Monthly Archives: November 2011

Raikkonen confirmed at Renault in surprise move

Raikkonen will return to F1 after a 2-year absence

Raikkonen will return to F1 after a 2-year absence

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula 1 next year.

The Finn will be driving with the Renault – soon to become Lotus – team, and it is currently uncertain who he will be driving alongside.

He left the sport after a disappointing couple of years after winning his first title in 2007. However, he said today that he couldn’t resist moving back to the sport after a year in the WRC:

"I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I’m 
grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity.

My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career 
as a driver, but I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become 
overwhelming.

It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by 
the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important 
role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid."

This means that for the first time in the history of the sport, 6 world champions will be on the grid next March.

Regarding the second seat at the team, that’ where things get more complicated. Vitaly Petrov still has a contract with Renault, but team principal Eric Boullier still has not ruled out Robert Kubica’s return to the team, provided he is fit and ready.

As well as this, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean are pushing for race seats, both drivers having driven for Renault in the past – Senna for the second half of 2011, and Grosjean for the second half of 2009.

 

Charles Pic to replace D’Ambrosio at Virgin next year

Pic will join the Marussia team for 2012

Pic will join the Marussia team for 2012

Virgin – soon to be renamed Marussia – have confirmed that Charles Pic has replaced Jerome D’Ambrosio at the team.

Timo Glock has already been confirmed for 2012, and will partner the 21-year-old driver, who finished 4th in this year’s GP2 championship.

This of course leaves Jerome D’Ambrosio without a race seat for next year.

Pic tested for Virgin at the recent young driver’s test, amid speculation that he was to join the team. Today he has said:

"As a driver you always feel you are ready for the next opportunity but in Abu 
Dhabi last week it was a tough test.

The team gave me some fantastic opportunities to learn new things but I also knew 
that I had to impress them and show them I was ready to do a good job. I was 
pleased with my performance, and obviously the team were too, so a very good start 
but this is just the beginning and I know that a lot of hard work is ahead of me to 
reward this chance.

I like the team a lot; we worked well together in the test and I feel very 
comfortable. They want to do things the right way and I can see that there is a lot 
of determination to succeed, so it is very special for me to be part of that. I’m 
looking forward to working hard in every area over the winter to ensure I am ready 
for the start of testing and my first Grand Prix."

 

Brazilian Grand Prix stats and facts

Sebastian Vettel took several more records during the final race of the 2011 F1 season. Here are the stats from this weekend:

  • Vettel’s 15th pole position breaks the record of most poles in a season, previously set by Nigel Mansell in 1992 (14 poles out of 16).
  • Red Bull took their 26th victory, 1 less than the Benneton team. Their 38th pole position is one less than Brabham.
  • With 18 poles out of 19, Red Bull have smashed the record for most pole positions in a year for a constructor – a 94.7% success rate.
  • Red Bull also have scored the highest amount of points in a season ever, with 650 points.
  • Rubens Barrichello took his 326th – and possibly last – Grand Prix entry. Jenson Button equalled Gerhard Berger’s amount of race entries with 210.
  • Nico Rosberg continues to extend his lead in the “Most points without a win” record, with 300.5.
  • Sebastian Vettel took his 30th pole position, 37% of his total race entries.
  • Vettel’s 17th podium finish this year puts him level with Michael Schumacher’s record from 2002 – when he was on the podium at every single race.
  • Force India have equalled their best ever result with 6th and 8th places.
  • An interesting fact from Pirelli – 1111 pit stops were made this year!
  • Felipe Massa’s disappointing season was reflected by the Brazilian equalling his best finish of the year – 5th. It is the first time since 1981 (Didier Pironi) that a Ferrari driver has not been on the podium once in a season.
  • Despite this, Massa made his 100th race start for the Scuderia this weekend.
  • Being transformed into Marussia for next year, Virgin have extended the record of “Most starts without a point” to 38.
  • Mark Webber took his 7th career victory, as many as Juan Pablo Montoya and Rene Arnoux. His 13th fastest lap – set on the final lap in Vettel style – is as many as Ricardo Patrese, Jacky Ickx and Alan Jones. Despite his poor season, he has set the most fastest laps this season – 7.

