Monthly Archives: June 2010

Valencia 2009 flashback: Barrichello breaks 5-year victory drought

After the Hungarian Grand Prix, Jenson Button was starting to realise that his lead was not as strong as it used to be. While he was still considerably in the lead, by 18.5 points to Mark Webber, with Sebastian Vettel only 4.5 points behind him. Red Bull were also catching up to Brawn in the constructors’ championship. The Brawn car was turning against Button, as he was constantly struggling for control. So, when Valencia cam around, there could well be a change of fortunes for his title rivals.

Before any of the sessins began though, Rubens Barrichello showed off his new helmet, paying tribute to Felipe Massa, who was sidelined for the rest of the season after his heavy crash in Hungary. His race seat would be filled by Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer, who had spent an incredible 10 years straight testing for Ferrari. He had said that it was a dream come true for him, to finally get a drive for Ferrari.

It was completely the opposite for Nelson Piquet Jr. After yet another dissapointing performance in Hungary 4 weeks ago, Flavio Briatore snubbed his own (managed) driver, and decided to replace him for the rest of the season. He would be replaced by GP2 driver Romain Grosjean. The 1-race ban on Renault, which was given after Fernando Alonso was unsafely released with a damaged wheel in Hungary, was overturned before Hungary, which allowed Grosjean to make his debut there.

In the practice sessions, it became clear that Force India were starting to make improvements, with Adrian Sutil finishing 6th in both Friday Practice sessions. Romain Grosjean was making a decent debut so far, but Badoer was miles behind anyone else, and was last in FP1 and FP2. In qualifying, it seemed as if Heikki Kovalainen would take pole position, but he locked up and slid into the final corner, and only took 2nd place. This left Lewis Hamilton free to take his first pole position of the year, with the Brawn of Barrichello in 3rd, and Button languishing in 5th. It was the first time that a KERS equipped car had taken pole position in Formula 1.

The McLarens of Hamilton and Kovalainen lead the field at the start

The McLarens of Hamilton and Kovalainen lead the field at the start

With their KERS systems to defend them, the McLarens were unstoppable at the start. Further back, Jenson Button made a terrible start, getting stuck behind Jarno Trulli at the first corner, and falling to 8th. Even worse, he slipped and cut a corner, meaning he was instructed to give 8th place to Mark Webber. To make matters even more complicated for him, he soon started to suffer tyre graining issues. Meanwhile, the new drivers clashed, as Romain Grosjean ran into the back of Luca Badoer, causing him to fall to the back of the grid, after he had made good progress on the first lap.

Sebastian Vettel, at his first pit stop, suffered a fuel rig failure, and was forced to pit again next lap. The extra time spent stationary strained the engine, and it blew a few laps later, leaving Vettel on the sidelines. He had extended his contract with Red Bull on Friday, but he had since lost his chance to take vital points off Button.

At the front, Kovalainen lost 2nd place to Barrichello at the first set of stops, and the Brazilian soon started to challenge Hamilton for the lead. At the very back, Badoer pitted alongside Grosjean. While Luca was released alongside Romain, he made a mistake and allowed him past, and then ruined his afternoon by crossing the white line at pit lane exit, and earning himself a drive-through penalty.

Sebastian Vettel retires with an engine failure

Sebastian Vettel retires with an engine failure

Problems were starting to develop for Hamilton, as his team instructed him to try and cool the rear brakes, as the temperatures were going out of control. This allowed Barrichelllo to break through the 10 second gap to the McLaren between the first and second pit stops. Things got even worse at the second stop, when a miscommunication mean that Lewis pitted before the McLaren mechanics were ready for him. The 14-second pit stop threw the advantage to Barrichello, who had 5 more laps to push before his second stop.

