Monday, May 26, 2008

'One down, one to go' - NEWS

Monday 26th May 2008

"One down, one to go" was what Anthony Hamilton said after Lewis won Sunday's Monaco GP. As to what he was referring to, it's Lewis's F1 dreams.

The McLaren driver fulfilled one of those on Sunday when he clinched the victory around the streets of the Principality, joining a prestigious list of Brits who have won the race including Stirling Moss, Graham Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart.

And by realising that dream the 23-year-old also took a step closer to fulfilling his second F1 driver, winning the World title, as he took the lead in the Drivers' standings.

"There are two dreams when you start out in Formula One; to win the World Championship and to win in Monaco," said Lewis's dad.

"One down, one to go."

Hamilton: The highlight of my career - NEWS

Sunday 25th May 2008

A jubilant Lewis Hamilton has described his victory in the Monaco GP as the highlight of his career.

Somewhat fortunate that his first-lap crash ultimately worked to his advantage, it was incontestable that his McLaren was the class of the field as he built up a lead of 40 seconds - sufficient for him to take his second pit-stop without losing the lead of what was otherwise a chaotic race.

After crossing the line, and talking to his pit crew via his in-car radio, a euphoric Hamilton announced: "I apologise for hitting the barrier, but we made up for it! Now let's go party!"

Hamilton's jubiliation was still evident in the post-race press conference. "The pace I had was ridiculous," he exclaimed. "At one point I was one second [a lap] quicker than everybody else - it was quite easy. I was asking the team 'Do I need to go quicker?' and they said it was fine."

Hamilton's relationship with then McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso deteriorated dramatically last season when he was denied the opportunity to challenge for victory in F1's showpiece event and the Englishman did not disguise his glee at winning around the fabled streets of the Principality.

"This is the highlight of my career," he announced. "This will stay with me for a long time... it is the highlight of my life so far.

"This is the best win ever, for sure. Even if I was to win here again, which I plan on doing, this is the best one. The first one. Just getting to F1 and going to Monaco and winning the Grand Prix. Even though I didn't get pole position I just stayed optimistic and brought it home. The guys did a good job as you could see and it was the most fun I have had in a race ever.

"In the last few laps I was thinking that Ayrton [Senna] had won here a lot of times and that it would be amazing to win here, but I knew anything could happen, I had to just keep it out of the barriers, and I managed to do that."

Reflecting on the race itself, Hamilton remarked: "I was able to get a good start. I felt comfortable and I knew I had a good car to challenge Felipe [Massa], but then as the rain came down there was so much spray.

"Through Tabac I hit a river of water and slid into the barrier, but fortunately I was able to tell the team and they reacted very quickly.

"They did a great job and without them I wouldn't have won this."

The 23-year-old also hailed McLaren's strategy, although all his good work in building up a secure lead was ruined when Nico Rosberg crashed out, prompting the re-appearance of the Safety Car.

"I can't tell you how difficult it was, but the strategy played into my hands," he said. "There was one point when I was 40 seconds ahead and then the Safety Car came out again.

"I said it was going to be an eventful race, and I hope Nico (Rosberg) is okay because it was a big shunt.

"But at the restart, after what happened last year in Canada, it was no sweat. I was counting down the laps - and it took a long, long time!"

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hamilton hoping for rain - NEWS

Saturday 24th May 2008

Lewis Hamilton is convinced a wet Monaco Grand Prix will afford him his best chance of victory.

Hamilton surprisingly failed to add his name to the roll call of honour of nine previous Britons who have qualified on pole for the blue riband event of Formula One.

The 23-year-old had looked strong in practice, and after McLaren's dominance of a year ago was odds-on to join an illustrious list of names that includes Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Sir Jackie Stewart, Graham and Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell, John Watson, David Coulthard and Tony Brooks.

Instead, Hamilton will start from third on the grid behind an all-Ferrari front row of pole-sitter Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen.

However, while the rain stayed away for qualifying after showers in the morning, there is a 90 per cent chance that the heavens will open on race day, so turning the track into an ice rink and making the race a lottery.

Hamilton believes he can take advantage of such conditions, even if he was hit-and-miss in the wet last year as he slid off at the Nurburgring before trailing home ninth in the European Grand Prix, prior to a fine win at the Japanese Grand Prix in Fuji.

"Tomorrow is going to be a lot harder than the two wet races we had last year, but I've always been strong in the wet," said Hamilton

"As long as we choose the right tyre, I'm fully focused, don't make any mistakes, we should be able to bring the car home in a strong points-scoring finish.

"If it is wet, it will give me even more of an opportunity to win, compared to it being dry because with me third it will be almost impossible to overtake.

"But in the wet, you can get a little closer, you're a little less reliant on downforce and you might be able to push other people into making mistakes.

"I'm sure if it is wet there will be a few safety cars, so it could be a really exciting race."

Despite the Ferraris ahead of him, Hamilton was not too downbeat on a track where it is imperative to be on pole, suggesting his team's strategy could have the edge on the Ferraris.

"I'm confident that one day pretty soon it's going to be an all-silver front row, so I'm not worried by Ferrari," added Hamilton, who has team-mate Heikki Kovalainen behind him in fourth.

"We're a solid team and we're working hard. We are at the top and we can't forget that, whilst there's still a long way to go.

"Tomorrow we can still have a full-silver finish. We're on the second row and can still do a solid job.

"We did anticipate being a little quicker, and we are surprised by Ferrari's pace, but I'm happy with the strategy we're on, so we'll see what happens."

Since Hamilton's pole-to-flag victory in the season-opening race in Australia, Ferrari have almost totally dominated by winning the last four grands prix and being on pole in three of those.

But Hamilton, who trails championship leader Raikkonen by seven points, is not fazed by the form and pace of the scarlet machines.

"I don't get worried," asserted Hamilton.

"There's a concern, it's something we need to try and understand, and work to improve.

"You can see we're quick, that we're very close. We just have to keep on pushing."

Hakkinen: Lewis is under pressure to win - NEWS

Saturday 24th May 2008

Double World Champion Mika Hakkinen believes Lewis Hamilton is a man under pressure inside McLaren.

