Monthly Archives: November 2010

Button escapes armed attack in Sao Paulo, following other incidents this week

After a spate of attacks on F1 personnel in Sao Paulo this weekend, it has been revealed this morning that Jenson Button was the victim of an attempted armed robbery last night.

Jenson was heading to his car with several members of the team, including John Button (father), Mike Colier (Jenson’s physio), and Richard Goddard (Jenson’s manager). However, they encountered a group of 6 men with machine guns, who attempted to attack the car. Luckily, their police driver Daniel Toni escaped, by bouncing off several other cars to get out of the area.

Jenson described the attack today:

We rocked up at the traffic lights, about three rows back. Our 

driver, as always, stops early and doesn't pull up right 

behind the car in front. We looked to the right and saw a few 

guys gathering at the side of the road just to the entrance to 

a building. They were just stood there.

It looked a bit suspect but we didn't think anything of it and 

then Richard [Goddard, manager] noticed that one of them had a 

baton hanging down from his arm. Then I noticed that one guy was 

playing around with something in his trousers and it was a gun. 

As soon as I said that the driver looked across, and when they 

saw him look they started running towards the car.

We angled the car and floored it. It didn't look like there was 

a big enough space there, but we got between six cars - and 

rammed every single one to get past. We got through in the end 

and got away, but looking behind there were two guys with hand 

guns. One was quite a simple looking hand gun and one guy with 

something that looked like a machine gun.

The worst part of this story is that this is not uncommon at all in Sao Paulo, though it seems to be the first incident regarding a driver. This follows several other attacks on the F1 paddock this weekend. A group of 7 Sauber mechanics were mugged last night, losing several briefcases. Formula One Management workers were attacked last week, and last year Fuji TV workers were caught between crossfire.

To make matters worse, the car Jenson and his team were in was inconspicuous (B-Class Mercedes), and had blacked-out windows, suggesting the attackers were waiting for the team.

For years, there have always been whispers that these types of attacks are putting the Brazilian GP in jeopardy, and with an attack on a driver, these rumours are only going to intensify. I love the Intelagos track, but if this situation gets any worse, then the F1 paddock may well have to set sail from Sao Paulo for good.

Hulkenberg takes shock pole position at Interlagos

Nico Hulkenberg took pole position ahead of Vettel and Webber

Nico Hulkenberg took pole position ahead of Vettel and Webber

In an incredible twist that only Formula 1 could play host to, rookie driver Nico Hulkenberg has taken pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix, throwing the championship battle focus straight out of the window. He took top spot an entire second ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who led Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Jenson Button struggled, and will start 11th, with his championship aspirations now doomed. Here is today’s report:

Q1

The Force Indias battled to survive Q1

The Force Indias battled to survive Q1

Conditions were not optimal for the start of qualifying. Saturday Practice had been wet enough, then more rain fell between then and qualifying, meaning intermediate tyres were the way to go – for the time being.

The track wasn’t particularly wet though, so many cars stayed out for the entire session, hoping that the racing line would dry out, but it didn’t. The surprise of the session came from Force India, as both cars were struggling horribly in the damp conditions. Vitantonio Liuzzi spent some time in the knockout zone, before improving to 16th, while sending Adrian Sutil down to 18th. However, Adrian may have had a faster lap, ha he not been held up by Liuzzi during the session. Because of his 5-place penalty after his dangerous driving in Korea, he will start 23rd.

Timo Glock was easily the fastest of the new teams, setting a 1.22.130. He was followed by Trulli, Kovalainen, and Di Grassi. Christian Klien continued to beat Bruno Senna with apparent ease, this time by 0.7 seconds.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Adrian Sutil (Will start 23rd)

19) Timo Glock

20) Jarno Trulli

21) Heikki Kovalainen

22) Lucas di Grassi

23) Christian Klien

24) Bruno Senna

Q2

Jenson Button was knocked out of Q2

Jenson Button was knocked out of Q2

After being matched by Fernando Alonso in Q1, the Red Bulls led the way in Q2. The track continued to dry, but not quickly enough, as the fastest laps were still in the 1.19 range, well away from slick conditions.

The fun of the session came from the battle between Felipe Massa and Jenson Button to continue to Q3. Button could only manage 10th on his final lap, and Massa’s last effort knocked the McLaren back into 11th.

A surprise also came from Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Rosberg failing to get through, and they will start from 12th and 13th respectively. The Toro Rossos were 14th and 15th, Nick Heidfeld was annoyed to be back in 16th, while Vitantonio Liuzzi was well off the pace in 17th.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button

12) Kamui Kobayashi

13) Nico Rosberg

14) Jaime Alguersuari

15) Sebastien Buemi

16) Nick Heidfeld

17) Vitantonio Liuzzi

Q3

Hulkenberg is delighted, while the Red Bulls are downbeat

Hulkenberg is delighted, while the Red Bulls are downbeat

For the leaders’ first runs in Q3, they continued to stay on intermediates, although dry patches were becoming visible on the tarmac. When the inters began to wear far too much to be used effectively, Rubens Barrichello was the first driver to make the switch to dry tyres.

