Tag Archives: Spanish GP

Heikki Kovalainen to drive for Caterham in Bahrain and Spain practice sessions

After only 3 races out of the cockpit, former Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen will drive for the team in the next two race weekends in the practice sessions.

He will take the place of Alexander Rossi, who was originally set to drive in these sessions. Kovalainen will drive in Giedo van der Garde’s car for FP1 and possibly FP2 for both race weekends.

Caterham say the reason for the switch is because of Rossi’s move to the Caterham GP2 team, replacing Ma Qing Hua. However, seeing as Heikki was originally dropped because of financial reasons, rumours are growing that the Finn is preparing a comeback with his former team.

Schumacher hit with 5-place penalty for Monaco

Schumacher was deemed to have caused an avoidable accident

Schumacher was deemed to have caused an avoidable accident

Michael Schumacher has been punished for causing a collision with Bruno Senna at today’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Under braking at turn 1, Michael hit the back of Bruno’s Williams, causing both cars to spear into the gravel trap. Schumacher retired on the spot, while Senna continued on for half a lap before pulling over.

After the incident, Schumacher branded Senna an “idiot”, claiming he moved in the braking zone, but the stewards saw the event differently.

Michael will drop 5 places in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Explosion in Williams garage post-race

Most of the Williams garage has been completely torched

Most of the Williams garage has been completely torched

Early reports have claimed that an explosion has occurred in the Williams garage after the Spanish Grand Prix.

The BBC report that it was caused by a KERS explosion on Pastor Maldonado’s car, which of course sits just below the fuel tank.

The fire was witnessed by both BBC and Sky F1 teams. It is unclear whether there have been any injuries, but at the moment there are several ambulances leaving the scene.

Will be updated as more news comes through.

Here is footage from the BBC:

And from Sky Sports F1:

And more footage from Sky, this time of the fire from the front:

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 61
2 Fernando Alonso 61
3 Lewis Hamilton  53
4 Kimi Raikkonen  49
5 Mark Webber 48
6 Jenson Button 45
7 Nico Rosberg  41
8 Romain Grosjean  35
9 Pastor Maldonado 29
10 Sergio Perez  22
11 Kamui Kobayashi  19
12 Paul di Resta 15
13 Bruno Senna  14
14 Jean-Eric Vergne  4
15 Nico Hulkenberg  3
16 Daniel Ricciardo  2
17 Felipe Massa  2
18 Michael Schumacher  2
19 Timo Glock  0
20 Charles Pic  0
21 Vitaly Petrov  0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Pedro de la Rosa 0
24 Narain Karthikeyan 0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 109
2 McLaren-Mercedes 98
3 Lotus-Renault 84
4 Ferrari 63
5 Mercedes AMG 43
6 Williams-Renault 43
7 Sauber-Ferrari 41
8 Force India-Mercedes 18
9 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6
10 Marussia-Cosworth 0
11 Caterham-Renault 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0


Maldonado takes stunning first victory in Barcelona

Pastor Maldonado has taken his debut victory in Formula 1, holding off a spirited Fernando Alonso throughout the day. Kimi Raikkonen had a late charge to finish 3rd, while Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel had eventful recoveries. Here is what happened:

Alonso pushes past Maldonado at the start

Alonso pushes past Maldonado at the start

At the start, Alonso slipped ahead of Maldonado, while Nico Rosberg split the two Lotuses. Sergio Perez fell to the back with a puncture, while Lewis Hamilton began his recovery drive from 24th.

Felipe Massa had an impressive start, leaping up to 11th, while Charles Pic spun and fell to 23rd.

Alonso begun to eke out a gap between him and the Williams, but soon reported that his front and right left tyres were beginning to degrade. This fear was confirmed on lap 7, when Mark Webber was the first to make a pit stop. A switch to the harder tyre confirmed that the Red Bull was opting for longer stints.

His teammate Vettel did a similar move a lap later. A flurry of cars, including most of the frontrunners, chose to follow this strategy, all stopping on lap 10.

Schumacher harpoons Senna, and both cars are out

Schumacher harpoons Senna, and both cars are out

Hamilton did not stop, and was momentarily up to 4th until the order calmed down. His strategy nearly paid off massively – a safety car was almost called on an incident at turn 1 between Bruno Senna and Michael Schumacher. Defending into the first corner, Senna braked earlier on old tyres, and the Mercedes slammed into the Brazilian, taking both cars out on the spot.

Lewis pitted on lap 15, but another near miss at his pit stop caused a few fears in the garage. As he exited the pits, the McLaren hit off the older tyre, and Hamilton was delayed by several seconds.