Hakkinen made his name and won his titles with McLaren, where he sees Hamilton as team leader ahead of Finnish compatriot Heikki Kovalainen following Fernando Alonso's exit.

McLaren would dispute such a remark as they insist their drivers are treated equally, but Hakkinen's insight cannot be discounted due to the fact he spent nine years with the Woking-based marque.

In many respects, Hakkinen was viewed as 'number one' at McLaren ahead of David Coulthard during his time with the team.

With Alonso out of the picture, Hakkinen sees Hamilton as the main man, and with that comes the burden of responsibility.

"Lewis has an interesting career in front of him at the moment, but he is living in a very extreme situation," remarked Hakkinen.

"He started his career at McLaren with a double World Champion team-mate, and I'm sure he got a lot of good information from him.

"I'm sure Lewis learned a lot from him in terms of how to operate inside a team and how to set the car up.

"Now Lewis is in a situation where he is the leader of the team, and so he is under pressure to develop the car, make it fast and show he can get results for the team.

"The pressure is very high on him. He definitely has consistent talent and he can provide performance, but as I said, the pressure is part of the game and he could start making mistakes."

Hamilton certainly did that in Bahrain, but has bounced back, most notably in Turkey two weeks ago when he finished within touching distance of Felipe Massa, despite running a three-stop strategy.

Heading into Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, the 23-year-old trails current leader and reigning World Champion Kimi Raikkonen by seven points.

After emerging strongest in practice on Thursday, Hamilton is the likely favourite for victory.

If achieved, he would become only the fifth Briton to triumph at the Principality behind Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and David Coulthard.

Becoming a World Champion is a different matter, as Hakkinen knows only too well as it took him seven years before winning the first of his back-to-back titles in 1998.

"To become a World Champion is not easy, even when you have the right chassis, engine and team," reflected Hakkinen.

"You have to be ready to be a World Champion, very clear in your mind, a little bit angry inside to be able to win it.

"In my grand prix career it took me quite a while before I won my first Championship, quite a few years.

"You do need very good support and great management behind you, to help clear your mind through every test session and grand prix, to ensure you are fully focused.

"You need great confidence from the team to make sure you get the results, and to go on and win it in the end.

"Everything has to be in the right place, but it's a complicated process and you have to be patient because it can take a long time."

Hakkinen was speaking in his role as ambassador for the Johnnie Walker Responsible Drinking programme, with Hamilton aiding the cause.

After missing out on the World Championship by a point last year, Hamilton is now fully aware of just how difficult it is to emerge with the title.

So when asked whether he could emulate Hakkinen's double feat, he replied: "My goal in life is to win a World Championship.

"But I've not even got my first yet, so it would be a dream, an amazing accomplishment to emulate Mika.

"He has set a lot of records and come a long way, so it would be difficult to do what he has done, but I will try my best."

Qualy Report: Massa leads all-Ferrari front row - NEWS

Saturday 24th May 2008

Felipe Massa secured Ferrari's third Monaco pole position in 20 years as he beat team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to the coveted grid slot.

Although many had predicted that McLaren would dominate today's qualifying session, it was Ferrari who proved to be the team to beat. Massa nipped in at the last possible moment with a 1:15.787 to take pole away from Raikkonen by 0.028s. Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton had to settle for third place, only 0.052s off the pace.

And with rain expected tomorrow the top three places on the grid could prove to be the podium result as well.

Qualifying Report
After a rainy start to the day and an officially wet morning practice, the track was cool and drying with sunshine about to break out. The ambient was only 19C and the track at 21C when the session got under way on a track that had a lot of the rubber put down on Thursday washed off.

Qualifying 1
Heikki Kovalainen had gone fastest in morning practice and then touched the barrier, so he was keen to get out on track and learn as much as possible about the changed conditions. Likewise David Coulthard had suffered an oil pressure problem in his Red Bull and needed track time.

With cars putting in two, three and sometimes four laps, the provisional fastest time yoyo'd between Coulthard, Sebastian Vettel and Heikki Kovalainen. Then Kimi Raikkonen came out early and put in multiple laps to get an idea of what was going on.

Kovalainen reduced P1 to 1:16.806 before Felipe Massa joined in and lowered it to 1:16.60. Kovalainen snatched it back with a 1:16.315 while Nico Rosberg's first lap out of the pits was an incredible 1:16.116.

A long way further back Nelson Piquet was doing his Renault chances no favours by going straight on at St. Devote.

Kimi Raikkonen claimed P1 on his third lap on hard tyres with a 1:15.717, which Lewis Hamilton nicked inside with a 1:15.582.

In the last three minutes the bottom half of the grid was 11.Barrichello, 12.Heidfeld, 13.Button, 14.Vettel, 15.Trulli, 16.Sutil, 17.Nakajima, 18.Piquet, 19.Bourdais, 20. Fisichella.

Usually the tail-enders have the circuit to themselves, but in Monaco even drivers who were safely through to Q2 wanted to try things out. Kovalainen came back out on track to take P1 with a 1:15.295, while in the dying moments Felipe Massa reduced it to a remarkable 1:15.190 - the writing was on the wall.

Nakajima jumped up to 14th place, Coulthard cemented his position in the top ten with 8th, Button moved forward to 10th, but Nelson Piquet could only manage 16th place. Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais improved his time, but not by enough.

Out went:
The major casualty was Nelson Piquet who failed to make Q2 for the second race in succession.

Qualifying 2
Fernando Alonso came out on track first and set the benchmark time of 1:16.511, Kimi Raikkonen was again out early and took P1 off him with a 1:15.404 while Felipe Massa showed that he was consistently quick from session to session with a 1:15.110.

While the Ferraris had hit form, the McLarens were struggling to match their pace - Lewis Hamilton's first lap was a 1:14.420 for P3, he went round again for another quick lap on the softer tyre and managed a 1:15.374 to get inside Raikkonen's time for P2, but not by much. Then Nico Rosberg set the Williams mechanics hearts thumping with a rapid 1:15.287 for P2

Going into the last three minutes, the men who would definitely have to go again were: 7.Webber, 8.Coulthard, 9.Glock, 10.Trulli, 11.Barrichello, 12.Heidfeld, 13.Alonso, 14.Barrichello, 15.Nakajima.

