Tag Archives: Fernando Alonso

2011 mid-way driver rankings: 5 – 1

This is the final article in a 3-part review of the drivers’ performances so far this season.

5 – Nico Rosberg

Rosberg continues to lead Mercedes instead of Schumacher

Rosberg continues to lead Mercedes instead of Schumacher

Ranking in 2010: 6th

Review from 2010 ranking: “He never crashed on his own, only finished out of the points twice, and a brilliant qualifying in soaking conditions in Malaysia proved he has the talent when it counts most.”

Like 2010, Rosberg has never retired of his own accord. He drives as consistently as Nick Heidfeld, with the pace to match. It’s just a pity he still can’t race for wins.

Within firing range of Felipe Massa, Rosberg has the chance to finish in the top 6 for the first time – but this won’t be enough. Nico won’t rest until he gets a championship-winning car, and Mercedes doesn’t look up to the task.

With this in mind, a switch to Red Bull replacing Mark Webber could be on the cards. But what would Rosberg have to show for his performances so far? For one, he has trounced a 7-time world championship race after race for the past season and a half.

It’s not a move that’s out of the question – personally, I’d love to see it happen. But in the meantime, consistently beating Schumacher will do his reputation a world of good.

4 – Lewis Hamilton

A troubled year amid controversy for Hamilton

A troubled year amid controversy for Hamilton

Ranking in 2010: 5th

Review from 2010 ranking: “While Lewis showed good pace this year, he let himself down when he needed results most.”

Every year, we see a new improvement to who is undoubtedly a fantastically talented driver. Still, Lewis Hamilton’s reputation has taken a battering this year.

Outbursts against the press and the stewards have done him no good. Questionable driving in Monaco earned him stern words by past champions, to which he responded petulantly.

To make matters worse, the collision between him and Button in Canada has fractured what was a very good team relationship. Lewis’ anger at the team was also at boiling point last race, where it was revealed he wanted drastic reductions in the number of sponsor events in his next contract.

Perhaps this is too harsh on Hamilton. To be fair, he was doing 4 sponsor appearances every day for 2 weeks between Valencia and Britain.

Also, his spirited driving has not left him, as shown at Silverstone, where he wowed the crowd with a splendid comeback from 10th to 4th.

He is currently level with Button on points, but Lewis will never be satisfied being nearly 100 off Vettel.

You can be guaranteed some dramatic performances – good or bad – this season, and every one after. Despite this, Hamilton needs to ease off at times, and learn which battles to fight and which to avoid.

3 – Jenson Button

Button has improved in many sectors compared to 2010

Button has improved in many sectors compared to 2010

Ranking in 2010: 7th

Review from 2010 ranking: “The McLaren car was far better than what Button delivered, and this must be improved on for 2011.”

Aside from his retirement at Silverstone, Button has finished in the top 6 at every race so far. He has been stronger at McLaren than last year, where he constantly struggled for race pace.

Holding back slightly in Monaco may have cost him the race win, but his performance was still excellent. He produced one of the greatest drives in years in Canada, getting a taste of every single position, before scything through the field with blistering pace.

Strangely enough, his wet weather pace was rather poor in Britain, where he slipped behind Massa, Hamilton and Di Resta, before fighting back in the dry conditions.

Still, he has shown himself as a more complete driver this year, and unlike his teammate, shows restraint where necessary. Unfortunately, the title is probably well out of reach by now, but beating Hamilton in the standings would still be a good achievement.

2 – Fernando Alonso

Is Alonso the only man who can take down Vettel?

Is Alonso the only man who can take down Vettel?

Ranking in 2010: 3rd

Review from 2010 ranking: “Despite the controversies, Alonso is still a driver to be feared.”

Many were against Alonso last year, after Ferrari manipulated Massa to grant Fernando extra points. This year, no such controversy exists, as Fernando may well be the only driver with the skill to take down Vettel.

The Ferrari car has been inconsistent to say the least. Within 30 laps, Alonso went from leading the Spanish Grand Prix to being lapped, thanks to unpredictable behaviour on the hard tyres.

In the hands of a normal driver, this would be no car to challenge the championship with. However, Fernando is no ordinary driver. His fiercest enemies and rivals still fear him, and for good reason. Alonso has thrashed the Ferrari to its absolute max in the search for performance, and recently his endeavours have been rewarded.

