Archive for the ‘Motorsport’ Category
After a lavish final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi we can make it official: Jenson Button is the 2009 F1 World Champion. This is the high point of a career in F1 stretching back to 2000. Jenson’s road to glory has been a long and hard one, starting with a year at Williams in 2000.
Several years with Renault followed, slowly gaining vital experience of the world of Formula 1. In the early 2000′s he moved to what was then the Honda works team.
Jenson joined Honda at a funny time. The Japanese company were busy experimenting with carbon neutral and earth friendly componants and fuels. The end result was, unfortunately, a car that moved like a snail. In spite of that Jenson won his first Grand Prix in 2007 in Hungary.
Apart from that brief break the dark clouds hung over Honda and the team eventually withdrew from Formula 1 at the end of 2008. It was a shock for all involved in the Honda factory at Brackley, and it would have been all over if it had not been for one man.
Ross Brawn was a former Ferrari engineer, and a hugely experienced man. He had joined Honda as team principle only a few years earlier. In the middle of a dark recession he took the decision to find new backers and move the team forward.
His idea was not as crazy as it sounded. He had a car design that he knew could win races, but he had been prevented from using it because of Honda’s fixation on carbon-neutral technology. He found a few backers, and put a large sum of his own money into the new project. Ross Brawn was very literally going for broke.
At the time Jenson was considered by many, including me, that he was a driver that was marking time. He seemed to lack the fire that a winner needs. But the vital experience he had gained would prove to tip the balance in his favour. Rubens Barrachello stayed on as the second driver. Barrachello was a veteran racer, but eternally the second fiddle. Perhaps he was too easily cowed, or he lacked a certain edge. But he was physically tough, resolute and he obeyed orders.
At the start of 2009 a very surprised media reported that a new team would be racing in F1. Hand-picked from the remains of the Honda team, the Brawn F1 team would race with a pristine white car broken up with flashed of lime green. Nobody really expected them to be more than back-markers, there to make up numbers in a rapidly dwindling F1 grid.
In the first Grand Prix at Albert Park, to everybody’s amazement, they won. Two weeks later, in a wet Malaysia, they won again. In an even wetter Chinese Grand Prix, they came third. Consecutive first places followed for Jenson in Bahrain, Spain, Monaco and Turkey.
From there they seemed to lose momentum a little bit. The Red Bull team added new diffuser technology and soon caught up. Other teams took wins also, Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton for McLaren. Even Rubens Barrachello took a win for Brawn.
But somehow Jenson managed to hold it together and finished the season with 11 points clear of his nearest rival, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. He took the championship on a rain-soaked race Brazilian Grand Prix. The final race of the season was more of an exhibition than a race, and it took place at the futuristic Abu Dhabi raceway.
So in all it is quite a season. thrills, spills shocks and drama on and off the track. I will write up a complete 2009 season review when I have a lot more time. But for now let us be overjoyed that the F1 World Championship title has stayed in England.
Well done Jenson!
It was announced yesterday that Donnington Park, the racing circuit in Leicestershire, will not be hosting the British Grand Prix from 2010.
This follows nearly a year of delays, budget overruns, confusion and ever-extending deadlines. These problems were compounded by the world-wide recession which affected every sector of British construction. Funding went through the site like shit through a goose.
On a visit to Silverstone in June, one of the curators outlined Donnington’s problems.
1. It has no helipad to evacuate the wounded.
2. Crucially, it cannot land helicopters because it is in East Midlands airport’s airspace.
3. It has little in the way of parking space
4. The entire track is merely half the size of Silverstone F1 track.
With these problems it is hard to see how Donnington ever got the commission in the first place. Furthermore it had to cancel most of the 2010 events to make way for the construction work necessary to turn DOnnington into a modern F1 track.
Donnington did host the European Grand Prix back in 1993. But following the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994 a lot of stringent safety measures were put in place that made these changes necessary.
But deadlines came and went and Bernie Ecclestone lost patience with Simon Gillette, the Chief Executive of Donnington Leisure. Finally Bernie had had enough and closed the book on the project.
So will the British Grand Prix now remain at Silverstone? More than likely. If not in 2010 then in 2011 certainly. Silverstone has a lot of bookings for 2010, the main one being the British MotoGP. One of the biggest advantages of a Motorbike Grand Prix is that they can host twice as many people. Why? Because everybody turns up on motorbikes, so they can fit twice as many in the car park.
So all this has left Silverstone in a win/win position. It will come out of this a whole lot stronger and much better funded.
Only time will tell what will become of Donnington.