Mark Webber lost out during the second stops, falling behind Button and Robert Kubica. Meanwhile, when Barrichello pitted, he emeged in the lead, well ahead of Hamilton, and was well on course to take the victory. Also, Heikki Kovalainen lost 3rd place to Kimi Raikkonen at his second stop. Behind the top 4, Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso were 5th and 6th, and Button and Kubica taking the final points positions.

While Hamilton made a late charge, it wasn’t enough to stop Rubens taking his first Grand Prix win in 5 years, the first since the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix. It was also the 100th win for a Brazilian driver in Formula 1. He also slammed himself back into contention for the championship, as he was now lying 2nd, 18 points behind Button. He dedicated his win to fellow countryman Felipe Massa, which was shown with his helmet after the race.

Rubens shows us his helmet - the writing says "Felipe, see you on track soon!"

Rubens shows us his helmet - the writing says "Felipe, see you on track soon!"

Romain Grosjean spun later in the race, although he still finished 15th, ahead of Jaime Alguersuari, who was at only his 2nd race. His team-mate, Sebastien Buemi, suffered a brake failure late in the race, while Kazuki Nakajima retired with a few laps to go, thanks to a puncture. Luca Badoer was unable to recover after being hit at the start, and finised last, which meant that it was his 49th Grand Prix without a point, an extension on his record.

With Red Bull not scoring a single point all weekend, Brawn moved away in both tables. With Rubens back in contention, it was clear that it would be a 4-way fight for the title from now in 2009.

Forgotten heroes: Piers Courage

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Piers Courage’s death. He was known as a very quick, but erratic driver, and his 2 podium positions in Formula 1 do not get near describing what could have been for one of the best drivers on the grid during his time.

Piers Courage was born on 27th May 1942 in Colchester, and was the heir of the famous Courage brewing dynasty. Because of this, he was educated in Eton, and this is where he caught the racing bug. However, while he was there, he was unable to fully pursue racing, although every Sunday morning he would dissapear with his family’s Morris Minor Traveller.

Piers Courage

Piers Courage

Once he left Eton in the summer, he was able to get started fully. He began his racing career in a Lotus 7 which was funded by his father, although after this he was on his own. Most of his time racing the Seven was spent going backwards, thanks to his penchant of spinning. Off the racing track, he was similarly erratic, crashing his car into a skip in Montpellier Square, Knightsbridge. During this time, he was involved with many strange tales involving people such as Frank Williams, Charlie Crichton-Stuart, Jonathon Williams and Anthony  Horsley. For example, Piers decided to ram his car backwards into a wall, to reshape a damaged chassis.

In 1964, he teamed up with a good friend, Jonathon Williams, and raced in the European Formula 3 championship in a Lotus 22, under the name of Anglo-Swiss Racing Team. Although they did not compete for the entire season, they had made their mark, getting 2nd place in Zandvoort and 3rd in Reims. This encouraged Piers to compete for a full season in 1965.

The next year, he drove a 1.0L F3 Brabham for George Lucas, and got to know Frank Williams, who sometimes drove the car, other times being the mechanic. He got a string of good results, and 4 wins across the year, at Silverstone, Goodwood, Caserta and Reims, which earned him the 1965 Grovewood Award from Jim Clark. This impressive season earned him an invitation from Colin Chapman to drive a Lotus 41 in the 1966 Formula 3 season.

While his car was inferior to the dominant Brabhams, on occasion Courage was able to out-perform them, and earn himself some wins in the process. His impressive performances meant that Ron Harris asked him to drive in Formula 2 for one race, the 1966 German Grand Prix. However, Courage ruined this opportunity by crashing out in the race.

Despite this, he was still offered a drive by the Brabham Formula 1 team in 1967, and he drove a Lotus-BRM 25 for the first race in South Africa, although he retired with a problem with the fuel system, and spinning multiple times in the race. At the next race in Monaco, he spun off on lap 64, and retired again, causing the team to drop him for the rest of the season.

