Monthly Archives: October 2010

Vettel takes pole position for Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. He will be joined on the front row by Mark Webber, and followed by Robert Kubica, after Lewis Hamilton’s 5-place penalty. Here is the full report:

Q1

As the session began, it was quickly apparent that the track hadn’t completely dried out, as the contours had resulted in patches of wet tarmac appearing in places, despite the sunshine. With this in mind, Jenson Button went out on intermediates, while everyone else stayed on slicks.

Button pitted without setting a lap, so it was a clear indication of the conditions. Having said that, the times were well away from those seen in Friday Practice. The fastest lap in the first 5 minutes was a 1.32.858 by Rubens Barrichello.

It took another few minutes before the Red Bulls and McLarens went out on track,  but they were cautious for their first few laps. Eventually, Sebastian Vettel went one tenth quicker than the two Williams cars.

Nico Rosberg did well to get into 3rd place, while Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld struggled down in 13th and 14th.

Robert Kubica was the final driver to leave the pits, but could only go 13th. Meanwhile, Sebastien Buemi had a very poor set of laps, and couldn’t get himself out of the drop zone. He was 18th, ahead of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Sebastien Buemi

19) Jarno Trulli

20) Heikki Kovalainen

21) Lucas di Grassi

22) Timo Glock

23) Bruno Senna

24) Sakon Yamamoto

Q2

As Q2 began, the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa went fastest within minutes, before Mark Webber went another tenth faster with a 1.31.651. Jenson Button went 2nd, Sebastian Vettel 4th, and Lewis Hamilton 5th.

It soon emerged that the “green” track, which means it isn’t rubbered in, wasn’t working well with the soft tyres, prompting many teams to change their tyre strategies, such as Nico Hulkenberg.

The next two cars to make a move were the Mercedes drivers of Nico Rosberg and Schumacher, going 7th and 10th. Felipe Massa was stuck in 11th, but several backmarkers ruined his first attempt. Kamui Kobayashi was very close to knocking out Michael Schumacher, but braked too late for the final corner and messed up his lap, leaving him 14th.

Massa had a very disappointing final lap, while Nick Heidfeld momentarily took 10th from Schumacher, until Michael’s final lap took back the position.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Nick Heidfeld

12) Felipe Massa

13) Vitaly Petrov

14) Kamui Kobayashi

15) Adrian Sutil

16) Jaime Alguersuari

17) Vitantonio Liuzzi

Q3

With the start of Q3, Lewis Hamilton was the first out, surely to try and make up for his 5-place grid penalty. Contrary to belief that there would be a split between the hard and soft tyres, most drivers were going out on the soft tyres, with the notable exception of Jenson Button.

Lewis got the ball rolling with a 1.31.3, which Fernando Alonso was unable to beat. Mark Webber went 2 tenths faster than Alonso, before Vettel smashed that time by another 0.4 seconds.

With 3 minutes to go, Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg went out on track, with Button on the harder tyre. His first attempt was poor, with only 4th. Hamilton jumped to 2nd, before Mark Webber took the position back. Nobody could get near Sebastian Vettel, who still decided to improve upon his time by 0.007 seconds. Hamilton’s penalty now leaves Robert Kubica 3rd, Fernando Alonso 4th, Button 5th, followed by Rosberg, Barrichello, Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Schumacher.

This was Sebastian’s 8th pole position of the year, and it is critical to win this race later if he is to keep up his title hopes.

Suzuka qualifying washout in pictures

As we all know, this morning’s Japanese Grand Prix qualifying session did not go ahead, after torrential rain flooded the track and pit lane.

Even before qualifying, conditions were still torrential

Even before qualifying, conditions were still torrential

With this in mind, I thought I’d put up a few pictures of Saturday in Suzuka, to have a look at what the teams and drivers got up to during the postponed session…

First of all, several teams, such as Red Bull, Sauber and Lotus decided to make boats and race them down the pit lane. Apparently Heikki Kovalainen stole a fire exit sign to use for his, but I can’t find any photos to prove it!