Well it was more like a demolition derby on a couple of occasions but we finally have a grid for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel took Pole Position with Jarno Trulli hot on his heels. Lewis Hamilton qualified third.
But Timo Glock, Heikki Kovaleinen and Sebastian Buemi all have crashes with barriers and spins here and there. So here are the results in full:
Who ever said revenge was a dish best served cold may well have had Nelson Piquet Jr in mind when he said it. The son of the Brazilian world champion certainly got his own back in good style.
It all started back year, in at the Singapore Grand Prix. It was Nelson’s debut season and it was going far from well. It was clear that the Renault team was built firmly around Fernando Alonso, the two time world champion. Nelson’s role was at best a walk-on one. He was, allegedly, given minimal resources and track time to practise. His relationship with his flamboyant team manager was frosty and fracious.
Flavio Briatore was a former business manager of Luciano Bennetton, the fashion magnate. When his boss expressed a desire to start a Formula 1 team Briatore was pushed into the team principle’s role. He knew next to nothing about Motor sports and he had to learn fast. He left the mechanicals to the mechanics and concentrated on the business deals.
Pat Symonds was an old hand at mechanics, and a long serving member of the Bennetton-Renault team. He became Executive Director of Engineering shortly after Renault bought out Bennetton’s remaining shares. In the early 2000s it was this pair that brought Renault back to the front of the grid, racing neck and neck with Ferrari. They brought in Fernando Alonso from Minardi and cheered him on as he took two F1 Championships.
In 2008 they were reforming a new team line up. Fernando Alonso had returned from a miserable year at McLaren, and he was promised top-billing. His team mate was a young hopeful, Nelson Piquet Junior. This handsome young fellow came from a great racing pedigree. He had some success in GP2 and he had ended the season in second place. In 2007 he toiled away as the test driver at Renault.
But in 2008 he was underperforming as a race driver. Alonso was busy making his drive for the championship and Piquet seemed the forgotton man.
In september it was the turn of Singapore to hold it’s first race. Not only was this a street circuit, but it was also the first F1 night-race. Renault was having a difficult season and Alonso had only qualified 15th because of a fuel-pump problem. Briatore and Symonds hatched a fiendish plan to leap-frog him to the front of the grid. They told him to go into the pits for a quick stop, and as he entered, they ordered Piquet to crash.
He gritted his teeth and went for it, probably wondering if he was really being paid enough for all this.
In 2008 the rules stated that the pit lane closes for the first few laps while the safety car is out. As a result Alonso exited the grid a good few places further up the grid than when he left. He duly went on to win the race.
Piquet was questioned about the crash but he officially stated that it had been a simple mistake. He kept his mouth shut about any other motives for over a year.
By August 2009 Piquet’s relationship with his team had soured considerarably. If fact, it was to get downright nasty. Piquet had not performed to expectations and by August Briatore had lost patience and abruptly sacked him. A very public slanging match followed. But Piquet had one card to play up his sleeve.
He approached the FIA, and particularly Max Moseley, with testamony that he had been ordered to crash in Singapore. For Moseley this was manna from heaven. Earlier in 2009 he had been in a very public war with the heads of the F1 teams over the new rules for 2010. In the end the only way he could get them to accept a revised version of the rules was to agree to step down as FIA President at the end of his term. The humiliation, on top of various newspaper alligations about his private life, rankled him. This would be his payback against Briatore and his cronies.
Moseley ordered the FIA to begin an investigation immediately. Piquet gave his testamony on the record. Symonds was offered immunity from prosecution if he testified what really happened. He declined, out of loyalty to his long time friend, Briatore.
On 4th September Renault were charged with interfereing with the outcome of the race, citing a breach of article 151c of the international sporting code. They were called to an extrodinary meeting due on 21 September.
But yesterday, 16th September, it was Briatore and Symonds that chose to depart Renault, pleading no contest against the charges. Piquet and Moseley had their revenge.
Now we just have to wait and see what happens at the extrodinary meeting on the 21st. Stay tuned.
And who said F1 was boring?
He only just managed it but Lewis Hamilton will start the Italian Grand Prix on pole position. He was pushed hard by an outstanding performance by Force India’s Adrien Sutil of all people.
Behind them are the two Finns, Kimi Rakkonein of Ferrari and Heikke Kovelienen, another McLaren. The third row is the entire Brawn team, Jenson and Rubens. There is no love lost between these two this season and they will both fight to the bitter end.
This race will also see the debut of Vitantonio Luizzi who replaces Giancarlo Fisichella at Force India.