Points standings after Brazilian GP – season total

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 392
2 Jenson Button 270
3 Mark Webber 258
4 Fernando Alonso 257
5 Lewis Hamilton 227
6 Felipe Massa 118
7 Nico Rosberg 89
8 Michael Schumacher 76
9 Adrian Sutil 42
10 Vitaly Petrov 37
11 Nick Heidfeld 34
12 Kamui Kobayashi 30
13 Paul di Resta 27
14 Jaime Alguersuari 26
15 Sebastien Buemi 15
16 Sergio Perez 14
17 Rubens Barrichello 4
18 Bruno Senna 2
19 Pastor Maldonado 1
20 Vitantonio Liuzzi 0
21 Jerome D’Ambrosio 0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Narain Karthikeyan 0
24

25

26

27

28

Jarno Trulli

Pedro de la Rosa

Timo Glock

Daniel Ricciardo

Karun Chandhok

0

0

0

0

0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 650
2 McLaren-Mercedes 497
3 Ferrari 375
4 Mercedes GP 165
5 Renault 73
6 Force India-Mercedes 69
7 Sauber-Ferrari 44
8 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 41
9 Williams-Cosworth 5
10 Lotus-Cosworth 0
11 HRT-Cosworth 0
12 Virgin-Cosworth 0

Webber ends season on a high in Brazil

The second Red Bull streaks away from the rest of the field at the start

The second Red Bull streaks away from the rest of the field at the start

Mark Webber took his sole victory of the season in Interlagos today. He finished well ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel, who nursed a gearbox issue throughout the entire race. Jenson Button was 3rd, after 2 spirited battles with Fernando Alonso. Here is what happened:

At the start, Fernando Alonso got past Lewis Hamilton for 4th, while Felipe Massa moved into 6th. Jaime Alguersuari fell down the field, while Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov leaped up.

Kovalainen’s charge soon faded, being passed by Barrichello and Perez, while Alonso and Hamilton challenged Jenson Button for 3rd. However, the DRS zone from Turns 3 to 4 proved to be too short for the Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher tried a move around the outside of Bruno Senna. but clashed with the Renault entering the corner, slightly damaging Senna’s front wing and leaving Michael with a puncture, dropping him to the back of the field.

Senna clashes with Schumacher - the last time this happened, Rubens Barrichello was making his F1 debut!

Senna clashes with Schumacher - the last time this happened, Rubens Barrichello was making his F1 debut!

Alonso moved closer to Button with DRS, then made a fantastic move around the outside of Ferradura to take 3rd. This left the two McLarens to battle it out for 4th. Senna pitted on Lap 13, but didn’t change his front wing, indicating a 3-stop strategy.

Sebastian Vettel was instructed on his radio to short-shift on 2nd gear, and that he had a gearbox issue. Jenson Button was the first frontrunner to stop on Lap 16, while Alonso and Webber began to close on Vettel.

Alonso and Hamilton stopped a lap later, while Sebastian was told to short-shift in 3rd gear as well. He pitted on Lap 18, followed a lap afterwards by Mark Webber.

The collision between Schumacher and Senna was ruled in Michael’s favour, with Bruno suffering a drive-through penalty. Webber’s in-lap before his first stop was unusually slow, costing him 3 seconds in the battle with Vettel and Alonso.

A dislodged wheel cost Timo Glock his race, while Vettel was again told that his gearbox issue was “serious”. Bruno Senna’s race went from bad to worse, as a double shift cost him 16th place.

The Red Bull gearbox issue got even worse, as it became clear that Vettel had to short-shift every single gear. A spin and by Pastor Maldonado ended his race, while Mark Webber closed on his teammate. A dejected Vettel swiftly allowed Webber past, as the Aussie took the lead.

Both Renaults stopped on Lap 30 and 31, and Button followed suit, taking on the harder tyre. Hamilton took on softs 2 laps later, followed closely by Alonso. However, both Senna and Hamilton had their races compromised, as they were informed that they also had gearbox issues.

Hamilton's turbulent season ends disappointingly

Hamilton's turbulent season ends disappointingly

On the medium tyre, Button sailed past Felipe Massa for 4th. Within a few laps, the second McLaren had also closed right up behind Felipe. However, the Ferrari was less generous to Lewis, and he pitted on Lap 45 to avoid losing too much time.

Massa pitted a lap later, and emerged just ahead of the McLaren. Unfortunately, round 6 of their season-long fight never materialised, as Hamilton pulled over with a critical gearbox failure.

Adrian Sutil passed Nico Rosberg on the main straight, before the Mercedes sliced back under to retake the position, in a daring move. It didn’t last long though, as Adrian re-passed Rosberg the following lap.

Despite rumours that Button could make it to the end on his set of medium tyres, he was forced to pit for another set with 18 laps to go. Alonso took on the primes several laps later.

The two Red Bulls stopped within 11 and 12 laps of the end of the race. With the pit stops out of the way, the focus switched to the battle for 3rd between Alonso and Button. Going side by side into the first corner, Jenson shoved his way past the Ferrari with help from DRS and KERS.