Lewis Hamilton initially took top spot on super-soft tyres, but then came the first of a series of shocks – Nico Hulkenberg knocked the McLaren off top spot with apparent ease. Fernando Alonso then went faster, but Hulkenberg simply came around a minute later even faster again.

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Hamilton and Alonso all took another lash at the Williams, but they all fell short by one tenth, as the paddock suddenly realised that a rookie was on pole position. But more was to come, as Hulkenberg had one more lap under his belt, and set a simply incredible lap: 1.14.470, an entire second faster than the rest of the field.

His team-mate Rubens Barrichello was 6th, ahead of Robert Kubica, Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa and Vitaly Petrov. However, these drivers were significantly overlooked, because of the simple fact that they were up to 2 or 3 seconds slower than Hulkenberg.

So, Nico takes his first ever pole position, the first for Williams since Nick Heidfeld in Germany in 2005, and the first for Cosworth since France in 1999 (Considering that that engine was actually marked as a Ford, you would have to go back to the 80′s to find the last time a Cosworth took pole).

Times from qualifying:

Pos  Driver         Team                   Q1        Q2        Q3
 1.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth      1:20.050  1:19.144  1:14.470
 2.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1:19.160  1:18.691  1:15.519
 3.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1:19.025  1:18.516  1:15.637
 4.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:19.931  1:18.921  1:15.747
 5.  Alonso         Ferrari                1:18.987  1:19.010  1:15.989
 6.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:19.799  1:18.925  1:16.203
 7.  Kubica         Renault                1:19.249  1:18.877  1:16.552
 8.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1:19.879  1:18.923  1:16.925
 9.  Massa          Ferrari                1:19.778  1:19.200  1:17.101
10.  Petrov         Renault                1:20.189  1:19.153  1:17.656
11.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:19.905  1:19.288
12.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1:19.741  1:19.385
13.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1:20.153  1:19.486
14.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:20.158  1:19.581
15.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:20.096  1:19.847
16.  Heidfeld       Sauber-Ferrari         1:20.174  1:19.899
17.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes   1:20.592  1:20.357
18.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:20.830
19.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1:22.130
20.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth         1:22.250
21.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth         1:22.378
22.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth        1:22.810
23.  Klien          HRT-Cosworth           1:23.083
24.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth           1:23.796

Vettel continues domination of Interlagos practice

Sebastian Vettel headed the second Friday Practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, again ahead of Mark Webber. This time, Fernando Alonso had more luck, this time in 3rd place after suffering an engine failure in FP1, although this time team-mate Felipe Massa had trouble out on track.

Sebastian Vettel led the way in FP2

Sebastian Vettel led the way in FP2

Webber initially led the way, but was knocked off the top spot when Sebastian switched to the super-soft tyres. However, Mark managed to remain within a tenth of his team-mate. Fernando was another 2 tenths back.

Lewis Hamilton was 4th, while Felipe Massa was 5th. However, at the same spot where Alonso stopped in FP1, Massa was forced to retire from the session with a clutch problem. Robert Kubica was 6th, and Jenson Button was more than a second off the pace in 7th.

Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher finished off the top 10. Kamui Kobayashi was 12th, and had another eventful session. This time, he nearly ran into the back of a Lotus car at Turn 1, then narrowly avoided contact with Nico Rosberg later on.

Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher and Jaime Alguersuari had a small incident at Turn 2, when Schumacher overtook the Toro Rosso around the outside, making contact in the process.

At the back, Trulli and Kovalainen were well on the pace, and only 3 seconds slower than Vettel’s fastest lap. Bruno Senna was faster than Christian Klien this time around, but only just.

Times from FP2:

Pos.
Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’11.968 28
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’12.072 0.104 34
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’12.328 0.360 36
4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’12.656 0.688 33
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’12.677 0.709 19
6 Robert Kubica Renault 1’12.882 0.914 37
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’13.206 1.238 33
8 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’13.222 1.254 40
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’13.333 1.365 34
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’13.346 1.378 36
11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’13.520 1.552 37
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’13.610 1.642 41
13 Nico Hülkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’13.725 1.757 39
14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’13.741 1.773 32
15 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’13.818 1.850 26
16 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’14.045 2.077 37
17 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’14.304 2.336 33
18 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’14.578 2.610 37
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’14.984 3.016 47
20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’15.101 3.133 43
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’15.433 3.465 35
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’16.070 4.102 42
23 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1’16.082 4.114 38
24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’16.150 4.182 35

Vettel leads Red Bull 1-2 in Brazil FP1

Sebastian Vettel was the fastest driver of Friday Practice 1 at the Brazilian Grand Prix today, while title rival Fernando Alonso suffered engine troubles. Mark Webber was 2nd, cementing Red Bull’s pace at the Interlagos circuit.