Mark Webber had another early stop – this time for a front wing change. He dropped down to 17th place, while Hamilton recovered up to 12th. His next challenge was a familiar one, the Ferrari of Felipe Massa. They tussled for a few laps, before both Massa and Sebastian Vettel were handed drive-through penalties for ignoring yellow flags.

Vergne and Ricciardo tussle, and will soon be passed by Hamilton

Vergne and Ricciardo tussle, and will soon be passed by Hamilton

Maldonado’s second stop came several laps before Alonso’s, and it paid off. The Williams inherited the lead at the second set of stops, holding a 6 second lead over the Ferrari.

The battle for 6th began to materialise, with Nico Rosberg holding up Jenson Button, and Kamui Kobayashi keeping his distance. After several failed moves by Button, Kobayashi lost patience, and dived down the inside of Jenson, and took Rosberg’s position a lap later.

Hamilton’s comeback soon began to slow down, but by no means was over. Approaching the two Toro Rossos, Lewis sweeped around both rookies in several corners, and was up to 10th.

Maldonado pitted for the 3rd time, but disaster struck. A slow wheel change reduced his lead to 3 seconds, and soon he came under fierce pressure from Alonso. Back in 3rd, Kimi Raikkonen held back until the final 10 laps, then began blasting away the 15 second gap – by over a second a lap.

Back in 8th, Sebastian Vettel put a brave move on Jenson Button, outbraking the McLaren on the back straight. Within a few laps, he had caught up to Hamilton, and used DRS to sail past. Another lap later, Rosberg was passed at Campsa corner, leaving the Red Bull back up to 6th.

Maldonado is crowned a race winner

Maldonado is crowned a race winner

Raikkonen’s charge fell just short, leaving Pastor Maldonado clear to take his first ever victory in Formula 1, and the first for Williams since 2004.

Fernando Alonso held off Kimi by 0.6 seconds, with teammate Grosjean in 4th. Kamui Kobayashi was an excellent 5th, and Sebastian Vettel remains on top of the driver’s championship with his 6th place. Nico Rosberg was 7th, the McLarens 8th and 9th, and Nico Hulkenberg 10th.

It was an incredible drive from the Venezuelan, who withstood massive pressure throughout the race, and continued on despite a few scares. Alonso and Raikkonen did well, but today truly belongs to Pastor Maldonado.

Hamiton’s penalty: Was it fair?

The smile has surely slipped from Hamilton's face after his disqualification

The smile has surely slipped from Hamilton’s face after his disqualification

Lewis Hamilton’s most recent penalty has drawn as much controversy as you’d expect. The Brit’s demotion to 24th on the grid has ruined his chances of a probable victory, over a fuel issue which probably wouldn’t have cost him pole.

However, others have argued that the penalty was fair – after all, this isn’t the first time McLaren have under-fuelled their car.

Let’s have a look at both arguments…

For

On one side, rules are rules. FIA Article 6.6 deals with how fuel samples are carried out, and it clearly states that “the car concerned must first have been driven back to the pits under its own power.”

Clearly, this was not the case. While Lewis stopped on track with enough fuel for the sample, he should have been forced to go back to the pits like everybody else – and this would have caused him to drop below the limit.

Furthermore, it soon became clear that McLaren were not being completely honest with the media over the incident. After qualifying, Martin Whitmarsh stated several times that the stoppage was not fuel-related, which obviously turned out to be completely false. The problem was identified after Lewis left the pits, and management surely must have been immediately alerted to the situation.

Their behaviour in this case should not have earned them extra punishment, but still reflects very badly on them as a team.

Against

At the end of the day, a very simple argument may be the best one – a 23 place grid drop is extremely harsh for such an infringement.

The extra fuel in Hamilton’s car to bring him back to the pits would have slowed him down slightly, but nowhere near enough for him to lose pole position, as he evidently had it in the bag.

Others claim that since the incident occurred in Q3, the penalty should only drop him out of the top 10 and no further. This would make more sense, as the drivers knocked out in Q2 clearly suffered no loss from this debacle, and therefore shouldn’t gain a place.

Personal opinion

I feel that, at the end of the day, rules are rules. It certainly is a harsh penalty, but in no way unfair.

The half lap of fuel that was required cost him about 0.05-0.1 tenths of a second on his flying lap, well below the gap between him and Pastor Maldonado, but this makes no difference. Whether a car is 1 tenth or 10 seconds ahead, it doesn’t matter – all drivers should have to abide by the same rules.

Put it this way: If Michael Schumacher – in his domination years – qualified 0.5 seconds ahead of anyone else, while using an illegal fuel mixture that gave him an extra 0.1 seconds, does that make it acceptable? Of course not. It’s not a perfect example, as Lewis or the team clearly weren’t trying to break the rules in such a manner, but the fundamental point remains.

