Monthly Archives: April 2011

Vettel stays on top in China second practice

Vettel stayed on top in second practice

Vettel stayed on top in second practice

Sebastian Vettel retained his lead in second practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.

He was one tenth of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton, who led his teammate Jenson Button in the McLaren.

The Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Schumacher were 4th and 5th. Felipe Massa was 6th, while a hydraulic issue limited Fernando Alonso to 14th place.

Mark Webber was 1.6 seconds slower than Sebastian in 10th, while both Renaults were in the top 10, with Nick Heidfeld 8th and Vitaly Petrov 9th.

For the second session in a row, the Virgin cars were beaten by HRT, with both Karthikeyan and Liuzzi comfortably ahead of D’Ambrosio and Glock. Only Timo was outside the 107% rule, by 0.2 seconds.

Paul di Resta failed to set a lap, after a fuel pressure problem.

Times from China FP2:

 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1.37.688             34
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1.37.854  	0.166  22
 3.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1.37.935  	0.247  31
 4.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1.37.943  	0.255  34
 5.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1.38.105  	0.417  29
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1.38.507  	0.819  36
 7.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1.38.735  	1.047  35
 8.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault                1.38.805  	1.117  26
 9.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1.38.859 	1.171  31
10.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1.39.327 	1.639  33
11.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1.39.538 	1.850  33
12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1.39.667  	1.979  37
13.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.39.771  	2.083  18
14.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1.39.779  	2.091  17
15.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.39.828  	2.140  25
16.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1.39.925  	2.237  32
17.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1.39.953  	2.265  30
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1.40.476  	2.788  30
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault          1.41.482  	3.794  32
20.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1.42.902  	5.214  25
21.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth           1.43.850  	6.162   3
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1.44.008  	6.320  35
23.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1.44.747  	7.059  12
24.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   N/A                   0

Red Bull miles ahead in China FP1

Vettel was well ahead of his rivals

Vettel was well ahead of his rivals

Sebastian Vettel headed Mark Webber in Friday Practice 1 for the Chinese Grand Prix, with Vettel 2 seconds faster than any other competitor after Webber.

The McLarens of Hamilton and Button were 3rd and 4th, although Jenson was delayed by a KERS issue. Nick Heidfeld was 5th after setting only 5 laps, but crashed with half an hour to go.

Felipe Massa was 6th while teammate Alonso was 12th, with Ferrari running more tests on their faltering aerodynamic package. Sebastien Buemi finished 10th, while Daniel Ricciardo took over Jaime Alguersuari’s car and was placed 16th.

Vitantonio Liuzzi managed to split the Virgins in 21st position. Luiz Razia drove Jarno Trulli’s car, but was 5.8 seconds off the pace, 3 seconds slower than Heikki Kovalainen in 14th.

Narain Karthikeyan was last, but he half a second within the 107% rule for qualifying.

Note: Pirelli have run out of gold bands to put on the softer tyres, so silver bands are also being used on the softer compound.

Heidfeld quickly accepted the blame for his crash:

"It was a driving mistake. I went off twice and that can happen - I just went over 
the limit.

I was in a very good mood until I crashed into the tyre. I have been around for a 
while but I cannot remember crashing twice in one day, so that was not a good start.

It was just my mistake. These things unfortunately can happen, I think a lot of other 
people also went off a bit and had spins. Unfortunately I destroyed two wings, it  
shows it isn't easy today but it is not meant to be an excuse. I just f***** up!"

Times from China FP1:

 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1.38.739	      23
 2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1.39.354    0.615   27
 3.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1.40.845    2.106   21
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1.40.940    2.201   22
 5.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault                1.40.987    2.248   5
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1.41.046    2.307   25
 7.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1.41.189    2.450   20
 8.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1.41.222    2.483   20
 9.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1.41.231    2.492   16
10.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.41.328    2.589   21
11.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1.41.361    2.622   23
12.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1.41.434    2.695   15
13.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1.41.494    2.755   20
14.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1.41.579    2.840   13
15.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1.41.610    2.871   18
16.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.41.752    3.013   20
17.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1.41.939    3.200   25
18.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1.42.301    3.562   23
19.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1.43.792    5.053   20
20.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1.44.089    5.350   20
21.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth           1.44.359    5.620   18
22.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1.44.438    5.699   11
23.  Luiz Razia            Lotus-Renault          1.44.542    5.803    9
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1.45.019    6.280   23

DRS zone is 900 metres for China

Availability of the DRS system in China

Availability of the DRS system in China

The FIA have announced that drivers will only be able to use the Drag Reduction System on the back straight for the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend.