Red Bulls' attempt at boat racing down the pit lane

Red Bulls' attempt at boat racing down the pit lane

The best boat in the paddock in my opinion - the S.S Sauber

The best boat in the paddock in my opinion - the S.S Sauber

Meanwhile, Virgin decided they would use their slick tyres to good use – by using them as seats for a few rounds of poker:

Lucas di Grassi seems to have the edge over Timo Glock..

Lucas di Grassi seems to have the edge over Timo Glock..

Sebastian Vettel borrowed one of Sutton Images’ SLR cameras, and apparently wasn’t too bad at it:

Sebastian Vettel tries his hand at photography

Sebastian Vettel tries his hand at photography

It might have been fun for them, but I’m just looking forward to the racing tomorrow. I’ll just leave you with a reminder that a wet pit lane is slippier than some would have thought…

Hamilton suffers 5-place grid penalty for gearbox change

Lewis Hamilton has been handed a 5-place grid penalty, after changing his gearbox in Saturday Practice earlier today. However, it is still unknown where he will start, as qualifying has been delayed until 2:00 GMT tomorrow morning, after heavy rain this morning.

This change explains why Hamilton took such little part in Friday Practice 2, as many had previously believed his car was being repaired after his crash in FP1.

However, it has now been confirmed that an unauthorised gearbox change occurred, as his previous gearbox had not lasted 4 races. McLaren explained the move:

“In P3 [final practice] we noticed abnormal gearbox oil pressure on Lewis’s car which we believed we had corrected ahead of this afternoon’s qualifying session,” read a McLaren team statement.

“This afternoon, as we fired up Lewis’s car several times in preparation for qualifying, we became aware that the symptoms were worse than we’d originally diagnosed.

“A decision was later taken to change the gearbox ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session and the grand prix. As a result, Lewis will receive a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race.”

This will serve as another blow to Lewis’ title hopes, as he sits 20 points behind current championship leader Mark Webber.

Qualifying postponed until Sunday after torrential rain

Japanese GP qualifying has been postponed until tomorrow

Japanese GP qualifying has been postponed until tomorrow

Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix has been postponed until Sunday morning, after a torrential rain storm hit the track, and will continue for several hours. As the track will be dark by the time the rain gets anywhere near calming down, the stewards have taken the decision to delay qualifying until tomorrow.

In Saturday Practice, 3 hours before qualifying, conditions were just as horrendous, with only Jaime Alguersuari and Timo Glock setting a lap time, and not without a few spins either. Any driver who went out, even those who didn’t set a lap, said it was completely impossible to drive.

While it has not yet been confirmed, it is believed that the session will now begin at 10am local time (2am GMT), and there is no news yet about what broadcasters will be showing the sessions live. However, there may well be clashing times with the Commonwealth Games coverage on some networks.

As for today, there was nothing to do apart from watch the teams make boats and race them down the flooded pit lane. It is not yet know how wet the track will be for qualifying tomorrow, but I will update as soon as I hear about it.

Toro Rosso and Force India retain drivers for 2011

It has been announced today that both the Toro Rosso and Force India teams are to retain their driver line-up for the 2011 season.

Both Force India and Toro Rosso are to keep their drivers for 2011

Both Force India and Toro Rosso are to keep their drivers for 2011

There had been rumours around that both teams were considering driver changes, but all of that appears to have been put to one side as Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi will continue to race for their respective teams.

This of course means that there is no space available for Paul di Resta, the highly rated test driver for Force India, and contracted to the Mercedes racing group. His only option is if there is a vacancy at Mercedes, which looks very unlikely.

 

Vettel stays on top in Suzuka FP2

Sebastian Vettel continued to extend his lead over the other drivers in Friday Practice this morning, as he set the fastest lap for the second time today in Suzuka. He was 3 tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Mark Webber.

Sebastian Vettel continued to lead FP2 today

Sebastian Vettel continued to lead FP2 today

Robert Kubica was again impressive in 3rd, although he had a high-speed spin into the gravel trap during the session, where he was lucky to keep the car going. In 4th and 5th were Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, though amazingly they were a full second slower than the Red Bulls.

