Tag Archives: Spanish GP

Alexander Rossi to make F1 debut in Spanish Friday practice

Alexander Rossi will drive for Caterham in Spain

Alexander Rossi will drive for Caterham in Spain

American racing driver Alexander Rossi will make his first appearance in Formula 1 at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The 20-year-old will replace Heikki Kovalainen at Caterham for Friday practice 1.

Rossi has won the 2006 Skip Barber Western Regional, as well as the 2008 Formula BMW Americas and Formula BMW World Final. He tested for the Caterham team – back when it was known as Team Lotus – in last year’s young driver test in Abu Dhabi.

He is currently competing in Formula Renault 3.5 with Arden Caterham Motorsport, partnering Red Bull-back Lewis Williamson.

At the announcement today, Rossi said:

"I am looking forward to getting back into the F1 car in Spain and I want to thank 
the team for the chance to run in FP1 in Barcelona.

I have a clear goal for the session – make sure I run to the plan set by the 
engineers, not make any mistakes and learn as much as I can over the whole weekend."

Valencia and Barcelona reconsidering F1 deals

Both the Circuit de Catalunya and the Valencia street circuit are seeking to reconsider their Formula 1 contracts, after doubts about both venues emerged in recent days.

The Valencia circuit has applied to Bernie Ecclestone to renegotiate their 5-year contract, signed in 2009. The Valencian government is said to have reviewed their hosting of large events, and are rumoured to be pushing for cost cuts.

Jose Ciscar, vice-president of the Generalitat Valenciana, has refused to rule out the possibility that the event is under threat:

"The big events are under full and absolute review. They are not viable as they 
have been until now. The big events have had an important value up until now but 
the circumstances force us to prioritise.

With contracts signed, we can't be imprudent because the penalty could cost us 
more. We have to find balanced solutions."

Meanwhile, the Catalunyan government has stated that they may reconsider the hosting of F1 and MotoGP events, due to the economic downturn, according to Andreu Mas-Colell:

"We could reconsider the hosting of Formula 1 or motorcycle grands prix. It is 
not clear to us that we can afford them in the current situation.

It is not the first thing we will reconsider, but in times like these we must 
look very closely at where we spend the money."

The Circuit de Catalunya currently holds a contract to host Formula 1 until 2016.

Points standings after Spanish Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 118
2 Lewis Hamilton 77
3 Mark Webber 67
4 Jenson Button 61
5 Fernando Alonso 51
6 Nico Rosberg 26
7 Nick Heidfeld 25
8 Felipe Massa 24
9 Vitaly Petrov 21
10 Michael Schumacher 14
11 Kamui Kobayashi 9
12 Sebastien Buemi 6
13 Adrian Sutil 2
14 Sergio Perez 2
15 Paul di Resta 2
16 Jaime Alguersuari 0
17 Rubens Barrichello 0
18 Jarno Trulli 0
19 Jerome D’Ambrosio 0
20 Heikki Kovalainen 0
21 Pastor Maldonado 0
22 Timo Glock 0
23 Narain Karthikeyan 0
24 Vitantonio Liuzzi 0

Constructor Standings:

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 185
2 McLaren-Mercedes 138
3 Ferrari 75
4 Renault 46
5 Mercedes GP 40
6 Sauber 11
7 Toro Rosso 6
8 Force India-Mercedes 4
9 Williams-Cosworth 0
10 Lotus-Cosworth 0
11 Virgin-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0

Vettel holds off Hamilton in Spain

Alonso pushes the Red Bulls out of the way at the start

Alonso pushes the Red Bulls out of the way at the start

Sebastian Vettel held off a resurgent Lewis Hamilton in the final 20 laps of the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya.

It wasn’t a straightforward win, however – Vettel had to fight his way back to the lead, after Fernando Alonso snatched the lead from Mark Webber at the start. Mark lost out to his teammate at the first corner. Kamui Kobayashi suffered a puncture after a trip into the gravel.

A roar of approval from the Spanish crowd wasn’t enough for Fernando though, as he struggled to shake off the Red Bulls and Hamilton.

An early pit stop for Vettel on Lap 8 prompted a dive into the pits for Alonso and Webber. Lewis delayed his stop, and emerged behind Webber in 3rd.

The same strategy worked much better at the second stop, with Vettel taking control of the lead, and Hamilton dispatching of Webber. Alonso resigned the lead, and slowly began to slip down the order.

A torrid race ended prematurely for Massa with a gearbox failure

A torrid race ended prematurely for Massa with a gearbox failure

Jenson Button made the call to retain a 3-stop strategy, putting him out of sync with the frontrunners. After the others’ second stops, Button made a daring pass on Webber at the first corner to move into 3rd place.

Vettel and Hamilton began to tear away, while a switch to hard tyres proved disastrous for Alonso, as he began to slide away from the leaders, eventually becoming lapped near the end.