Being the longest straight of the year at 1170 metres though, they have also taken measures to restrain the system. Therefore, the zone for enabling the DRS system is 902 metres.

The rear wing device can now be activated several hundred metres after the long Turn 13. The detection zone – whether a car is within 1 second of the car ahead – is at the very start of the long right hander, Turn 12.

As usual, the DRS is free to use in practice and qualifying. However, it will be deactivated at any point during the weekend if the car using it is on intermediate or extreme wet tyres.

Malaysian Grand Prix stats and facts

Sebastian Vettel’s second win of the season means he now has 4 wins in a row, including last year’s Brazil and Abu Dhabi successes. Also from the Malaysian Grand Prix:

  • A 3rd place finish from Nick Heidfeld was the 100th podium position for a Renault driver.
  • It was also the 13th podium for Heidfeld without a win, beating Stefan Johansson to a certainly unenviable record.
  • Vettel has led 109 out of the 114 laps so far this season. He also has a 24-point lead in the championship, the largest gap to seconds place since Singapore 2009, when Jenson Button led by 25 points.
  • Sebastian has never slipped below 4th place in any race so far this year. Compare that to Pastor Maldonado, whose highest position has been 15th at any point.
  • His 12th career win is as many as Mario Andretti, Alan Jones and Carlos Reutemann. His 17th pole position is the same as Jackie Stewart.
  • Heidfeld also holds the records for most points without a win, and is behind Andrea de Cesaris in “most races without a win”. Nick has 240 points so far in his career, ahead of second-placed Nico Rosberg with 217.5.
  • Lewis Hamilton’s 2nd place on the grid means he has started 42.47% of his races on the front row. This puts him ahead of Michael Schumacher, who has 42.44%.
  • Vettel’s 9th pole position and victory matches him alongside Lewis Hamilton, Niki Lauda and Alberto Ascari.

Di Resta leads complaints over Pirelli “rubber bullets”

This year, heavily degrading Pirelli tyres have brought an extra spice to Formula 1. However, Force India driver Paul di Resta has pointed out that “marbles” – pieces of discarded rubber – were striking him throughout the entire weekend.

These “marbles” are littered off the racing line, as a by-product of tyre wear. In the past, this was not such a major concern, but with the heavily wearing Pirelli tyres, these marbles have been dubbed by some as “rubber bullets”, as they are picked up and flicked at the driver.

Di Resta claims that this was a problem all race weekend:

"There are a lot of marbles out there, maybe too many. Come the end of the race, it 
gets difficult to overtake.

The other big thing is that they kept coming up and hitting me in the hands. In the 
middle of a fast corner, these lumps of rubber would be smacking into my hands as I 
turned the wheel.

Rubber is not the softest material and if it got you in the right place, it could 
hurt. It happened quite a few times over the weekend and as you go into the corner, 
the rubber runs across the tyre and flicks up."

The amount of discarded rubber off the racing line is so copious this year that it is clearly visible for TV viewers in the second half of the race.

Pirelli’s director of motorsport, Paul Hembery, has defended his company’s approach, saying:

"I have not had those comments from the top three but if it’s an issue, we will have 
to confront it. There was a lot of overtaking though. We will have to analyse all the 
overtaking manoeuvres but the marbles have to go somewhere and that is a difficulty 
for us."


Points standings after Malaysian Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 50
2 Jenson Button 26
3 Lewis Hamilton 22
4 Mark Webber 22
5 Fernando Alonso 20
6 Felipe Massa 16
7 Nick Heidfeld 15
8 Vitaly Petrov 15
9 Kamui Kobayashi 6
10 Sebastien Buemi 4
11 Adrian Sutil 2
12 Michael Schumacher 2
13 Paul di Resta 2
14 Jerome D’Ambrosio 0
15 Timo Glock 0
16 Sergio Perez 0
17 Kamui Kobayashu 0
18 Rubens Barrichello 0
19 Nico Rosberg 0
20 Heikki Kovalainen 0
21 Michael Schumacher 0
22 Pastor Maldonado 0
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi 0
24 Narain Karthikeyan 0

Constructor Standings:

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 72
2 McLaren-Mercedes 48
3 Ferrari 36
4 Renault 30
5 Sauber-Ferrari 6
6 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 4
7 Force India-Mercedes 4
8 Mercedes GP 2
9 Lotus-Renault 0
10 Virgin-Cosworth 0
11 Williams-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0

Hamilton and Alonso hit with 20-second penalties

Hamilton drops from 7th to 8th after his penalty

Hamilton drops from 7th to 8th after his penalty

Both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have been dealt 20-second time penalties after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The stewards ruled that both drivers acted illegaly while battling for position near the end of the race.