Despite another poor race, Massa treats his fans to a few burnouts

Despite another poor race, Massa treats his fans to a few burnouts

Button soon set personal bests in every sector, in an attempt to catch the flailing Vettel, who made quite a large mistake at Turn 4. However, it wasn’t enough, and the McLaren settled for 3rd in the end.

This left Webber to set the fastest lap en route to winning his first race in the last 26 attempts. Vettel was 16 seconds behind, while Button abandoned his chase for 2nd. Alonso finished ahead of his teammate by nearly half a minute, and Adrian Sutil finished an excellent 6th. Nico Rosberg headed Paul di Resta, with Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov topping off the top 10.

The Red Bulls celebrate a job well done

The Red Bulls celebrate a job well done

Button’s move on Alonso ensured that Webber moved into 3rd in the driver’s championship by a single point. It was a relieving race for Webber after a difficult season, and he will head into the winter knowing that he might be able to challenge Vettel next year.

And so today marks the end of another season of F1. I loved the racing this year, but it was just a pity about the battle for the championship – or lack of. Regardless, we have seen excellent drives all year round, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to next year.

Vettel crushes rivals with 15th pole of the year in Brazil

Sebastian Vettel set yet another record today in Interlagos – 15 pole positions in a single season. The German was blisteringly fast in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix – and could have gone faster.

A late lap by Mark Webber ensured a Red Bull front row lockout, while Jenson Button was 3rd. Here is what happened:

Q1

The threat of rain nearby sent most cars out on track early for Q1. Lewis Hamilton set a 1:13.8 on the prime tyres, 2 tenths faster than his teammate. All 24 cars were out within 5 minutes, with Vettel soon taking the lead at the top.

Mark Webber went fastest, and was soon beaten by Jenson Button, with a 1:13.2. Adrian Sutil’s first attempt put him in 6th place, with Felipe Massa only 8th.

An impressive lap put Jaime Alguersuari 7th, while several cars made the switch to the soft tyres. Pastor Maldonado moved out of the drop zone, taking 14th, with local hero Rubens Barrichello moving into 9th.

The Force Indias took 3rd and 5th on the options, while Felipe Massa again felt the need to take on the soft compound.

Maldonado slipped back into 18th, and couldn’t improve on his previous time. Heikki Kovalainen’s final run put him ahead of Jarno Trulli for the 16th time this year.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Pastor Maldonado – 1:14.625

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:15.068

20) Jarno Trulli – 1:15.358

21) Vitantonio Liuzzi – 1:16.631

22) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:16.890

23) Jerome D’Ambrosio – 1:17.019

24) Timo Glock – 1:17.060

Q2

The pit lane was again crowded, as the rain clouds loomed near the circuit. The Force Indias set 1:13 times, while Vettel sett eh standard with a 1:12.446. Nico Rosberg was a tenth off the Red Bull, with Mark Webber half a second behind.

All cars pitted after several laps, with further qualifying attempts only restarting in the last 5 minutes.

Jaime Alguersuari went 12th, while Felipe Massa was forced to use another new set of soft tyres in order to progress to Q3. The rain clouds cleared, leaving the midfield to battle for top 10 positions.

Michael Schumacher just moved into 10th place, with Paul di Resta 11th. Despite Massa ruining his final lap, he was safe in 8th place.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Paul di Resta – 1:13.584

12) Rubens Barrichello – 1:13.801

13) Jaime Alguersuari – 1:13.804

14) Sebastien Buemi – 1:13.919

15) Vitaly Petrov – 1:14.053

16) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:14.129

17) Sergio Perez – 1:14.182

Q3

While the thunder storms died away, Nico Rosberg was the only car to leave the pits at the start of Q1. After a warm-up lap for the tyres, Nico set a 1:13.159.

Lewis Hamilton followed the same tactic on the first lap, but was soundly beaten by Sebastian Vettel – setting a 1:12.268. None of his rivals could even get close to that on their first runs.

In the period between the frontrunners’ first and second runs, Adrian Sutil moved into 7th place.

Vettel was first out for the final attempts, smashing the 1:11 barrier, and beating his previous time by 0.35 seconds. Fernando Alonso was half a second off the Red Bull, and Jenson Button went 2nd, before being beaten by Mark Webber. Lewis Hamilton’s final lap only gave him 4th position.

Nico Rosberg beat Felipe Massa for 6th, with Sutil, Senna and Schumacher filling up the top 10.

