alonso, with the Ferrari driver cutting Sebastian off at every opportunity. Soon though, these battling cars began to catch Jenson Button at quite a considerable rate.

With 5 laps to go, the gap between first and second was 2.1 seconds. However, Jenson was able to pull out enough pace to maintain the gap to Fernando behind.

Sebastian Vettel celebrates back-to-back championships

Sebastian Vettel celebrates back-to-back championships

Button crossed the line to take an excellent victory, while Sebastian Vettel clinched the title from 3rd place. Interestingly enough, Jenson pulled over after the chequered flag, indicating the McLaren was extremely short on fuel.

The podium celebrations featured three world champions, one of which had just become the youngest ever back-to-back winner. After 9 wins out of 15 races, it is without doubt that it has been a fantastic season for the young German.

Button signs long-term contract with McLaren

Button will stay on at McLaren for an undisclosed amount of years

Button will stay on at McLaren for an undisclosed amount of years

Jenson Button will stay on in the long term for the McLaren team, having signed a multi-year contract extension today.

The 2009 world champion joined the squad in 2010, and has won 4 races so far, and is currently leading teammate Lewis Hamilton in the driver’s standings.

This contract has been rumoured for some time now, and the McLaren team finally confirmed the deal today.

Button was full of praise for the British team, saying that he is confident of winning more world championships:

"I've never felt more at home at a team than I do at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. I've 
won four of the greatest races of my life here, I'm currently lying second in the 
drivers' world championship, and I feel that I'm driving better than ever.

You can only achieve that with the right level of support - and I truly believe that 
the passion and determination to win are stronger here at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 
than anywhere else.

As a grand prix driver, those are incredibly powerful feelings to share and be part 
of, and they've only reinforced my desire to commit my long-term future to this team.

I've made no secret of my ambition to continue winning races and world championships, 
and I fully believe this is the place where I can achieve those aims."

It is not clear at the moment how long the new contract will last.

Massa: Hamilton “not learning” and “can’t use his mind”

A furious Felipe Massa has struck out at Lewis Hamilton for their collision in today’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Lewis hit the back of Felipe’s car during Turn 7, leaving Hamilton with a broken wing and drive-through penalty, and Massa with a puncture.

Massa was livid, particularly after them nearly colliding in qualifying:

"My thoughts is that again, I told you yesterday, he cannot use his mind. Even in 
qualifying, so you can imagine in the race."

And after having his race ruined by the McLaren driver, Felipe didn’t mince his words on their collision:

"I was on the straight and he touched me, not even when he was on my side. He 
touched me when he was behind me.

Then, when I got to the end of the braking, my tyre was already punctured. For 
sure it was a big, big problem for my race. And he paid for that as well, so 
what can I say?

How many races this year he did this? He went in the wrong direction and he paid 
and he never learned. The FIA is looking for sure for that, because he is doing 
that so many times.

I think he is not learning. I tried to speak to him after we wait, but he didn't 
listen to me. I called him two times, but he didn't listen to me, he [walked] past 
me. He didn't even look to me.

I called him to speak, but when I show him, I said, 'very good job, well done'. 
Like that you will win many championships!"

Regarding the last paragraph of that quote, when Felipe went to speak to Lewis in the driver’s pen, Hamilton responded “Don’t touch me again” after Felipe grabbed his arm.

While Martin Whitmarsh defended his driver’s actions, I feel that Lewis must calm down on the racetrack if he is ever to win another world championship. Countless crashes and mistakes in 2011 have possibly resulted in the worst year of Lewis’ F1 career.

Lewis has been racing at the highest level for 5 years now, and silly rookie mistakes should be well ironed out by now.

Sam Michael to leave for McLaren after Singapore

Sam Michael will depart from Williams after Singapore

Sam Michael will depart from Williams after Singapore

Williams technical director Sam Michael is to leave the team after next weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.

The Grove-based team have endured a horrendous season, possibly their worst in their Formula 1 history, with only 5 points to their name. After much pressure over the last few months, Michael has now stepped down.

He won’t be missing from the paddock for long though. It has also been announced that he will be joining the McLaren team. A team statement has explained that he “will join the senior management team in addition to taking specific responsibility for the development and management of the team’s trackside operations.”

Michael has stated:

"I already know and respect many of the team’s senior technical management figures, 
and becoming a member of that excellent working unit was one of the prime 
attractions of this new position.