Onboard with Hamilton as Alonso clips his front wing off the McLaren

Onboard with Hamilton as Alonso clips his front wing off the McLaren

Alonso drew close to Hamilton with his KERS system, but not DRS. Lewis moved twice off his line to defend, and Fernando clipped the back of the McLaren, taking off part of his front wing, but Hamilton’s car emerged unscathed.

However, the stewards believe that Hamilton moving off his line twice, and Alonso making contact with the McLaren, both deserved penalties.

Alonso stays 6th, while Hamilton drops from 7th to 8th, behind Kamui Kobayashi.

The ruling was explained as follows:

    Facts: The Driver of car 3 made more than one change of direction to defend a position
    Offence: Breach of Article 20.2 of the 2011 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations
    Penalty: Drive through penalty, imposed after the race in accordance with Article 16.3 
    (20 seconds added to elapsed time).
    Stewards’ decision 51 (Lewis Hamilton)

    Fact: Caused a collision with car 3.
    Offence: Involved in an incident as defined by Article 16.1 of the 2011 FIA Formula 
    One Sporting Regulations
    Penalty: Drive through penalty, imposed after the race in accordance with Article 
    16.3 (20 seconds added to elapsed time).
    Stewards’ decision 52 (Fernando Alonso)

It is worth noting that Hamilton was not weaving at the time of the accident, rather a lap beforehand. This video shows how, on the main straight, Lewis moved twice:

However, I can’t see how either of these penalties are justified. Lewis had received a warning for the same (but more erratic) move a year ago in Malaysia, but it seems slightly harsh.

Alonso, meanwhile, had already lost out hugely by losing his front wing, so what’s the point of penalising him? The introduction of KERS and DRS was designed for drivers to properly race each other, and slapping drivers’ wrists for the slightest offence or mistake is not the way to carry forward this message.

Vettel takes 2 wins out of 2 in Malaysia

Sebastian Vettel continued his impressive start to the 2011 season by taking victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Jenson Button was 2nd, ahead of Nick Heidfeld.

Vettel held his lead at the opening corner, while Webber had an absolutely shocking start and fell to 10th. Nick Heidfeld amazingly dived up to 2nd around the outside, ahead of the two McLarens.

Webber bogs down while the Renaults have a fantastic start

Webber bogs down while the Renaults have a fantastic start

Lewis was not quicker than Nick, and so Sebastian began to carve out a lead. Rubens Barrichello suffered a rear left puncture on the pit straight, and lost out massively, struggling around for an entire lap before pitting.

After a few laps, the first signs of rain appeared around the circuit. It was nowhere near the amount required for intermediates though, so most drivers tended to conserve their slicks.

Further back, Webber couldn’t find a way past Kobayashi in 9th. Twice he managed to get ahead, but on both occasions the combination of DRS and KERS kept Kamui in 9th.

Mark, eventually sick of getting stuck behind the Sauber, pitted for a new set of soft tyres on Lap 11. Lewis, still behind Heidfeld, was instructed to conserve his tyres, rather than pass the Renault. He pitted on Lap 13, which put him into clear air, allowing him to pick up pace.

Almost immidiately afterwards, the first spots of rain appeared on the cameras. Still unsure as to how te weather would go, Vettel and Button opted to stay with another set of softs. Nick also stopped, but ended up behind Button.

Hamilton and Buemi were both stuck behind Schumacher. On the back straight, all three cars ran side by side, and Lewis won out, while Schumacher pitted at the end of the lap.

Most drivers finished their first set of stops by Lap 20. Both Hamilton and Alonso in 2nd and 3rd now began to catch Vettel in front, by several tenths a lap. Fernando rounded off fastest lap after fastest lap, while Lewis got within 4.9 seconds on Lap 24.

Button and Webber jumped to their second stops unusually early, suggesting they were running 4-stop strategies. Hamilton meanwhile took a different view on the situation, taking on the harder tyre. Vettel responded on the next lap, choosing to stay with the softer compound.

