Tag Archives: Valencia GP

Alonso furious, Ferrari calls race a “scandal”

Fernando Alonso dropped to 9th after the safety car

Fernando Alonso dropped to 9th after the safety car

Fernando Alonso blasted the result of the European Grand Prix, calling it “unreal and unfair” after the safety car incident where he dropped from 3rd to 9th place, while Lewis Hamilton overtook the safety car and managed to keep his position, after a delayed drive-through penalty decision.

After the race, Fernando said:

"I think it was unreal this result and unfair as well.

We respected the rules, we don’t overtake under the yellows and we
finish ninth. That is something to think about.

It completely destroyed the race. Hopefully we can move forward
because after the victory of Vettel and podium for McLaren ninth
place is very little points for us.

We need to apologise to the 60 to 70 thousand people who came to
see this kind of race.

They gave a penalty already to Hamilton but it was too late – 30
laps to investigate one overtake."

Ferrari were similarly furious, describing the race as a scandal. Felipe Massa, Alonso’s team-mate, fell to 15th place and never recovered after the safety car. A team statement on their website read:

"A scandal, that’s the opinion of so many fans and employees who are
all in agreement: there is no other way to describe what happened 
during the European Grand Prix. The way the race and the incidents 
during it were managed raise doubts that could see Formula 1 lose 
some credibility again, as it was seen around the world."

First of all, they are both certainly correct in being furious at Lewis Hamilton, who managed to get away with overtaking the safety car, whether it was intentional or not. Meanwhile Alonso, who never broke the rules once, fell to 9th. The reason Hamilton didn’t lose any positions because of his drive-through is because the stewards took far too long to issue the penalty, by which time Lewis was able to create a large gap to stay ahead of Kobayashi after his penalty.

However, I must say that they are completely over-reacting when it comes to being annoyed about the safety car itself. Sometimes, drivers and teams lose out or benefit from the safety car deployment, and this cannot be avoided. I mean, look at Mercedes. Michael Schumacher fell to the back of the grid, and do you hear him whinging as loud as Ferrari? It is true that Schumacher wasn’t even in a points-scoring position, but it’s just an example.

Also, if Ferrari were to gain massively from the safety car, I doubt the other teams would complain as loudly as they would (Barrichello’s win in Germany 2000 springs to mind). In this case, when they lose out, they should just start thinking about how to get back up the field, but Fernando couldn’t even get past Sebastien Buemi.

While Ferrari are in the right, they need to learn that whining and over-reacting like this isn’t going to get them anywhere.

Vettel takes the win in dramatic European Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel won the European Grand Prix today, with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button 2nd and 3rd. Also, Rubens Barrichello was 4th, with Kamui Kobayashi 7th after a fantastic performance. However, there is a large stewards investigation ongoing at the moment, so the result could well change. Here is the report in full:

At the start, Lewis Hamilton jumped up into 2nd place, and Fernando Alonso started to pressurise Webber for 3rd. At Turn 1, Hamilton made a move on Vettel for the lead, but went slightly too fast into the corner, hit Vettel and damaged his car, but remained 2nd. Webber had a torrid first lap, dropping to 9th place.

Sebastian Vettel leads the field on Lap 1

Sebastian Vettel leads the field on Lap 1

Robert Kubica overtook Jenson Button for 5th. Further back, Adrian Sutil got past team-mate Liuzzi, and Jarno Trulli lost his front wing after hitting Kamui Kobayashi. On Lap 4, Alonso’s pit radio suggested that pieces of debris were falling off Lewis’ car because of the first lap incident. Hamilton also reported that there were vibrations on his front left tyre.

On Lap 5, Trulli pitted for the second time, and appeared to retire with what seemed to be an engine failure. But, he emerged from the pits soon, albeit 2 laps down. Mark Webber, still in 9th, opted to bring forward his first stop to Lap 8, but a mistake with the front left wheel cost him 5 seconds.

Robert Kubica overtakes Jenson Button

Robert Kubica overtakes Jenson Button

On Lap 10, after some interesting battles, it was certainly a much better European Grand Prix than last year – so far. But, all of these thoughts were suddenly lost when Mark Webber had a terrifying accident, running into the back of Heikki Kovalainen, flipping the car and spearing into the barriers. Fortunately, Mark was perfectly fine, and the safety car was instantly deployed. There were shocking similarities to an earlier crash in GP2, with Josef Kral:

Even after such a horrible accident, most thoughts swiftly moved to strategy. Jenson Button was the first to pit, and got up to 4th. Kamui Kobayashi stayed out, and moved up to 3rd place. However, it was a disaster for Michael Schumacher, who pitted slightly too late, and had to wait at the red light at the end of the pit lane, dropping him to the back of the grid.