If McLaren/Hamilton want fair treatment from the FIA, then they will have to deserve it. All 24 drivers should abide by the rules in the correct manner, and if one breaks the rules, they should be punished accordingly, no matter how insignificant the incident. Look at Sauber – a tiny rear wing radius issue caused them to be thrown out of qualifying in Australia 2011, and they deserved it.

With such a tight and unpredictable 2012 grid, McLaren should know better than to get caught up in such petty incidents – it may cost them the title.

Hamilton thrown out of qualifying for fuel-related stoppage, Maldonado now on pole position

Pastor Maldonado will take his first ever pole position

Pastor Maldonado will take his first ever pole position

Lewis Hamilton has been excluded from Spanish GP qualifying, as the team illegally didn’t fuel up his car to the correct amount required.

FIA article 6.6 states that if a fuel sample is required from a car (all cars in Q3 are required), then “the car concerned must first have been driven back to the pits under its own power”.

Hamilton stopped on track at Campsa corner, about half way through the track. It is understood that he did have the fuel amount required when he stopped, but was instructed to pull over by his mechanics. More than likely, if he had continued on, he would have dropped below the limit.

Lewis will start the Spanish Grand Prix from the back of the grid, behind the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan – who was allowed to race despite being 1.8 seconds outside the 107% rule.

According to Gary Anderson of the BBC, a McLaren engineer “turned the [fuel] tap to ‘drain’ instead of ‘fill’ briefly, realised his error but engineers sent car out.”

This of course leaves Pastor Maldonado on pole position for tomorrow’s race. If he can hold the pace he showed in qualifying, we will be in for a fascinating race.

Hamilton snatches Spanish pole position from Maldonado

Lewis Hamilton will start on pole position for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix.

It was no easy cruise though – Pastor Maldonado was all set to go fastest, until Lewis’ final attempt put him on top. Jenson Button and Mark Webber didn’t even make it into Q3, while Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher opted to stay out of Q3. Here is what happened:

Q1

The track remained silent for several minutes, until Paul di Resta exited the pits 5 minutes into the session. His first lap was disrupted by a slow Marussia, however.

Fernando Alonso went straight out on the soft tyre, setting a 1:24.326 to go on top. Kimi Raikkonen was on the hard tyre, and posted a 1:24.580. Sergio Perez, and then Lewis Hamilton, took over the top spot. Michael Schumacher set the fastest time in Sector 1, but only managed 3rd.

Pastor Maldonado soon went half a second faster than anyone else. His 1:23.380 time put him well on top of the timesheets with 5 minutes to go. The Red Bulls stayed in the pits until the final 5 minutes, both taking on the softer compound. Sebastian Vettel was half a second off Maldonado, while Mark Webber moved into 3rd. Kimi Raikkonen got within a tenth of the Williams.

His teammate Romain Grosjean soon overtook Pastor, improving his time by several hundreths of a second. In the final minute, Lewis Hamilton was briefly in danger of being knocked out, but quickly shot back up to 1st, another half second improvement.

Bruno Senna and Jean-Eric Vergne battled it out to survive Q1, but the Williams driver dramatically spun out in sector 3, leaving his beached car in 18th place for tomorrow. Narain Karthikeyan will appear before the stewards to try to start the race, as his HRT was miles outside the 107% rule.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Bruno Senna – 1:24.981

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:25.277

20) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:25.507

21) Charles Pic – 1:26.582

22) Timo Glock – 1:27.032

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:27.555

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:31.122

Q2

Q2 saw several high-profile shocks, as both Jenson Button and Mark Webber were knocked out of Q2.

Webber decided not to set a lap time in the final few minutes, hoping his 1:22.977 would be enough – which it wasn’t. He will start just behind Jenson Button, who complained of massive understeer in his McLaren.

Like Q1, Pastor Maldonado briefly went fastest, but this time held it, leading Lewis Hamilton. Kamui Kobayashi went 9th, but slowed to a halt at turn 3, and was unable to take any part in Q3.

Felipe Massa was a dismal 17th, just a few hundreths off the Toro Rosso drivers.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button – 1:22.944

12) Mark Webber – 1:22.977

13) Paul di Resta – 1:23.125

14) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:23.177

15) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:23.265

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:23.442

17) Felipe Massa – 1:23.447

Q3

Unlike the other two sessions, Sebastian Vettel spent an entire minute sitting at the end of the pit lane, desperate to be first out on track.

However, when the session started, he simply cruised around for a single lap then pitted, indicating he is saving tyres for tomorrow’s race. This tactic was copied by Michael Schumacher, and both cars will start 8th and 9th.