With his reputation now in trouble, Courage was forced to spend the rest of the season in John Coombs’ F2 McLaren M4A, and finished 4th in the standings. At the end of the season, he bought the car off Coombs, and brought the car down under to compete in the Tasman series as a privateer. This is where his career turned around, as in 7 races he finished second, fourth, fifth, third, third and fifth, and then scored an excellent win at the very end. This resulted in Tim Parnell offering him a second chance – with the Reg Parnell Racing BRM Team for 1968.

Piers Courage driving a Brabham

Piers Courage driving a Brabham

During the 1968 season, Piers was much improved, as he didn’t crash out of a single Grand Prix. He got into points-scoring positions 4 times, in France, Great Britain, Germany and Italy, all one after the other. However, reliability struck on more than one occasion, so he only finished 19th in the standings with 4 points. Still, it was a good improvement from his previous attempt.

Piers Courage driving for Reg Parnell Racing, in a BRM P126, in 1968

Piers Courage driving for Reg Parnell Racing, in a BRM P126, in 1968

For 1969, he got an offer to replace Jim Clark at Lotus, but declined, deciding to move to Frank Williams Racing Cars, driving a Brabham BT26A. Although he crashed out of the German Grand Prix, Courage had an excellent season, with 2 podium positions in Monaco and the USA, and 2 other points-scoring finishes. At Italy, where he finished 5th, Jackie Stewart remarked that Courage was “driving like a tiger” around the high-speed Curva Grande. His driving style had improved, and was more clean and consistent. With an 8th place finish in the drivers’ standings, things were on the up for Piers. But, as it tends to do, it all went horribly wrong.

Following a business agreement with Allesandro de Tomaso, Williams opted to use the newly designed De Tomaso 505, rather than the tried-and-tested Brabham, for the 1970 season. It was a disastrous mistake, as the De Tomaso turned out to be overweight and unreliable. For the first half of the season, Courage did not record a single finish, apart from a 3rd place at the non-championship race, the International Trophy. At the Dutch Grand Prix, things looked slightly better. Courage qualified 9th, which was a significant improvement on previous performances.

But, during the race, his car ran wide on a bend, rode up an embankment, and rolled upside-down, with the car bursting into flames. To make matters worse, the De Tomaso car chassis and bodywork had magnesium in it, which was put in to lighten the car. This magnesium exploded, so much so that nearby trees were ignited. His helmet afterwards showed signs of rubber, an indication that a loose wheel had struck him on the head. Just 3 years later, Roger Williamson crashed and was killed at this very same corner.

It would be unfair to remember Piers Courage by only the above race performances. He had just reached a turning point in his career, before it was brought to a sickening halt. Wins, possibly even more, would have been earned by Piers if he had ever had the chance. Hopefully, “Porridge” will be remembered for his sheer enthusiasm for motorsport, and his “living life to the full” attitude.

Prost Jr drives Renault F1 car

Nicolas Prost, the son of 4-times F1 champion Alain Prost, made his F1 driving debut at Magny-Cours this weekend, along with fellow test drivers Ho-Pin-Tung and Mikhail Aleshin. These 3 drivers drove the 2009-spec R29 car, which was fitted with the 2010 livery, which is very similar to the one used by Prost Sr from 1981-1983 at Renault.

Nicolas Prost won the European Formula 3000 championship in 2008, and is now competing in the Le Mans Series. Ho-Pin-Tung won the 2003 Formula BMW Asia championship, and the ATS  Formel 3 Cup, and is currently the Renault Development Driver. Mikhail Aleshin won the 2004 Formula Renault 2.0 Italy Winter Series, and is currently racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 category (and leading the championship at the moment).

All 3 of these drivers got the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car for the first time. However, Aleshin spun the car on his run, when rain began to fall.