Equally, for some time I’ve closely observed and greatly admired both Lewis 
[Hamilton] and Jenson [Button] as grade-one drivers, and therefore regard it as an 
enormous privilege to be able to work with both of them.

Sam had spent 8 years in Formula 1 before joining Williams in 2001. He has been technical director there since 2004.

Hamilton accepts blame for Kobayashi collision

Lewis Hamilton turns into Kamui Kobayashi in Spa

Lewis Hamilton turns into Kamui Kobayashi in Spa

Lewis Hamilton has made a U-turn on his previous statements, and now says that he accepts responsibility for colliding with Kamui Kobayashi.

Lewis moved to overtake Kamui in the early parts of the race, but moved back onto the racing line, where Kobayashi had already parked his car. The McLaren crashed out, while the Sauber struggled on to 12th place.

The McLaren comes off much worse in the collision

The McLaren comes off much worse in the collision

After initially claiming that Kobayashi was at fault:

"As far as I was concerned, I was ahead of whoever it was I was racing, and I got
hit by them, and that was my race over."

Lewis has now accepted that he was at fault. A brief statement from his Twitter feed reads:

"After watching the replay, I realise it was my fault today 100%. I didn’t give
Kobayashi enough room though I thought in was past. Apologies to Kamui and to 
my team. The team deserves better from me."

Kamui seemed surprised that Lewis had initially blamed him, saying:

"I know I cannot fight because he is much quicker than me. He overtook me. I 
don’t know if he was using the rear wing, I was just using the KERS. I think 
we have very low downforce, that’s why I catch up him. Just at the end of the 
straight I was staying left, and he was in the middle of the track.

He came back and we just made contact. If you see the replay later, I was 
following the white line always, I don’t change at all my line. So I don’t 
know what I need to do – maybe I have to go to the gravel for him? That’s 
stupid, you know. He had to stay in the middle, not come back [towards me].

Definitely I was not trying to overtake him, just staying on my line, doing 
my race. It’s a little bit difficult situation, because he’s fighting for 
the championship. I am doing a different race!

The stewards have stated that there will be no investigation into the collision.

5-place grid penalty for Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado has been handed a 5-place grid penalty for a deliberate collision with Lewis Hamilton in qualifying.

Lewis muscled past the Williams on track while battling for position for their last lap in Q2. Maldonado’s lap was heavily disrupted by the battle, and failed to progress to Q3. After the session ended, Pastor swerved into the side of Lewis’ car, damaging the McLaren’s front wing and sidepod.

Hamilton was able to participate in Q3 (with sticky tape on his sidepods, if anyone noticed!) after several minutes of repairs, and qualified second.

The stewards decided that Maldonado had acted dangerously, and the Venezuelan driver will now start from 21st place.

Lewis has received a reprimand for the incident. Here is how he described the incident:

"I was at the end of my Q2 lap and I got to the chicane as I was just finishing and
there were two Williams just sitting there going very, very slow – I think they were
probably preparing to start for another lap, but it was already red light [chequered
flag, end of Q2].

So I tried and get past, which I did. I lost quite a lot of time there but as I was
coming through the exit of turn one I saw Maldonado approaching quite quickly and he
came around me, I didn’t move anywhere, but [he] happened to swipe across me.

I don’t know whether it was intentional or not, but I guess we’ll see shortly.

The front wing was quite badly damaged, my side pod… I thought my front suspension
was damaged, I think the front towing is a little bit out, but fortunately the guys
did a great job to put it back together.

I just think once the flag is out and the red lights are on there’s no need to be
racing, there should never ever be an incident but unfortunately there was.”

I think it was quite serious and just unfortunate that neither of us, and particularly
him, flipped it or had a big, big crash, so I think we’re quite lucky there."

Here is a video of the incident:

And onboard footage from Hamilton:

Hamilton takes superb victory in Germany

Lewis Hamilton took one of his greatest wins in the German Grand Prix today. Lewis drove his heart out all race long to beat Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber to the top step of the podium. Sebastian Vettel had a dire race, struggling to 4th on the final lap. Adrian Sutil silently took an excellent 6th, while Kamui Kobayashi made a brilliant comeback from 18th. Here is what happened:

Webber continued his streak of bad starts, allowing Hamilton to leap into the lead at the first corner. Fernando Alonso pushed Vettel aside to move into 3rd.