He did try and make up for the strategy slip though, by pitting again (he was already last) for the hard tyres, which should last him for the end of the race. Meanwhile, the Ferraris also suffered, with Alonso and Massa dropping to 10th and 17th.

On the restart, Fernando Alonso got past Nico Hulkenberg for 9th. Sebastian Vettel nearly allowed Hamilton past after a mistake at the final corner, but held his position, and began to move away from the McLaren again. Fernando Alonso went onto his radio, and was told that his team were complaining to Charlie Whiting, race director, about Lewis Hamilton during the safety car period. Alonso was annoyed about this, saying “It’s the only thing we can do”.

It soon emerged that Jenson Button was even slower than Kamui Kobayashi in 3rd, and he began dropping back. Meanwhile, both Mercedes drivers were being advised to back off on the brakes, as they were overheating. Then, the stewards announced that they would be investigating the incident regarding car number 2 (Lewis Hamilton) over the safety car incident, when he overtook the safety car when it was deployed, and then Fernando Alonso was stuck behind the safety car.

A few laps later, it was announced that Hamilton had received a drive-through penalty, for overtaking the safety car. He served his penalty 2 laps later, and amazingly still got out in 2nd place, just ahead of Kobayashi and Button, thanks to 2 fast laps after he was served the penalty.

He was now 15 seconds behind Vettel, because of the short pit lane not hampering his time as much as it would. After fuel saving for a few laps, he got on the pace and attempted to catch up to the Red Bull. Meanwhile, in 3rd, Kobayashi was still out, and yet to pit, having been out on the medium tyres so far.

Sebastian began to drop in pace, as all of the top 6 drivers were now faster than him. On Lap 34 out of 57, he was 12 seconds ahead of Hamilton. By now, the brake heat issue was beginning to spread, as Robert Kubica was being instructed to cool his brakes also.

With 20 laps to go, Hamilton, Kobayashi and Button approached the backmarkers of Lucas di Grassi and Bruno Senna. They were so indulged in their own battle, they didn’t notice the cars behind them. Lewis was held up for a few corners, and was understandably annoyed. But, when Kobayashi and Button approached, Senna slowed to let them past, and Di Grassi slipped past the HRT, then proceeded to smash off Senna’s front wing, giving him a puncture in the process, and holding up the Sauber and McLaren. Both backmarkers soon pitted, thanks to their childish behaviour.

Alonso, still in 9th, was now pressurising Buemi for 8th place. Sebastien locked up at the final corner, but managed to hold the Ferrari back. At the front, Vettel finally got on the pace, and began to match Hamilton’s pace. Soon after, there was good news for Alonso, as there was news that 9 cars  were under investigation for speeding during the safety car period. This would mean that Fernando might have a chance to jump up the order.

With 10 laps to go, when it seemed as if Vettel was poised to win, Hamilton dropped into the 1.39 zone, 1.7 seconds faster than Sebastian. Incredibly, Kobayashi was lapping within 1 tenth of Lewis’ time at this point. The gap was down to 7 seconds to Vettel. The next lap, Lewis went even faster, by 4 tenths of a second. Lap after lap, he chopped down the gap to the leader, until he was 6 seconds behind with 7 laps to go.

On Lap 51, Nico Hulkenberg retired, after struggling with an engine problem for much of the race, and also with delaminated tyres and bodywork. His retirement out of the points gifts Pedro de la Rosa 10th position in his home race. With 4 laps to go, Kobayashi finally pitted, and despite a slow pit stop (5.5) he emerged in 9th place. With De la Rosa in 10th, Sauber were poised for their first double points finish of the year.

Kobayashi, Buemi and Alonso were now battling for 7th position. With his brand new super-soft tyres, Kamui was the best equipped, and amazed everybody by passing Fernando Alonso with 2 laps to go, and took 8th place. Then, on the last corner of the last lap, he dived down the inside, braking late, and got past Buemi as well to finifh 7th.

Sebastian Vettel celebrates after winning the European Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel celebrates after winning the European Grand Prix

The battle for the lead never really emerged, but Sebastian Vettel crossed the line first regardless to take the win at the European Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton was a few seconds behind, followed by Button. Rubens Barrichello was completely unnoticed in his excellent drive to 4th, while Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil were 5th and 6th respectively. Kamui Kobayashi was 7th, Buemi 8th, Alonso 9th, while Pedro de la Rosa got 10th at his home Grand Prix.