Most of the focus was in Prost Jr during the test. Suddenly, it seems as if the old names are returning to F1, with Rosberg and Senna already here, and Prost possibly in the future. Here are the photos from the test:

Ferrari use “promotional video” to test new modified F10

Fernando Alonso drove the Ferrari F10 at Fiorano on Thursday, to film for a “promotional video”, as well as entertaining guests at the track. However, an amateur video has shown that the F10 was using a modified rear end on the car, with a Red Bull style exhaust system.

As we know, in-season testing is banned this year to reduce costs. However, Ferrari have used the “promotional video” exception (not for the first time) to test their latest upgrade to the F10, which seems to be a copy of Red Bull’s exhaust system, which pushes exhaust gases into the diffuser.

The Red Bull exhaust-driven diffuser, which has since been copied by Ferrari

The Red Bull exhaust-driven diffuser, which has since been copied by Ferrari

While this is quite cheeky from the team, it isn’t specifically against the rules, even if no other team does this. The team even joked about it in their statement: “You have to make the most of any opportunity in this era of the testing ban!” We will have to wait and see if Ferrari’s design makes it to the next race in Valencia.

Here is the amateur footage:

Extreme gap in tyre compounds for German GP

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Bridgestone have announced that they are to bring a 2-step gap in the tyre compounds in the tyres that they will bring to the German Grand Prix, in an effort to mix up tyre strategies. Following the Canadian GP, the Japanese company had said that they would be more radical with their tyre compound choices.

For the race in Hockenheim, Bridgestone are to bring the super-soft and hard tyres, meaning that there will be a 2-step difference in tyre compounds, the first time that this has been done this season. Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone’s head of motorsport tyre development, said that the characteristics of the Hockenheim circuit allowed this extreme tyre variation to go ahead.

However, for the next 4 races after this, there will only be 1 gap between tyre compounds. In Hungary, the super-softs and mediums will be used, and similarly for Singapore. The soft and hard tyres will be used for Belgium and Italy.. Hamashima explained these choices:

"The Hungaroring requires a softer allocation as finding grip is 
always a target there. Spa and Monza are high speed tests for 
cars and tyres, needing a harder allocation because of the heat 
durability requirements. Singapore is a high-speed street course 
where the softer allocation is suited."

Personally, I think that a 2-step difference is dangerous, as performance in the cars will vary wildly across the race. What do you think? Is this a step too far to “improve the show”, or is a simple and effective way of spicing up the racing?

Ecclestone snubs HD until 2012: “More interest needed”

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed the idea of HD broadcasting in Formula 1 in the near future, saying that more interest is needed and more broadcasters must be available for it first. This is despite the recent FOTA survey saying that increasing amounts of F1 fans want the sport available in HD.

At the moment, Bernie believes that the cameras and equipment are up to the job of filming Formula 1 in HD, which was shown by the announcement that F1 was to be filmed in HD this year. However, he also argues that not enough broadcasters are currently available to show it, and many F1 fans wouldn’t be able to watch it in HD at the moment. He said:

"We don't want to broadcast unless people want it. I asked in 
England, the BBC, about it - how many people can receive it? They 
said about 20 per cent of the viewers who watch F1.

Then I want to make sure that what we produce is top quality. Before 
we start seeing the top-top quality that we want, I would say it will 
probably be 2012 before we can guarantee it.

I said to the broadcasters, are you going to get more viewers, will 
more people watch F1 because it is HD or will less people watch it 
because it isn't? They really need to have a check and see who has 
got the right televisions.

I don't think the average public realise that it is not the 
television, they have to have something to receive it as well. It 
is like producing a colour signal when people only have 
black-and-white sets."

You know what? Bernie is making quite a bit of sense here. First of all, I feel that only the BBC would take up the opportunity to broadcast Formula 1 in HD at this time, as the other channels wouldn’t have the capabilities for it. This wouldn’t be viable for the cost of bringing in HD in the first place.

Secondly, many people who watch the BBC coverage don’t have HD televisions, as Bernie said. If only 20% of viewers would watch F1 in HD, then there is little to no point in broadcasting in HD – not for the moment anyway. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to watch F1 in HD, even if it was made available.