When granted a sniff at victory in Britain, Alonso took it and ran, stretching out a 20-second lead to Vettel. At times, he was up to a second a lap faster than the Red Bull.

Still, a 92-point gap exists between Fernando and the championship leader. Don’t rule the Ferrari out, though. 2010 saw a similar situation, where, after Silverstone, he declared he would win the championship, despite a massive points deficit. We all know what happened next – he came perilously close to clinching the title – a defiant Renault standing in his way being the only obstacle.

It would be the stuff of legends if anyone were to still take the title fight to Vettel. But if there’s anyone on the grid who can do it – it will be Fernando Alonso.

1 – Sebastian Vettel

Clever and calculating - Vettel has managed his lead perfectly

Clever and calculating - Vettel has managed his lead perfectly

Ranking in 2010: 1st

Review from 2010 ranking: “I believe he truly is the best driver of 2010.”

It’s an accepted fact that drivers will always make a mistake. Jenson Button failed to see Lewis Hamilton in Canada, and squeezed him into the wall. Lewis made a badly judged move on Felipe Massa in Monaco. Fernando Alonso pushed Button too close to the kerbs in Canada, while Mark Webber has struggled for pace on occasions.

And Sebastian Vettel? He slipped wide and lost a place. That’s it.

That slip, of course, occurred on the final lap of the Canadian Grand Prix, costing him the win. But compared to the mistakes others have made, Vettel has proven himself as almost bulletproof in reliability.

In a complete contrast to 2010, clean, consistent and careful races are the order of the day. Never cracking under pressure, Sebastian has utilised the Red Bull’s searing pace to the maximum, slicing out an 80-point lead over his teammate.

Nearly utterly faultless all season, Sebastian is more complete a racing driver. With a favourable position in the team, the stage is set for back-to-back championships.

Or is it? Fernando Alonso took a valiant victory at Silverstone, and marked his return to the very top. With Ferrari pushing to surpass Red Bull, there may well still be a fight for the title.

In which case, Vettel’s mettle will be tested severely. Or, Alonso’s charge may fail to materialise, and Vettel may cruise to the title. Hopefully it will be the former, and we will see Sebastian’s true talent tested.


Alonso takes commanding victory at Silverstone

Vettel beats Webber to the first corner

Vettel beats Webber to the first corner

Fernando Alonso took total command of the British Grand Prix, winning by over 20 seconds. Sebastian Vettel was 2nd, but was hounded to the flag by Mark Webber, who may have passed if not for team orders on the final lap. Lewis Hamilton was 4th, after a vicious battle with Felipe Massa to the flag. Nico Rosberg held off Sergio Perez for 6th, Nick Heidfeld was 8th, Michael Schumacher took 9th despite a stop/go penalty, and Jaime Alguersuari took one point. Here is the full report:

WIth one half of the circuit wet, the entire grid started out on the intermediate tyres. At the start, Webber bogged down, while a perfect start from Vettel launched him into the lead. Jenson Button moved up into 5th, while Lewis Hamilton overtook 2 cars around the outside to move into 8th.

Button soon began to lose pace, and was swiftly taken by his teammate, and Paul di Resta began to challenge him for 6th place. Once he was past, Lewis harrassed Felipe Massa for 5th, but running wide at the end of the Wellington Straight lost him track time.

Despite DRS being enabled on Lap 6, most of the frontrunners were split up by several seconds, and lost the opportunity to use the rear wing. Further back, Michael Schumacher lost control at Turn 6, and hit the back of Kamui Kobayashi, spinning the Sauber and forcing Michael to pit for a new front wing – which gave him the opportunity to be the first to take on soft tyres.

However, Schumacher instantly started setting fastest sectors, prompting Button and Nick Heidfeld to pit for slicks. A new fastest lap from Schumacher was the final indicator, as most of the field pitted for softs.

However, with Webber and Alonso pitting, Vettel and Massa were forced to stay out for one extra lap. They pitted on Lap 14, but for Massa, the damage was already done, dropping him to 5th. Sebastian, on the other hand, survived the conditions well to exit the pits comfortably in the lead.

Button was much quicker than Felipe, and made a fantastic move around the outside of the Ferrari. Similarly struggling with his tyres, Alonso fell prey to Hamilton, who moved up to 3rd.