Lewis, initially held up behind Petrov after his second stop, passed the Renault to release the McLaren into clean air. Sebastian, meanwhile, emerged behind Massa and Heidfeld, costing him valuable time. Soon after, team radio conversations revealed that both Red Bulls were suffering from KERS problems, which put him at huge risk from Hamilton behind.

The Red Bull survived its KERS issue, and began to pull out a larger lead on the McLaren. Alonso behind soon began to catch Lewis, as the harder tyre failed to produce much grip as opposed to the soft. Hamilton made the call to jump back onto the soft compound for the rest of the race, leaving Vettel still to stop for the hards.

A heavy crash-landing ends Petrov's chances of points

A heavy crash-landing ends Petrov's chances of points

Button pitted, and emerged ahead of his teammate. Further back, Paul di Resta put a move on Nico Rosberg, who was having a very quiet race, for 11th. Quick laps from Jenson prompted stops from Vettel and Alonso, who emerged in 1st and 5th respectively.

Vitaly Petrov was running in the points, until a bizarre crash ended his race. He ran wide onto the grass, and a bump in the ground level sent his car flying. A back-breaking landing shattered his steering column, and forced the Russian onto the sidelines.

Hamilton and Alonso soon began to tussle for 3rd place, with the Ferrari suffering from a lack of the DRS system. Fernando made a move before Turn 3, but moved out from behind the McLaren too late, and clipped his front wing, taking off most of the upper left section. He was forced to stop for the 4th time for a front wing change, and emerged 7th. Webber dived around the outside of Massa at turn 1, and moved up to 5th.

Vettel cruises to the chequered flag in Malaysia

Vettel cruises to the chequered flag in Malaysia

After his battle with Alonso, Hamilton began to lose serious amounts of pace, allowing Nick Heidfeld to catch up by nearly 2 seconds per lap. Fast pace combined with the DRS allowed Heidfeld to grab the final podium spot off the McLaren. Lewis soon ran wide at Turn 7, which allowed Webber into 4th.

A problem with his car was highlighted when the McLaren was forced to pit for the 4th time, and he emerged behind Petrov in 8th.

Sebastian Vettel was untroubled by Button behind, and cruised to his second win of 2011. Heidfeld held off a last-gasp charge by Mark Webber, while Massa led Alonso to the flag. Hamilton’s tyre troubled dropped him to 7th, ahead of Kobayashi, Schumacher and Paul di Resta, who takes his second points finish in his second race in F1.

It was a fantastic race, action-packed from start to finish, with a few surprises as well. With this, Sebastian will be heading into China next weekend well in the lead of the championship.

Vettel snatches pole in Malaysia

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix. It was no cakewalk, however, as he was forced to push hard to beat his teammate and the McLarens of Hamilton and Button. Nick Heidfeld was 6th, Michael Schumacher was knocked out of Q2, while the HRT cars managed to qualify.


The moment when Buemi's sidepod came off

The moment when Buemi's sidepod came off

Despire the threat of rain hitting the track during the session, no car went out at the start. Vitantonio Liuzzi was the first out, setting a 1.43.1, which is just within the probable 107% limit.

Lewis Hamilton took top spot with a 1.37.4, with Vettel and Button close behind. The session was soon stopped for the loss of a sidepod from Sebastien Buemi’s car.

With 12 minutes to go, several cars were disadvantaged by the red flags. The Lotuses went straight out at the green flag to set their first laps.

Felipe Massa went 7 tenths faster than Hamilton on the softer tyres, and was followed by Alonso and Kobayashi. Nick Heidfeld was half a second off Massa. Webber went out again, but failed to improve on his previous lap.


Another look at Buemi's sidepod

Another look at Buemi's sidepod

With 2 minutes to go, Michael Schumacher was in trouble, having struggled on the hard tyres. A last-minute run on the softs saved the Mercedes from being knocked out of Q1.

Amazingly, Webber languished in 15th, while it was a battle between Barrichello and Maldonado to survive Q1, with the experienced Brazilian coming out on top. Lotus improved dramatically, getting within 2 seconds of the fastest lap.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Pastor Maldonado

19) Heikki Kovalainen

20) Jarno Trulli

21) Timo Glock

22) Jerome D’Ambrosio

23) Vitantonio Liuzzi

24) Narain Karthikeyan


Sebastien Buemi returned to the track after the loss of his sidepod in Q1. Mark Webber was back on form for Q2, setting a 1.36.0. Vettel soon followed with a 1.35.9. Jenson Button was very impressive, going 3 tenths quicker than Vettel.

