Wednesday, December 31, 2008

ALONSO TO FERRARI?

This rumour has been going on for some time and it's a delicious rumour for many people, I must admit. Especially the press who'd love to plaster their front pages with pictures and the news. And Alonso would love to drive a Ferrari as it's a competitive car to fight for his 3rd title and get back at Lewis and McLaren.

I've dreaded this possibility for some time as I don't want to see Alonso in a competitive car. He's such a spoilt brat. But the latest rumours about it seems to carry some weight. I almost jumped out of my skin when I suddenly thought about the partner he will get should he move to Ferrari - Massa. These two have no love lost between them.

It was very obvious last year when they raced side by side at Nurburgring if I'm not mistaken, where Alonso won and Massa finished 2nd. They were reportedly swearing at each other (especially Massa) in the changing room. This would work well for Lewis if it happens as Alonso and Massa will keep each other busy while Lewis snatches the win. Woohoo!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The pressure is off Hamilton

Monday 22nd December 2008

Lewis Hamilton believes there is still plenty of room for improvement after winning the World Championship in only his second season in Formula One.

Hamilton became the youngest ever F1 World Champion last month when he pipped Ferrari's Felipe Massa by just one point, and the Briton believes he can get even better.

"I've won the Championship in my second year, but there is a lot more to come," Hamilton said on ITV's season-highlights show.

"I can do better, I can be fitter, I can be sharper, I can make less mistakes... I've analysed everything that's happened this season, the positives and the negatives, and I've turned some of the negatives into positives. I'm enjoying the present and I really look forward to the future."

The 23-year-old admits the pressure is off now that he has collected his maiden title.

"I feel less pressure. I don't feel the pressure comes from my surroundings, I feel it comes from within," he said.

"Putting that pressure on yourself to succeed is what either makes you or breaks you. I still have that pressure on me, but I know I can control it and use it to my own advantage now."

The McLaren driver also played down his unpopularity among other drivers, saying "it doesn't really bother me".

"It's been part of my life since my first year of racing," he said. "It's just the way it is. It's not necessarily people not liking me, it's that no one likes to lose. To have someone come up so quickly, like I have, and go straight to a team that perhaps someone else was hoping to be sitting in and then beating them... you know, I don't like losing."

Source : Planet F1

Montezemolo Won't Be Intimidated

Sunday 21st December 2008

Instead of being a time of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, the struggle for power and control at the head of F1 has intensified this Christmas with Bernie's latest salvo against Ferrari.

Following an extensive press briefing by Ferrari chief Luca Montezemolo at Maranello suggesting that Bernie's time in charge is coming to an end and that the (for now) unanimous Formula One Team's Association, FOTA, is in the ascendancy, Bernie has struck back.

Montezemolo, who also speaks for FOTA, is unhappy about a number of moves by Ecclestone and there are signs that FOTA are prepared to back up there grumbles with future action. The big thing, of course, is money. But there are other issues, too...

"In terms of revenue, we want to know more about them," said Montezemolo earlier this week. "Theoretically, like in other professional sports, like basketball in the USA, we can have a league made by us and appoint a good league manager to run our own business. Because it is our own business.

"We want to know the revenues better so we can decrease the cost of the tickets. Then we have the matter of traditional tracks rather than exotic tracks just because they have a nice skyline. We have to discuss the show. How to promote. I'm not prepared any more to have all this dictated to us by outside without any control."

Ferrari and McLaren are fed up with Bernie making big money deals with countries that want an F1 race as a badge of international pride, but whose population have very little history of attending F1 races. Sepang is the oldest and least-attended of the fly-away exotica, and now that the initial novelty is over, the organisers struggle to sell all the tickets for the race.

Contrast that with Montreal which is almost always a sell-out but which the promotors cannot make money from because of the high price charged by Ecclestone for the privilege of holding a GP. There is a feeling that Bernie tends to favour new destinations because the organisers are keen to hold the race and are eager to let him have all the trackside advertising he wants.

Ron Dennis has said that he expects F1 to be back in North America within the next three years. With an important North American customer base for Mercedes and Ferrari, no doubt FOTA are angling for it to be sooner. They're also worried about the financial solvency of other traditional races that are important to them, such as the French and German GPs.

Montezemolo is quite right in that elite sports, such as the NFL in America and England's Premiership, control their own revenues and it seems faintly ludicrous that they spend millions of dollars to compete yet have a kind of feudal ownership by Ecclestone/CVC and are dictated to by the FIA. They are the show.

But it's actually all Montezemolo's fault.

When the teams, driven by the manufacturers, were about to put an end to this financial feudalism in 2003 and set off on their own series, the Grand Prix World Championship (GPWC), it was Montezemolo who scuppered it.

As Bernie revealed at the weekend, Ferrari's price for breaking ranks with the other teams and returning to Formula 1 was $80m a year. He knew that any new series without Ferrari would not have credibility and that as soon as he signed Montezemolo up the momentum would swing his way. Williams joined them, and the GPWC fell apart.

Now Montezemolo says he's prepared to give up Ferrari's traditional larger share of the funds in return for a greater share of revenue for the teams overall. But it's not because he's had a Dickensian moment (a la Christmas Carol) when he's been visited by three ghosts of F1 past. He knows that the edifice is about to crumble and he needs to have teams around him to race against. Despite what everybody says publicly, Renault could well be next. Company boss Carlos Ghosn has never been more than lukewarm about F1.

FOTA need to continue to display unity against Ecclestone now that he is at his weakest. His financial empire looks like it's about to be re-organised with a divorce from his wife Slavicia, who had interests (if only nominal) in the companies he controlled. And there is still that business with Max and the cellar and Bernie's calls for him to resign and Max's quest for who tipped off the press in the first place...

Luca Montezemolo is still the best person to lead the F1 teams forward and out of the financial dependency they've found themselves in. Despite Bernie's revelations putting an exact figure on the annual Ferrari bung, the rest of the teams in the pitlane probably had a good idea of the figure anyway. And F1 needs Ferrari more than any other team.

Ecclestone looks like someone who's in a tight corner right now. Never one to reveal his financial dealings willingly, this latest disclosure looks like an indication of just how seriously he's feeling the pressure. And if Bernard Charles were to get a spectral visitation on December 24th, just like Ebenezer Scrooge did in Christmas Carol, then it would be nice to think it was the ghost of Ken Tyrrell.

Ken would never have stood for any of this.

Andrew Davies

Source : Planet F1

Friday, December 19, 2008

McLaren and Hamilton voted world's favourite

Friday 19th December 2008

McLaren are the world's favourite Formula One team and 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton is the world's favourite driver, according to a survey.

The ING/F1 Racing Formula 1 survey polled nearly 70 000 fans in order to track the profiles, viewing habits and preferences of the average F1 fan.

When asked to name their favourite driver, the fans' verdict was overwhelming: Hamilton gained a massive 27 per cent of the votes. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was second with 17 per cent while Fernando Alonso picked up 12 per cent of the votes with Felipe Massa taking nine per cent.

"I think the standard of drivers currently racing in Formula One is higher than it's been for years so I'm humbled to have earned the fans' support," Hamilton is quoted on the McLaren website.

"Drivers like Kimi, Felipe, Fernando, Robert and myself have made the battles at the front probably the closest and most exciting they've ever been - and, more than anything, I hope that's what the fans enjoy the most.

"The icing on the cake is the popularity of the team. I know just how hard everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes works - they've done an unbelievable job this year and every single member of the team deserves this honour."

McLaren emerged top in the team category with 29 per cent of the votes. They were followed by Ferrari (28), Renault (six) and Williams (six).

Lewis: Changes will make title repeat tough

Wednesday 17th December 2008

Winning back-to-back World Championships are always difficult, but Lewis Hamilton feels he will have an even bigger handicap next season following the introduction of several cost-cutting measures.

Besides the new aero rules, introduction of KERS and the return of slicks, the FIA last week announced additional changes to Formula One for 2009 in an attempt to dramatically slash costs.

Hamilton, who won the title by the narrowest of margins this year, admits the changes will make it a lot tougher to retain his Drivers' Championship crown next season.

"I don't think it will make it easier," the McLaren driver is quoted by The Associated Press.

"With the new regulations it's going to make it very tough to win the Championship again."

The FIA was forced to announce the dramatic changes following Honda's withdrawal from F1 due to the global economic crisis. The key components of the changes that will come into effect will see savings on engine costs, a ban on in-season testing outside grand prix weekends and a reduction in staff numbers.

The 23-year-old, though, is banking on his McLaren team to pull together and be difference to winning and losing the Championship.

"We have less testing obviously but I think we as a team are in a position to pull together and make a difference in some other way," Hamilton said. "But everyone's in the same boat.

"It's amazing how many different things happen in a year but all we're thinking about is how we can continue in the sport and continue to put on a good show. How we can move forward and continue to win as a team.