The advantages for HD, at the moment, aren’t enough to convince Ecclestone to switch, and the notion of 3D is well off as well. When questioned about this future technlogy, Bernie stated: “So many people are saying the future is 3D. It is not 3D at all. It is one-and-a-half D.”

Lotus make biggest leap yet

Regardless of what the blind and the ignorant say (ie. Luca Di Montezemolo), the progress of the 3 new teams so far this year has been stunning. From one of them not even making the grid, and another one only barely, to battling in the midfield only 8 races later, is nothing short of a miracle. Just last weekend, at the Canadian Grand Prix, Lotus made their biggest leap yet in charging up the field.

Their actual raw pace, in qualifying, was the first sign, as Heikki Kovalainen got dangerously close to beating the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi, and he only missed out by 2 tenths. At the season opener in Bahrain, they were more than 5 seconds off the pace in qualifying. Now though, they are only 3 seconds behind the pole position time, as shown here:

Comparison of Lotus' qualifying times against pole position times

Comparison of Lotus' qualifying times against pole position times

That was indicating the distance in time between the pole position lap, and the fastest Lotus driver. As we can see, Lotus have cut a massive 2.5 seconds off their deficit, not even halfway through their first season back in F1. It wasn’t just in qualifying only, they are also making progress in the races as well. Heikki Kovalainen successfully kept back Vitaly Petrov in the last 10 laps in Canada, for example. To make matters even better, he was racing the Russian on old tyres, which makes his performance much more impressive.

By the end of the season, I’m sure the team will want to be competing in the midfield. But, what next after that?

The team may not be the same one in the 1960′s and 1970′s, but they have kept an important relic to be used when they improve – Colin Chapman’s hat. Whenever Lotus won a race, Chapman would famously throw his hat into the air, 79 times over 2 decades. In memory of this, Tony Fernandes has been entrusted with this hat, which now goes with the team at every race. The glass case it is in reads “In case of victory, break glass”.

The question is. will Lotus ever be able to break the glass? Fernandes has previously said that he wants Lotus to be in the top 5 teams by 2013, and I think that this is a realistic target. Do you think that the new Lotus can ever win a race, and if so when?

"In case of victory, break glass"

"In case of victory, break glass"

Canadian Grand Prix in pictures

Lewis Hamilton won, in masterful fashion, a stunning Canadian Grand Prix yesterday. Here are the pictures from the race:

Stats and facts from the Canadian Grand Prix

This was McLaren's first back-to-back 1-2 finish since 2000

This was McLaren's first back-to-back 1-2 finish since 2000

Lewis Hamilton took the 13th win of his career here in Montreal yesterday. Here are somemore stats and facts from this weekend’s brilliant race:

  • This was Lewis Hamilton’s 18th pole position, putting him in 11th place overall alongside Rene Arnoux, Mario Andretti and Fernando Alonso.
  • It was his 13th career victory, which puts him in 18th place, level with Alberto Ascari and David Coulthard.
  • Rubens Barrichello has now clocked over 15,000 laps of racing in Formula 1, a new record. He will make his 300th Grand Prix appearance in 8 races time.
  • This is McLaren’s 11th victory at the Canadian Grand Prix, which is the highest of any team.
  • Also, this is Mclaren’s first back-to-back 1-2 finishes since 2000, when they won the the French and Austrian Grands Prix.
  • As you probably aleady know, this was the first time this year that a Red Bull was not on pole position.
  • This was the first all-champion podium since Phoenix in 1991, when Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet took the podium.
  • Kamui Kobayashi is the 9th driver in 11 years to crash into the Wall of Champions. He joins Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Ricardo Zonta, Juan Pablo Montoya, Takuma Sato (spin), Vitantonio Liuzzi and Jenson Button.
  • Amazingly, this is the first ever fastest lap of Robert Kubica’s career. However, this is considering the fact that he pitted quite late for an extra set of super-soft tyres.
  • Since Felipe Massa failed to score points, Mark Webber is now the only driver who has scored points in every single race this year.
  • Lewis Hamilton is the 5th driver this year (already!) to lead the driver’s championship, something which has never happened before.
  • Sebastien Buemi is the 160th driver in Formula 1 to lead a lap.
  • Ferrari have now gone 25 races without recording a pole position. Their last was at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix.
  • This is the first time this year that all of the cars have actually made it to the grid (ie. nobody starting from the pit lane)
  • Sebastien Buemi was the first Swiss driver to lead a Grand Prix since Clay Regazzoni.