Hamilton fastest in Interlagos Friday practice

Hamilton pipped Vettel in second practice

Hamilton pipped Vettel in second practice

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in second practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel was 2nd, followed by Mark Webber, who had earlier led first practice. The Ferrari of Fernando Alonso pulled over near the end of FP1 with an engine issue, and was 6th and 4th across the afternoon.

Jean-Eric Vergne, Jan Charouz and Luiz Razia all drove in first practice for Toro Rosso, HRT and Lotus respectively, all finishing near the back of the field. Romain Grosjean pulled over with a technical issue while driving Vitaly Petrov’s Renault.

Friday Practice 1

 1.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1:13.811   	      26
 2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:13.825   0.014   25
 3.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes        1:13.961   0.150   20
 4.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1:14.025   0.214   28
 5.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1:14.507   0.696   34
 6.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1:14.541   0.730   26
 7.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                1:15.162   1.351   28
 8.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    1:15.178   1.367   28
 9.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes    1:15.241   1.430   31
10.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1:15.321   1.510   29
11.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:15.468   1.657   29
12.  Romain Grosjean       Renault                 1:15.547   1.736   18
13.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth       1:15.663   1.852   27
14.  Bruno Senna           Renault                 1:15.732   1.921   32
15.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari          1:15.747   1.936   31
16.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth       1:15.836   2.025   27
17.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari          1:15.979   2.168   35
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:16.052   2.241   33
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault           1:16.514   2.703   33
20.  Luiz Razia            Lotus-Renault           1:17.595   3.784   31
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth         1:18.140   4.329   29
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth         1:18.653   4.842   29
23.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth            1:18.952   5.141   33
24.  Jan Charouz           HRT-Cosworth            1:19.577   5.766   37

Friday Practice 2

 1.  Lewis Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:13.392               35
 2.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault       1:13.559   0.167	41
 3.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault       1:13.587   0.195	41
 4.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari                1:13.598   0.206	35
 5.  Michael Schumacher   Mercedes               1:13.723   0.331	38
 6.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari                1:13.750   0.358	39
 7.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes       1:13.787   0.395	36
 8.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes               1:13.872   0.480	42
 9.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes   1:14.144   0.752	41
10.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes   1:14.807   1.415	48
11.  Vitaly Petrov        Renault                1:14.856   1.464	38
12.  Bruno Senna          Renault                1:14.931   1.539	37
13.  Sergio Perez         Sauber-Ferrari         1:14.970   1.578	32
14.  Kamui Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1:15.019   1.627	45
15.  Sebastien Buemi      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:15.264   1.872	44
16.  Jaime Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:15.388   1.996	41
17.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Cosworth      1:15.679   2.287	43
18.  Rubens Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth      1:15.903   2.511	40
19.  Jarno Trulli         Lotus-Renault          1:16.298   2.906	36
20.  Heikki Kovalainen    Lotus-Renault          1:16.338   2.946	48
21.  Jerome D'Ambrosio    Virgin-Cosworth        1:18.031   4.639	39
22.  Timo Glock           Virgin-Cosworth        1:18.051   4.659	45
23.  Daniel Ricciardo     HRT-Cosworth           1:18.367   4.975	42
24.  Tonio Liuzzi         HRT-Cosworth           1:18.476   5.084	42

Pedro de la Rosa joins HRT for 2012

Pedro de la Rosa is to re-enter the F1 paddock next year with the HRT team.

The Spaniard, now 40 years old, has now made 4 comebacks into Formula 1. He has signed a 2-year contract with the team, having driven  as a test driver for McLaren between 2003 and 2009, and 2011.

He made a one-off appearance at Sauber in Canada this year, substituting for the injured Sergio Perez. De la Rosa cited the Spanish roots of the team, as well as knowing several people involved in the team, as one of the reasons he made the move:

"This is a very important step in my sporting career and one of the most 
meditated ones I’ve taken. I’m at a very good stage in terms of maturity and 
am prepared to take on this challenge, which motivates me hugely.

When deciding on joining this project, for me there were three decisive factors: 
my desire to return to the active competition, the fact that HRT is a Spanish 
team and getting to know the people leading this project, Luis Perez-Sala being 
amongst them. I’m here to work hard, with modesty and humility, accepting where 
we are now but keeping in mind where we want to be in two years’ time.

For me, this is the time to put into practice everything that I have learnt over 
the years at international top level racing teams so that we can grow together. 
I am proud that Spain has an F1 team and that I have this opportunity to be its 
driver. I can only show my gratitude towards HRT for having trusted in me for 
this.