"We don't know who's going to be quick, surely we're going to be at the front, with Ferrari maybe, BMW, but you never know. Maybe there's going to be a fourth team up there with us."

Di Montezemolo: Ferrari wouldn't sign Hamilton

And lets keep it that way! We wouldn't want Lewis to go to Ferrari anyway.

Thursday 18th December 2008

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has claimed that he wouldn't sign Lewis Hamilton if the World Champion was offered to his team.

In a set of remarks that are bound to be interpreted as a psychological ploy to unsettle Hamilton and boost the confidence of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, Di Montezemolo insisted that signing Hamilton would not improve his team.

"Lewis Hamilton? Let's make this clear: he's a great driver, able to get within a whisker of the title in his first year in F1 and winning it on his second," Di Montezemolo told The Daily Telegraph. "However, with all due respect, I wouldn't change him with Felipe Massa."

"Kimi Raikkonen came to Ferrari and won the title. If Massa didn't win it this year it's our fault. It would have been normal for him to win it, but he didn't because of our errors.

"Felipe is extremely popular, for the man he is, for the great driver he's demonstrated to be, and for the beautiful way he lost this championship."

Later, in a separate interview with The Times, Di Montezemolo was more complimentary about Hamilton, although he remained insistent that he wouldn't sign the Englishman even if he were available.

"I think he is a very, very good driver," he told the newspaper. "Last year Hamilton was fantastic. He can pay a little price last year because of the pressure and his lack of experience. But I think if he will continue to drive a competitive car, he can enter the history of Formula One.

"Regarding Ferrari, of course I would like to have a driver like Hamilton, like Alonso. But that will be in another life, because in this life I have Michael, Kimi and Felipe. Maybe in two years I will tell you something different, but at the moment I am very, very happy. And don't forget Felipe won the championship until 15 seconds to go - he won more races than Hamilton. But there is no question that Hamilton deserved to win, particularly in light of what he lost last year."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lewis gets his hands on trophy











Saturday 13th December 2008

"I'm number one," proclaimed new Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton after finally collecting his title trophy.

Hamilton has had to wait almost six weeks to get his hands on the silverware following a thrilling conclusion to the 2008 F1 season in Brazil.

It was on November 2 that the 23-year-old clinched his maiden world championship, claiming the title on the penultimate lap of the final race of the season at Interlagos, pipping Ferrari's Felipe Massa by just a single point.

It was arguably the most dramatic conclusion to a world championship since the inaugural season back in 1950.

The denouement to a campaign that started on Hamilton's 23rd birthday on January 7 with the launch of the McLaren car that propelled him to glory unfolded in front of 585 specially-invited guests at the FIA Gala Dinner in Monte Carlo.

An hour long presentation heralded the champions in karting, regional rally, European rally cross, truck racing, historic rally, GT, the World Touring Car Championship, and the World Rally Championship, before finally concluding with F1.

A five-minute video montage began with footage and comments from Hamilton interlaced with those of his all-time hero in Ayrton Senna during his glory days.

There followed dramatic scenes from various stages of the season, before the curtain finally arose on Hamilton standing alongside his suspended McLaren, with its nose pointing to the floor.

The thrilled Briton said: "This year has been a very special one in my life, the fulfilment of a dream I have had since childhood.

"It is the conclusion of an ambition that has taken me and my family on an amazing journey

"The fact that I have the drivers' world championship trophy in my hand makes me so proud, and it's testament to the great determination and spirit that has helped me get here.

"Tonight has been an incredible evening, so very special.

"To be here with the Prince (Albert of Monaco) and my family, is again another very overwhelming experience.

"As you can imagine, it was a very emotional moment for me to be standing there holding the trophy - I am number one."

Hamilton will now take an extended break before finally returning to the cockpit of next season's car early in the New Year.

Formula One agrees to cut costs

Friday 12th December 2008
Bernie Ecclestone - changes to F1.

Bernie Ecclestone - changes to F1.

Motor sport's world governing body, the FIA, in conjunction with the Formula One teams on Friday announced a raft of proposals in a bid to cut escalating costs.

Following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Monte Carlo the key components of the changes will see savings on engine costs, a ban on in-season testing outside GP weekends and a reduction in staff numbers.

Engines will be available to the independent teams from 2010 for less than £4.5million per team per season, supplied by an independent supplier or a manufacturer backed by guarantees of continuity.

There will be no in-season testing from next year except during a race weekend and during scheduled practice.

The teams have also agreed manpower will be reduced by means of a number of measures, including sharing information on tyres and fuel to eliminate the need for 'spotters'.

The FIA estimate the list of changes for 2009 will save the manufacturer teams approximately 30% of their budgets compared to 2008, with the savings for independent teams even greater.

Other proposals are as follows: * Engine life to be doubled. Each driver will use a maximum of eight engines for a season, plus four for testing (i.e 20 per team).

* A limit of 18,000 rpm.

* Cost of engines to independent teams will be approximately 50% of 2008 prices.

* No wind tunnel exceeding 60% scale and 50 metres/sec to be used after 1 January 2009.

* Factory closures for six weeks per year, to accord with local laws.

From 2010:

* The engine from 2010 will continue to be used in 2011 and 2012 (thus no new engine for 2011).

* Subject to confirmation of practicability, the same transmission will be used by all teams.

* The FIA are to compose a standard parts list relating to the chassis. Some parts will be allowed development, other will be required to use inexpensive materials.

* For a race weekend there will be standardised radio and telemetry systems, a ban on tyre warmers, mechanical purging of tyres, and most crucially, a ban on refuelling.

* There will also be a possible reduction in race distance or duration (with a proposal to follow from market research).

* With regards to factory activity there will be further restrictions on aerodynamic research, combined with a full analysis of factory facilities with a view to proposing further restrictions on such facilities.

In the longer term, the FIA and FOTA are to study the possibility of an entirely new power train for 2013 based on energy efficiency.

The rules will be framed to ensure that research and development of such a power train would make a real contribution to energy-efficient road transport.

The FIA believe an enhanced Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) system is likely to be a very significant element of an energy-efficient power train in the future.

In the short term, KERS is part of the 2009 regulations, but is not compulsory, however, from 2010 FOTA is considering proposals for a standard KERS system.

With regard to F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's medal system, market research will be conducted, also into a possible change to qualifying.

Source : Planet F1

Mosley: A step in the right direction

Saturday 13th December 2008

FIA president Max Mosley believes Formula One has taken its first step towards salvation by introducing a raft of ideas designed to save over a billion pounds per season.

Drastic action has been forced upon the sport in the wake of the global economic crisis which last Friday sparked Honda's shock withdrawal.

Just seven days ago there were heightened fears for the entire future of Formula One. But drastic times call for drastic measures, and Mosley, uniting with the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), are to implement a wide range of cost cuts from next year.

Mosley anticipates the changes for 2009 will save the manufacturer teams approximately 30% of their budgets compared to this year, whilst the savings will be even greater for the independents.

As from 2010, when more stringent changes will be enforced, Mosley expects teams to be on budgets of less than half their current spend.

Ultimately, the goal is a budget of around £45million per team per season, in stark contrast to the £200-300million currently spent.

"We're now going to become much more cost effective," was Mosley's enthusiastic response following a four-hour meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Monte Carlo.

"I think this is probably the first step towards Formula One saving itself because everybody recognised the situation had become very serious and that something needed to be done.

"The teams have now really got behind the idea, and instead of being reluctant, they are being positive.

"That's made a huge difference, and I think we can now get it under control."

For 2009 engine life will be doubled, with the cost of engines to independent teams approximately 50% of 2008 prices.

There will be no in-season testing outside of a grand prix weekend, a reduction on wind-tunnel testing, whilst factories will close for six weeks per year.

There will also be a reduction in manpower by a number of means, including sharing information on tyres and fuel to eliminate the need for 'spotters'.

For 2010, the major regulation changes include engines available to the independent teams for less than £4.5million per season.

They will be supplied by Cosworth, as an independent supplier, or one of the manufacturers, but with strict guarantees imposed, with that engine to be used for three years from 2010.

Chassis development will be strictly regulated, whilst during a race weekend there will be a ban on tyre warmers and re-fuelling, and possibly a reduction in race distance or duration.

The FIA and FOTA are to also study the possibility of a new power train (engine and gearbox) for 2013 based on energy efficiency.

"It's a major step forward," insisted Mosley.

"Obviously there is a crisis because of the falling car sales with the major manufacturers, and nobody knows if it will get worse before it gets better. We need to take care of that contingency.

"If a miracle happened and the whole world situation sorted itself out in the next couple of months, then all that would happen would be the teams would make a profit.

"But what's significant about these changes is when you walk down the pit lane, or you sit in the grandstand or watch on television, you will notice no difference at all.

"It will be Formula One as we all know it, but clearly much less expensive."

An inevitable consequence of the changes will be job losses, with Mosley expecting teams to whittle their 700-1000 strong work-forces down to 200 over time.