The Mercedes cars went within 1 tenth of each other in 6th and 7th, with Schumacher leading Rosberg. Jaime Alguersuari went 10th in the Toro Rosso, while Petrov was 4th.

With only a few minutes remaining, Hamilton appeared to be the big-profile casualty of Q2. However, a high-speed final run propelled the McLaren up to 2nd, despite a lock-up at Turn 1, and 3 tenths slower than Button.

Paul di Resta could only improve to 13th. Kobayashi went 8th, while Nico Rosberg moved to 6th to knock his teammate out of Q2.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Michael Schumacher

12) Sebastien Buemi

13) Jaime Alguersuari

14) Paul di Resta

15) Rubens Barrichello

16) Sergio Perez

17) Adrian Sutil


With the McLarens surprisingly well on the pace, Q3 was going to be a 4-horse race for pole position. Lewis Hamilton’s first run brought a 1.35.000, with Button 3 tenths behind.

Webber was 2 tenths off, while Vettel was within one tenth of Hamilton. The Red Bulls had split the McLarens, but a fierce lap from Hamilton kept him on top.

The rest of the field waited for the last 3 minutes, to head out with the Red Bulls and McLarens. Fernando Alonso was the first of the 10 to set their final lap, but struggled with grip and went 5th.

Webber, Vettel and Hamilton after qualifying

Webber, Vettel and Hamilton after qualifying

Webber just got to 3rd place, while Hamilton improved by 2 hundreths to keep his lead. Button retained 4th place, while Sebastian Vettel went one tenth faster, a 1.34.8, to snatch pole position in the dying seconds.

Nick Heidfeld was fastest of the rest of the field in 6th, ahead of Massa and Petrov. Nico Rosberg and Kamui Kobayashi failed to impress in 9th and 10th.

It was a fantastic lap by Vettel to take his second pole in as many races. There was nothing in it between McLaren and Red Bull, while the body language by Fernando Alonso said it all for Ferrari.

McLaren keep Webber honest in Malaysia FP2

Mark Webber continues to head the timesheets in Malaysia, but was followed closely by the McLarens of Button and Hamilton.

The Red Bull was only 0.005 seconds faster than Button, as Friday Practice 2 concluded. Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were each one further tenth off.

The rest of the field were an entire second behind the top 4. The two Renault drivers missed the start of the session, as their cars were still being repaired after their wheel failures in FP1. The incidents were attributed to a material batch problem.

Jerome D’Ambrosio never went out on track after his car’s failure in Practice 1.

Pastor Maldonado briefly led proceedings, but spun at pit lane entry and hit the barrier. The damage to his Williams was only minor, and he was able to continue later on.

The only other yellow flag came courtesy of Vitantonio Liuzzi, whose HRT hit a kerb, which seemed to switch off his Cosworth engine.

Times from Malaysia FP2:

Pos  Driver               Team                     Time               Laps
 1.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault         1.36.876           24
 2.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes         1.36.881   0.005   30
 3.  Lewis Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes         1.37.010   0.134   23
 4.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault         1.37.090   0.214   30
 5.  Michael Schumacher   Mercedes                 1.38.088   1.212   26
 6.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari                  1.38.089   1.213   31
 7.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes                 1.38.565   1.689   25
 8.  Nick Heidfeld        Renault                  1.38.570   1.694   16
 9.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari                  1.38.583   1.707   27
10.  Jaime Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari       1.38.846   1.970   31
11.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Cosworth        1.38.968   2.092   25
12.  Rubens Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth        1.39.187   2.311   30
13.  Vitaly Petrov        Renault                  1.39.267   2.391   17
14.  Kamui Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari           1.39.398   2.522   29
15.  Sergio Perez         Sauber-Ferrari           1.39.603   2.727   34
16.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes     1.39.625   2.749   31
17.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes     1.39.809   2.933   28
18.  Sebastien Buemi      Toro Rosso-Ferrari       1.40.115   3.239   31
19.  Timo Glock           Virgin-Cosworth          1.40.866   3.990   24
20.  Jarno Trulli         Lotus-Renault            1.41.890   5.014   19
21.  Narain Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth             1.43.197   6.321   15
22.  Tonio Liuzzi         HRT-Cosworth             1.43.991   7.115   14
23.  Heikki Kovalainen    Lotus-Renault            1.44.886   8.010    4