Trulli, who'd been surprisingly behind his rookie team-mate's pace, suddenly made the major leap forward to take P7, Alonso - who had sounded thoroughly dejected on his team radio - grabbed P9. Then the cameras focused on a solitary wheel rolling along the tarmac by the harbour front with no sign of an accompanying car.

Replays eventually showed that David Coulthard had lost control of his Red Bull in the braking zone for the tunnel hairpin, slewed violently sideways into the barrier and headed straight down the escape road out of sight of any camera. Minus a wheel. The Scot was uninjured but even though he had managed to claim 10th place, had no car to compete in Q3.

Out went:
14. Nakajima

The major casualty of the session was BMW's Nick Heidfled - Robert Kubica had got his car up to P5 and Heidfeld was seven places back. Timo Glock, having performed well in Q1 and the first half of Q2 lost out at the last minute.

Qualifying 3
So far Felipe Massa had been fastest in every session, but with Ferrari only scoring two Monaco poles in the last 20 years and McLaren having dominated on Friday it was expected that Lewis Hamilton or maybe Kovalainen might pull something special in the last session.

Kovalainen duly registered provisional P1 with a 1:16.621 and Hamilton took it off him with a 1:16.313. Both these times were rendered inadequate by Kimi Raikkonen's 1:16.112. Team-mate Felipe Massa could only manage P3 while Robert Kubica then put in a storming lap to grab P2 with a 1:16.233.

Going into the final laps the order was: 1.Raikkonen 2.Kubica 3.Hamilton 4.Massa 5.Kovalainen 6.Alonso 7.Webber 8.Rosberg 9.Trulli 10.Coulthard (not running).

Raikkonen lowered the pole time to a 1:15.815 and Lewis Hamilton set about beating it. Crossing the line the McLaren driver was agonisingly short with a 1:15.839. Seconds later, the self-confessed Monaco hater Felipe Massa crossed the line with a truly amazing 1:15.787.

Massa and Raikkonen had delivered a Monaco shock, (in the FIA press conference he was still struggling to believe it) but one that had been signalled by some very quick laps in Q1 and Q2, vouching that this wasn't a front row bought by low fuel in the car.

Hikkei Kovalainen will line up with his team-mate in P4, while Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso will share the third row.

With rain predicted for the race tomorrow and no traction control to help the drivers out, Massa will have the best view on the circuit - whether his newly found love affair with the Monaco GP continues remains to be seen, but he couldn't have given himself a better opportunity.


01 F. Massa Ferrari 1:15.787
02 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:15.815
03 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:15.839
04 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:16.165
05 R. Kubica BMW 1:16.171
06 N. Rosberg Williams 1:16.548
07 F. Alonso Renault 1:16.852
08 J. Trulli Toyota 1:17.203
09 M. Webber Red Bull 1:17.343
10 D. Coulthard Red Bull no time
11 T. Glock Toyota 1:15.907
12 J. Button Honda 1:16.101
13 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:16.455
14 K. Nakajima Williams 1:16.479
15 R. Barrichello Honda 1:16.537
16 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:16.806
17 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:16.933
18 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:16.955
19 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:17.225
20 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:17.823

Dennis suggests Hamilton is heavily fuelled - NEWS

Saturday 24th May 2008

McLaren boss Ron Dennis has hinted that Lewis Hamilton could be on a different strategy to the two Ferraris after the Englishman was relegated to the second row in qualifying for the Monaco GP.

Having dominated in practice, Hamilton was the favourite to take pole on Saturday but was surprisingly eclipsed by both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen.

However, with what may or may or not be a ruse or a telling hint, Dennis has insisted that McLaren can still win the race, on a circuit on which it is notoriously difficult to overtake, through a superior 'strategy'.

"We go to every race to do our best, and again we are very close here," said Dennis. "Until the strategies unfold, we won't really know whether we are behind or ahead.

"It is very easy to come to Monaco and say, right, we are going to qualify on the front row regardless, but if you go too far then you are going to lose the race because you are going to stop too soon.

"So we'll just have to see how things unfold. It is obviously very close, and we don't have an uncompetitive car, and there are lots of developments going through the system, so we have a long way to go."

In a broader hint that both Hamilton and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, who will start the race from fourth, are more heavily fuelled than both Raikkonen and Massa, Dennis continued: "Especially in Monaco you can destroy your race with a smaller fuel load and it is easy to make a wrong decision in that respect," he said.

"With a good start, and if we can stay out longer, even from the second row it is possible to win here. We have a good strategy and I expect a very hard fought race in hopefully good weather conditions."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lewis crowned F1's King Of Bling - NEWS

Friday 16th May 2008
Lewis, Gabrielle Assis, Dennis

Lewis, Gabrielle Assis, Dennis

Lewis Hamilton has been crowned F1's 'King of Bling', showing off his new diamond-studded helmet that he'll be using in Monaco.

Presenting the helmet in all its glory at a Steinmetz press conference on Thursday, the British driver declared: "Bling, bling, I love it.

"Diamonds are a beautiful thing. I'm always racing but sometimes you get some of the nice quirks and bonuses and I guess this is it."

The McLaren duos' helmets, each with the drivers' signature traced out with hundreds of gems, are the creation of diamond company Steinmetz.

Hamilton and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen are also set to receive diamond rings form Steinmetz, one of McLaren's sponsors.

But more than being the 'King of Bling', Hamilton is hoping to be crowned F1's new king of Monaco, a grand prix that he bills as the "most exciting race of the year.

"It's the race to win, and for sure this year I want to make that step up."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lewis Hamilton is bigger than McLaren - OPINION

14 May 2008 by Keith Collantine

This article was written by Keith from Keith is a fervent F1 fan and has some good insights into the sport, therefore I have reproduced his writing here as I feel nomatter how passionate you are about anything, there must be balance. The truth will remain the truth nomatter how it is twisted and turned.

Lewis Hamilton, Istanbul, McLaren-Mercedes, 2008, 2, 470150

The news that Lewis Hamilton is courting a £10m sponsorship deal with Reebok is interesting not because of the amount of money involved, but because of what it says about his relationship with McLaren.

When people started talking about the immense marketing potential of F1’s first successful mixed-race driver F1 fans were quick to note that McLaren may stop him from maximising that value.