However, the stewards investigation for Barrichello, Kubica, Buemi, Button, Hulkenberg, Petrov, Sutil, Liuzzi and De la Rosa was still ongoing, so this provsional result could well massively change. If it does, then Kobayashi and Alonso are set to gain massively, but that is only if the drivers ahead of them receive time penalties.

No matter what, it was a (surprisingly) very good Grand Prix to watch, with plenty of surprises, good racing action and – shock horror – even some overtakes!

The standings have been updated, you can view them here.

European Grand Prix in pictures

Sebastian Vettel took pole position today ahead of the European Grand Prix in Valencia tomorrow. Here are the pictures from today:

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Vettel takes pole position in Valencia

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton after qualifying

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton after qualifying

Sebastian Vettel took pole position ahead of the European Grand Prix in Valencia tomorrow. He set the fastest lap of the weekend ahead of team-mate Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. Here is the full report:

Q1

Jarno Trulli and the two Virgin cars went out first, lapping in the 1.43 zone.  After this, Nico Hulkenberg and Rubens Barrichello showed that Willams have made improvements, by going fastest. After this, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton began to trade fastest laps, in the effort to get on top. Soon enough, Sebastian Vettel went out and knocked them both back by taking the fastest lap.

With 8 minutes to go, the only driver who hadn’t gone out yet was Robert Kubica. He eventually went out, and instantly set the fastest lap, a 1.38.2. On his next lap, he went another tenth faster. At the back of the grid, the Virgin drivers switched to the harder tyre, but only got 21st and 22nd.

By this stage, most drivers were happy with their times, and were waiting in the pits for Q2. But, Michael Schumacher was languishing in 15th, and went out for another lap time. However, within a minute, 3 drivers behind him improved their times, and suddenly Schumacher was in the knockout zone. His final lap put him up to 12th, leaving Kamui Kobayashi to be knocked out alongside the 3 new teams. Lotus were an entire 1.5 seconds ahead of Virgin, who were 0.5 faster than HRT.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Kamui Kobayashi

19) Jarno Trulli

20) Heikki Kovalainen

21) Lucas di Grassi

22) Timo Glock

23) Karun Chandhok

24) Bruno Senna

Q2

Nearly half of the field were straight out for the beginning of Q2. Felipe Massa got the ball rolling with a 1.38.591. Fernando Alonso swiftly beat this by another tenth of a second. Lewis Hamilton, and then Mark Webber, beat those times again. Fernando went 2nd, then Hamilton 3rd, and Sebastian Vettel then went fastest with a 1.38.

Robert Kubica then went 3rd fastest. In the dropout zone, while Nico Rosberg improved on his time, he was only 12th. His team-mate Schumacher only got 15th fastest with 7 minutes to go. Felipe Massa was about to go fastest, but pitted.

Amazingly, the top 14 were covered by only 0.8 seconds in the final few minutes. While Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher and Adrian Sutil all improved their times, they did not move position, meaning they were all knocked out, alongside, Sebastien Buemi, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Pedro de la Rosa and Jaime Alguersuari.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Sebastien Buemi

12) Nico Rosberg

13) Adrian Sutil

14) Vitantonio Liuzzi

15) Michael Schumacher

16) Pedro de la Rosa

17) Jaime Alguersuari

Q3

All 5 teams went out immediately for Q3. Jenson Button was the first out with a flying lap, but Fernando Alonso quickly beat that with a 1.38.3. Lewis Hamilton was the first man who got below the 1.38 mark, setting a 1.37.9, but Mark Webber then went a tenth quicker to take top spot.

Williams employed a clever strategy, for their cars to go out in between the two sets of flying laps that the top teams do. With this, they had clear air and no traffic, and so Nico Hulkenberg went 5th, although Barrichello only got 10th.

Fernando Alonso was the first out for the final attempt, but only went 4th. Sebastian Vettel was up next, and set a 1.37.5, the fastest lap of the weekend so far. Lewis Hamilton messed up his final lap, and Mark Webber got 2nd. Robert Kubica went 6th, and Jenson Button 7th.

This left Vettel to take pole position for the race tomorrow, with Webber behind him, and Hamilton 3rd. It was surprising that Kubica couldn’t mount a challenge, but 6th is respectable enough.

Full times from qualifying:

European Grand Prix practice in pictures

Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso topped the two Friday Practice sessions for the European Grand Prix in Valencia today. The pictures from today are available on my Flickr account here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ciaranmor/sets/72157624230729867/

Normally I would just embed it on here, but WordPress won’t allow Flickr embeds, so unfortunately for today I had to settle for this, after many hours of trying to get it to work. Apologies for the inconvenience, this will be sorted out for tomorrow.