If you have any more to share, leave a comment.

Hamilton leads Mclaren 1-2 in Canada

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button celebrate with the team after their 1-2 finish in Canada

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button celebrate with the team after their 1-2 finish in Canada

Lewis Hamilton led home a McLaren 1-2, ahead of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, at the Canadian Grand Prix today. The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were 4th and 5th after suffering tyre and car problems throughout the race. Also, Force India got both cars in the points for only the second time. Here is the race report:

At the start, Hamilton retained his lead, ahead of Vettel and Alonso. But, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Felipe Massa collided further back, which completely ruined both of their races, as they hit each other at least 3 times. Also, Vitaly Petrov jumped the start, and then caused a collision further back.

Kamui Kobayashi made a brilliant start, going  from 18th to 10th. But, when he was battling with Nico Hulkenberg for 9th, he launched his car across the kerbs of the final chicane, and crashed into the Wall of Champions, ending his race on the spot. Meanwhile, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Felipe Massa and Vitaly Petrov all pitted for repairs after the first lap.

Lewis Hamilton leads into Turn 1, while Vitaly Petrov and Pedro de la Rosa collide further back

Lewis Hamilton leads into Turn 1, while Vitaly Petrov and Pedro de la Rosa collide further back

Michael Schumacher also made good progress, and was up to 8th. Sebastien Buemi got 1th, and amazingly Heikki Kovalainen managed to get himself up to 12th position. On Lap 5, Mark Webber made a move on 4th-placed Jenson Button, followed by Robert Kubica.

By Lap 7, Sebastian Vettel was all over the back of Lewis Hamilton for the lead. While they battled, Hamilton’s team-mate Button, along with Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg, all switched to the medium tyre, after starting on the super-softs.

On Lap 8, both Alonso and Hamilton pitted. Alonso’s stop went well, but Lewis was dangerously released straight into the path of Fernando. Hamilton lost his lead, while it remains to be seen whether he will receive a drive-through penalty. These stops left the Red Bulls leading 1-2, with Vettel 1.5 seconds ahead of Webber.

While all of this chaos ensued, Heikki Kovalainen briefly got as high as 7th position. As he pitted soon enough, news emerged that Vitaly Petrov had got a drive-through penalty for jumping the start.

Both Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber pitted on Lap 14. While Webber’s stop was fine, Schumacher got alongside Kubica at Turn 2, and he pushed both cars onto the grass. It was very cheeky, even for Schumacher, but no penalty was issued.

Sebastian Vettel pitted the next lap, leaving Sebastien Buemi leading the race. However, there was a surprise, as Vettel decided to switch to the super-soft tyres for the middle stint. This left Buemi to defend the lead against both Alonso and Hamilton. As Buemi pitted, Hamilton made a great move on Fernando to retake the lead.

For the next few laps, everyone caught their breath, while the race order settled. One of the most interesting notes was that Michael Schumacher was now battling with Jaime Alguersuari for 11th place. Again, like Australia, Jaime did very well to keep the 7-time world champion at bay.