McLaren generally do not allow their drivers to arrange personal sponsorship deal (nor do many of the other top teams, it seems) but an exception is being made for Hamilton just as it was for his hero Ayrton Senna when he joined the team 20 years ago.

Senna was allowed to bring personal sponsorship from Brazilian bank Nacional with him (see picture below). Hamilton and father/manager Anthony apparently have negotiated the same exemption from McLaren’s usual rules on driver personal sponsorship that Senna had.

Football fans are familiar with players who become bigger than their clubs - David Beckham at Manchester United being an example. Is this a sign Hamilton is going down the same route?

According to The Times, Hamilton’s annual earnings now exceed Beckham’s, making him the highest-paid British sportsperson, and may be bolstered in the near future by another deal with Pepsi. The rights to his autobiography were sold last year for a reported £2m and both the hardback and paperback are among the top ten F1 books on Amazon (even though it’s rubbish).

McLaren must be wary of the phenomenon of the driver becoming bigger than the team. Even with a driver of Senna’s genius, indulging it at the team’s expense ended up compromising the outfit. By 1993 McLaren had lost their works Honda engine deal and the cost of meeting Senna’s salary demands plus paying for engines ate into the budget for car development. After Senna left it was four years before the team won another Grand Prix.

Ironically the announcement comes mere days after a Hamilton was ridiculed in the press for a truly awful public relations stunt for McLaren principal sponsor Vodafone, in which he appeared in a stage production of Troy. His Reebok contract better rule out further such nonsense with fellow ‘brand ambassadors’ Thierry Henry, Amir Khan, 50 Cent and Jay-Z.

Ayrton Senna, Spa-Francorchamps, McLaren, 470313

Hamilton tops the timesheets in France - NEWS

Thursday 15th May 2008

Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets at the end of the opening session of a three-day test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.

The Briton lapped the 3.593-km track layout in a best time of 1:05.600 as the McLaren team focused their efforts on preparing the MP4-23 chassis for the high-downforce Monaco Grand Prix on May 25.

However, his day wasn't without problem as he came to a halt out on track.

Hamilton, currently joint second in the Drivers' Championship behind Kimi Raikkonen, will relinquish driving duties on Thursday as Heikki Kovalainen takes over.

The sole Ferrari of Raikkonen was second quickest on Wednesday, almost half a second slower than Hamilton having completed 19 more laps, while BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica was third after 124 laps.

Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber finished the day in fourth place ahead of stable mate Sebastian Vettel, who impressed in the new Toro Rosso car with a time of 1min 6.372secs, less than three hundredths of a second behind Webber's sister car.

The endurance award went to Nico Rosberg, who completed a mammoth 154 laps in the Williams FW30, which was sporting a new shark-fin engine cover.

Alex Wurz was seventh for Honda with a best time of 1:06.681, while Toyota tested a number of Monaco-specific aerodynamic revisions as Timo Glock went eighth fastest.

Tonio Liuzzi was ninth for Force India, while Renault's test driver Luca di Grassi was the slowest of the 10 drivers on show, posting a best lap almost two seconds slower than Hamilton's benchmark.

01 L. Hamilton McLaren 01:05.600 84 laps
02 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 01:06.098 103 laps
03 R. Kubica BMW 01:06.177 124 laps
04 M. Webber Red Bull 01:06.348 93 laps
05 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 01:06.372 91 laps
06 N. Rosberg Williams 01:06.571 154 laps
07 A. Wurz Honda 01:06.681 131 laps
08 T. Glock Toyota 01:06.936 93 laps
09 V. Liuzzi Force India F1 01:07.346 106 laps
10 L. Di Grassi Renault 01:07.430 146 laps

Lewis is Britain's best-paid sportsman - NEWS

Phew! Lewis' value keeps on going up and up. It's gonna be difficult to market him in Malaysia where the is not much money going around. Even if there is, the mentality here is that they must get a discount. Malaysians don't realise that to move ahead nowadays, we must be bold - best example is Dubai.

Wednesday 14th May 2008

Lewis Hamilton has moved into pole position as Britain's highest-paid sportsman, according to The Times' latest Rich List.

Hamilton, who came second in the Formula One World Championship during his rookie season last year, has eclipsed England football star David Beckham as the best-paid sportsman in Britain.

The 23-year-old already has a basic salary of £75 million with McLaren over the next five years.

Beckham's Los Angeles Galaxy salary and commercial endorsements earn him in the region of £16 million a year.

However, Hamilton is set to sign a sponsorship three-deal in the region of £10 million with Reebok which will make him one of the company's "global brand ambassadors".

McLaren, known for forbidding their drivers to sign personal image rights deals, has given their young star their full blessing to sign the mega deal with the sports equipment manufacturer.

"We can confirm that Lewis Hamilton's father and manager Anthony has been in discussions with Reebok with regard to a personal sponsorship for Lewis," a McLaren spokesperson said.

Hamilton is reportedly also in negotiations with drinks manufacturer Pepsi about a seven-figure deal.

It is believed the McLaren driver could command career earnings of more than £500 million over 10 years, which would put the £500 million Michael Schumacher earned during a 17-year career well in the shade.

Teams start testing in south of France - NEWS

Wednesday 14th May 2008

All 10 Formula One teams will be represented during three-days of testing at the Paul Ricard track in the south of France.

With the Monte Carlo and Montreal GPs next on the F1 calendar, the Paul Ricard track will give teams an opportunity to simulate Monaco and Canadian conditions.

Williams will be the latest team to try out a form of "shark-fin" engine cover during testing on Wednesday while Toyota have brought a radical new rear wing to the test.

Honda Racing boss Ross Brawn says the team will test some "visually interesting new parts" ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

"We have a track test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France to prepare for Monaco and Montreal, followed by an aero test at Barcelona to validate our next aerodynamic step," Brawn said.

"We should have some visually interesting new parts for Monaco, the highest downforce circuit so far.

"However we do not expect Monaco to be the highest downforce track of the year - our calculations show that Singapore will require even more. Montreal is at the opposite end of the spectrum with the demand placed on very high straight line speed."

Mixed reaction to budget cap - NEWS

Wednesday 14th May 2008

Formula One's budget cap is likely to start off at €175million during the 2009 season, according to Autosport.