Sebastian Vettel dominated FP1 in Brazil today

Sebastian Vettel dominated FP1 in Brazil today

Alonso’s session came to an abrupt halt, when he stopped out on track, with an engine failure. However, the Ferrari team have stated that the engine was going to be changed anyways, and the engine already had many miles on it. Nevertheless, it is a setback to Fernando’s weekend.

Vettel set a 1.12.328, nearly half a second faster than Webber, who, apart from Lewis Hamilton, was well ahead of everyone else. Jenson Button was 4th, while Robert Kubica was 5th. Team-mate Vitaly Petrov suffered a rear wing failure, and suffered a high-speed crash at the Ferradura corner.

The Mercedes drivers of Rosberg and Schumacher were 6th and 8th, and the team were rumoured to be running a 2011-spec rear diffuser today. Rubens Barrichello was 7th, Adrian Sutil 9th, and Nick Heidfeld 10th.

Kamui Kobayashi also spun at Ferradura, but survived to get 11th place. Nico Hulkenberg was 12th, while Alonso was 13th, after setting only 20 laps. Despite this, was was still a tenth faster than Felipe Massa back in 15th.

Vitantonio Liuzzi headed the two Toro Rossos further back. Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock were 20th and 21st. Heikki Kovalainen was 22nd, while Christian Klien was a half a second faster than Bruno Senna at the back.

Times from FP1:
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’12.328
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’12.810
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’12.845
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’13.267

5 Robert Kubica Renault 1’13.370

6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’13.516
7 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’13.546
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’13.643
9 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’13.918
10 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’14.000
11 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’14.004
12 Nico Hülkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’14.155
13 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’14.246
14 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’14.370 2.042
15 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’14.395 2.067
16 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’14.487
17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’14.618
18 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’14.734
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’15.603
20 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’15.860
21 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’16.057
22 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’16.707
23 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1’16.839
24 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’17.360

Klien to replace Yamamoto for Brazil

The Hispania Racing Team have said that Christian Klien will be replacing Sakon Yamamoto for the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend.

This is the second race weekend this year that this will be happening, the other being in Singapore, when the team claimed Yamamoto was “unwell”, even though he could be observed strolling through the paddock all weekend.

Christian last raced at Interlagos in 2005, but seems to be confident that he can keep up with Bruno Senna this weekend:

"I am excited to come to Brazil where I already raced two
times, the last time in 2005, and where I could achieve
good results. The circuit is quite challenging and we are
racing anti-clockwise which is going to be tough for the neck.

There are many slow corners and the long straight at the
start-finish-line where high speeds are possible.

I am very happy to get a second opportunity to do another Grand
Prix here after Singapore and I hope that we are doing a good
weekend with positive results.

 

Chinese Grand Prix in doubt?

The Chinese GP could be in doubt for next year

The Chinese GP could be in doubt for next year

The Chinese Grand Prix has been placed in doubt recently, over the FIA delaying the addition of the circuit to the 2011 calendar, and the track’s contract not yet extended by Bernie Ecclestone.

The FIA’s 2011 race calendar was updated today, with 2 changes. Both of these changes related to two circuits being “subject to homologation”. The first is the Indian GP, which is obvious, seeing as that track is still under construction. The second, however, is the Shanghai International Circuit – even though no changes are being made to the circuit.

The reason the FIA are delaying the conformation of the circuit is because their contract runs out with Bernie Ecclestone this year, and has not yet been extended. Rumour has it that Bernie wants $30m per year on the new contract. To make matters worse, this circuit has not been running profitably, with low ticket sales (many tickets are given away free), and a lack of interest by the Chinese government in investing there.

It looks like we will have to wait and see what happens to the future of the Chinese Grand Prix. Would you miss it if it went? I’m not sure I would…

Hispania to use Williams gearboxes for 2011

The Hispania team have announced that they are to use Williams gearboxes for the 2011 season onwards. They follow Lotus in moving away from the current supplier to all 3 new teams, Xtrac.

Hispania will use Williams gearboxes from 2011 onwards

Hispania will use Williams gearboxes from 2011 onwards

Hispania have, along with the other teams of course, suffered many technical retirements this season, and like Lotus, many of these were because of transmission and gearbox failures. Geoff Willis has previously complained about Xtrac’s lack of reliability:

.

"Most of our problems have been related to transmission 
hydraulics, which is a complicated part of the car. It 
is the first time that Xtrac has been involved as a 
supplier of the whole system."

It appears as if Cosworth engines had a role to play in this deal as well. Both teams already use Cosworth engines already, and Williams claim that today’s deal will “extend for the lifecycle of the current Cosworth engine technology”.

This is a good step forward for Hispania to associate themselves with a trusted supplier. Xtrac won a contract from the FIA to supply cheap transmission systems to the new teams this year, but have done themselves no favours by supplying what appears to be very unreliable machinery to Lotus, Virgin and Hispania.

While both Lotus and Hispania have both stated their intentions to move away from Xtrac, Virgin have made no such announcements. Bernie Ecclestone has recently suggested that Virgin is suffering from a lack of investment by Richard Branson, and this may be what is holding them back.

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