Monthly Archives: July 2011

Button wins enthralling Hungarian Grand Prix

Jenson Button won today’s Hungarian Grand Prix, after a scintillating race with changing conditions. Sebastian Vettel was 2nd, with Fernando Alonso 3rd. Lewis Hamilton would have won, but a spin, bad strategy call, and drive-through penalty dropped him to 4th. Here is the full report:

The race began under intermediate conditions, after rain fell earlier this morning. Vettel made an exellent start to keep his lead, while the McLarens battled for 2nd. Fernando Alonso moved into 5th, while Nico Rosberg blitzed his way into 4th. Adrian Sutil spun from 8th all the way back to 20th.

Almost immediately, it became apparent that Vettel was struggling on the green track, and Lewis was all over him. A dive around the outside of Turn 2 nearly worked, but on Lap 5 a slip from Vettel allowed the McLaren to take the lead.

While Sebastian fell into the clutches of Button, Alonso sliced past Schumacher and Rosberg – then ran wide the next lap, allowing the latter Mercedes back through. Another excusrion off the track let teammate Massa through, but probable team orders meant Felipe was easily re-passed on the main straight.

A spin and tap with the barriers the next lap only served to drop Felipe to 9th place, while his teammate pushed his way past Rosberg for 4th. Red Bull were the first to test the drying track, putting Webber out on slicks – a move that was followed by Ferrari with Massa.

Jenson Button tried the super-softs out the following lap. A fastest final sector by Webber proved the track was dry enough, and Hamilton pitted from the lead on Lap 13 for the soft compound. Vettel and Alonso used the same move.

The slightly damp conditions suited Button to the bone, passing Vettel for 2nd place. Meanwhile, Webber got his way past Alonso to take 4th, having pitted from 7th.

The stewards were called to intervene on the race, with a drive-through for Maldonado for pit lane speeding, and an investigation on Kovalainen for an unsafe release. Meanwhile, Jarno Trulli was the first car to retire, after his Lotus suffered an oil leak.

Both Ferraris were on the move, with Alonso harrassing Webber for 4th, and Massa pushing Schumacher for 8th. However, the racing was disrupted by a retirement by Nick Heidfeld, whose Renault’s exhaust blew, forcing him to stop at pit exit.

Both Ferraris, followed by Lewis Hamilton, stopped in anticipation of a safety car, as well as taking on a fresh set of tyres. Button led the race for a sole lap, before following his teammate into the pits. This left Vettel in charge of the race – but he was 3 seconds off the pace. While the Red Bull pitted, Michael Schumacher spun at the same point Massa did, but the Mercedes was out of the race.

A mistake under acceleration allowed Massa to sweep straight past Nico Rosberg to take 7th position, then passing Kamui Kobayashi a few laps later. A drive-through penalty was issued to Sergio Perez, for overtaking while under yellow flags for Heidfeld’s incident.

After failing to pass Webber due to the difficult track, Alonso pitted early on Lap 36. Webber decided he’d had enough of the softs, and made the strange call to switch to the prime tyre on Lap 40. While Fernando was now in front of the Red Bull, Webber would not need to stop again – but his pace would be another matter.

Lewis pitted from the lead, taking on the super-soft compound. Vettel made the same move 2 laps later, but Jenson Button decided to stay out for one more lap. However, Button copied Webber’s strategy, taking on soft tyres, and completely mixing up the strategy for the frontrunners.

Jenson exited the pits ahead of Alonso and Vettel, the latter being caught out by Fernando’s early stop. However, Sebastian found a way past the Ferrari soon after the stops.

While most people were predicting two different strategies to decide the race, the weather had other ideas. With absolutely no warning, rain began to fall down upon the circuit, and Hamilton spun out of the lead. He was facing back-to-front, and while turning his car around, he nearly slammed into Paul di Resta.

Button now led, while Alonso pitted for primes. The top three – Button, Hamilton and Vettel – were now separated by 3 seconds. Lewis found extra grip on the damp track, and a slip by Button meant his teammate was back into the lead.

But, Jenson was having none of it. A DRS-assisted move pushed him back into the lead of the race, before the same mistake allowed Hamilton to retake the lead. On Lap 53, Rosberg and Hamilton deicded to take on intermediate tyres. Jerome D’Ambrosio made the same call, but a spectacular – but extremely dangerous – spin in the pit lane threw him to the back of the field.

The inters weren’t working in the damp conditions, and as the track began to dry out, the race turned on its head for Hamilton. He was served with a drive-through for his dangerous rejoining of the track.