Jenson Button was very close behind in 6th. Lewis Hamilton’s car was fully repaired from his crash in FP2 with 10 minutes to go, and only set 8 laps. His fastest was only enough for 13th place.

Vitaly Petrov was 7th, ahead of Michael Schumacher, Adrian Sutil, Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg. Kamui Kobayashi was 12th, after another eventful session of running wide multiple times. His team-mate Nick Heidfeld was 15th.

Vitantonio Liuzzi struggled behind the two Toro Rossos in 18th place. Heikki Kovalainen continued to be the fastest driver of the new teams in 19th, ahead of Jarno Trulli. Lucas di Grassi took back his race seat from Jerome D’Ambrosio and was 21st behind Timo Glock.

Times from FP2:

Pos.
Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’31.465 32
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’31.860 0.395 29
3 Robert Kubica Renault 1’32.200 0.735 32
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.362 0.897 34
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’32.519 1.054 35
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.533 1.068 28
7 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’32.703 1.238 32
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’32.831 1.366 27
9 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’32.842 1.377 26
10 Nico Hülkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’32.851 1.386 26
11 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.880 1.415 26
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.471 2.006 31
13 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’33.481 2.016 8
14 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’33.564 2.099 16
15 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.697 2.232 33
16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.005 2.540 32
17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.055 2.590 37
18 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’34.310 2.845 33
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.095 4.630 37
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.333 4.868 33
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.630 5.165 28
22 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.834 5.369 28
23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’37.352 5.887 33
24 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’37.831 6.366 34

Hamilton crashes out in Japanese FP1 while Vettel leads

Continuing from his dominant victory last year, Sebastian Vettel lead the first practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka this morning.

 

Sebastian Vettel led the first practice session in Suzuka today

Sebastian Vettel led the first practice session in Suzuka today

 

However, Lewis Hamilton’s weekend got off to a terrible start, after crashing into the barriers at Degner, after setting only 9 laps. He ran wide, hit the gravel, and took off most of the front left suspension. He took no further part in the session.

Jenson Button had a simiar moment near the end of the session, but kept his car on track. Despite setting twice as many laps though, Button was 12th, half a second behind Hamilton in 5th.

Up front, Vettel led with a 1.32.585, though Mark Webber was well within striking distance, only 0.05 seconds behind his team-mate. Robert Kubica was half a second behind in 3rd. Adrian Sutil was another 0.5 slower in 4th.

Lewis Hamilton's car being removed from the track

Lewis Hamilton's car being removed from the track

Behind this group came the two Williams drivers, Schumacher, and Nick Heidfeld in 9th, 4 tenths quicker than Kamui Kobayashi.

The Ferraris were 11th and 13th, suggesting that they would be running heavy fuel loads. Vitaly Petrov struggled in 15th, while Buemi and Alguersuari were the slowest of the established teams. The 3 new teams were quite off the pace, with Heikki Kovalainen 4.3 seconds off Vettel’s time.

Jerome D’Ambrosio, in his first practice session in a Formula 1 car, was 22nd, and only 4 tenths off Timo Glock. Bruno Senna and Sakon Yamamoto filled the back row.

Times from FP1:

Pos.
Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’32.585 23
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’32.633 0.048 23
3 Robert Kubica Renault 1’33.129 0.544 23
4 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’33.639 1.054 13
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’33.643 1.058 9
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’33.677 1.092 21
7 Nico Hülkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’33.707 1.122 24
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’33.739 1.154 20
9 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.791 1.206 23
10 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’33.831 1.246 9
11 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’33.929 1.344 25
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’34.042 1.457 19
13 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’34.169 1.584 23
14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’34.271 1.686 19
15 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’34.373 1.788 24
16 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’34.379 1.794 21
17 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.991 2.406 26
18 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’35.684 3.099 22
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.949 4.364 25
20 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’37.329 4.744 17
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’37.388 4.803 23
22 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’37.778 5.193 23
23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’38.814 6.229 28
24 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’39.443 6.858 26

Lotus to use Red Bull technology for 2011

Lotus have announced a tie-in with the Red Bull team, where they will be using Red Bull-manufactured engines and hydraulics for the 2011 season. They have already announced their annulment of their contract with Cosworth, so an announcement about them using Renault engines is also imminent.