The figure was revealed in a letter from FIA consultant Tony Purnell to Formula One teams.

The proposed cap - which excludes expenditure on engines, KERS systems, marketing costs or driver and team principal salaries - will start off with €175million after which it will be reduced to €140million by 2010, and €110million a year later.

However, opinion from team bosses on the budget cap has differed.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis believes it will be difficult to monitor the amount of money spent by different teams.

"I don't see a budget cap as a regulatory process more the application of common sense," Dennis said.

"I don't think it's a question of enforceability but if there's a general ability to control costs when you've got the complicity of companies that have their R&D facilities in other countries where these programmes are in very difficult to understand languages and documents."

Honda Racing CEO Nick Fry welcomed the introduction of the budget cap, but admits the finer details need to be discussed.

"Next year's figures are workable, but Honda is a little concerned about the glide-path, which needs more discussion," Fry said.

"By pushing the number too low, we may not only attract marginal operations but also alienate those at the top who want to develop high technology."

Renault's Flavio Briatore believes the budget cap won't affect his team too much.

"I already pay 40 per cent less than the cap. If I want to keep to the limit then I need to spend more. It's nonsense," Briatore said.

"Formula One is part of the environment and the economical situation and the sponsors, the manufacturers - we are part of the economical world. Maybe not today or tomorrow but surely in the future it will affect us. F1 needs to be competitive, F1 is a better show and less investment and costs less."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hamilton to sign $20m Reebok deal - NEWS

Joining Henry, Shevchenko and Khan in marketing deal


Fancy footwork from Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is to sign a lucrative personal sponsorship deal with Reebok.

The multi-million dollar deal, which is yet to be finalised or confirmed, is believed to be similar to the British sportswear brand's approximately $20m apiece 'global brand ambassador' agreements with footballers Thierry Henry and Andrei Shevchenko and boxer Amir Khan.

The marketing publication Brand Republic claims that McLaren, which does not usually allow its drivers to seek personal sponsors, has made an exception in this case because 23-year-old Hamilton is 'one of sport's most marketable stars'.

Reebok is owned by Adidas.

Source: GMM
© CAPSIS International

Lewis wants no repeat of last year's fiasco - NEWS

Tuesday 13th May 2008

Heading into Monaco Lewis Hamilton has urged McLaren not to repeat last season's mistakes by forcing one driver to allow the other to win.

Last year's Monte Carlo street race sparked the team-mate war that would dominate the headlines throughout the season as McLaren forced Hamilton to stay behind team-mate Fernando Alonso in the latter stages of the race.

It was a decision that irked the Brit, who felt he had the pace needed to overtake Alonso and win. However, McLaren told him to stand down.

This year McLaren could insist on the same situation, although this time it would be in Hamilton's favour as the 23-year-old has a clear 14-point advantage over new team-mate Heikki Kovalainen in the Drivers' standings.

The Brit though has urged McLaren not to pick a winner just yet. Rather he believes the Woking team should continue with their policy of allowing their drivers to race.

"He is an extremely talented driver, and I heard he had a fantastic race in Turkey," said Hamilton of Kovalainen. "He was just unfortunate, but I have no doubts he will be up at the front next time out.

"Felipe Massa had a couple of bad races and has bounced back.

"We are a team and I felt sorry for him (Kovalainen) that he was not able to compete in Turkey.

"If I am not winning then I wish he was and it is the same feeling vice-versa, so I want it to continue as it is, fair and square.

"It would not be right for the team to push me ahead of him."

Hamilton is currently second in the standings, seven points adrift of Championship leader. However, he hasn't won a race since the season-opening Australian GP.

The Brit, though, reckons that could change in Monaco as the street circuit has in the past been a happy hunting ground for McLaren.

"Monaco is the dream grand prix to win, the most important race to win personally," said Hamilton.

"If I feel I can win anywhere, it is definitely Monaco. But you have to be in the right place at the right time.

"And it is difficult to know exactly how we will do at Monaco because there are so many differences to Istanbul.

"Ferrari seem to be really quick in the slow corners, and although our performance will be really good, I don't think we will have the dominance we had last year because the teams are much closer.

"It depends if we can put together a better package for that weekend. I think we can, but it will be closer."

McLaren, not Bridgestone, behind three-stopper - NEWS

Tuesday 13th May 2008

According to reports, it was McLaren rather than Bridgestone that decreed that Lewis Hamilton should use a three-stop strategy during the Turkish GP.

In the aftermath of Hamilton's powerful drive to second place, it was claimed that his aggressive strategy was the consequence of Bridgestone advising the team that, due to Hamilton's unique driving style and the demands he makes on his front-right tyres when cornering Turn 8 at Istanbul, two-stopping was unsafe. However, the reality may have been subtly different.

It has emerged that Bridgestone instead cautioned the team against running a long middle stint, suggesting that Hamilton could run stints of 20 laps, 18 laps, and 20 laps. After calculating the likely results of such a pattern, the team's strategists then decided that a three-stop strategy would be better - presumably because that would mean the Englishman would only have to run a few handful of laps on soft tyres, a compound he struggled with all weekend.

Singapore timetable altered for more night running - NEWS

Tuesday 13th May 2008

The original timetable for the Singapore GP has been altered to include more night running after teams voiced concerns.

The FIA announced earlier this year that the Singapore race would take place under floodlights at 20:00 hours local time while Friday's second practice session and qualifying would also take place under lights.

However, in addition to the night programme, there would also be a daytime practice session on Friday from 16:00 to 17:30 hours and final practice on Saturday from 17:00 to 18:00 hours.

Some of the teams, though, voiced concerns about the lack of night running, especially after witnessing the first MotoGP race held at night in Qatar.

"At the beginning I was not relaxed but not so worried, but after I saw Qatar and I spent time there, I am not confident 100 percent now. I am talking about the safety of the drivers - because I am not worried about having to work all night if it is for our job," said Toro Rosso's team manager Massimo Rivola. "The safety issue we have to consider more carefully."

Toro Rosso's as well as other teams' concerns have resulted in a changes being made to the Singapore schedule, with all the sessions now taking place at night.