"What the teams are saying is what they will try and do is bring in-house a lot of work that they currently contract out," stated Mosley.

"But inevitably, in any industry, if you reduce the costs then you reduce the number of people.

"There are some obvious immediate losses because at the moment they take people to every race to do nothing except spot the fuel and tyres of the other teams.

"Those people will disappear because they're now going to share the information.

"But unfortunately, job losses, that's just part of cutting costs.

"But if you see it from the other point of view, they currently employ between 700 and 1000 people just to put two cars on the grid. In any event that is not sustainable.

"Even if nothing was wrong with the economy worldwide, it couldn't possibly operate at that level for very long."

As for supremo Bernie Ecclestone's proposal to replace the current points system with medals, market research is to be conducted on whether it is a valid idea.

"Bernie's wedded to medals, but it will be genuinely interesting to see what the fans say because they do pay the bills," added Mosley.

Source : Planet F1

Monday, December 8, 2008

Honda's Earth Dreams Shattered

Sunday 7th December 2008

For a motorsport season that saved its biggest drama for the final seconds of the final race, the announcement that Honda are quitting F1 saved the biggest surprise till last.

On Friday they announced that they were dramatically scaling back their F1 activities till March of next year, after which they hope to have found a buyer for the team.

With global car sales suddenly falling off a cliff the world over, should it have been such a shock? Honda sales are down and they are shutting their massive Swindon factory for February and March of next year. BMW sales are down 25% year-on-year and that's only going to get worse. And FIA President Max Mosley has been banging on for years that unless F1 cuts its costs manufacturers are going to leave.

In a way he's right and in a way he's wrong. Even Honda didn't see this one coming and the company's reaction was a management firefighting decision and an advertising and PR disaster. "We are sorry, it is a big let down for the fans and all concerned, but you have to understand that the sale of cars took a big dip - especially in November," explained Honda CEO Takeo Fukui. "All around the world, the November sales went down massively - beyond our imagination. This decision did not exist in September definitely. The team were ready for 2009 and they were doing their best efforts, and we decided against them.

So it was clearly a last-minute knee-jerk reaction that led to their withdrawal from F1, not a studied evaluation. However Honda are not cancelling their involvement in MotoGP or Indycars, which would back up Mosley's argument that F1 is just too costly compared to other forms of motorsport.

It's a PR disaster because Honda have been carefully building their brand on being a forward-looking technology company, with the Asimov robot etc, and then the second that car sales drop, they abandon the whole F1 enterprise. Just as F1 starts to embrace road car technology.

We've been here before. In 2004 Ford pulled the plug on the Jaguar team after their performances trailed off and the commercial team failed to find a title sponsor for the following season. At the same time the Jaguar road car division was announcing 1,150 job cuts and restructuring at their main plant in Coventry.

Instead of increasing the allure of the marque, Jaguar's involvement in F1 was seen as detracting from the brand. For Honda, even though there was anticipation that they could make serious strides forward in 2009, the damage had already been done.

Plastering the car with their own Earth Dreams logos may have given them a great corporate presence (when the TV cameras found them), but the commercial riskiness of not having a Vodafone or an ING or a Panasonic on board has bitten them as it bit Jaguar.

The great news for any aspiring F1 team owner (such as ProDrive) is that they could come in and pick up a top F1 outfit for very little money, providing they can convince Ross Brawn to stay on and don't have to pick up Jenson Button's multi-million pound driver contract.

Brawn has been busy telling Autosport how optimistic he is for the forthcoming 2009 season.

"I am committed to this programme to see it through to the end, whatever that might be. I am committed for all sorts of reasons because it is a very good team here, nice people and they have worked very hard on this car. And it would be wrong of me to do anything but stay here and support the efforts to keep it alive.

"Whether I stay here long term is another matter. It depends on the level of the team, the new owners, whether I want to work with them. I don't have any great interest in scratching around the back of the grid so if unfortunately the team cannot find owners who have the ability or aspirations to compete, then I will see it through and we will go from there.

"The thing with the new regulations is that there will be quite a big of disparity between the teams, especially to begin with, and if the constraints on wind tunnel testing which we (FOTA) are debating now come into force, then the chance for massive catch up will be lessened. So I think there is still every chance that we can be very competitive next year."

ProDrive's David Richard's will never have a better opportunity to take on a top team, that is based not too far from him, with a driver (Jenson Button) he knows and has supported in the past, when he was briefly at BAR.

The question is will Jenson be prepared to drive for a lot less money? Honda have signed a big money contract with him for at least 2009 (and very likely 2010 with an option on 2011). Honda CEO Takeo Fukui has said they are prepared to enter talks to undo Jenson's contract. We bet they are. Whether Honda provide a racing car for him or not they will have contracted his services for the next two years at what some estimate to be a minimum of $15m a season. The new team could have Rubens Barrichello (now 3kgs lighter) for a fifth of that - and Bruno Senna for a fifth of what they pay Barrichello.

Button knows that the 2009 chassis will be a good one. What he's had in the past is a big salary and a car not worthy of it. This year he might have to consider a much smaller salary, but a car that could actually bring him results and show off his talents. The big question marks are who will fund the team, and what effect will there be when they stick a non-Honda engine in the 2009 chassis? All the development has been built around a Honda unit, and though Brawn is trying to sound as optimistic as he can, that is the big unknown.

If David Richards does want to buy the team he needs to start talking to his bank manager straight away, before key personnel start getting picked off by the circling vultures. They're over Brackley already...

Andrew Davies

Source : Planet F1

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hakkinen tips Lewis to be best British F1 driver

Thursday 4th December 2008

Double World Champion Mika Hakkinen believes Lewis Hamilton has the talent and time to become the best grand prix driver Britain has ever produced.

Hakkinen, who won his titles in 1998 and 1999, has been impressed with Hamilton's ability to cope under pressure despite making high-profile mistakes on his way to becoming the youngest ever F1 World Champion this year.

The Finn said: "He can be the best England has seen because he is a young guy and he has plenty of time to make this his goal.

"He is in a great team and has good commitment to it, so I don't see any problems there.

"He has a fantastic fitness programme and will have the energy for many, many years to maximise his performance. So I don't see any reason why he can't be the most successful.

"He is only in his second year of Formula One and it is a very high-pressure environment. It is normal that mistakes happen."

Source : Planet F1

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hamilton gears up for 2009

Tuesday 2nd December 2008

Lewis Hamilton has already started preparations for the defence of his Formula One World title - in icy isolation in Finland.

Hamilton, who became the youngest World Champion in F1 history just four weeks ago, is currently in the middle of a week-long intensive training camp.

The 23-year-old is being tested to the limit at the Kuortane Sports Institute in western Finland, a rigorous regime that has become an annual event on the team's calendar for drivers and staff in recent years.

"Travelling to Finland for our winter training camp is one of the best weeks of the year for me," insisted Hamilton.

"It feels like you're miles from anywhere and totally cut off from the outside world, which allows me to focus solely on my training, which is great.

"It's certainly not an easy week as Finland in the winter is cold and icy, and we're pushed hard for day after day.

"We spent the first part of the week doing tests to monitor our core strength and flexibility.

"Then we will spend the rest of the time building on specific exercises that will help us once we're back in the car."

Although McLaren are to test at Jerez and a new circuit on the Algarve this month, Hamilton is unlikely to be back behind the wheel until the new year.

Given the new regulations - the re-introduction of slick tyres and radical aerodynamics - Hamilton will find the new model in complete contrast to the car in which he clinched his maiden crown.

"Brazil already seems a long time ago and I'm now focusing 100% on 2009," added Hamilton.

"I had my seat fitting at the McLaren Technology Centre late last month, and while the plan at the moment is to start testing in January, I'm really keen to get going.

"I've already had a close look at the new car and the engineers have explained the philosophy behind it and just how different things will be next year.

"I think the new cars will make next year's Championship wide open, and I'm really looking forward to tackling the new regulations."

source : Planet F1

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hamilton: Always more to achieve

Friday 28th November 2008

Lewis Hamilton may be intent on winning F1 World titles but the reigning Champ insists his goal is not to beat Michael Schumacher's record.

Schumacher reigned supremo for much of his F1 career, winning a unprecidented seven World titles, including a string of five consecutive trophies.

It is an impressive record that some are already predicting that Hamilton, who won his first title in 2008, could one day break. However, the 23-year-old insists that's not his focus.

"There's always more to achieve," he told the Woking News & Mail newspaper.

"I do want to win more races and Championships in Formula One. But I'm not sure I want to do what Michael Schumacher did and win all those tiles.

"I would be happy to win more - but I've not really focused on that yet."

Instead Hamilton is just taking the time to enjoy his first World title, which he achieved in Brazil this year after beating Felipe Massa to crown by one point.