Lotus will use Red Bull hydraulics and gearboxes for 2011

Lotus will use Red Bull hydraulics and gearboxes for 2011

Reliability has been the main problem from Lotus’ first season, with 9 mechanical retirements, most of these from hydraulic and gearbox problems. Their current supplier, Xtrac, who supplies gearboxes and hydraulics to all 3 new teams (Virgin making their gearbox casing being the only exception), has been lagging behind other competitors in terms of reliability, and Lotus claim that this move will be a big step forward for them.

Techincal officer Mike Gascoyne said:

"The announcement that we have reached a multi-year agreement 
with Red Bull Technology for the supply of our gearboxes and 
hydraulics from 2011 is obviously a massive step forward for 
us, both in engineering terms, and as an expression of our 
ambitions for next year and for future championships.

The gearbox / hydraulics package obviously plays a critical 
role in the performance of the car, not just on track but in 
design and packaging terms, and this deal gives our design 
and aero teams a very exciting platform to work with.

The removal of the double diffusers in 2011 will allow the 
whole grid to tighten up the rear bodywork and mechanical 
structures around the gearbox, and this supply deal will 
allow us to capitalise on that with our 2011 car. Exciting 
times lie ahead!"

I was slightly surprised, considering that we were all expecting the Renault engine announcement, but this is a great step forward for Lotus. The Renault engine news is surely due any day soon.

Sergio Perez signed by Sauber for 2011, Telmex confirmed as sponsor

Sauber have announced today that Mexican racing driver Sergio Perez will drive for the team for the 2011 season. He will partner Kamui Kobayashi, meaning that Nick Heidfeld will not be retained for next season.

Sergio Perez has been signed by Sauber for 2011

Sergio Perez has been signed by Sauber for 2011

The second seat at Sauber has been shuffled around recently. It was held by Pedro de la Rosa until before the Singapore Grand Prix, until poor performances and failing to keep up with Kamui Kobayashi meant he has been replaced for the rest of the season by Nick Heidfeld. However, today’s announcement means that Heidfeld will be looking for a drive elsewhere for 2011.

Perez is racing in GP2, and is in second place behind Pastor Maldonado, who has already won the championship. Previously, he won the National Class in British Formula 3 of 2007, and was 4th in British F3 the following year. However, it isn’t just his racing talent that has caught Peter Sauber’s eye.

Sauber also announced a new sponsor for the team, Telmex, which is run by Carlos Slim Helu (world’s richest man of 2010). However, Carlos Slim also runs Escuderia Telmex, which sponsors and supports upcoming drivers. As you can probably guess, Perez just so happens to be sponsored by Escuderia Telmex.

The last Mexican Formula 1 driver was Hector Rebaque, back in 1981, so it will be very interesting to see how Perez gets on. In my opinion, he looks like a good talent, with a mixture of racing ability and of course the backing to get to the top.

F1 2010 game: My review

So, I got hold of my copy of F1 2010 last Friday, and have been testing away at it ever since. After a week, I’m ready to say that I’m hugely impressed by Codemasters’ work, and that this is by far the best Formula 1 game in recent times.

Before we get into the specifics about the game, first of all I’ll talk about how I played the game, just for reference. I didn’t have a steering wheel, which I’m told is absolutely fantastic fun, and this is for the Xbox 360 version, though I’m sure the PS3 variant can’t be too different. I haven’t tried out Xbox Live on it, as my connection is off (moving house if you’re wondering) until November. Also, I was racing on 20% race distance, hard level for AI drivers, and all driver aids switched off. Now on with the game…

Graphics

F1 2010 is a complete revolution, a massive leap from F1 Championship Edition, back in 2007. I don’t have a HD TV, but the graphics are still hugely impressive. Driving in the rain is not only a challenge, but extremely realistic as well. Spray is thrown onto your helmet, especially with the in-car camera, giving it all of the real-life effects of Formula 1.