Lewis Hamilton was the first to set a time, with a 1:22.5. It took until the final 5 minutes for this to be challenged, with Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen moving close to Hamilton’s time.

Fernando Alonso went fastest, to the delight of the Spanish crowd. It was short lived though, as Pastor Maldonado caused one of the shocks of the year so far, snatching top spot with just a few minutes to go.

He would have taken pole position, if not for a last-gasp dash by Hamilton to go half a second clear at the front. However, the McLaren was told to turn off his car near Campsa corner, and his car will surely be heavily checked in scrutineering.

Any steward action aside, Hamilton and Maldonado will start from the front row, with Alonso and Grosjean behind. Raikkonen, Perez and Rosberg are 5th, 6th and 7th.

Button back on top in Spanish second practice

Button beat Sebastian Vettel to top spot

Button beat Sebastian Vettel to top spot

Jenson Button put his McLaren on top of the timesheets in second practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.

When on the harder tyre, he complained of “unbelievable understeer”, but was much faster on the softer compound. Sebastian Vettel was again 2nd, leading Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes.

Fernando Alonso abandoned his run on the softer tyre, leaving him 14th by the end of the day.

Running race-fuel simulations, Lotus had an impressive day, finishing 5th and 6th. Romain Grosjean was set to go faster, but was caught up by slower traffic, Felipe Massa and Charles Pic being the culprits.

Mark Webber and Kamui Kobayashi both speared into the gravel trap at turn 4 during the session. Lewis Hamilton and Bruno Senna also slipped off the track near the end.

Narain Karthikeyan did no running in second practice, as the HRT team fixed an electrical fault from FP1. He emerged from the pits with half an hour to go, but quickly coasted to a halt.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:23.399          38
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:23.563  +0.164  38
 3.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:23.771  +0.372  41
 4.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:23.909  +0.510  32
 5.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:23.918  +0.519  32
 6.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:23.964  +0.565  37
 7.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:24.065  +0.666  34
 8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:24.080  +0.681  36
 9.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:24.214  +0.815  41
10.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:24.365  +0.966  22
11.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:24.418  +1.019  35
12.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:24.422  +1.023  32
13.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:24.468  +1.069  40
14.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:24.600  +1.201  33
15.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:24.688  +1.289  30
16.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:24.733  +1.334  34
17.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:24.769  +1.370  37
18.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1:25.047  +1.648  42
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:26.296  +2.897  36
20.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:26.740  +3.341  35
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:27.314  +3.915  27
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:27.664  +4.265  30
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:28.235  +4.836  26
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          N/A       N/A      2

Alonso leads Spanish first practice for first time in 2012

Alonso put Ferrari on top

Alonso put Ferrari on top

Fernando Alonso gave Ferrari their first top spot in an official F1 session this year.

The Spaniard pleased the home crowd with a 1:24.430. Sebastian Vettel briefly went fastest after the first half hour, but settled for 2nd, ahead of Kamui Kobayashi.

McLaren ran a new higher nose on their MP4-27, with Jenson Button 4th and Lewis Hamilton 8th, the latter complaining of understeer on his car. Button lamented that it was difficult to turn the tyres up to temperature.

Valtteri Bottas was 5th, over a second ahead of Pastor Maldonado back in 17th. Force India ran a batch of new updates, with Nico Hulkenberg entering the top 10. Jules Bianchi took over the second car, ending the session in 18th place.

Alexander Rossi tested for Caterham, his first F1 practice session, and ended up 21st, a second behind Vitaly Petrov. Dani Clos drove for HRT, and was 2.5 seconds off Pedro de la Rosa.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1:24.430           20
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1:24.808  +0.378   18
 3.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1:24.912  +0.482   28
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:24.996  +0.566   24
 5.  Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault       1:25.120  +0.690   24
 6.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1:25.187  +0.757   15
 7.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1:25.217  +0.787   16
 8.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1:25.252  +0.822   20
 9.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault          1:25.285  +0.855   29
10.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1:25.339  +0.909   24
11.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:25.367  +0.937   22
12.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1:25.433  +1.003   21
13.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1:25.539  +1.109   23
14.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1:25.607  +1.177   20
15.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1:25.918  +1.488   19
16.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:26.226  +1.796   24
17.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault       1:26.297  +1.867   18
18.  Jules Bianchi         Force India-Mercedes   1:26.630  +2.200   21
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault       1:27.475  +3.045   20
20.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth      1:28.267  +3.837   21
21.  Alexander Rossi       Caterham-Renault       1:28.448  +4.018   25
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth      1:28.633  +4.203   22
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth           1:29.107  +4.677   19
24.  Dani Clos             HRT-Cosworth           1:31.618  +7.188   19
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