So the results in full are as follows:
Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:23.375 1:22.973 1:24.066 2. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:23.576 1:23.070 1:24.261 3. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:23.349 1:23.426 1:24.523 4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:23.515 1:23.528 1:24.845 5. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:23.483 1:22.976 1:25.015 6. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:23.403 1:22.955 1:25.030 7. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:23.578 1:23.207 1:25.043 8. Alonso Renault (B) 1:23.708 1:23.497 1:25.072 9. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:23.558 1:23.545 1:25.180 10. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:23.755 1:23.273 1:25.314 11. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:24.014 1:23.611 12. Grosjean Renault (B) 1:23.975 1:23.728 13. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:24.001 1:23.866 14. Fisichella Ferrari (B) 1:23.828 1:23.901 15. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:23.584 1:24.275 16. Glock Toyota (B) 1:24.036 17. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:24.074 18. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:24.121 19. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:24.220 20. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:24.951
After a season in the doldrums Kimi Raikkonen brought Ferrari their first race victory of 2009 at Spa Franconchamps in Belgium.
But the big story is Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella, who started on pole and managed to mantain second place right through to the end.
Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton met with disaster when a pile up on the first lap ended their chances. The two tangled with the killer replacements, Luca Badoer and Jaime Alguesuari. Unfortunately all they killed was their chances of winning.
Rubens Barrachello ran a long hard race and barely made it to the end, on the last lap he was trailing flames and smoke like a crashing Stuka.
So with this latest upset Jenson Button’s lead continues to narrow. He is now only 16 points ahead of team mate Barrachello. All it takes is one win and one third place and they will be level. Also the Red Bull team continue to make advances in pace. Furthermore their team, the perfect balance of experience and skill, continue to shine.
1. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1h23:50.995 2. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) + 0.939 3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) + 3.875 4. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) + 9.966 5. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) + 11.276 6. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 32.763 7. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) + 35.461 8. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) + 36.208 9. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) + 36.959 10. Glock Toyota (B) + 41.490 11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) + 42.636 12. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 46.106 13. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) + 54.241 14. Badoer Ferrari (B) + 1:38.177 And so this is the championship results as they stand
World Championship standings after 12 rounds: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Button 72 1. Brawn-Mercedes 128 2. Barrichello 56 2. Red Bull-Renault 104.5 3. Vettel 53 3. Ferrari 56 4. Webber 51.5 4. McLaren-Mercedes 44 5. Raikkonen 34 5. Toyota 38.5 6. Rosberg 30.5 6. Williams-Toyota 30.5 7. Hamilton 27 7. BMW Sauber 18 8. Trulli 22.5 8. Renault 16 9. Massa 22 9. Force India-Mercedes 8 10. Kovalainen 17 10. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 5 11. Glock 16 12. Alonso 16 13. Heidfeld 10 14. Kubica 8 15. Fisichella 8 16. Buemi 3 17. Bourdais 2
When I first read tomorrow’s grid I thought I was holding it upside down. On pole position we have Giancarlo Fisichella. of Force India. Their first ever pole, like, I mean ever.
Force India is a private team bought out from the failed Spyker/Midland team, which, in turn, was bought out from Eddie Jordan’s team. I am sure the Irishman will be watching with great interest tomorrow.
The second team on the grid is BMW, thats as in BMW who have never won a race and have announced they are leaving at the end of the season. And it gets better, on third we have Toyota, the eternal underachievers, considering the resources they have at their fingertips. Nico Rosberg made a respectable 10th, a big improvement for the struggling Williams team.
From fourth position we start to see a few faces we recognize. The first being Rubens Barrachello. From there we have yet another BMW, Kubica. The big names somehow ended up riiiiiight at the back. Hamilton is in 12th, Alonso is in 13th and Button is 14th.
And on the horizon, next to the setting sun we have the understudies, Grosjean and Badoer. It seems weird to see the grid so back to front. But, with unpredictable weather in Belgium, it will make for a very interesting race tomorrow. Stay tuned ladies and gentlemen, you will not want to miss this one.
Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 1. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:45.102 1:44.667 1:46.308 2. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:45.140 1:44.503 1:46.395 3. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:45.566 1:44.709 1:46.500 4. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:45.237 1:44.834 1:46.513 5. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:45.655 1:44.557 1:46.586 6. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:45.579 1:44.953 1:46.633 7. Glock Toyota (B) 1:45.450 1:44.877 1:46.677 8. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:45.372 1:44.592 1:46.761 9. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:45.350 1:44.924 1:46.788 10. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:45.486 1:45.047 1:47.362 11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:45.486 1:45.119 12. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:45.239 1:45.122 13. Alonso Renault (B) 1:45.767 1:45.136 14. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:45.707 1:45.251 15. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:45.761 1:45.259 16. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:45.705 17. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:45.951 18. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:46.032 19. Grosjean Renault (B) 1:46.307 20. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:46.359
Rubens Barrachello took the top step of the podium after his thrilling victory under a hot Valencian sun this afternoon. He really had a point to prove. the eternal second driver just thought: sod it. He drove more aggressively than I have ever seen him, throwing himself into turns and corners with a kamikaze abandon.