Alonso heads Valencia Friday Practice 2

Fernando Alonso topped FP2 for the European Grand Prix today

Fernando Alonso topped FP2 for the European Grand Prix today

Fernando Alonso topped the second Friday Practice session for the European Grand Prix in Valencia. He was ahead of the two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, followed by Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. The track had cleared up, so lap times were considerably quicker this afternoon.

Again, like FP1, the red flags were out, this time after Felipe Massa spun to a halt at Turn 5. He was able to rejoin later, after his car had been brought back to the pits. Also, Vitaly Petrov spun at Turn 14, and spent a lot of time selecting reverse gear to get out of the way of the cars behind. Lewis Hamilton and both Red Bull drivers ran wide on the exit kerb of Turns 19 and 20. Several drivers ran wide at Turn 1.

At the end of the session, Hamilton and Schumacher nearly collided at the final corner. Schumacher had backed off to make space for himself, and didn’t notice Hamilton behind. Lewis was forced to dodge and swerve left, shaking his hand at Schumacher as he did so.

Behind the top 5, Robert Kubica was again on good form in 6th, ahead of Felipe Massa. Adrian Sutil was 8th, ahead of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello to finish off the top 10. Michael Schumacher was a full second off the pace in 11th, while Vitantonio Liuzzi was again beaten by his team-mate in 12th. Vitaly Petrov was 13th, and the two Saubers of Kobayashi and De la Rosa were 14th and 15th. Sebastien Buemi was 16th, Nico Hulkenberg 17th, while Jaime Alguersuari was again the slowest of the midfield, albeit only 2.1 second slower than Alonso.

The two Lotus drivers of Kovalainen and Trulli were 19th and 20th, with Heikki only 3.1 seconds slower than the fastest lap of the session. Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi were 4.5 seconds off the pace in 21st and 22nd, while Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok filled up the back row.

Times from FP2:

Rosberg leads Valencia Friday Practice 1

Nico Rosberg led the way in FP1 in Valencia

Nico Rosberg led the way in FP1 in Valencia

Nico Rosberg headed up the first practice session for the European Grand Prix in Valencia today. He lead the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Test drivers Christian Klien and Paul di Resta also made an appearance in their HRT and Force India cars respectively.

Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault were all testing their new exhaust-driven diffusers, while Red Bull were testing their F-duct device again. after not running it in Canada.

In the first half of the session, the red flag was out, as Bruno Senna’s wing mirror came off his car, and was consequently hit by Sebastien Buemi and Heikki Kovalainen. The session was halted while the marshals cleared the debris off the track.

The track was very dusty, and therefore the times were quite slow, but it didn’t stop Rosberg topping the session with a 1.41.175.  The McLarens of Hamilton and Button were 0.16 and 0.2 seconds behind respectively. Robert Kubica did well to bring his Renault up to 4th, while Felipe Massa was an entire second behind the leaders in 5th.

The two Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber were 6th and 7th, then Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso were 8th and 9th. The two Williams cars of Barrichello and Hulkenberg were 10th and 11th. Vitaly Petrov was 12th, and Sebastien Buemi was 2.1 seconds behind Rosberg in 13th.

Vitantonio Liuzzi was 14th, with Pedro de la Rosa 15th. Paul di Resta was 16th, and only 0.06 seconds slower than Liuzzi. Kamui Kobayashi was 2.5 seconds back from the leaders in 17th, while Jaime Alguersuari was another 5 tenths slower in 18th, as the slowest of the midfield.

As expected, the Lotus of Kovalainen was the fastest of the new teams in 19th, only 3.3 seconds behind Rosberg. Timo Glock was 20th, albeit another 1.1 seconds back. Bruno Senna was another 1.5 seconds slower than that in 21st, and Jarno Trulli was 22nd. Christian Klien was 23rd, 2 tenths slower than his team-mate, despite setting only 14 laps. Lucas di Grassi filled the final spot on the timesheets.

After the dust cleared, tyre graining was the next problem. Lotus in particular was struggling with controlling the front left tyre’s wear. Jaime Alguersuari also said that his tyres were “destroyed”.

Times from FP1:

Valencia 2009 flashback: Barrichello breaks 5-year victory drought

After the Hungarian Grand Prix, Jenson Button was starting to realise that his lead was not as strong as it used to be. While he was still considerably in the lead, by 18.5 points to Mark Webber, with Sebastian Vettel only 4.5 points behind him. Red Bull were also catching up to Brawn in the constructors’ championship. The Brawn car was turning against Button, as he was constantly struggling for control. So, when Valencia cam around, there could well be a change of fortunes for his title rivals.