An intermittent KERS problem put Sebastian under huge pressure from Lewis. A DRS advantage wasn’t enough for the McLaren though, as the difficult final sector of the lap gave the Red Bull enough breathing space.

Fernando was unable to stem the massive loss in time under the prime tyres, and succumbed to Webber by the end of the race. His teammate was even worse off, spinning and being passed by Nick Heidfeld and Sergio Perez.

Schumacher and Rosberg were unable to match McLaren and Red Bull, and quietly toured the circuit in 6th and 7th. Heidfeld and Perez were 8th and 9th, while Kobayashi recovered well to take a point.

Vettel was superb and on the pace all day long

Vettel was superb and on the pace all day long

Vettel held on by 0.6 seconds to Hamilton, and took a well-deserved win. He now holds a 41-point lead over Hamilton, who is the only driver to finish ahead of him in any race this year.

Massa eventually retired with a gearbox issue, joining Vitantonio Liuzzi (gearbox) and Heikki Kovalainen (crash) on the sidelines.

Pastor Maldonado slumped after his top 10 start, and was 15th. Meanwhile, Perez became the first Mexican in 30 years to score points in Formula 1.

Also, I apologise for the late updates this week. I was away during the weekend, and was in Dublin for Barack Obama’s visit. Well worth it though.

Webber retains advantage in second practice

Webber continued to lead in FP2

Webber continued to lead in FP2

Mark Webber continued to lead proceedings in the Spanish Grand Prix second practice.

However, he was closely followed by Lewis Hamilton, as McLaren hone their latest updates.

Sebastian Vettel was 3rd, 3 tenths off his teammate. Jenson Button was 4th, while Fernando Alonso was held up on his fastest lap, but was still 5th.

Rosberg and Schumacher secured 6th and 7th for Mercedes. Both Saubers got into the top 10.

Vitaly Petrov was half a second slower than Heidfeld in 12th. The Williams drivers were 14th and 16th. Adrian Sutil was the only driver to have been slower than one of the 3 bottom teams. His teammate Paul di Resta was a full second faster than him.

The 107% rule only applied to the two Hispanias in this session.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1.22.470           35 
 2.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes       1.22.509   0.039   27
 3.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault       1.22.826   0.356   37
 4.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes       1.23.188   0.718   32
 5.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari                1.23.568   1.098   34
 6.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes               1.23.586   1.116   35
 7.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes               1.23.981   1.511   30
 8.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari                1.24.278   1.808   30
 9.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari         1.24.290   1.820   33
10.  Nick Heidfeld       Renault                1.24.366   1.896   31
11.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari         1.24.483   2.013   38
12.  Vitaly Petrov       Renault                1.24.786   2.316   43
13.  Sebastien Buemi     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.25.296   2.826   33
14.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth      1.25.303   2.833   38
15.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.25.457   2.987   34
16.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Cosworth      1.25.603   3.133   43
17.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes   1.26.073   3.603   32
18.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus-Renault          1.26.417   3.947   37
19.  Adrian Sutil        Force India-Mercedes   1.27.123   4.653   20
20.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus-Renault          1.27.189   4.719   34
21.  Jerome D'Ambrosio   Virgin-Cosworth        1.28.036   5.566   36
22.  Timo Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1.28.062   5.592   28
23.  Narain Karthikeyan  HRT-Cosworth           1.29.469   6.999   28
24.  Tonio Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth           1.29.476   7.006   31

Webber dominates Spanish first practice

Webber was a second faster than Vettel

Webber was a second faster than Vettel

Mark Webber led teammate Sebastian Vettel by a full second in first practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.

A 1.25.142 was 1.009 seconds faster than Vettel, who headed Nico Rosberg in 3rd.

It wasn’t a completely satisfactory session for the Red Bull team though, as Vettel was instructed to disable his KERS after another reliability issue early on in the session.

Fernando Alonso was 4th, ahead of Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton. Nick Heidfeld was the only Renault in the top 10, while Jenson Button struggled with his tyres and was 9th.

Daniel Ricciardo took over Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso, and was 1.5 seconds faster than Jaime Alguersuari, although the Spaniard only completed 9 laps with an engine problem.

Felipe Massa was 16th, 3.5 seconds off the pace. Pastor Maldonado spun off, but was 13th.

4 cars were outside of the 107% rule: Both HRT cars, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock.