Lastly, I can’t forget to thank McLaren for allowing me to take this step. I 
have been very happy over the eight seasons I spent with them, growing as a 
driver and person. Without them I wouldn’t be here today."

This appears to be a shift by HRT to a more long-term driver setup, rather than the disposable pay drivers that have littered the team so far.

This also leaves Vitantonio Liuzzi and Daniel Ricciardo in doubt regarding their race seats. Several news outlets report that Liuzzi is close to a deal, while Ricciardo is more likely to move to Toro Rosso.

Young driver test Day 3 – Three out of three for Vergne

Vergne topped the timesheets every day

Vergne topped the timesheets every day

Jean-Eric Vergne has topped the third and final young driver test in Abu Dhabi, similar to Daniel Ricciardo last year.

The Frenchman was only 4 tenths of a second slower than Sebastian Vettel’s pole position time here last week. He led Sam Bird and Jules Bianchi by well over 2 seconds.

Bird tested 2012-spec exhausts for Mercedes, which do not feature any off-throttle blowing of the diffuser like this year.

Oliver Turvey drove the McLaren all day, replacing Gary Paffett from yesterday. Max Chilton was 5th, ahead of Esteban Gutierrez and Mirko Bortolotti, who was testing for Williams.

Kevin Ceccon was 8th for Toro Rosso, ahead of Alexander Rossi for Lotus. Jan Charouz drove a Renault today, taking 10th, while Stefano Coletti was ahead of Nathanael Berthon. Virgin again split their running between Robert Wickens and Charles Pic, with both drivers finishing at the back.

Teams ran using a mixture of 2011 and 2012 Pirelli tyres on a variety of fuel loads.

Times from day 3:

 1.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Red Bull-Renault       1:38.917
 2.  Sam Bird             Mercedes GP            1:40.897
 3.  Jules Bianchi        Ferrari                1:41.347
 4.  Olivier Turvey       McLaren-Mercedes       1:41.513
 5.  Max Chilton          Force India-Mercedes   1:41.575
 6.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari         1:42.049
 7.  Mirko Bortolotti     Williams-Cosworth      1:43.277
 8.  Kevin Ceccon         Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:43.686
 9.  Alexander Rossi      Lotus-Renault          1:44.283
10.  Jan Charouz          Renault                1:44.470
11.  Stefano Coletti      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:44.545
12.  Nathanael Berthon    HRT-Cosworth           1:45.839
13.  Robert Wickens       Virgin-Cosworth        1:45.934
14.  Charles Pic          Virgin-Cosworth        1:46.348

Texas GP at point of collapse, says Ecclestone

The Circuit of the Americas is in serious trouble after recent disputes

The Circuit of the Americas is in serious trouble after recent disputes

F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has said that he is ready to axe the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, after contract disputes in the last few days have ground construction to a halt.

In India rumours surfaced that the event was in trouble, but it has only been in recent days that the full extent of the contract collapse has been revealed. Ecclestone’s original contract with Tavo Hellmund’s Full Throttle Productions company – who are organising the race – has been cancelled in the last few days.

As well as this, a row between the track organisers and the event promoters has surfaced, and the track developers have stopped contsruction. This is because the developers have not received the race contract from Formula One Management – Bernie Ecclestone’s company.

Ecclestone is yet to receive a guarantee of several payments from the Circuit of the Americas, and has given them up to 3 weeks to resolve the issue. To make matters worse, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, who controls the money flow to the circuit, has stopped putting money into the project, stating that she will not put taxpayers’ money into the track until the race contract is secured.

Bernie explained the situation today from his point of view:

"We had an agreement with Full Throttle Productions. Everything was signed and 
sealed, but we kept putting things off like the dates, various letters of credit 
and things that should have been sent, but nothing ever happened.

Then these other people [Circuit of the Americas] came on the scene, saying that 
they wanted to do things, but that they had problems with Tavo [Hellmund]. They 
said they had the circuit, and that they wanted an agreement with me.

I told them they had to sort out the contract with Tavo, which they said they 
would. But that has gone away now because we've cancelled Tavo's contract as he 
was in breach.

We've waited six months for him to remedy the breach. He knows full well why 
we've cancelled. He's happy. But these other people haven't got a contract. All
we've asked them to do is get us a letter of credit.

We are looking for security for money they are going to have to pay us. That is 
via a letter of credit, normally from a bank. If people don't have the money they 
find it difficult to get the letter of credit, and so we don't issue a contract."

After a 4-year absence from the calendar, the United States is a prime market for Formula 1, and disputes like this will do the sport’s reputation in America no good whatsoever, considering the last debacle in 2005.

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