The Revised Turkish GP Schedule
Practice 1 Friday 19:00-20:30
Practice 2 Friday: 21:30-23:00
Practice 3 Saturday 19:00-20:00
Qualifying Saturday: 22:00-23:00
Race Sunday: 20:00

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Whitmarsh: Puncture cost Heikki the win - NEWS

Monday 12th May 2008

Heikki Kovalainen could have won Sunday's Turkish GP had it not been for the puncture he suffered on the opening lap, according to Martin Whitmarsh.

Kovalainen started the grand prix second on the grid, behind the Ferrari of Felipe Massa. However, it was a coming together with Massa's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen that caused the puncture.

Jostling for position as they came into the first corner, Raikkonen out-braked himself, touching the back of Kovalainen's McLaren and puncturing one of his tyres.

As a result the McLaren driver was forced to pit for a new tyre, which sent him to the back of the field. He spent the remaining 57 laps trying to work his way back into the points but eventually outside the top ten.

It was a disappointing outcome for the Finn as McLaren CEO Whitmarsh believes he had the pace and starting position needed to win the grand prix.

"If Heikki had not made that stop, he would have run longer than Felipe at the first stop and if he could have been close to Massa, which I think he could have been, he would have been able to take him at the first stop," he said.

"And the in qualifying with a reasonable fuel load onboard and had he been able to deploy and exploit that in the race, I've never known him as disappointed as this.

"He really felt he could win this race and as the race panned out, I think he knows he could have won it - and it eluded him. And that's disappointing.

"And I said to Heikki, he's absolutely right to be disappointed but on the other hand he wouldn't be so disappointed if he hadn't done such a great job to put himself in that position.

"He put himself in a position to win a race and he will win races this year and in the future and he really deserves to. He's an extraordinary chap."

More praise for Hamilton - NEWS

Monday 12th May 2008

Martin Whitmarsh has sung Lewis Hamilton's praises, saying the Brit was so good in Turkey he probably could have won even using a three-stop strategy.

Hamilton, starting third on the grid, was forced to adopt a three-stop strategy due to the unusual tyre wear he suffered lapping the Istanbul Otodrom.

It was a problem that some of the drivers experienced last season although this year after Bridgestone made changes to their tyres it was a problem only Hamilton suffered.

The McLaren driver was therefore forced into three-stopping, which cost him valuable time, however, sublime driving meant he still managed to beat Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to second place.

"If you conduct a straightforward computer simulation of the Turkish GP," said McLaren CEO Whitmarsh, "you'll find that a thee-stop strategy carries a penalty of about five seconds compared with a two-stopper, although in reality it takes longer than that because of traffic and other race situations.

"Even if Lewis had started from pole position, I wouldn't have fancied his chances of winning given that he was making three stops. After seeing the way he performed, however, I'm not so sure. He might just have done it."

However, whether this grand prix was Hamilton's "best race ever", as the McLaren driver said, Whitmarsh isn't too sure. "I don't really want to draw comparisons, but it was his best race this year," he said.

"The odds were against him but he was just flat out. His 'in' and 'out' laps were great and the team did a superb job during the pit stops. He took the race to Ferrari throughout."

Dennis hails 'phenomenal' Hamilton - NEWS

Monday 12th May 2008

McLaren boss Ron Dennis hailed Lewis Hamilton's Turkish Grand Prix performance as "a phenomenal drive."

Despite the team opting for a three-stop strategy due to safety fears regarding his tyres, Hamilton claimed a superb second place at the Istanbul Park circuit.

The 23-year-old finished within four seconds of Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who took the chequered flag for the third consecutive time at the track.

Hamilton and Massa are now both within seven points of reigning World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, who was forced to settle for third in his Ferrari.

"We saw a truly phenomenal drive from Lewis in which he optimised a three-stop strategy we were forced to adopt as a consequence of concerns we had with his tyres," remarked Dennis.

"It was a structural concern with the tyres, so we took a decision with Bridgestone to run three stops.

"We didn't want to have any tyre failure, and although we could have run two stops, we put the safety of the driver first.

"Lewis did a great job and we can now look forward to Monaco and Montreal."

There were fears Hamilton's slightly more aggressive driving style could have resulted in another 200mph blow out as witnessed at the track a year ago.

A Bridgestone spokesperson said: "Lewis had a specific problem last year, but several other drivers we noticed had internal tyre problems.

"Based on that, we changed the construction and strengthened it over the winter period and then brought those tyres to all the races this year.

"In actual fact, nobody else has had a repetition of any of those problems this year, with the exception of Lewis.

"He is the one driver who, perhaps with his style of driving, has put higher forces onto his front-right tyre."

'Massa could win the World title' - NEWS

Monday 12th May 2008

Rob Smedley, Felipe Massa's race engineer, reckons the Brazilian's Turkish GP victory has put him firmly in the hunt for this year's World title.

Massa joined Ferrari in 2006 as team-mate to Michael Schumacher. But while the German proved to be the strongest opposition to that year's winner, Fernando Alonso, Massa found himself playing second fiddle to his team-mate.

In 2007 he also had to watch as his new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen launched a title challenge while Massa's faded away due to reliability gremlins.

This season, though, the Brazilian's campaign got off to a disappointing start as he failed to score in either of the opening two races.

Massa, though, came back strong in Bahrain, clinching the victory, and adding another win to his tally in Turkey on Sunday.

His performances have led race engineer Smedley to suggest that Massa is now firmly in the hunt for this year's title.

"He's equal (on points) with Lewis now," he told ITV. "Three races ago we had no points.

"So he has come back fantastically - 28 points in three races is World Champion material."

McLaren explain cause of 'turnaround' - NEWS

Monday 12th May 2008

McLaren have suggested that their surprise 'turnaround' at the Turkish GP was the consequence of previously underperforming rather than a dramatic improvement in performance.

Even in their own preview to the race, McLaren struck a downbeat tone, suggesting that rivals Ferrari would hold the advantage. ""We didn't really shine here in the past, and also this time we are not the current benchmark," conceded Norbert Haug, "The team wants to score as many points as possible, but after three consecutive wins Ferrari obviously arrive here as the favourites."