Lewis opted to stop first, then serve his drive-through on Lap 58, dropping him to 6th position. Both Webber and Hamilton eased their way past Massa, before he stopped for another set of tyres.

A huge train of cars soon began to form behind Kamui Kobayashi, as the Sauber’s tyres began to desintigrate. Di Resta, Buemi, Rosberg and Alguersuari all passed Kamui in quick succession. Webber and Hamilton ran into the back of this pack, Mark lost pace, and Lewis sweeped around the Red Bull to take 4th place.

While Alonso began to catch Vettel, there weren’t enough laps left to make a move. With a comfortable lead, Jenson Button crossed the line to win the Hungarian Grand Prix. Vettel and Alonso took their podium positions, while Hamilton will be disgusted to be 55 seconds behind his teammate, after leading the race for so long.

Mark Webber was 5th, and never looked like winning. Massa was 6th, while Paul di Resta was an excellent 7th.

Note: I’ll be away for most of next week, so there will be no after-race articles for a while.

Vettel pips Hamilton to Hungary pole position

Sebastian Vettel took his 8th pole position of the year for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

He came out on top after a climactic battle for top spot, with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton both making mistakes on their final runs. Lewis was 2nd, ahead of his teammate Button. Alonso was beaten by Felipe Massa for the first time in 17 races. Here is the full report:


Ricciardo moved even closer to his teammate

Ricciardo moved even closer to his teammate

All of the leading cars were easily able to use the prime tyres, to save a set for later.

Vettel went fastest, before being beaten by Hamilton, who was then knocked off the top by Alonso. Button, Massa and Webber were off the pace of their teammates.

Jarno Trulli’s new steering system was a success, allowing him to get within 5 tenths of Sebastien Buemi, who only used the prime tyres in Q1, and ended up 18th. After his grid penalty sustained in Germany, he will start 23rd.

Daniel Ricciardo was within 0.15 seconds of Vitantonio Liuzzi, who both were faster than Jerome D’Ambrosio.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Sebastien Buemi – 5-place grid penalty

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:24.362

20) Jarno Trulli 1:24.534

21) Timo Glock 1:26.294

22) Vitantonio Liuzzi 1:26.323

23) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:26.479

24) Jerome D’Ambrosio 1:26.510


Kobayashi was well beaten by Sergio Perez

Kobayashi was well beaten by Sergio Perez

Alonso once again led the way in Q2, setting a 1:20.262 on the super-softs.

Only two drivers failed to use the option tyres – Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado. Pastor didn’t set a lap, opting to save a set of tyres for tomorrow’s race. Lewis managed to get through to Q3 without using the super-softs.

Adrian Sutil, Vitaly Petrov and Sergio Perez managed to make it through to the shoot-out, at the expense of their teammates. Rubens Barrichello found no pace in the Williams, and finished 15th.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Paul di Resta – 1:22.258

12) Vitaly Petrov – 1:22.284

13) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:22.435

14) Nick Heidfeld – 1:22.470

15) Rubens Barrichello – 1:22.684

16) Jaime Alguersuari – 1:22.979

17) Pastor Maldonado – No time set


Vettel will be chased by the McLarens to the first corner

Vettel will be chased by the McLarens to the first corner

Despite having very little practice on the super-soft tyre, Hamilton quickly set the fastest time in Q3 – and was the first man to enter the 1:19 range. Vettel moved into 2nd, with Alonso 3rd.

Schumacher, Rosberg, Sutil and Perez stayed in the pits for the first part of the session. All of the cars went out in the final few minutes, with the exception of Perez.

Vettel and Hamilton traded fastest sectors, before a mistake on the final corner by Lewis allowed the Red Bull to take provisional pole. Alonso had a poor final lap, allowing himself to be beaten by Felipe Massa, for the first time in 17 races.

Jenson Button quietly moved into 3rd place, and will start on the clean side of the grid. Mark Webber was well off the pace, and will start 6th. Adrian Sutil split the Mercedes cars, finishing in 8th position.

Times in Q3:

1) Sebastian Vettel – 1:19.815

2) Lewis Hamilton – 1:19.978

3) Jenson Button – 1:20.024

4) Felipe Massa – 1:20.350

5) Fernando Alonso – 1:20.365

6) Mark Webber – 1:20.474

7) Nico Rosberg – 1:21.098

8 ) Adrian Sutil – 1:21.445

9) Michael Schumacher – 1:21.907

10) Sergio Perez – No time set

Will Sky bring about the death of the casual F1 fan?

Today’s announcement that F1 coverage will be moved to Sky is nothing short of a disaster. While the BBC retains partial broadcasting control, this deal is a mess and will alienate the casual Formula 1 fan.