As in Canada, Vettel seemed to lack pace in the slightly damp conditions. Webber began catching his teammate at a rate of 2 seconds a lap, and very quickly began challenging the world champion. Jaime Alguersuari made a series of passes in a few laps, getting past Kamui Kobayashi and Maldonado to move up to 12th.

Beginning to lose pace, Kobayashi’s race was ruined by a stop-and-go penalty for an unsafe release, having swerved into the Force India pits to avoid a Williams, ripping out a few wheel guns. However, the 10 second wait overheated his engine, forcing Kamui to retire a few laps later.

Alonso used DRS to the max, passing Hamilton for 3rd. With this, Lewis decided he’d had enough of those tyres, pitting on Lap 25. Vettel and Alonso pitted on Lap 27, but a mistake with a wheel gun cost Vettel the lead, dropping the Red Bull to 3rd place.

The order of the field was completely shaken up, with Alonso now leading Hamilton, Vettel and Webber. Fernando tore away with the lead, while Hamilton was pressurised by Vettel, with Webber keeping an eye on proceedings behind.

Jenson Button's wheel detaches as he leaves the pit lane

Jenson Button's wheel detaches as he leaves the pit lane

A brilliant battle emerged between the two for several laps, which ended when Vettel pitted with 15 laps to go. Hamilton followed the Red Bull’s strategy a lap later, but it was too late, with Sebastian moving into 2nd place. Alonso pitted 3 laps later, comfortably in the lead.

Button pitted at the same time as Fernando, but stopped at the end of the pit lane, with a wheel not attached properly. Replays showed that the mechanic went to change wheel guns, but Button was released before the wheel was secured.

The battle for the final podium spot began to heat up, with Hamilton instructed to save more fuel, allowing Webber to move closer to the McLaren. A DRS-assisted move pushed Mark up into 3rd, while Lewis was left fuming.

Hamilton pips Massa in an enthralling finish

Hamilton pips Massa in an enthralling finish

It was set to get even worse for Hamilton, as Felipe Massa began a last-gasp charge for 4th place, ripping away at the McLaren’s lead every lap. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel was reeled in by Webber with 2 laps to go.

Both battles reached a climax on the final lap. Webber pushed Vettel to his limits, but was ordered by Christian Horner to stay behind his teammate. Meanwhile, the most incredible battle developed between Massa and Hamilton – at the last corner. Felipe dived around the outside, then Lewis slammed into the Ferrari with some force. Massa moved to the outside for the race to the chequered flag, but slipped and ran wide as he crossed the line, allowing Hamilton to rip 4th place out of his hands with milliseconds to go.

With such tension on the last lap, very few even noticed Fernando Alonso crossing the line to take his first win of the season. It was a supreme drive from the Spaniard, extending a 20 second lead to Vettel in 20 laps.

Alonso takes his first victory of the year

Alonso takes his first victory of the year

Vettel was surely releived to keep 2nd, while it remains to be seen how Webber will react after clear team orders. Hamilton was still annoyed at his team, but Massa must have been furious after being hit by Lewis at the final corner.

Alonso takes control in Valencia second practice

Alonso was the fastest man in second practice

Alonso was the fastest man in second practice

Fernando Alonso set the pace in second practice for the European Grand Prix.

The Spaniard was the first driver of the weekend to break the 1m.38s barrier, setting a 1.37.968 halfway through the session. His lap time came despite a heavy lock up at the final corner.

Lewis Hamilton was second, holding off Sebastian Vettel in 3rd. Both Renaults managed to get into the top 10 again.

Paul di Resta was restricted to 7 laps, after his car was repaired following Nico Hulkenberg crashing the Scot’s Force India in FP1.

However, he managed 7 more laps than Jaime Alguersuari, who spent the entire session in the pits with an engine problem.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1.37.968           35
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1.38.195   0.227   26
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1.38.265   0.297   31
 4.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1.38.315   0.347   30
 5.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1.38.443   0.475   32
 6.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1.38.483   0.515   30
 7.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1.38.531   0.563   26
 8.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1.38.981   1.013   33
 9.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault                1.39.040   1.072   35
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1.39.586   1.618   27
11.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1.39.626   1.658   31
12.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1.40.020   2.052   34
13.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1.40.301   2.333   34
14.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1.40.363   2.395   7
15.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.40.454   2.486   32
16.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1.40.531   2.563   37
17.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1.42.083   4.115   34
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1.42.156   4.188   39
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault          1.42.239   4.271   25
20.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1.42.273   4.305   21
21.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1.42.809   4.841   36
22.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth           1.44.460   6.492   29
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1.46.906   8.938   16

Alonso heads disrupted Canadian Friday Practice 2

Fernando Alonso headed the field for Friday Practice 2 for the Canadian Grand Prix. His time of 1.15.107 was several tenths faster than the pole position time from Lewis Hamilton in 2010.