With no testing between Spain, where Ferrari dominated and took their second successive one-two victory, there was no reason to suspect that McLaren would close the gap to the extent that, but for Heikki Kovalainen suffering a puncture on the opening lap and Bridgestone instructing Lewis Hamilton to use a 'sub-optimal' three-stop strategy, they probably should have won the race. So how did they achieve the apparent turnaround?

Pressed to supply an explanation by Autosport, MD Martin Whitmarsh was vague, intimating that it was just a matter of exploiting the full potential of the MP4-23.

"We've got a number of parts on the car and we're working hard to develop the car," he remarked. "I think it's easy to say coming out of a race that we've under-performed and we did a better job here with the car and Heikki from the very first run on Friday morning felt the car was strong and could really do the job here."

Explaining the reason for Hamilton three-stopping, which cost the McLaren driver vital seconds out on track, Whitmarsh said: "It was a decision we took on Saturday, before the third free practice session. We had concerns about tyre durability, although obviously we didn't advertise the fact. It affected Lewis in particular and we took a number of preventative measures. We increased tyre pressures on Saturday morning, but although that addressed the problem to a degree it didn't so do sufficiently to give us the margin we needed."

The McLaren CEO is now eagerly awaiting Monaco, a grand prix that has in the past been a happy hunting ground for McLaren. "Tthe team has a great history there and we are naturally looking to add to that this year. I think we'll be competitive and it's a circuit both our drivers like," he said.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Racing series LMS
Date 2008-05-11

By John Dagys -

I know this is a blog titled F1 but motorsports is my passion and motorsports is not just about F1, so I will put up news and comments about other races from time to time.

Team Peugeot Total took a dominating win Sunday in the Spa 1000km, the third round of the Le Mans Series season. The driving trio of Nicolas Minassian, Marc Gene and Jacques Villeneuve outlasted its sister machine and out powered the two Audi R10 TDIs to claim the overall victory, the final duel between the two diesel giants before next month's 24 Hours of Le Mans.

#7 Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 HDi FAP: Marc Gene, Nicolas Minassian, Jacques Villeneuve takes the checkered flag. Photo by DPPI.

The No. 7 Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP crossed the line after 143 laps and nearly five and a half hours of racing on the historic 4.532-mile Grand Prix circuit, claiming its second victory of the season, also continuing the Lion's undefeated record in the LMS. A close moment though came on lap 35 when Minassian and Allan McNish made contact, forcing both cars through the grass in Combes. The contact resulted in a tire puncture for the Audi.

"I suffered quite badly with oversteer during my first stint but everything returned to normal once new tires were fitted and I had a great scrap with McNish," Minassian said. "I left my braking as late as possible, and he braked even later, and we both end up crossing the grass. It was close, but perfectly fair and square! I spent the rest of the race enjoying the afternoon with my two team-mates."

As a warm-up to the twice-around-the-clock French enduro, Peugeot brought in Villeneuve and Alexander Wurz as third drivers for its cars this weekend. The French Canadian was obviously delighted with the team's decision as he claimed his first win in nearly 11 years, also gaining more experience behind the wheel of the diesel coupe.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the race," Villeneuve said. "We had a good fight and the three of us did a good job together. The weekend was excellent preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours and it was also very nice to win a race again. My last victory dated back to the 1997 Luxemburg Grand Prix!"

Audi came as close as ever to matching Peugeot's pace in the Series. However, for the third straight race, the German marquee was unable to close the deal in the end. Mike Rockenfeller and Alexandre Premat in the No. 2 Audi Sport Team Joest entry are getting used to runner-up finishes, as the duo scored their third straight second-place result. After holding a two-point lead in the drivers' championship following Monza, Rockenfeller and Premat are now tied with Minassian and Gene with 24 points a piece. But with the double finish, Audi takes the lead in the manufacturers' standings.

"We did what we were expected to do and what we'd set out to do: safely bringing the car home," Rockenfeller said. "Now we've finished in second place for the third time in a row and have got the same number of points as the leaders of the standings - if someone had told me that before the start of the season I I'm super happy. I want to thank Alex and the whole team. The car was great in the race and very safe to drive. So I'm satisfied as far as that goes, although I'd have preferred victory of course."

While the No. 7 machine enjoyed a near-flawless run in the Belgian sun, the pole-sitting No. 8 entry of Stephane Sarrazin, Pedro Lamy and Wurz failed to finish. Wurz, in his sports car debut, drove an excellent stint but got collected in an accident involving the No. 85 Snoras Spyker Squadron C8 of Ralf Kelleners and the No. 1 Audi Sport Team Joest R10 TDI of Dindo Capello.

#8 Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP: Pedro Lamy, Stéphane Sarrazin, Alexander Wurz clips #85 Snoras Spyker Squadron Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2R: Peter Dumbreck, Ralf Kelleners and crash into #1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R10 TDI: Allan McNish, Rinaldo. Photo by DPPI.

"I was pulling back in front of the Spyker when the rear right of my car hit it, and that sent me into a spin," Wurz explained. "I couldn't avoid hitting the Audi and I would like apologize for that, just as I would like to say sorry to everyone at Peugeot whose excellent work had given us a fantastic car."

Capello, who was running in second, lost three laps in the pits as the team made repairs to his Audi. Despite later losing an additional lap because of a three-minute penalty for a pit infraction, he and co-driver McNish finished fourth overall. But the duo's bad luck spell in the LMS continues.

"I really believed our luck would change for this race," Capello said. "We had a car to challenge for victory again. In each LMS race we have something unexpected happening and we have to recover. We show that our speed is good enough to fight for victory but at the moment just do not get onto the podium."

With trouble striking a Peugeot and Audi, the bottom step of the podium went to the top gasoline-fueled P1 car. The No. 6 Team Oreca Matmut Courage-Oreca LC70 Judd of Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre finished third, three laps behind the winning Peugeot. The Hugues de Chaunac-led effort recovered from a pit lane start that put the French entry one lap down. But more significantly, the team rebounded from their disastrous Monza outing, which saw the sister car of Stephane Ortelli suffer a massive accident.

The No. 16 Pescarolo Sport Judd of Jean-Christophe Boullion and Emmanuel Collard finished fifth overall, 14 seconds behind McNish and Capello's Audi. The once-dominant force of the Series, Pescarolo, has been unable to match the pace of the factory teams over the past two seasons, yet it's been in the hunt for top gasoline-fueled entry honors.