Times from FP1:


 1.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1.25.142    	   27 
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1.26.149   1.007  20
 3.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1.26.379   1.237  29
 4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1.26.480   1.338  27
 5.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1.26.738   1.596  26
 6.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1.26.988   1.846  19
 7.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1.27.016   1.874  32
 8.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault               1.27.132   1.990  21
 9.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1.27.138   1.996  22
10.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1.27.212   2.070  20
11.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1.27.241   2.099  22
12.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.27.471   2.329  23
13.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1.28.005   2.863  11
14.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1.28.027   2.885  26
15.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1.28.163   3.021  22
16.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1.28.654   3.512  28
17.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1.28.819   3.677  23
18.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.28.995   3.853  9
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1.29.231   4.089  21
20.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1.30.896   5.754  18
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1.31.235   6.093  24
22.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth          1.31.268   6.126  23
23.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault         1.31.418   6.276  12
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1.32.106   6.964  25

FIA make changes to blown diffuser rules

The exhaust blown diffuser has been limited by the FIA

The exhaust blown diffuser has been limited by the FIA

The FIA has informed all F1 teams of changes to the technical regulations concerning blown diffusers, which will come into effect at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

One of the main points of development for the teams this year has been the blown diffuser, which channels exhaust gases onto the diffuser, which initially only brought downforce benefits while the driver was on the throttle.

However, several teams, particularly Red Bull, have been believed to have exploited the blown diffuser, by allowing the system to work even while the throttle is not being used. A constant flow of gas through the exhaust system is rumoured to be the cause for this.

This is the innovation that the FIA will soon ban. They have written to all the teams, instructing them that the use of the throttle is only to increase torque, not for aerodynamic performance.

If any team is caught to evade this ruling, they will have broken Article 3.15 of the technical regulations, which bans movable aerodynamic pieces or devices.

McLaren believe that this exploitation may be the key to Red Bull’s scintillating qualifying pace, so it will be interesting to see how Vettel and Webber perform in Barcelona this weekend.

Update: The FIA has decided not to go ahead with this regulation for this weekend, after several “unforeseen and unintended consequences” were brought to their attention. However, they are planning to move ahead with the new ruling as soon as possible.

830m DRS zone for Spain

The Spanish GP will have an 830m DRS zone

The Spanish GP will have an 830m DRS zone

The Drag Reduction System is to be even more crucial in the Spanish Grand Prix, as the FIA have announced an 830 metre activation zone – the longest so far this year.

While the adjustable wing system has brought an extra spectacle this year, it suffered complaints at the Turkish Grand Prix, where many noticed that it was too easy for cars to overtake using DRS (the zone was around the high 700 metre mark, I never found a precise figure).

The Chinese Grand Prix DRS zone was reduced from 902 metres to 752m, after the FIA believed that 900m would make it too easy to overtake.

While it hasn’t been confirmed yet, it is almost certain that the DRS zone for Barcelona will be on the start/finish straight.

While many will be worried of more over-simplified overtaking, it is good to remember that the Spanish Grand Prix has a reputation for being difficult to pass on, unlike Turkey.

Pirelli announce tyre compounds for Turkey, Spain and Monaco

Pirelli will bring soft and hard tyres to Spain and Turkey

Pirelli will bring soft and hard tyres to Spain and Turkey

Pirelli have announced their choice of tyre compounds to bring to the Turkish, Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.

The hard and soft tyres will be continued to be used for Turkey and Spain, the same compounds that have been used all so far this season. It is also the same choice that Bridgestone made last year.

The Monaco Grand Prix, meanwhile, will see the introduction of the super-soft tyre, accompanied by the soft tyre.

This means that the medium tyre will be the only tyre that hasn’t been used yet this season.

Also bear in mind that from the Turkish Grand Prix onwards, Pirelli will be using a new system to differentiate the softer tyre from the harder tyre, although their system has not been announced yet.

Hamilton crash confirmed as rim failure

The cause of Lewis Hamilton's crash has been confirmed as rim failure

The cause of Lewis Hamilton's crash has been confirmed as rim failure

Martin Whitmarsh today confirmed that the crash for Lewis Hamilton near the end of the Spanish Grand Prix was caused by rim failure.

Lewis was running second on the penultimate lap, when his front right tyre failed, and he crashed into the barriers at Turn 3. He was fine, but it threw away the opportunity for McLaren drivers to be running 1-2 in the drivers’ standings. Since then, the cause of the crash has been confirmed as rim failure.

On the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in, Whitmarsh said that the team are still investigating the crash:

"We flew the parts back yesterday and had Bridgestone here. We do 
not believe that the deflation was caused by a puncture or tyre 
failure. From all the evidence it looks like the rim failed which 
caused deflation.

The rim failure is being investigated. It could be debris related, 
it could be an issue of deflection, it could be an issue of 
tightness or lack of in the wheel nut allowing some flexing.

So what we know is, the rim failed, probably human error somewhere 
in that process caused that, which led to deflation and the 
accident."

Another tyre failure for McLaren, and if it was human error, it wouldn’t be the first time. In the Nurburgring 2007, Hamilton crashed heavily in qualifying, because the right front wheel wasn’t properly secured by the mechanics. In Barcelona 2008, Heikki Kovalainen had a horrible smash at Campsa corner, caused by a manufacturing fault on the left front wheel.

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