The session was blighted by three crashes within 20 minutes of each other. The first was when Adrian Sutil took off the front left suspension after hitting the wall at Turn 6.

The yellow flags were quickly put out, but the red flag was thrown soon, as Kamui Kobayashi slammed into the barriers at Turn 4.

The session restarted after 10 minutes, but a crash by Jerome D’Ambrosio in the exact same spot as Kobayashi disrupted the session yet again with another red flag.

Because the clock still runs under red flags in Friday Practice, Pedro de la Rosa’s running in the Sauber was ruined. A late replacement for Sergio, the C30 had to be modified for Pedro’s extra height, which cost him time. The red flags resulted in him barely getting any track time.

Paul di Resta impressed with 6th place, while both Mercedes cars lagged in 19th and 20th after struggling with their tyres.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1.15.107          34
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1.15.476  0.369   29
 3.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1.15.601  0.494   33
 4.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes        1.15.977  0.870   26
 5.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1.15.989  0.882   25
 6.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes    1.16.089  0.982   34
 7.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1.16.102  0.995   28
 8.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                 1.16.324  1.217   32
 9.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault                 1.16.422  1.315   32
10.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth       1.16.687  1.580   28
11.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    1.16.905  1.798   16
12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth       1.16.941  1.834   39
13.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1.17.051  1.944   32
14.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1.17.684  2.577   34
15.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari          1.17.757  2.650   20
16.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault           1.18.470  3.363   33
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault           1.18.482  3.375   38
18.  Pedro de la Rosa      Sauber-Ferrari          1.18.536  3.429   14
19.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1.18.601  3.494   38
20.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                1.19.209  4.102   28
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth         1.19.810  4.703   25
22.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth            1.20.284  5.177   31
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth            1.20.311  5.204   38
24.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth         1.20.922  5.815   26

Alonso puts Ferrari on top in Monaco second practice

 A special helmet seemed to help Alonso on the streets of Monaco

A special helmet seemed to help Alonso on the streets of Monaco

Fernando Alonso was the fastest driver on the super-soft tyres this afternoon in Monaco second practice.

A 1.15.123 was more than one and a half seconds faster than Vettel’s fastest attempt in TP1. The reigning world champion was half a second away from the Ferrari in 5th.

Lewis Hamilton was 2nd, while Nico Rosberg was again 3rd for Mercedes.

Michael Schumacher was able to join the session after his crash earlier today, and finished 7th. HRT driver Vitantonio Liuzzi was less lucky though, sitting out the entire session after slamming his car into the barriers in TP1.

Mark Webber was 1.5 seconds off the pace in 8th, having missed first practice due to a gearbox issue. Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov were 10th and 11th, the latter knocking off his front wing at the end of the tunnel near the end of the session.

Pastor Maldonado was unable to continue his impressive form from earlier, and was 15th. Paul di Resta was again slower than two drivers from the bottom 3, finishing 20th. However, this time the Force India suffered from a loss of drive 35 minutes into the session.

Times from TP2:

 1.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1.15.123           42
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1.15.228   0.105  33
 3.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1.15.321   0.198  44
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1.15.448   0.325  38
 5.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1.15.667   0.544  46
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1.15.781   0.658  45
 7.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1.16.356   1.233  33
 8.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1.16.642   1.519  42
 9.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1.17.101   1.978  46
10.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault                1.17.126   2.003  38
11.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1.17.337   2.214  35
12.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1.17.541   2.418  47
13.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1.17.570   2.447  39
14.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.17.581   2.458  32
15.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1.17.633   2.510  49
16.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1.17.706   2.583  37
17.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.17.789   2.666  43
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1.18.266   3.143  50
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault          1.18.490   3.367  39
20.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1.19.053   3.930  15
21.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1.19.185   4.062  40
22.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1.19.338   4.215  35
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1.22.066   6.943  33

Vettel crashes out of wet Friday Practice 1

Alonso put Ferrari on top

Alonso put Ferrari on top

Sebastian Vettel crashed out of Friday Practice 1 for the Turkish Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso was comfortably fastest in a soaked session, setting a 1.38.670, over 1.4 seconds faster than Nico Rosberg.