The Brit's celebrations included a trip to McLaren's home base in Woking where he celebrated his success with those behind the scene who made it all possible.

"Coming back to Woking in the days after winning the World Championship - it was just amazing," he said.

"I mean, I thought I was just turning up for the day and I didn't really expect to be getting into a car and finding the whole team waiting for me.

"As a racing driver, you're are really driven by, not just that support that comes from your team, but from the feeling that you don't want to let those people down.

"That they've worked so hard to help you and you have to live up to all their effort."

However, it wasn't always easy as Hamilton faced not only racist taunts but also the occasional dressing down by the British press.

But despite the at times dressing down, he concedes the media attention is the price he pays for doing his job.

"The media attention comes with the job, and it was one of the biggest changes to my life when I arrived in Formula 1 from GP2. But I like talking to the media, and I know they're important to Formula 1's success," he added.

"But it's rare that I read the newspapers, or even watch the television actually, so I don't really get to see what's written or said about me. I think that's probably the easiest way to deal with it."

Source : Planet F1

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rubens spills the beans

Thursday 27th November 2008
Schumi hands Rubens the winner's trophy

Schumi hands Rubens the winner's trophy

Rubens Barrichello has finally spoken out about the controversial team-orders incident during the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix.

Ferrari came under fire after the race after Barrichello, leading at the time, allowed Michael Schumacher to pass him on the final lap so that the German could take maximum points for the Drivers' Championship.

The Brazilian has revealed that the team "reminded" him several laps before the chequered flag about his "duties".

Barrichello told TV show Fantastico: "At the Austrian Grand Prix (2002) I was told over the radio 'Do you know that Michael is behind you? It is important for the Championship'.

"The intensity of my conversation with the team increased with every lap while there were just a few laps to go and then I was told that they would take a closer look at my contract if I wouldn't move over.

"For me it was pretty clear. Take my foot off the pedal or get fired."

Schumacher has always insisted that he had nothing to do with the orders that came from the Ferrari pits.

"I was hoping that there would not be such an order," the World Champion said in the aftermath of the race.

"I didn't feel like it. I have to be honest to say now it was probably the wrong decision to win this race."

However, Barrichello claims the German was fully aware of what was going on despite his claims to the contrary.

"When I asked Michael if he knew what was going on he said he had nothing to do with it. But I have documents at home to prove that he was very well aware of everything that took place."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hamilton to receive 'Bambi' prize

Another award for F1's youngest F1 champ
26/11/08 11:00



Photo F1-Live.com

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Hubert Burda Media to award Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton this week will receive a top German media prize for becoming the youngest ever F1 world champion.

On Thursday, the 23-year-old McLaren driver will be named as the recipient of a 'Bambi' trophy at a gala ceremony, organisers the Hubert Burda Media group said.

Also honoured with a Bambi, for her comeback following a series of highly-publicised personal problems, will be pop star Britney Spears, who will sing at the ceremony.



The American singer Pink will also perform at the event in the northern German city Offenburg, and other winners include Meg Ryan, Keanu Reeves, fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger and tenor Placido Domingo.

Source: GMM
© CAPSIS International

Medals to replace points next year

Another crappy idea from Bernie, as some have suggested it is a knee jerk reaction and Eddie Jordan has said it right when he said it was nonsense. Although on the surface it looks to make sense but there are problems with this scheme as some readers of other websites have suggested and I'm repeating it here.

  1. A guy who won 2 races still wins the WDC even though another guy has won once and finishes all other races second.
  2. A guy can win 8 races then just sit at home waiting to collect his WDC.
  3. There'll be so much overtaking and moves to try to overtake that it will be dangerous because there'll be so much more accidents.
  4. Qualifying again will decide the race as it is suddenly life or death to qualify in front.
  5. F1 will become boring.
Sometimes I wished the people running F1 would just drop dead and be replaced by others with brains.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

LEWIS ON POSTAGE STAMPS


Is it a trend started by Kimi last year? Winning the world championship gets your face on stamps. Looks like Lewis might get his face on the stamps if the Royal Mail has their way. That would be cool though. I'll have to ask Anthony to mail me some postcards then.

A spokesman for Royal Mail insisted that no decision had yet been taken on Hamilton. But he admitted: “It is certainly an idea which is under consideration.”

Source : Times Online

F1 HALL OF FAME - LEWIS HAMILTON

The formula 1 website has put Lewis in it's hall of fame and the article can be found here containing Lewis' bio and his rise to fame.

A snippet from the article to whet your appetitte:

In 1995, a 10-year-old kart champion, wearing a borrowed suit and shoes, picked up two trophies at a motorsport awards ceremony in London. Brandishing an autograph book prepared by his father, he approached Ron Dennis, boss of the McLaren Mercedes Formula One team.

"I said 'Hello Mr. Dennis, I'm Lewis Hamilton and one day I'd like to race for your team.' I asked him for his autograph and his phone number. He put them in my book and also wrote 'Call me in nine years.

The call was made just three years later and it was the Hamilton household's telephone that rang. It was Ron Dennis who presented Anthony with an offer to financially support his son's career for the foreseeable future, with the proviso that Lewis should keep working hard at school. Lewis: "I just went upstairs to my room and got on with my homework. It was so unbelievable. I struggled to take it in."

Source : F1.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hamilton to take on Hoy

Tuesday 18th November 2008

Lewis Hamilton will take on Britain's triple Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Chris Hoy at next month's Race of Champions at Wembley.

Hamilton, at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz, will face-off against Hoy, on a bike, in a race run on a parallel track which will form part of the build-up to the annual event, which pits some of the world's leading motorsport stars against each other in equal machinery.

Hamilton, who will also perform a demonstration run in his title-winning McLaren, said: "This is going to be something very special.

"I've done F1 demonstration runs away from race tracks before, but Wembley Stadium is completely different, the atmosphere is going to be crazy.

"It's going to be a great way to end a fantastic year, and I'm really looking forward to putting on a show to thank the fans from all over the world and my fantastic British fans for all their support."

Hoy, who won gold in the keirin, sprint and team sprint in Beijing, added: "I'm a big motor racing fan anyway and I've seen The Race of Champions on TV so to be there in the flesh is going to be great and to be able to compete and take part in it is fantastic.

"I can kick out about two and a half brake horsepower so that's not going to quite match his car but I think they'll make the race as close as possible and I'll be giving it absolutely everything; I'm really looking forward to it."

The Race of Champions on December 14 will feature the likes of seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, F1 race winners David Coulthard, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button, World Touring Car star Andy Priaulx and five-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb.

Source : Planet F1

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

FIRST WINTER TESTING

Well, the winter testing has started and what a surprise, a pleasant one I must say to see Sato top the timesheets. Sebastien Loeb is there too.

What is more interesting is the new look for 2009 on the BMW, have a look here. The rear wing is funny, too small and the front wing is too big. Sheesh, I can't get used to that look.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

LEWIS HAMILTON ARROGANT?


Hmm..this is an issue that has gone on for some time now. Everybody has heard of this and people are talking that Lewis is over confident and to a certain extent arrogant. I have met him and spent some time with him and his dad Anthony and I can safely say that Lewis is not arrogant.

People confuse self confidence with arrogance quite easily here because either they don't know the person or they are biased. It's so easy to hate. Anyway, I've met and been around a few F1 drivers and I can say for sure that they are all extremely competitive people. They have to be in order to survive in F1 and to chase after success. In fact, this attribute is necessary in all fields of life.

The same goes for Lewis. It's just that he talks more about it as say compared to Kimi. According to Lewis, he's bubbly. Just because Kimi talks less doesn't mean he's not ultra competitive.

So, once and for all, please understand that these F1 drivers are like that. They have to be. It is not arrogance. It's just supreme confidence in their own ability. for people who cannot accept that, they will forever have hate in their hearts. I can't help them, nobody can.

Force India confirm McLaren support deal


Monday 10th November 2008

Force India have agreed a long-term deal with McLaren Mercedes for the supply of technical support from the start of next season.

The Silverstone-based team, owned by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, have agreed a reported five-year deal with McLaren for the supply of gearboxes, hydraulic systems and Mercedes-built engines.

In addition, McLaren will lend operational support and provide the team with the new kinetic engine recovery system (KERS) that is due to be implemented for 2009.

The announcement comes just three days after Force India ended their two-year deal with Ferrari for the supply of engines 12 months ahead of schedule.

The Scuderia supplied Force India with engines in their debut season but the team failed to score a point with Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil as their drivers.

Mallya said: "We are absolutely delighted to be able to announce a technical partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies and Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines.

"McLaren and Mercedes-Benz are two of the most famous names in motorsport history, having achieved great success in grand prix racing over many years, and most recently, a superb victory in probably the most dramatic World Championship Formula One has seen.

"These new resources and developments will provide an enormous boost to our technical armoury and, as a result, we have high hopes of making good progress in 2009 and beyond."
Source : Planet F1

Hamilton: It was big of Alonso to come over

Monday 10th November 2008

They may not be the best of buddies but there is "huge amount of respect" between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, according to the 2008 World Champ.