He moved up from third to second when Heikki Kovelienen made a pit stop. He soon consolidated his position.
Up ahead Lewis Hamilton had made a good start. He was driving as hard and skillfully as ever, even though his tyres were melting like a kids ice cream on a hot day. His tyres were wearing out so he was called into the pits. Within seconds of coming to a halt he made a horrifying discovery. He could only look on as the unprepared pit team unwrapped the tyres from their warmers and fumbled them onto the wheels. By the time he left the pits Rubens had taken the lead by a significant margin.
No reason has been given for this operational oversight. However Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team manager has made several statements along the lines of ‘We never had the pace anyway’.
Elsewhere on the track the replacement drivers, Luca Badoer and Romain Grosjean stayed on track but hardly distinguished themselves. At least they didn’t crash.
Local boy, Fernando Alonso, had a tough drive in the heat. He started in eighth place and came in sixth, gaining three vital points.
So the results in full are as follows:
1. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1h35:51.289 2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 2.358 3. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) + 15.994 4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 20.032 5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) + 20.870 6. Alonso Renault (B) + 27.744 7. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) + 34.913 8. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) + 36.667 9. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) + 44.910 10. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) + 47.935 11. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) + 48.822 12. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) + 1:03.614 13. Trulli Toyota (B) + 1:04.527 14. Glock Toyota (B) + 1:26.519 15. Grosjean Renault (B) + 1:31.774 16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 1 lap 17. Badoer Ferrari (B) + 1 lap 18. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) + 3 laps
So here is a complete lsit of the drivers and constructors standings after 11 rounds.
Drivers: Constructors: 1. Button 72 1. Brawn-Mercedes 126 2. Barrichello 54 2. Red Bull-Renault 98.5 3. Webber 51.5 3. Ferrari 46 4. Vettel 47 4. McLaren-Mercedes 41 5. Rosberg 29.5 5. Toyota 38.5 6. Hamilton 27 6. Williams-Toyota 29.5 7. Raikkonen 24 7. Renault 16 8. Trulli 22.5 8. BMW Sauber 9 9. Massa 22 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 5 10. Glock 16 11. Alonso 16 12. Kovalainen 14 13. Heidfeld 6 14. Buemi 3 15. Kubica 3 16. Bourdais 2
The next round of the 2009 season is Spa Franconchamps in Belgium on 30th August
What ever McLaren have suddenly started to do, they are clearly doing it right. In Valencia, not only Lewis Hamilton, but also Heikki Kovelienen will be on the front row of the grid.
The second row consisted of Rubens Barrachello and Sebastian Vettel. The current leading contender for the championship, Jenson Button, could only manage a mere fifth.
As for the rookies, well Luca Baoder had a nightmare with his Ferrari (probably the fastest thing he ever drove), and qualified last. Grosjean of Renault starts from fourteenth.
Elsewhere from the track Williams are looking to ditch Toyota as an engine supplier as soon as possible. Did it never occur to them never to buy engines off an opposing team? They are hardly likely to give you the best engines are they?
With BMW now looking to exit at the end of the season we have a new opening for a F1 team. Could it be Prodrive? Banbury’s finest exponent of undulating horsepower looks a likely contender. All they have to do is get the nod from Bernie Ecclestone.
The temperatures continued to soar in Spain as the teams battled for position.
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:38.649 1:38.182 1:39.498 2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:38.816 1:38.230 1:39.532 3. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:39.019 1:38.076 1:39.563 4. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:39.295 1:38.273 1:39.789 5. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:38.531 1:38.601 1:39.821 6. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:38.843 1:38.782 1:40.144 7. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:39.039 1:38.346 1:40.185 8. Alonso Renault (B) 1:39.155 1:38.717 1:40.236 9. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:38.983 1:38.625 1:40.239 10. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:38.806 1:38.747 1:40.512 11. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:39.032 1:38.826 12. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:39.145 1:38.846 13. Glock Toyota (B) 1:39.459 1:38.991 14. Grosjean Renault (B) 1:39.322 1:39.040 15. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:38.912 1:39.514 16. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:39.531 17. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:39.795 18. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:39.807 19. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:39.925 20. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:41.413