On Lap 28, Adrian Sutil and Robert Kubica were battling for position on the back straight. Kubica decided at the last minute to pit, and chopped across Sutil’s car, giving him a right-rear puncture, and forcing him to pit. The stewards very quickly announced they would investigate the incident after the race. Meanwhile, an incident between Alguersuari and Rubens Barrichello would also be investigated after the race, but it was not shown on TV.

After Alonso and Hamilton pitted for the second time on Laps 28 and 29, Lewis got ahead of Fernando again, and Mark Webber took the lead of the Grand Prix. His strategy was to only pit twice, and put on the super-soft tyres last. All of the other frontrunners were planning a 3-stop strategy.

Felipe Massa, as he did in 2008, was in recovery mode, and was now challenging the Force Indias of Sutil and Liuzzi for 12th and 13th. He got very close to Liuzzi, like at the start, but unlike that time they avoided a collision.

Fernando Alonso started to clock in fastest lap after fastest lap, as he caught up with Hamilton in 2nd. Meanwhile, Vettel in 5th was being instructed to try and pass Jenson Button for 4th, although his team were “managing an issue” at the same time. McLaren changed tactics, and now were trying to stay on the same set of medium tyres for the rest of the race, effectively a 2-stop strategy. Also, it turned out that teams were running out of tyres to supply their cars. Felipe Massa was forced to put on medium tyres that had been used in qualifying.

By Lap 50, Webber, still to put on the super-soft tyre, was suffering from heavy rear tyre wear. Both Hamilton and Alonso had caught up quite rapidly to him, and were trying to get past. Lewis put in a good move at Turn 1, and took the lead from Webber, who then pitted at the end of that laps, and dropped to 5th.

Then, a few laps later, Jenson Button started to catch Fernando Alonso for 2nd position. When Fernando was held up by traffic on Lap 56, Jenson took the initiative and stole 2nd place from under his nose, to the disgust of Alonso. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa finally got past the Force India duo, with the help of Heikki Kovalainen compromising Adrian Sutil at Turn 4.

With 10 laps to go, both Hamilton’s and Alonso’s rear tyres showed the signs of degradation, while Jenson Button’s were in very good condition. He was only 2.2 seconds behind, and catching him by a few tenths per lap. Also, Sebastien Buemi put in a great move on Michael Schumacher to take 8th place from the German.

Lewis responded to Jenson’s pressure by putting in the fastest lap of the race, and started to move away. His fastest lap was quickly beaten by Robert Kubica, who recently changed to the super-soft tyres, and set a 1.17.9. Felipe Massa caught up quickly to Schumacher, whose tyres were faling apart, and made his move at the final chicane. But, Michael moved twice and cut across him, breaking off Felipe’s front wing, and forcing him to pit for repairs. This left Vitantonio Liuzzi to take 10th position from the Brazilian. It was another stupid move, and that incident will be investigated after the race as well.

With only a few laps to go, the Red Bulls (in 4th and 5th) were instructed to turn down their revs and save their cars. On Lap 68, Vitantonio Liuzzi caught right up to Schumacher in 9th, and quickly made his move. Michael made a mistake and cut the final chicane, but failed to give the position away. Liuzzi tried again on Lap 69, but made a mistake at L’Epinge, and was unable to make a move.

Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line in first place

Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line in first place

Lewis Hamilton crossed the finish line to take victory number 13, ahead of team-mate Button. Alonso was unable to keep the pace, but still took the final podium spot. The Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber cruised to the line in 4th and 5th. Nico Rosberg was chased home by Robert Kubica, ahead of Sebastien Buemi in 8th. Schumacher made a mistake on the last lap, handing 9th and 10th places to Vitantonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil. Oddly enough, Vettel pulled over and stopped right after the finish line, so it remains to be seen what happened there, though it may have been fuel-related.

So, Hamilton takes the lead of the drivers’ championship, with Button behind him by 3 points. McLaren-Mercedes still lead the constructors’ championship, now on 215 points.

The full standings have been updated, you can view them here.

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