Hamilton and Alonso didn't have the best of relationships during the Spaniard's season with McLaren last year. Alonso added further fuel to the fire when he claimed before the final race in Brazil that he would do everything he could to help Felipe Massa to secure the title.

However, after the race Alonso visited the McLaren garage to congratulate Hamilton after he won the World Championship by just a single point and was quoted afterwards as saying, "Lewis deserves his time and I congratulated him."

Hamilton says it was "big" of Alonso to come over and says they've always respected each other.

"I don't think there was a particular dispute between us," the McLaren driver said during Mercedes-Benz's Stars & Cars event in Stuttgart. "We've greeted each other when we've met each other at the track - we've always respected each other.

"It was great to see him in the garage. He came over as I saw my team, I turned round and he was there - just to wish me congratulations. Then he said congratulations to the rest of the team.
"I had a huge amount of respect for him already, but it took a big man to come and do that so I was very thankful to him."
Source : Planet F1

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kovalainen: I can match Hamilton in 2009

It would seem that Heikki has to do something to improve next year as he was roundly beaten this year by his team mate and he was unlucky at some races. Some people thought that maybe he wasn't the right choice for a renewal at McLaren for next year but we'll have to see how he does.

There are a few interesting candidates for his seat like Vettel or Kubica, so he'd better up the ante.

2009 PROVISIONAL CALENDAR

This is the provisional 2009 calendar released by FIA which is the 3rd version so far. Maybe there'll be another revision, I don't know but for now this is how it looks like. This calendar was published by F1Wolf.

2009 Provisional F1 calendar:
Revised on November 5, 2008

29 March - Australia
5 April - Malaysia
19 April - China
26 April - Bahrain
10 May - Spain
24 May - Monaco
7 June - Turkey
21 June - Great Britain
12 July - Germany
26 July - Hungary
– summer break –
23 August - Europe (Valencia)
30 August - Belgium
13 September - Italy
27 September - Singapore
4 October - Japan
18 October - Brazil
1 November - Abu Dhabi

At least Malaysia's race will be not so late into April. I'm looking forward to that as I'll probably be working at Sepang during race week and Lewis and Anthony will be here. Though I'm not sure whether we'll be able to meet as the world champ would be very busy and popular.

Hamilton: Racist abuse is not a joke


Friday 7th November 2008

Lewis Hamilton insists he does not share the views of Bernie Ecclestone that the racist abuse he received this year should be dismissed as a "joke".

Formula One supremo Ecclestone made the claim when asked about the insults directed at Hamilton during pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona, in February.

Some spectators were pictured mocking the newly-crowned World Champion by wearing wigs, dark make-up and T-shirts with the slogan 'Hamilton's Family'.

In an attempt to defuse the row, Ecclestone declared it had been blown out of proportion and stated he did not understand why the scenes were insulting.

But Hamilton, the first black driver in Formula One history, refused to trivialise what happened and revealed it was the support of his fans that enabled him to overcome his anguish.

"I didn't see it as a joke. It's something that happened but it is in the past," he said.

"What's more important to me is that I had a lot of support, especially from UK fans.

"As long as I have my country behind me it makes me very proud. It makes me very proud to see my fellow countrymen holding up the flag.

"All the other stuff I need to put behind me. I don't generally keep up with what's being said and I haven't read what Bernie said.

"But I know Bernie and have a huge amount of respect for him."

It was an astonishing outburst by Ecclestone, not least as the FIA themselves launched an anti-racism campaign in response to what occurred in Spain.

Hamilton was also targeted during the build-up to last weekend's decisive Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo, in which he finished fifth to become the sport's youngest world champion.

Racist remarks were left on a website, yet Ecclestone insisted the row had been blown out of proportion.

"I think it's all nonsense. In Spain people were supporting (Fernando) Alonso and in Sao Paulo they were supporting Felipe (Massa)," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I don't think it was anything to do with racism. There were a few people in Spain and that was probably beginning as a joke rather than anything abusive.

"I think people look and read into things that are not there. All those things are all a bit of a joke and people are entitled to support who they want to support.

"I don't see why people should have been [insulted by it]. These things are people expressing themselves."

Ecclestone's comments failed to dent the euphoria Hamilton has felt since claiming his first World Championship on Sunday.

The 23-year-old had to field questions raging from his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, to Barack Obama's victory in the US Presidential elections at this morning's promotional event to launch the BlackBerry Storm.

Demand for Hamilton has rocketed since his first title triumph and he is happy to continue enjoying the privacy his residency in Switzerland affords - at least for now.

"I wouldn't say I miss living in the UK. My family and team are here and I'm very fortunate that every once in a while I get the chance to come back and visit the place," he said.

"But I'm happy where I am. I don't know what the future holds for me or where I plan to live.

"I love in being the States, around Europe and in Australia so I don't know where I'll be in 10 years' time. But I grew up in the UK and it will always be home."

Source : Planet F1

Dear Fernando, Start Cheering On Lewis

Thursday 6th November 2008

Fernando Alonso may have pledged to do all he could to help Felipe Massa win this title but if he wants a third Drivers' Championship of his own he first needs Lewis Hamilton to win again in 2009...

For Fernando Alonso, the red devil is likely to be in the detail. While confirmation that the Spaniard has signed a two-year extension with Renault appears, at first glance, to be a long-term commitment, the likelihood is that his pledge for 2010 will have included that all-important get-out clause, either performance-related or a straightforward buy-out. Alonso is too clever, too ambitious, too good to have not kept his options open.

2009 will thus be a wait-and-see, deliver-or-else type of year. Having won two previous World Championships, Alonso's goal is another. Nothing else will do. Improvement? That's for the also-rans. Fernando is dreaming of a third title and his contract is bound to reflect that demand. If Renault cannot deliver the required machinery then the Spaniard's patience is unlikely to stretch beyond another 12 months.

There is not a single person in the paddock who does not believe that Alonso is not eyeing a move to Ferrari. They make for a natural alliance. And unlike Kimi Raikkonen, Alonso speaks Italian fluently. That Ferrari make championship-winning cars also helps, of course.

Still bitter at his experiences with McLaren last year, Alonso caused a stir last month when he admitted he would help Massa to the title if he could (For such an intelligent man, Alonso displays a remarkably petulant streak whenever he does not enjoy his own way. To paraphrase former team-mate Jarno Trulli, Alonso is a dream when he is a winning, a nightmare when he is not).

Yet, upon reflection, it is difficult not to reach the conclusion that, as a return to McLaren is out of the question, Alonso needs Lewis Hamilton to win next season.

Because if either Felipe Massa or Raikkonen win the title, Ferrari will have no reason to change. But if Hamilton delivers back-to-back titles, Ferrari's patience will snap. The team might not be as temperamental as it once was but a second year without the Drivers' Championship after practically monopolising the title for the previous decade will prompt intolerable pressure for change.

Alonso, whose reputation continues to flourish away from F1's top table, and will continue to do so next year in direct competition to the underwhelming Nelson Piquet Jr, will be the obvious - and grateful - solution. There will be other claims, most notably from Robert Kubica and possibly Sebastian Vettel, but who else to be first choice to resurrect Ferrari's challenge to Hamilton than the driver considered to be the best pound-for-pound operator in the sport and one boasting the proven pedigree of two championships?

Having scored more points than any other driver in the final two months of the year, Alonso has reason to be optimistic for next season. "After a difficult start to the season, we have overcome our difficulties and constantly improved our performances," he remarked in explanation for extending his contract. "My back-to-back wins in Singapore and Japan, and my recent second place podium finish in Brazil, have proved how competitive we can be."

Yet the irony is that at the start of next season, Alonso may have cause to regret that improvement. While Renault continued to upgrade the R28, BMW changed focus and, after Robert Kubica's win in Canada, shifted all their development work towards the coming campaign. Likewise Honda, who have essentially spent all of the past nine months concentrating on 2009. As Renault cannot match the budget and resources of either McLaren or Ferrari, or Toyota for that matter, there is cause to suspect that they will be back amongst the midfield in March.

In which case Alonso will be wise to check the small print of his contract - and swallow a bitter pill by cheering on his former nemesis at McLaren...

Pete Gill

Source : Planet F1

Steward Changes Are Missing The Point

Thursday 6th November 2008

The FIA has launched its latest attempt to inject some credibility into the stewarding process. Andrew Davies is wary that it's nothing more than a box of fudge.


Lewis Hamilton's fifth place at the Brazilian Grand Prix was a relief. And not just to the people who wanted the McLaren driver to win the World Chapionship. His four points for fifth place on Sunday took him one point higher than Felipe Massa and gave him the World Championship he well and truly deserved.

It was a big relief to those F1 fans who didn't want to see the winter months mired by talk of outrageously inconsistent stewarding decisions.