Hamilton takes the lead while the Red Bulls fall back

Hamilton takes the lead while the Red Bulls fall back

Nick Heidfeld and Paul di Resta came together, sending both cars to the back of the grid. They remained ahead of Karun Chandhok, who pitted for a new nosecone after a few laps.

Slipping wide at Turn 3 cost Alonso 3rd place to Vettel. The other Ferrari, back in 6th, was stuck behind Nico Rosberg, and was being urged to pass the Mercedes to avoid “ruining” his race. Even with DRS, Massa failed to pass.

His teammate, without DRS, barged his way past Vettel at Turn 1, giving Alonso back 3rd position.

On Lap 10, the world champion shocked viewers around the world, by succumbing to pressure and spinning at Turn 10. He kept 4th, but was now under pressure by Rosberg and Massa.

This 3-way battle allowed Massa to get closer to Rosberg, and the Ferrari driver pushed his way into 5th. Further back, Sebastien Buemi accidentaly pushed Nick Heidfeld off the track, launching the Renault into the air and into the gravel trap.

Heidfeld is launched into the air after colliding with Buemi

Heidfeld is launched into the air after colliding with Buemi

The focus soon switched to the frontrunners, as the top 3 drivers began to close up to each other. Lewis made a mistake exiting the Veedol chicane, allowing Webber to slide past into the lead. Hamilton wasn’t having any of it though, using a wider line onto the pit straight, and shoving his McLaren along the pit wall to retake the lead.

Webber pitted from 2nd on Lap 16, followed by Hamilton and Alonso a lap later. However, as the three drivers came together at Turn 1, Felipe Massa – who was yet to stop – was in the middle of the battle. Pushing Webber wide, he took the lead, but Mark was still past Hamilton.

After Felipe pitted, Webber took control of the race. Michael Schumacher emulated Vettel by spinning off at Turn 10. Jenson Button finally stopped on Lap 25, indicating a 2-stop strategy.

Webber surprised many by stopping earlier than expected on Lap 31. With traffic and a poor out lap, Hamilton retook the lead after stopping a lap later. Mark tried a move around the outside of Turn 2, but Lewis pushed him onto the grass to retain the lead.

In a complete contrast to the regular undercut, Alonso pitted on Lap 33, and managed to move into the lead. However, his lead didn;t last long – Hamilton did what Webber couldn’t, and sailed around the outside of the Ferrari to retake the lead again.

Vettel jumps Massa on the final lap - albeit in the pits

Vettel jumps Massa on the final lap - albeit in the pits

In the battle for 6th, Nico Rosberg did very well to hold off a faster Button on both the back and main straights. However, running wide at Turn 1 handed Jenson the position. It was short-lived though, as a hydraulic failure caused the McLaren to retire.

Sebastian Vettel began to pick up the pace, and tried a move on Massa at the Veedol chicane. It failed to materialise, as Sebastian locked up and went straight on at the chicane.

Hamilton celebrates a fantastic win

Hamilton celebrates a fantastic win

Into the final 10 laps, the battle for the top 5 positions were decided by the final set of pit stops. The medium tyres were delayed for as long as possible, but with the rain holding off, using the slower tyre was inevitable.

Hamilton was the first to react, diving into the pits on Lap 52. Alonso followed him in a lap later, but failed to pass the McLaren. Oddly enough, even though Lewis was faster on the primes, Mark decided to stay out for several laps, to try a different strategy.

If failed to work, as the Red Bull emerged in 3rd again, well behind Alonso in 2nd. Meanwhile, the battle for 4th was decided on the final lap. Both Massa and Vettel pitted on Lap 59, but a slow stop by Ferrari allowed Sebastian to take 4th position.

Alonso hitches a lift from Webber back to parc ferme

Alonso hitches a lift from Webber back to parc ferme

A last-gasp battle for the lead was short-lived, allowing Hamilton to cross the line to take one of the finest wins of his career. After a stunning lap on Saturday, he was on the pace every single lap, and pushed the Red Bulls past their limit. Fernando Alonso was also impressive, but the drama didn’t end after the chequered flag for him. After running low on fuel, the Spaniard stopped as a precautionary measure – and Webber gave him a lift back to the pits on the Red Bull sidepod!