Vettel lost control on the exit kerb of Turn 8, and slammed into the barriers, ending his day after only 5 laps. He was running on intermediate tyres at the time, despite the track being near saturated with water. On the previous lap he had run wide at Turn 11.

Michael Schumacher, Pastor Maldonado, Timo Glock and Sebastien Buemi also all ran wide at Turn 11.

Schumacher was behind his teammate in 3rd place, ahead of the Renaults of Heidfeld and Petrov. Daniel Ricciardo was 8th, beating Buem, who was 9th.

Nico Hulkenberg took over from Adrian Sutil, and was 10th, while Paul di Resta finished 13th.

Mark Webber was 11th, having only set 5 laps. Vettel was 17th after his crash. Neither of the McLarens set a competitive lap time, with Button and Hamilton 23rd and 24th.

Interestingly, Alonso reported that the wet tyres wore out much quicker than he expected.

Here is a video of Sebastian’s crash:

Times from FP1:

 1.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1.38.670           13
 2.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1.40.072   1.402   14
 3.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1.40.132   1.462   18
 4.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault                1.40.338   1.668    9
 5.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1.40.401   1.731   10
 6.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1.40.421   1.751   16
 7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1.40.697   2.027   14
 8.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.41.094   2.424   18
 9.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.41.178   2.508   22
10.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1.41.347   2.677   16
11.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1.42.564   3.894    5
12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1.42.597   3.927    7
13.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1.43.525   4.855   11
14.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1.43.913   5.243    5
15.  Karun Chandhok        Lotus-Renault          1.43.986   5.316    6
16.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth           1.44.787   6.117   20
17.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1.44.954   6.284    4
18.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1.45.183   6.513   15
19.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1.45.237   6.567   11
20.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1.48.461   9.791    8
21.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault          1.51.676   13.006   6
22.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1.55.791   17.121  13
23.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       2.00.666   21.996   4
24.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       N/A                 1

Alonso bemoans slow Ferrari

Fernando failed to keep up with the McLarens and Red Bulls

Fernando failed to keep up with the McLarens and Red Bulls

Fernando Alonso has said that a 3-stop strategy would not have helped his challenge for a podium today.

Today’s Chinese Grand Prix saw a mix between 2 and 3-stop strategies, and Fernando finished down in 7th after a lacklustre performance. However, the Spaniard feels that the car simply isn’t fast enough, no matter what the strategy:

"It's very easy to choose the strategy when you have the fastest car and it's very 
hard when you are slow. Webber today showed qualifying is not very important.

The most important thing is to have a good tyre degradation and a good strategy, 
and this year we can overtake. As I say, the easiest thing is to have a quick car, 
like Red Bull, you pit three, two, one times and you end up on the podium.

We need to improve the car above everything. I don't think it would have changed 
much. We were much slower than the cars we had in front so we would ended up with 
a similar result."

Alonso also claimed that his race never had much potential:

"We just weren't fast at any point during the race and we kept on losing positions 
little by little.

Then we opted to go for two stops so it looked like we were in a good position 
during some points of the race and others where they were flying like bullets from 
behind. We had to try to hold on and finish the race in whatever position."

Fernando is currently 5th in the points standings, 42 points away from Sebastian Vettel.

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.

Valencia testing day 2: Alonso leads

Fernando Alonso led Day 2 of testing in Valencia

Fernando Alonso led Day 2 of testing in Valencia

Fernando Alonso led the second day of testing in Valencia, as Lotus ran their TL11 for the first time.

The session was stopped twice – once for Paul di Resta spinning early on, and the second for when Rubens Barrichello stopped out on track with an electrical problem.

Sebastien Buemi stopped near the pit lane with 15 minutes to go, and Lotus only got 15 laps in with Heikki Kovalainen, after a power steering issue. The team have said that it is a mechanical failure, and the part will have to be sent back to England for repairs.