Even when it’s not raining, the game stands out in a way never seen before. The dry racing line begins to develop once the rain stops, and it is precise and detailed down to the nearest millimetre.

Driving the car / Handling

Driving an F1 car is precision artwork, and you will soon find that out. While the traction control option is there, it is heavily advised you keep it off, it’s much more fun that way. The slightest twitch, mistake or spin of the wheels will leave you back-to-front and red in the face. Trust me, in the first few laps of playing the game, if you’re even remotely pushing, multiple spins will be on the cards.

We were promised “Authentic, predictable and consistent handling” and that’s just what we got. Once you get used to driving the car, you can eventually get into a routine, though it’s still very difficult to keep the car going. When the tyres go off, the car becomes an ice-skating rink, just as you’d expect.

Clipping the kerbs too hard, or putting a wheel in the gravel trap, will 100% of the time turn you the wrong way, and it’s a harsh but fun way of playing the game.

Damage

This is the one sector where I thought Codemasters cut the corner. While the front wing is beautifully fragile, and will come off in an instant, that seems to be the only part of the car you can get damage on. If you fly into the barriers at 100mph, you will take off the front of the car, but otherwise there isn’t much else.

Once, another car stopped on track, and I deliberately hit it on the side, just to see would it cause damage. It did, shards of carbon fibre went everywhere, but this appears to be difficult to achieve when racing on track. The back of the car is impervious to damage, and punctures are not caused by hitting another front wing, rather slamming into the barriers.

It’s not bad, but not great either, although it’s enough to keep me happy. It will need to be improved for future F1 games though.

Wet weather driving

This portion of the game is so brilliant it deserves its own review, never mind section. Wet races are what brings F1 2010 into a league of its own, bringing a whole new level of difficulty and realism.

First of all, your rules on tyre traction will need to be looked at. One small slip of the throttle, and you’re backwards into the barriers. Run too wide, or turn in too deep, and the same fate awaits. Opponents are more likely to make mistakes (and can also crash on their own), giving a whole new depth of true racing.

Of course, once the rain stops, the track will slowly dry out, and the fun continues. Here, the racing line starts to dry out, and you will be forced to run on the damp parts of the track to cool the tyres down.

You have to experience it yourself to get an idea of how good it is, as it’s undoubtedly the best part of this game.

The paddock

One of the most pushed features of F1 201o has been “live the life of an F1 driver”, and Codemasters have tried to do this by incorporating the life inside the paddock. I was looking forward to this a lot, but it seems to be mostly interviews, which can affect your relationship with the team, thereby assisting or damaging hopes for a contract next year.

The interviews are good, if a little unpunishing if you bad-mouth the team. Unfortunately there isn’t much else in the paddock section of note.

Other

The in-garage menus are excellent, allowing a huge range of changes to be made to the car, as well as a live timing-style screen, weather reports, tyre managment, and stats on your team-mate. The animations leaving and entering the garage before and after runs are also very well done.

I heard that pit stops can be fully manually controlled, but I can’t find the setting for it, so at the moment the only things you do for a pit stop are brake for the pit lane entry, brake again for the box, and disengage the limiter leaving the pits. I’ll edit this once I find out about the manual stops.

There are some very small problems with this game, but I really can’t deny that F1 2010 is a huge leap forward for Codemasters, and I’m certainly looking forward to their next release. I don’t have a marking system, but I’ll give it 92%.

The only glitch I've seen - The pit lane was blocked from a stranded car ahead

The only glitch I've seen - The pit lane was blocked from a stranded car ahead

Pros

  • Stunning graphics
  • Tyres are realistic
  • Wet weather driving is supremely difficult and entertaining
  • A new level of car handling

Cons

  • Reports of a few small glitches
  • A crowded pit lane will result in you being stuck waiting to be released for far too long
  • Not enough detail in the paddock, more features needed
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