Two races earlier Felipe Massa had been given an extra point by the Japanese GP race stewards in what is widely regarded as the most incomprehensible F1 stewarding decision in the last ten years. Perhaps of all time. When Massa collided with the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Bourdais it was widely expected that if anyone was going to collect a penalty it would be the Ferrari driver.

There was utter disblief when Bourdais, who had been racing for position and been struck by Massa from the side, was relegated down the order enabling Massa to finish one place higher.
Had the rain failed to fall as hard as it did on that fateful last lap, then Timo Glock would have scrabbled to fifth, Hamilton would have tied Massa on championship points, and the single point that the FIA handed Massa at Mount Fuji would have won him the title.


Pete Gill's benchmark stewarding analysis has highlighted the woeful lack of consistency, transparency and comprehensibility from F1's referees over the last season. At least they didn't swing the final outcome.

Last year, as we were navigating our way through the repercussions of the Ferrari/McLaren/Renault spygate saga, Max Mosley came up with his great crusading mission statement - "in the interests of sporting fairness." 2008 has seemingly been all about sporting unfairness towards one team.

The sheer spectacle of the final race, combined with a whole pile of new technical regulations that will make the 2009 cars look like some bastardised one-make series, might produce enough smoke to cloud over the sorry stewarding issue. It shouldn't.

We came within two corners of the World Championship being decided by three men with less combined F1 experience than a pop-up toaster. Well, maybe a little more. Unless something is radically changed, it could happen again.

The changes the FIA have announced in Paris yesterday may give us some more camera angles and a written explanation to decisions, but there is little substantial change to the idea that the stewards are Max's fiefdom, and Allan Donnelly the serf overseer. And most important of all, there is still no permanent steward in place to grant decisions some consistency.

When TonyScott-Andrew was in charge as the permanent steward we had no endless arguments about stewarding decisions, or any questions about explanations, or calls for more cameras, or requests to see their CVs. It was because there was a level of consistency there.

What the FIA are proposing now still doesn't allow for consistency or independence, the two things most needed. And as you can see from reading Pete Gill's feature, the trend in the past is to make an announcement (such as the nationality of race stewards) in an obscure part of the off-season and then not stick to it.

More replays, more decisions during the race and more explanations are all good. What Max needs to do now is go the whole hog.

Andrew Davies

Source : Planet F1

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 season - a legend in the making


Last year's Brazilian Grand Prix was an unmitigated disaster for Lewis Hamilton. A poor start, a first-lap error and some untimely gearbox gremlins all combined to shatter his hopes of clinching a historic first title at Interlagos, leaving a resurgent Kimi Raikkonen free to collect the crown.On Sunday, after a nail-biting finish, the failure and heartache were confined to the history books, as Hamilton accomplished what he so nearly achieved on his first attempt.

So established is the new world champion, it is difficult to believe that he becomes the sport’s youngest ever title holder, aged just 23, bettering previous record holder Fernando Alonso by just over four months.Hamilton has just 35 race appearances under his belt, but from that modest tally has gleaned nine wins and 13 poles. To put those figures into context, Alonso had made 69 starts before he clocked up that number of victories, while Raikkonen has scored only three more poles over his eight-year career.

Of course Alonso and Raikkonen weren’t gifted with the quickest of cars as their careers began, but even with the might of McLaren behind him, Hamilton’s statistics are peerless.His 2007 rookie campaign quickly became the stuff of legend. Six pole positions, four wins and 109 points made it the most successful debut season in Formula One history - and severely ruffled the feathers of then team mate Alonso. Ultimately he was just two points shy of winning the title.He left Interlagos last year disappointed but not disheartened, and at the 2008 season opener in Australia, he made it quite clear he wouldn’t be an also-ran again.

Taking pole and victory, he dominated the Melbourne race, stamping his authority on both new team mate Heikki Kovalainen and his other prospective title rivals with a dazzling display. It was the best of starts. But the next round in Malaysia was different story, with Hamilton dropping five grid places for blocking in qualifying, and then suffering pit-stop problems en route to fifth place. In Bahrain too, he seemed to have lost the poise that singled him out in ’07 and after a fluffed start and a collision with Alonso he crossed the line a miserable 13th, losing his championship lead in the process.
Third place at the subsequent Spanish Grand Prix went some way to boosting his title hopes, but it was far from the bounce-back he’d hoped for, as winner Raikkonen extended his championship lead. And while he left the following Turkey race well-satisfied with his improved performance, second place was not enough. He needed a win.It came in Monaco. Despite Ferrari locking out the front row, Hamilton drove a faultless race to score a memorable first victory at the track around which hero Ayrton Senna had excelled.

He described it as a highlight of his career - but it was to be the only highlight for the next few races. His embarrassing pit-lane collision in Canada and a disastrous stewards’ decision at the French Grand Prix saw him fail to score at either event.But at July’s British Grand Prix, Hamilton once again showed his rare talent. While his more experienced rivals slipped up in the tricky wet conditions, he handled the pressure with almost nonchalant prowess. He then clocked up a second successive victory at Hockenheim to regain the championship lead.Fast forward to the penultimate round in Shanghai and you get an even greater sense of Hamilton’s worth as a driver.

After coping with front-left tyre damage (Hungary), a dominant Massa (Europe), a controversial stewards’ decision (Belgium), a terrible qualifying session (Italy), unfortunate safety car timing (Singapore) and finally a scrappy start (Japan), Hamilton had made some very costly errors and borne the brunt of his fair share of bad luck.You could argue that in many ways this season was not been in the same league as his rookie year. There have been several mistakes and he has come in for a lot of criticism from both the stewards’ room and his fellow drivers. But, crucially, he also continued to maximise his scores - even when the chips were down - and just when everyone thought he was about to crack, he found new reserves - as illustrated by his spectacular win in China, a win that all but assured him of title triumph in Brazil.

Admittedly aided by some equally haphazard performances from his rivals, Hamilton has won out in the end.Many drivers find that their second year in Formula One is tougher than the first, as the pressure increases and the sport’s taxing intricacies become more apparent. But Hamilton has bounced back with a maturity belying his years. Congratulations Lewis!

Source : F1.com

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lewis pays tribute to his dad


Wednesday 5th November 2008

Lewis Hamilton has praised the impact of father Anthony in helping him become Formula One World Champion.

Anthony has been the one constant in Lewis' life since he started out on the road to title glory at the age of eight in karting.

Supporting what began as a hobby, despite financial hardship, Anthony played not only the fatherly role, but was also an advisor and mentor, even a mechanic as he also repaired the karts.
As Lewis then worked his way through the various categories and ultimately into F1 with McLaren, Anthony has remained by his side, and now also serves as his manager.

When asked as to what his dad had meant to him over the years en route to becoming champion, it was not an easy question for him to answer as Anthony was stood just a few feet away.

With emotion in his voice, he initially replied: "He's been an inspiration, positive in many ways."
After a pause, Hamilton then broke the ice as he joked: "But he's a dad, a pain in the arse sometimes as well!"

Returning more seriously to the subject, he commented: "He's been fantastic.

"It's easier for him because he can stand there, whilst I have to take everything on my shoulders.

"But he has done all the work to get me where I am, made all the sacrifices from the beginning, and even now he is still doing that.

"He's given an incredible amount of dedication, not just to me, but the family. He is a huge family man.

"The man I am today is a reflection of him, and this title I have won is a reflection of him, his support and my family.
"He means the world to me."

There can be no doubt Anthony is the driving force behind 'Team Hamilton' that includes his mum Carmen, step-mum Linda, brother Nic, as well as the leading figures at McLaren in boss Ron Dennis, trainer Adam Costanza and doctor Aki Hintsa.

But there is also another figure who has started to play an integral role in Hamilton's life, girlfriend and Pussycat Doll singer Nicole Scherzinger.

Scherzinger was among the leading players in the McLaren garage at Sunday's title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix and she could be seen willing Hamilton onto his ultimate Championship victory.

When asked about his girlfriend and how instrumental she had now become, Hamilton initially paused to reflect on his answer.

He then replied: "The important thing to me is to have my family there, giving me their support.
"They help me keep my feet on the ground, keep a balance in my whole life.

"There are so many things that try to distract me, and they are the ones who do their utmost to ensure I stay focused.

"She's just another part of that bubble, that shield, around me.

"She is nothing but positive energy, an amazing person. She flew all the way out there to support me, and she brought me all the positive energy she could.

"So it meant a huge amount to have her there supporting me."

Source : Planet F1

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

RACISM

Racism is alive and well, as we can see and feel throughout the 2008 F1 season. It was very clearly evident in how the so called "fans" are racially opposed to Lewis this year in Barcelona, Brazil and China.