First of all, the obvious – a casual fan won’t be paying £610 a year to continue watching the sport. Even the average fans won’t be making that move. This obscene amount of money to be paid to Murdoch’s empire will turn away all but the most die-hard of fans.

Sky is touting “no ads during races” as a feature for their coverage – but it is rumoured that this is simply a ploy to pull viewers in, and ads would return from 2013 onwards.

The only good news is that the BBC will still show 10 races live per year – the others being deferred until the evening time.

However, the actual broadcasting quality of the BBC will still be hurt. Even BBC editor Ben Gallop has stated that “our coverage will not be as comprehensive as it has been in recent years”.

After searching for cuts in all departments, the BBC are probably happy with this decision. Sky will of course be delighted, having added another sport to their profit-driven portfolio. However, everyone involved in this deal seems to have forgotten the fans in this move, mistakenly beliving they will settle for a compromise.

FOTA were touted as the orginisation who could protect the fans’ interests, but it appears that they have no intention of doing so, with  Martin Whitmarsh in favour of the move. Bernie Ecclestone, of course, supports this deal, claiming that the overall number of viewers will increase.

With this, it appears as if the fans have no way of opposing this move. In my view, a huge amount of the audience are going to lose out, and may well drift away from F1.

Despite the fact that I consider myself quite the die-hard F1 fan, I will be the first to say that I have no intention of switching to Sky. Even if it means losing out on 50% of live races, the excellent BBC coverage will always be better than whatever ad-ridden garbage is thrown at us by Sky.

Of course, not all fans will share this view. Many will not accept missing out on live races, and similarly will not be able to pay for Sky coverage. This is what many fear of, if this news is to cause people to lose interest in Formula 1.

This will be an important time for the sport. If FOTA are really going to protect the fans, they would want to get a move on.

Edit: If the fans want their voice heard, their opinions should be aimed at one location to maximise attention. The comment section on the BBC’s sport editor’s official statement is a good place to start.

Sky to take control of F1 coverage from 2012

It has been announced that Sky Sports will take broadcasting control of Formula from the start of 2012 until at leats 2018.

However, the BBC will still be broadcasting races, albeit only 50% of races a year. The races that are not shown live on the BBC will be deferred and shown later that night, but onlt as highlights.

It is understood that the races being shown live by the BBC will include the British and Monaco Grands Prix, as well as the season finale.

Sky will show every practice and qualifying session, as well as the races, but there has been outrage from the fans in the last few hours.

Since there are no plans for pay-per-view F1 broadcasts, British and Irish viewers will be forced to pay up to £610 a year (depending on Sky package) to watch the sport.

The BBC has been under pressure in the last few weeks to make cuts. However, since this move will only save the company £16m a year, there is confusion as to why this decision was made.

A few weeks ago, FOTA team principal Martin Whitmarsh stated that F1 must remain free-to-air:

"It’s crucial to the commercial model of Formula 1 that TV coverage should remain
free-to-air, and therefore universally accessible, and therefore widely consumed
and enjoyed by large numbers of viewers – and the BBC delivers that in the UK."

However, it appears he has made a U-turn on this statement, saying today that he sees this deal as “positive”, and that it will be a “good deal for everyone”.

Despite this, he still believes that his FOTA orginisation should “try and reach out to fans [and] listen to them” – quite the hypocritical statement considering the outrage shown online by fans this afternoon.

Personally, this deal will do no good for the casual fan of F1. While the die-hard fans may make the switch to Murdoch’s TV empire, many will become disillusioned with the sport if this issue is not fixed.

Update: Interesting new details have emerged. Both Sky and the BBC will share on-site facilities, as well as commentary teams, although the presentation teams will be different.

The 10 highlight races that the BBC will show are approx. 75 minutes in length, and will be placed at around 5 or 6 pm at night. There will be a brief introduction and after-race analysis, and the race footage is expected to last 45 or so minutes.

Hamilton retains lead in Hungary second practice

Hamilton stayed on top in second practice

Hamilton stayed on top in second practice

Lewis Hamilton continued to lead proceedings in second practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The early parts of the session were spent on the soft (prime) tyre, before drivers moved onto the super-soft compound. It has been estimated that the option tyre is up to one second faster than the prime.

Hamilton’s time of 1:21.018 was nearly a quarter of a second faster than Alonso, who managed 40 laps in FP2.

Jenson Button was consistently on the pace, finishing 3rd. The Red Bulls of Webber and Vettel were half a second off the pace in 4th and 5th. Felipe Massa led the Mercedes and Force India cars to finish the top 10.