Before any of the sessins began though, Rubens Barrichello showed off his new helmet, paying tribute to Felipe Massa, who was sidelined for the rest of the season after his heavy crash in Hungary. His race seat would be filled by Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer, who had spent an incredible 10 years straight testing for Ferrari. He had said that it was a dream come true for him, to finally get a drive for Ferrari.

It was completely the opposite for Nelson Piquet Jr. After yet another dissapointing performance in Hungary 4 weeks ago, Flavio Briatore snubbed his own (managed) driver, and decided to replace him for the rest of the season. He would be replaced by GP2 driver Romain Grosjean. The 1-race ban on Renault, which was given after Fernando Alonso was unsafely released with a damaged wheel in Hungary, was overturned before Hungary, which allowed Grosjean to make his debut there.

In the practice sessions, it became clear that Force India were starting to make improvements, with Adrian Sutil finishing 6th in both Friday Practice sessions. Romain Grosjean was making a decent debut so far, but Badoer was miles behind anyone else, and was last in FP1 and FP2. In qualifying, it seemed as if Heikki Kovalainen would take pole position, but he locked up and slid into the final corner, and only took 2nd place. This left Lewis Hamilton free to take his first pole position of the year, with the Brawn of Barrichello in 3rd, and Button languishing in 5th. It was the first time that a KERS equipped car had taken pole position in Formula 1.

The McLarens of Hamilton and Kovalainen lead the field at the start

The McLarens of Hamilton and Kovalainen lead the field at the start

With their KERS systems to defend them, the McLarens were unstoppable at the start. Further back, Jenson Button made a terrible start, getting stuck behind Jarno Trulli at the first corner, and falling to 8th. Even worse, he slipped and cut a corner, meaning he was instructed to give 8th place to Mark Webber. To make matters even more complicated for him, he soon started to suffer tyre graining issues. Meanwhile, the new drivers clashed, as Romain Grosjean ran into the back of Luca Badoer, causing him to fall to the back of the grid, after he had made good progress on the first lap.

Sebastian Vettel, at his first pit stop, suffered a fuel rig failure, and was forced to pit again next lap. The extra time spent stationary strained the engine, and it blew a few laps later, leaving Vettel on the sidelines. He had extended his contract with Red Bull on Friday, but he had since lost his chance to take vital points off Button.

At the front, Kovalainen lost 2nd place to Barrichello at the first set of stops, and the Brazilian soon started to challenge Hamilton for the lead. At the very back, Badoer pitted alongside Grosjean. While Luca was released alongside Romain, he made a mistake and allowed him past, and then ruined his afternoon by crossing the white line at pit lane exit, and earning himself a drive-through penalty.

Sebastian Vettel retires with an engine failure

Sebastian Vettel retires with an engine failure

Problems were starting to develop for Hamilton, as his team instructed him to try and cool the rear brakes, as the temperatures were going out of control. This allowed Barrichelllo to break through the 10 second gap to the McLaren between the first and second pit stops. Things got even worse at the second stop, when a miscommunication mean that Lewis pitted before the McLaren mechanics were ready for him. The 14-second pit stop threw the advantage to Barrichello, who had 5 more laps to push before his second stop.

Mark Webber lost out during the second stops, falling behind Button and Robert Kubica. Meanwhile, when Barrichello pitted, he emeged in the lead, well ahead of Hamilton, and was well on course to take the victory. Also, Heikki Kovalainen lost 3rd place to Kimi Raikkonen at his second stop. Behind the top 4, Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso were 5th and 6th, and Button and Kubica taking the final points positions.

While Hamilton made a late charge, it wasn’t enough to stop Rubens taking his first Grand Prix win in 5 years, the first since the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix. It was also the 100th win for a Brazilian driver in Formula 1. He also slammed himself back into contention for the championship, as he was now lying 2nd, 18 points behind Button. He dedicated his win to fellow countryman Felipe Massa, which was shown with his helmet after the race.

Rubens shows us his helmet - the writing says "Felipe, see you on track soon!"

Rubens shows us his helmet - the writing says "Felipe, see you on track soon!"

Romain Grosjean spun later in the race, although he still finished 15th, ahead of Jaime Alguersuari, who was at only his 2nd race. His team-mate, Sebastien Buemi, suffered a brake failure late in the race, while Kazuki Nakajima retired with a few laps to go, thanks to a puncture. Luca Badoer was unable to recover after being hit at the start, and finised last, which meant that it was his 49th Grand Prix without a point, an extension on his record.

With Red Bull not scoring a single point all weekend, Brawn moved away in both tables. With Rubens back in contention, it was clear that it would be a 4-way fight for the title from now in 2009.

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