I felt that also this year even though I didn't want to admit it. It came to a head during the Brazilian GP how much the F1 world didn't want Lewis to win because he is black. Anthony knew it too. It's that simple. From the FIA to the teams to the drivers to the fans, I felt that insatiable need for the sport to remain "white". Yes, F1 is a white mans sport, that's why they can't take it that a black kid came out of nowhere to kick all their butts.

I symphatise with Lewis because I'm not white, I'm a Malaysian but most whities will lump me together with the blacks and other minorities. Not only that, I'm not rich either. I understand the need for the rich to keep me out of their circle as I have been around them for a long time. So this racism is nothing new to me.

That is why I get along with Anthony and Lewis and they get along with me. That is why I support Lewis and want him to win. The world is getting nastier everyday and it needs to be shown the truth, that you can't run down a good person and that right will always trump wrong sooner or later.

Lewis: It's not about the money


Tuesday 4th November 2008

2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton insists it will be his passion rather than fame and fortune which drives him to future glory.

In the wake of becoming the youngest World Champion in F1 history, Hamilton is poised to become one of the most marketable stars in the world.

Forget 'Brand Beckham' and consider the prospect of 'Hallmark Hamilton' as riches now beckon beyond the 23-year-old Briton's wildest dreams.

But despite being elevated to such stratospheric status on the back of one of the most dramatic conclusions to any sporting event, not just in motor racing, Hamilton is determined to remain grounded.

Although he is currently earning more in one month than the average man in the street will make in a lifetime, he stresses that money is just a welcome by-product of the talent which yesterday propelled him into superstardom.

To that end, Hamilton is not even considering buying something to reward himself for becoming Britain's ninth World Champion.

"I'm comfortable in life," said Hamilton, as he addressed the topic of potentially becoming sport's first billionaire.

"It's an amazing feeling to know you have some money considering I never had £100 to go and buy a pair of trainers when I was younger.

"So to think I can do that now is great, but money doesn't really appeal to me.

"As a young kid, to be given an opportunity in Formula One I would have done it for free.

"It just so happens I get paid to do my hobby, everything I love, and it's nice to be able to take care of my family.

"That's all that really matters, so I'm happy.

"It would be nice to have a house at some stage, but I don't know where or what I particularly want.

"I've a nice apartment, a nice drum kit, nice guitars. I don't need anything more really.

"There are some things in the future I might want to get, but there will be a time and place for those.

"My reward is winning the World Championship. What else do I need?"

At the McLaren party last night to celebrate his success, far from getting drunk on champagne, Hamilton instead got drunk on seeing how happy he had made people.

"I only had a couple of glasses of champagne," confirmed Hamilton, who last year did have too much to drink after losing the title by a point to Kimi Raikkonen.

"I remember sitting there towards the end of the night and a song came on, 'We Are The Champions' by Queen.

"I saw all the team members - my mechanics, engineers, catering staff, the bosses, my dad - and everyone was so happy.

"I just sat there and took it all in. It was a feeling you can't put into words, to see how happy you have made everyone after all the hard work they have put in, and how satisfied they are.
"That was really my present last night, seeing all that."

The suggestion is Hamilton stands on the brink of ushering in a new era in F1, succeeding seven-times Xhampion Michael Schumacher and going on to eclipse all his records.

But again, something so immaterial holds no interest for Hamilton, who added: "I don't plan to try to reach any of his records.

"They don't mean a huge amount to me. They are not something that appeals to me.

"I just love racing, getting in the car and winning Campionships, with the feeling you get after all that work from the people around you, and you extracting the most out of yourself.

"That's the most fulfilling achievement, so records are not so important."

There is one little luxury he would love - the McLaren F1 LM supercar, of which only five were made, and with the first at the team's headquarters in Woking a teasing reminder for Hamilton.

But to get his hands on it, he first has to win two more World titles after a deal he made with team boss Ron Dennis when he first signed for McLaren.

"Every time I walk past it, I gaze at it," added Hamilton.

"Still today it's the only car I really look at (at the McLaren HQ) other than Ayrton Senna's '89 car (in which he won one of his three titles).

"So I stop, open it up, smell it, and it's all carbon, fresh, new, number one out of five.

"It's probably the most expensive, the most beautiful car in the whole world, and that's the one I want.

"I want to win this car off Ron, so I will work as hard as I can to get to three (titles) at some stage."

Source : Planet F1

Hamilton Snr: My family has taken a lot of stick


Tuesday 4th November 2008

Anthony Hamilton has spoken of the ill-will and abuse directed towards his son Lewis in the build-up to last Sunday's title showdown in Brazil.

In the days leading up to the season finale the McLaren driver was racially abused on a Spanish website, earning the condemnation of both the FIA and the British government.

However, the abuse later got up close and personal as two Brazilian comedians insulted Lewis during a press conference before handing him a toy black cat - a symbol of bad luck in the eyes of the Brazilian people.

It didn't stop with Lewis, though, as his brother Nick was also handed a black cat as he entered the hotel where the family was staying.

But despite the ill-will directed at Lewis and his family, the Brit rose above, winning the 2008 Drivers' Championship title by one point over local hero Felipe Massa. While the Brazilian was dignified personified in the wake of Hamilton's victory, sections of the crowd booed the Englishman as he celebrated his title triumph.

"I thought that was extremely unprofessional," Hamilton senior told The Guardian. "But do you know what they fail to realise? We've a black cat at home and she has been extremely positive for us.

"My family has taken a lot of stick this past week, not just this week, but the past few months. I did think that maybe this isn't the place for my family because as a parent you make sure you do right for your family and kids.

"But I never said anything to Lewis. I kept it to myself, even though I was going home thinking, 'I didn't think the world was quite like this'. And then you think 'It's just the way it is', and I'd send Lewis a text saying 'whatever happens, people love you'.

"The negative people are a small percentage, and even the negative ones have a heart."
Anthony, though, made it clear that no matter the publicity - good or bad - or the way people treat his family, the Hamiltons will rise above.

"We came into this to do a decent job and we deserve to be here. If people like us, then great. If [they] don't, then I am sad for them and maybe God will forgive them.

"But we are decent people and remain decent people. I just don't understand why our message gets missed. But when things go against you, you rise above it and get stronger and stronger.
"Everything negative thrown at us is just huge positive energy. It's like fuel, the more you give us the more it fuels us, and it's brilliant. You can't run and hide."

Source : Planet F1

Monday, November 3, 2008

WELCOME TO THE NEW WORLD CHAMPION


First of all, I have to say what a race! The last 2 laps was the most exciting and scariest laps of my whole F1 watching career for as long as I can remember. It's like, after all the planning and all those laps, suddenly Vettel could overtake Lewis and there was nothing Lewis could do about it.

I was watching with baited breath and wanted to jump with joy in celebrating Lewis' win but he was in 6th and I was holding my head, thinking to myself how it could have gone wrong again, ready to blame Kubica for his unecessary un-lapping move. Then after Lewis crosses the line and the cameras after showing celebration in the Ferrari garage shifted to show celebration in the McLaren garage. I was dumbfounded, confused. It kind of took away the celebration for me, anti-climax.

Though I'm glad Lewis won the title finally after what he went through last year and after what the whole F1 world put him through this year, it was almost like they didn't want him or a black person to win. I'm glad Lewis put them all in their place. Only problem is, deep inside I felt the win was because Glock had a problem with his tyres adn both Lewis and vettel managed to overtake him. Imagine if Glock didn't have any problems at all?

I was hoping Lewis could've taken the title in a more convincing manner. But like Massa said, even a 1 point difference means that Lewis is the champion. It was won fair and square. Although I'm sure the Ferrari supporters won't stop at the Glock conspiracy and that Massa was robbed of the championship.

Actually, come to think of it, without FIA interference and unfair penalties for Lewis plus unfair benefits for Ferrari/Massa, Lewis would've been champion 2 or 3 races ago. It just goes to show that Lewis does deserve the championship.

Well, it's now the winter season and hopefully McLaren will be ready for all the changes for 2009. I hope next year Heikki does better for himself and the team. He was absent for most of this season. Imagine Vettel in a McLaren...

Brazilian GP Winners and Losers

Sunday 2nd November 2008

It was the Championship decider to end all Championship deciders, and though Felipe Massa won the battle, Lewis Hamilton won the war.

STAR OF THE RACE
Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1st
Massa did everything he had to do. He put the car on pole and then dominated a race that he had to win. He was fortunate that the entire field were forced to stop early (having qualified with low fuel) and so the McLarens weren't able to make use of their extra laps of fuel that had put them further down the grid.

He was the model of dignity in defeat and your heart went out to him. Though the more deserving driver won, you got the feeling that the nicer guy didn't. Massa's sporting reaction was in complete contrast to the crowd. Before this race I felt pretty well-equipped to argue that F1 crowds were knowledgeable and sporting and showed football crowds up. Not in Brazil.

Fair enough, you can boo drivers if they've done something wrong, like block the track in qualifying or take the local hero out of the race the GP before, but booing Lewis Hamilton's father is pitiful. To jeer the moment he comes on the TV screens is sad and ignorant.