Adrian Sutil was the unsung hero of the race, quietly moving up the field to take a well-deserved 6th place. Rosberg and Schumacher were behind the Force India, while Kamui Kobayashi recovered well to take points after qualifying 18th.

Update: Sebastien Buemi has received a 5-place grid penalty for Hungary, after the stewards concluded he was at fault for the collision with Nick Heidfeld. More to follow.

Sauber and McLaren fined for unsafe pit releases

Jenson Button's wheel detaches as he leaves the pit lane

Jenson Button's wheel detaches as he leaves the pit lane

Both McLaren and Sauber have suffered the wrath of the stewards after the British Grand Prix.

Both teams have received fines after seperate incidents in the pit lane, where Jenson Button and Kamui Kobayashi respectively were unsafely released from their box.

In Jenson’s case, the front right wheel was not secured before the lollipop was lifted. In Kamui’s case, a slow getaway meant his Sauber went alongside Rubens Barrichello, forcing Kobayashi to take evasive action – running over the Force India wheel guns in the process.

Sauber received a €20,000 fine, as well as the drive-through penalty sustained in the race. As McLaren’s mistake was much less dangerous, the Woking team will only pay €5,000.

How the teams are shaping up after testing – Part 1

After the conclusion of testing in Barcelona, we now have only 12 days until the start of the 2011 F1 season in Melbourne. The cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix has given us more time to examine the new fleet of cars, and the season outlook varies drastically for some compared to others.

This is part 1 of a 3-part preview for the 2011 season.

Red Bull

Red Bull go into 2011 as firm favourites

Red Bull go into 2011 as firm favourites

Despite clashes between their drivers, reliability issues, and the odd spot of bad luck, Red Bull still deserved to take the title last year.

They move into the 2011 season with improvements to make, but with aerodynamics guru Adrian Newey on board, the RB7 looks as revolutionary as ever. Without the double diffuser, the Red Bull has lost a certain amount of rear grip, but most believe that it is a smaller loss compared to other teams.

In testing they have shown good pace throughout, and with less relaibility worries than expected. Most personnel are confident, with Mark Webber stating a week ago that the team were “ready to go” to Australia.

Tactical expertise shown last year should also help, with the new 2, 3 or even 4-stop races shaking up the formbook for the leading teams.

With world champion Vettel looking to continue his form, and Webber looking to put one over his team-mate, Red Bull are without a doubt the team to beat.

McLaren

Just like with their 2009 car, McLaren may well struggle this year

Just like with their 2009 car, McLaren may well struggle this year

All is not well in McLaren, and a brief look at the testing timesheets tells the story.

Having completed the least miles out of all the 2011 cars (excluding HRT), McLaren were already on the back foot. That, combined with reliability woes, and much less knowledge about their car compared to their rivals, the MP4-26 may well be another disaster for the team.

It’s happening unusually often for such a professional team. 2009, 2006 and 2004 saw the team enter the season with disastrously off-the-pace cars. A substansial re-design saved face in 2004 and 2009, but their radical designs do not seem to work as often as many would have hoped.

Having said that, several aspects may work to their advantage, particularly KERS. The McLaren unit was by far the most efficient of the 2009 season, and it should be the same in 2011.

Despite this, 2011 may well be another year of playing catch-up.

Ferrari

Ferrari look likely to rival Red Bull

Ferrari look likely to rival Red Bull

Just like in 2008, Ferrari suffered a last-gasp loss at the season finale, with Fernando Alonso losing out to Vettel and Red Bull in Abu Dhabi. This year, testing form indicates that the Scuderia are on course to be battling with Vettel and Webber at the front once again.

A technical reshuffle over the winter has revitalised the team, as well as the additions of Pat Fry and Neil Marting, both from rival teams.

Fernando Alonso is clearly the team’s lead driver at the moment, commanding the team with a presence not seen since the glory days of Michael Schumacher. Stunning victories such as his one in Singapore prove he is on top form. Felipe Massa suffered a torrid 2010, being shunted out of a win by his own team, and losing momentum after that. This year, he hopes that the Pirelli tyres suit his driving style better.

A huge asset to the team has been the ridiculous amount of mileage they have completed so far this year. With over 6,000km in testing, Ferrari have already completed more than an entire season’s worth of laps. This, as well as bulletproof reliability, will bolster the team as they look to win their first championship trophy in 3 years.

Part 2 will be up soon.

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