Jarno Trulli found huge benefits from his new steering system, lapping only a tenth off Sebastien Buemi. Daniel Ricciardo was 0.5 seconds quicker than Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Times from FP2:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:21.018           29
 2.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:21.259  + 0.241  40
 3.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:21.322  + 0.304  34
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:21.508  + 0.490  35
 5.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:21.549  + 0.531  31
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:22.099  + 1.081  40
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:22.121  + 1.103  36
 8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:22.440  + 1.422  36
 9.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:22.835  + 1.817  40
10.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1:22.981  + 1.963  37
11.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:23.030  + 2.012  34
12.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:23.399  + 2.381  37
13.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:23.679  + 2.661  34
14.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault               1:23.861  + 2.843  28
15.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1:24.181  + 3.163  39
16.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:24.182  + 3.164  26
17.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1:24.546  + 3.528  21
18.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:24.878  + 3.860  35
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault         1:24.994  + 3.976  38
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1:25.447  + 4.429  39
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1:26.823  + 5.805  33
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1:27.261  + 6.243  28
23.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth          1:27.730  + 6.712  31
24.  Vitantonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth          1:28.255  + 7.237  25

Webber crashes out of Hungary FP1 while Hamilton leads

Onboard with Webber as he crashes into the barriers

Onboard with Webber as he crashes into the barriers

Lewis Hamilton topped the first practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The highlight of the session was Mark Webber crashing out, ending his session prematurely. He lost control of his Red Bull at Turn 9, and hit the barrier, taking the front end off the car.

The session began as damp and lacking grip, but dried out throughout the day. This led to several lock-ups and drivers running wide in the session.

Hamilton’s time of 1:23.350 was enough to take the top spot. He could have gone faster at the end, but was held up by Jaime Alguersuari. Sebastian Vettel was 2 tenths behind in 2nd. Fernando Alonso suffered a small fire on the car during the day, but still participated in the session to go 3rd.

Sergio Perez and Vitaly Petrov made it into the top 10. Bruno Senna drove Nick Heidfeld’s car for the session, and was 0.8 seconds slower than Petrov.

Daniel Ricciardo was in last place, 8 tenths off his teammate Liuzzi.

Times from Hungarian FP1:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:23.350   	      19
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:23.564  + 0.214   24
 3.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:23.642  + 0.292   29
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:23.666  + 0.316   12
 5.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:23.772  + 0.422   20
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:24.115  + 0.765   25
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:24.250  + 0.900   22
 8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:24.369  + 1.019   20
 9.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:24.620  + 1.270   24
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1:25.093  + 1.743   22
11.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:25.113  + 1.763   21
12.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:25.336  + 1.986   22
13.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:25.357  + 2.007   17
14.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:25.836  + 2.486   24
15.  Bruno Senna           Renault               1:25.855  + 2.505   25
16.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:25.890  + 2.540   28
17.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:26.099  + 2.749   36
18.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1:26.124  + 2.774   25
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1:26.878  + 3.528   26
20.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault         1:27.352  + 4.002   21
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1:28.533  + 5.183   30
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1:28.903  + 5.553   22
23.  Vitantonio Liuzzi     HRT-Cosworth          1:29.059  + 5.709   24
24.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth          1:29.904  + 6.554   26

FIA to use incident-spotting software during races

New software from the FIA will automatically detect accidents like this

New software from the FIA will automatically detect incidents like this

The FIA has announced that it is testing software that will automatically notify Race Control when a driver breaks the rules during a race.

This software is a combination of real-time lap timing, GPS co-ordinates for each car, and data regarding tyre patterns. All of these are combines to detect when a driver has broken a rule while out on track.

The end result of this software is that it can advise Race Control, and race director Charlie Whiting, if a car has been behaving oddly, which in turn may lead to swifter penalties.

This information was released through the FIA’s magazine InMotion. The designer of this innovation, Gareth Griffith, explains the software’s function:

"We tied in the cameras with the timing and the GPS, so we knew exactly where a car 
was on the track.

Then we started to analyse the data to pick out incidents. The software creates 
alerts and that automatically takes the Riedel technicians to the right cameras, 
instead of them having to find them, as used to happen.

Within a few seconds Charlie [Whiting] can be looking at the incident: either for 
safety purposes or to refer it to the stewards. It is automated, using the data 
available and algorithms based on the interactions in that data.

In the case of baulking, for example, the algorithms can analyse the proximity of 
two GPS signals to see how long it takes the car behind to close from five to two 
seconds behind the car in front. We can then measure how long the second car stays 
behind the first and if there is no time lost then there was no incident.