That wouldn't happen in Canada and who's the more likely to lose their race...? By contrast, Felipe Massa fought back his emotion and represented the best of Brazil. He will surely be a World Champion with Ferrari before long.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 17, Lewis Hamilton on Giancarlo Fisichella
Hamilton had to get past an admirably quick Force India and to do it, he had to go off the racing line. Onto the wet line into the treacherous Turn 1 he dived to outbrake Fisi and take 5th place. Not stunning, but a small mistake could have undone the previous 17 races.

WINNERS
F1

Whereas American Football has a game structure that allows for last second drama, F1 is a more natural form of theatre. Lewis Hamilton passing Timo Glock one corner before the end of an 18-race season is like winning the Superbowl on the last play with the clock down to 00.00. It's like winning the Champion's League with the last kick of the game.

Sunday's race will go down as the epic finale to an epic season.

For those not in need of psychiatric counselling after the Brazilian GP and who actually enjoyed the experience, then thanks are due to the various race stewards throughout the season whose bizarre decisions manufactured a final race showdown. It should have been Hamilton's title already, but the various deductions and failures to deduct his rival, have conspired to create the greatest F1 showdown of all time.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 5th
Hamilton managed to save some more woeful McLaren decision making. If Fisichella can set the fastest middle sector of anyone in a Force India on Lap 9 on slick tyres, followed by Alonso and Vettel pitting on Lap 10, then surely they should be ready to pit Hamilton on Lap 11 when they see Ferrari getting tyres ready in the pit lane. Because they would have known that Ferrari couldn't have pitted Massa and Raikkonen together without dropping Kimi a long way back and so if they brought him in then, he could have made up at least one place..

As it was, Hamilton drove a long way within himself and the result was his first World title.

Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 4th
Vettel was very controlled. Aggressive but not rash...erm...apart from Lap 1. For those F1 drivers keen to criticise their fellow pilots, Vettel's attempts to push Kovalainen onto the grass in the run down to Lake Descent on the first lap bordered on the Colombian hitman. Had he turned Kovalainen's car round in front of the entire pack racing downhill at 180mph then we would still be sweeping up the carbon fibre now.

LOSERS
Robert Kubica, BMW, 11th
Kubica should be hauled before the stewards and asked to explain why he decided to battle two drivers fighting for 5th and 6th places, and a World Championship, two laps before the end of the race. At that stage he had no chance of unlapping himself from the leader and so was destined to finish his race a lap early and outside the points. His move past Hamilton unsettled the Brit who then ran wide allowing Vettel through.

In the euphoria that will wash over the McLaren team this will be ignored, but it was a serious lapse of judgement from the Pole.

Given that Ayrton Senna once assaulted Eddie Irvine after a race at Suzuka for the Ulsterman daring to unlap himself (it had no consequence on the result), it would be interesting to see what the great man would have done to Kubica in the circumstances.

As he is someone who expressed his desire for Felipe Massa to win the World Championship then it smacks of interfering. Had it been Heidfeld then there would have been less trouble.Kubica should spend the first two races of 2009 watching the races and reflecting.

David Coulthard, Red Bull, DNF
David's plan to do some doughnuts in front of the grandstand on his slowdown lap was never realised. Though given the rainfall that fell at the end it might have been a bit hazardous anyway. He's rumoured to be providing pundit support for the BBC commentary team in 2009 so it's not like we're going to be without him - or captioned reminders (a la Match of the Day) of how many races he's won and points he's scored. On the other hand Rubens Barrichello - who does have another season inside of him - might be out of the picture.

F1 Race Stewards
More of the usual. Trulli forcing Bourdais off the road. Rosberg on Coulthard. Kubica on Vettel and Hamilton, and Jenson Button being released alongside a Williams in the pit lane and then racing into the pit lane turn. How come these were not worthy of investigation...? Rhetorical, obviously, as the stewards decisions this year have had all the predictability of an Amy Winehouse live performance.

Mark - knees up muvver braaaaan - Blundell
ITV went out on a high with the most dramatic GP and Mark - git orf me barra this one last time - Blundell rose to the occasion.

Mark seemed very worried about Turn 1, even though Lewis had got round it fairly easily last year. "Turn 1 round here has turned up with a couple of situations we've seen in the past," he fretted.

He was also worrying about Lewis Hamilton's gearbox.
"Let's not hope that a glitch comes upon us."
Because last year...
"A little bit of a problem came across the gearbox."
He debuted a particularly nice fruit analogy for tyres in qualifying
"They've only got goodness left in them for this big lap you put in."And at the end of the race he came up with two Blundell gems to treasure for all time.
"Sao Paulo is predictably variable."and"...a last lap wot made the GP very special."

Diamond.

Andrew Davies

Source : Planet F1

Instant Conclusions From An Unforgettable Conclusion

Sunday 2nd November 2008

Sometimes words are just not needed...

Formula One, Bloody Hell
Wow. Just wow, because sometimes commentary is irrelevant and unnecessary. Anyone who watched the 2008 Brazilian GP will never forget it. 'Incredible' is an over-used word but not on this occasion.


There Can't Have Been An Ending Like It
After approximately 3000 miles of racing, eight months of competition, 900 laps of action, it came down to the penultimate lap and a single point. There can't have been an ending like it in the history of F1 and only a handful of comparable conclusions in the annals of sport.


Massa Is A Class Act
Both on and off the track, Felipe Massa was a champion in Brazil (an apology is due from those who suggested that he would crack under the weight of pressure and expectation in front of his fanatical home support).

"We ought to be proud of our race, we ought to be proud of ourselves," he remarked the Brazilian in the post-race press conference.

The person who ought to be proudest, though, is Massa himself. He could not have driven better and he could not have acted with greater class or dignity. The Brazilian is a Champion in all but name.


The Race Result Is A Clue
05 L. Hamilton McLaren + 38.907

06 T. Glock Toyota + 44.368

Glock lost over five seconds to Hamilton in the corner-and-a-kink that were tarmaced between the point where his Toyota was overtaken and the McLaren crossed the line to crown Hamilton Champion. Five seconds. There was nothing fishy about his late demise; he was simply sliding around on dry tyres completely unsuited to the conditions.

It was close - by jeez it was close - but the timesheet reveals it was honest too. Nor, in response to the accusation that is already clogging the airwaves, was it lucky; Glock was only in front of Hamilton because, unlike the rest of the field, he opted to stay on dry tyres.


Hamilton Is A Deserved Champion
True enough, Lewis Hamilton is the Champion despite winning less races than Felipe Massa, but that fact becomes redundant once it is recalled that it was Hamilton who crossed the line in first place in Belgium and it was Massa who was subsequently - and scandalously - gifted his victory on the whim of the stewards.

Hamilton is a deserved Champion and but for the meddling of the stewards - strangely and inconsistently anonymous in Brazil despite any number of unsafe pit-stop releases and Jarno Trulli shunting Sebastien Bourdais off the track in a far more obvious infringement than which Hamilton was deemed guilty of in Japan - would have won the title in China or before.


Now For 2009...
The narrowness of his triumph means that Hamilton, even as the youngest-ever Champion in F1 history, still has plenty to prove and, upon sober reflection before winter testing resumes, the 23-year-old is likely to realise as much. His winning tally of 98 points is not, by Championship-winning standards, impressive: Kimi Raikkonen won with 110 last year, Michael Schumacher scored 148 points in his final title-winning year of 2004, while Fernando Alonso notched up 133 and then 134 for his back-to-back triumphs of 2005 and 2006.

Hamilton still has plenty to prove and any claim of greatness is hopelessly premature. One lingering impression from this season is that he actually drove better during his rookie year - possibly as a consequence of being partnered and pushed by Alonso rather than the hopelessly inadequate Heikki Kovalainen. He's good, no doubts about it, but nobody, including Hamilton himself, can yet be sure precisely how good. A great future awaits - possibly - but he still has to prove it and earn it.


The Lesson Of McLaren 2007 Has Scared Off F1's Big Guns
A late introduction into Brazil's tale of the unexpected, Sebastian Vettel's cameo may prove a glimpse of an exciting future: one which sees the German jousting with Hamilton, challenging Alonso and chasing Massa. Somewhere in that heady and enticing mix must also be Robert Kubica as well as F1's forgotten man, Kimi Raikkonen, if an intensive programme of winter testing succeeds in ironing out the flaws that have reduced him to a support role for the past month at Ferrari.

For F1, the future is bright. It is also varied.

Jarno Trulli, Jenson Button and even Mark Webber might quibble with the argument, but, unless Alonso surprises us all and abandons the Renault ship again, F1's top six drivers are poised to begin the 2009 season in five different types of machinery.


ITV Could Not Have Had A Better Send-Off
Saving the best to last, that was one helluva way to bow out.

PG

Source : Planet F1