Both Red Bull and Williams shared their cars between their drivers, though Mark Webber only got 40 minutes of driving in today.

Lewis Hamilton took distinct interest in the “massive degradation” of the Pirelli tyres, hoping that they will spice up the stretegies:

It was quite easy to get into but they’re not easy to drive. They (the tyres)
fall off quite quick and over a long run it’s interesting.

Obviously last year we had one pit stop and now the degradation is massive 
on these tyres. It might be for some people they have to do two or three pit 
stops, for example.

I didn’t actually like doing one pit stop last year, I think it wasn’t as 
exciting as it has been in the past when we did two pit stops or three pit 

So I’m hoping that we have to do a more this year, it adds a little bit 
more excitement to it.

Despite his troubles, Heikki Kovalainen was still happy with his first impressions of the TL11:

"I'm very positive. The feeling and the sensation from the car was totally 
different compared to last year.

It has a lot more potential than last year's car; it's just difficult to say 
how quick it is yet because we didn't give it a single lap to set a time. It 
(today's test) was just to check the installations. Tomorrow we will get a 
better idea."

Times from Day 2:

Pos  Driver       Team                Time             Laps
 1.  Alonso         Ferrari                1.13.307           108
 2.  Vettel         Red Bull Renault       1.13.614  0.307    43
 3.  Di Resta       Force India Mercedes   1.13.844  0.537   111 
 4.  Hamilton       McLaren Mercedes       1.14.353  1.046    83 
 5.  Kubica         Renault                1.14.412  1.105   104
 6.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1.14.645  1.338    69
 7.  Glock          Virgin Cosworth        1.15.408  2.101    34 
 8.  Barrichello    Williams Cosworth      1.16.023  2.716    51
 9.  Perez          Sauber Ferrari         1.16.198  2.891    42
10.  Maldonado      Williams Cosworth      1.16.266  2.959    29
11.  Buemi          Toro Rosso Ferrari     1.16.359  3.052    46
12.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso Ferrari     1.16.474  3.167    64
13.  Webber         Red Bull Renault       1.17.365  4.058    17
14.  Karthikeyan    HRT Cosworth           1.17.769  1.165    80 
15.  Kovalainen     Lotus Renault          1.20.649  7.342    15

Stewart: 2010 drivers are the best ever

Stewart highly rates the 2010 F1 grid

Stewart highly rates the 2010 F1 grid

Jackie Stewart, three-times world champion in the 1960’s and 1970’s, has claimed that the current batch of F1 drivers are “the best ever”. He even went as far as saying that current title holder Sebastian Vettel could be compared to former legends such as Jim Clark, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill.

The 2010 title battle included 5 drivers and 3 teams, and went all the way to the wire in Abu Dhabi. Stewart was very impressed with the racing he saw across the year:

 "I think it's the best field ever. Red Bull had a good car this year 
but right down to the last race there were four drivers battling for 
the championship, and there were five for most of the season really 
in contention."

"Up there was a Red Bull, a Ferrari and a McLaren, and a Renault 
pushing and shoving, so you cannot ask for much better than that. 
It was a long season and it came down to the very last race. It was 
close racing too."

Despite enormous changes in Formula 1 over the years, to both the cars and the drivers, Jackie claims that the raw driver instinct remains the same:

"I think the animal is exactly the same. I don't think Sebastian Vettel is 
any different from what Jim Clark was, or Graham Hill was, or Jack Brabham 
was, or people who have won the world championship more than once."

"These drivers are the same - all the same desire, want, focus, commitment 
and God-given talent that has been developed to the highest level."

"So they are not different as individuals, but we have a crop of them just 
now and we have got a little closer unification of the quality of the 
performance of the cars, so it is going to give us better racing - and I 
see 2010 was as good as the late 1960s/early 1970s."

Despite giving particular praise to Vettel, saying that there is “a lot more to come”, he still says that all of this year’s title contenders are hugely talented. He also touted Robert Kubica as a future champion, and noted each driver’s different driving talent:

"Webber is still in there, and Kubica could one day be world champion. You 
also have Jenson driving in the smoothest and cleanest way of any driver, 
and Lewis is probably the best racer of the whole lot - and the best 
equipped is still Alonso. You have such a group of extraordinarily 
skilled people."