The data can show us when a car is not behaving as it should be behaving and so we 
can ascertain at what moment that changed and if there was another car in close 
proximity at that moment."

However, this new technical innovation is still well away from passing judgement on drivers’ actions. It can already detect what kind of an incident has occured, but the responsibility of penalties still lies with Charlie Whiting:

"With all of this it is still Charlie’s decision whether to refer incidents 
to the Stewards and their decision as to whether the driver is penalised or 

Perez and Kobayashi to remain at Sauber for 2012

Both Perez and Kobayashi have impressed this year

Both Perez and Kobayashi have impressed this year

Sauber have retained both rookie Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi for the 2012 season.

Perez has had a difficult season so far, missing out on several races after his crash in Hungary. However, he has performed very well in the races, with the best tyre conservation record on the grid.

Kobayashi will start his 3rd season with Sauber next year, the team that rescued his career after the collapse of Toyota. Kamui is well known for his spectacular offensive overtaking moves.

Team principal Peter Sauber has stated:

"We are very pleased with our drivers.

Kamui has grown into his role extremely well this year. Though it is only his second 
full Formula One season, he is already taking on the responsibilities that naturally 
fall to the more experienced driver in the team.

We are delighted with him at both a sporting and a personal level. We had an option 
of working with him in 2012 and there was never any doubt that we would take it.

Sergio has achieved more than one could expect from a rookie. From the very first 
race he proved that he is capable of driving not only fast but consistently as well.

And after the accident in Monaco he demonstrated that he can handle difficult 
situations too. From the outset we had already signed a contract with Sergio that 
went beyond 2011. With a rookie that always entails a certain risk, of course, but 
clearly it has paid off."

German Grand Prix stats and facts

Lewis Hamilton took a masterful victory yesterday, despite having never taken a single point from the Nurburgring before. Here are this weekend’s stats and facts:

  • Sebastian Vettel’s poor performance doesn’t mean he can’t still break records. The German’s 4th place now gives Vettel the record of best ever start to an F1 season. The previous record holder, Fernando Alonso, had taken a 5th place at the 10th race of the 2006 season, after 9 1sts and 2nds.
  • Despite some complaints of artificial racing, it has emerged that only 29% of overtakes this season have been due to DRS.
  • Lewis Hamilton took his 10th fastest lap, matching Graham Hill, Mario Andretti, Mark Webber and John Surtees.
  • Mark Webber took the 9th pole position of his career, the 29th for Red Bull. Despite this, he has yet to retain his lead off the start at all this year.
  • However, Webber has finally managed to lead a lap this year. He is the seventh driver to do so in 2011.
  • 4th marks the first time in 15 races that Vettel has finished off the podium.
  • In terms of total driver’s points, Ferrari have now amassed 5,555 points in their 61-year history.
  • Alonso took his 68th podium finish, as many as Rubens Barrichello.
  • Apart from Lotus, Virgin and HRT, Pastor Maldonado is the only driver of the main field to have not completed full race distance so far this year.
  • Fernando Alonso is now the only driver of the pack who has out-qualified his teammate at every event so far. Felipe Massa has not beaten Alonso in qualifying since Spa 2010.
  • Lewis Hamilton has finished on the podium at least once at every F1 circuit he has raced in.
  • Nico Rosberg now has the most points without a win of any F1 driver.

Glock signs long-term contract with Virgin

Timo Glock will stay with Virgin until 2014

Timo Glock will stay with Virgin until 2014

Timo Glock will stay at the Marussia Virgin team until 2014.

This was announced by the team this morning, before Timo’s home race. Glock has suffered in an uncompetitive car for the past 18 months.

However, after moving from Toyota, Timo claims that he was expecting the drop-off in performance:

"As a driver I knew I would have to go back a few steps in order to move forward.

Now we have tasted the difficult times together I can’t wait to be with the team
when we start to enjoy the good times. And I know they are coming."

He also took this moment to explain the frustration of being in an uncompetitive car:

"I was frustrated, as was everyone else at the team, at certain moments last year.
But for me that takes two to three hours to subside and then I reset my head again
for the next weekend.

For some reason everyone has asked me this weekend how I can still be motivated
fighting for P20 at the moment. For me I jump in the car and I just enjoy what I'm
doing, F1 was my goal and I am just enjoying every time I jump in there and fighting
as hard as possible until the last lap.

It doesn't matter whether I'm fighting for a podium or P20. That's how I was motivated
last year and this year. I set my target for a weekend, and I just want to get more
than 100% out of the package we have at the moment, and that's what I am doing."