For the second time this season, Van Merksteijn Motorsport celebrated victory in LM P2. The Dutch Porsche RS Spyder of Jos Verstappen and team owner Peter van Merksteijn drove to a 10-second victory over the similarly prepared Horag Racing RS Spyder in second. Verstappen started the car on pole but faced a strong challenge from the Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola B08/80 Judd of Xavier Pompidou, who swapped the lead with the purple and white Porsche.

#34 Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche RS - Spyder: Jos Verstappen, Peter Van Merksteijn. Photo by Joseph van den Heuvel.

"It was by no means easy," Verstappen said. "There was a lot of action in this race and we had to remain focused all the time in order to avoid mistakes in the dense traffic. All the support from the Dutch fans with their banners opposite our pit box was a big motivation boost as well. You really notice that LMS racing is becoming more and more popular in The Netherlands."

The drive of the race though came from van Merksteijn himself, who drove the middle two hours, keeping up with the then-leading Porsche of Didier Theys. Known as a gentleman driver, van Merksteijn showed his muscle as he helped put his team back out in the championship lead.

"It was a spectacular race, a real classic in the best tradition of the Spa 1000 Kilometres," van Merksteijn said. "Once again, our car was perfect and the team did a tremendous job. Now, we are looking forward to Le Mans!"

Horag Racing came close to claiming its first win of the year following a strong race for Theys and co-driver Jan Lammers. Theys led the middle portion of the race and looked to have a win in the books. However, a slow up on the final pit stop cost the Swiss team valuable seconds, giving Verstappen the lead. Thanks to a late-race caution though, Lammers closed the gap to Vertappen, but came up 10 seconds short of victory.

"We were first for more than two hours," Theys said. "Jan [Lammers] started the race and had a good stint, then I got in and also had a good stint. Then Jan got in at the end too, and again, we had no problems. We had a good set-up. Neither Jan nor I had contact with anybody. It was a very nice and clean race for us, without any drama. The pit stops were perfect; everybody did a very good job."

Team Essex overcame a number of obstacles to give Porsche another 1-2-3 sweep of the podium in P2. The Danish team had a rough race, even before the start. Casper Elgaard ran into the back of the No. 46 Embassy Racing WF01 of Joey Foster before the green flag, causing the race to start under the yellow. This incident caused front bodywork damage to the RS Spyder, but also resulted in a three-minute stop-and-hold penalty later in the race. Elgaard and co-driver John Neilsen rebounded from the setbacks to make a late-race charge up the leaderboard to secure third place in class.

One team that looked to have a podium sealed up, if not the race win, was Speedy Racing Team Sebah. The Swiss-branded Lola B08/80 Judd of Xavier Pompidou, Andrea Belicchi and Steve Zacchia led portions of the race and took charge of the second half before mechanical gremlins struck the Lola coupe. The Hugh Hayden-led team finished sixth in class.

The fight for the LM GT1 crown looked to go in favor of a raging bull for the very first time, but a familiar French effort with a thundering American muscle car took top honors yet again. Luc Alphand Aventures' No. 72 Corvette C6.R of Guillaume Moreau, Patrice Goueslard and Luc Alphand claimed their second win of the year, edging out the unlucky IPB Spartak Racing Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT of Peter Kox and Roman Rusinov.

The Reiter Engineering-supported Lamborghini took control of the race until late when Rusinov was hit by a prototype under braking. This caused the Lamborghini's front bodywork to come loose and fly up into the windshield. Rusinov was forced to pit for a replacement piece, thus losing the lead to Moreau.

However, the Russian-backed entry finished second, two laps ahead of Monza winners Team Modena, which crawled to the line in third with drivers Tomas Enge and Antonio Garcia. The British Aston Martin DBR9 suffered a broken alternator belt, dropping them out of contention.

Without a doubt, LM GT2 provided one of the most exciting finishes in Series history. Virgo Motorsport's Rob Bell held off a hard-charging Marc Lieb by 0.184 seconds at the checkered flag to take the class win. Bell nursed his Dunlop-shod Ferrari F430 GT in the closing laps after getting punted off course by the Saulnier Racing Pescarolo. Instead of pitting for fresh tires and most likely throwing away the win, Bell elected to stay on course and defend his position over Lieb in the No. 77 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 997 GT3 RSR.

"It was fantastic for everyone," Bell said of the fight. "We fought with the No. 77 car for most of the race and it was fun and fair."

Bell used the most of his Ferrari, running wide on many occasions and even over-braking a corner. But he and co-driver Gianmaria Bruni tasted the victory champaign, their second of the season.

Lieb and co-driver Alex Davison finished second, with the team car of Christian Reid and father-and-son pairing Horst Felbermayr Sr. and Jr. finishing third, a popular podium finish for the gentleman drivers.

After three races in a six-week period, the Le Mans Series competitors take a three-month break before reconvening at the Nurburgring on August 15-17 for another 1000kms of racing. However, for most of these teams, the next stop will be Le Mans, for the "Grand Prix of Endurance" on June 14-15. With Peugeot 3-0 over Audi on European soil this year, could they pull off the historic 24 Hour win next month? Stay tuned...


11 May 2008 by Keith Collantine

A mistake by Bridgestone, Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier, created additional problems for McLaren this weekend. Even before the race got underway the Japanese manufacturer was openly admitting it had brought the wrong choice of compounds.

It chose the same combination of medium and hard tyres it brought last year, despite the race being much earlier in the calendar this year and therefore held in cooler conditions. Hirohide Hamashima, the director of Bridgestone motorsport tyre development, said yesterday:

I think for next season maybe we have to shift the [compound] one position softer. It is about 10-15 degrees celcius lower than we expected, so especially the medium compound has some graining until about 10 laps, then it vanishes gradually.

Hamashima denied this had caused any problems for the teams:

We have checked the car data from every team, and so far we have seen no problems. Last year we found the small problem on the Friday, but now we are very happy and we don’t face any trouble.

But according to McLaren that was not the case. Ron Dennis said after the race:

There was some internal delamination which Bridgestone were very good at picking up. We didn’t want to have any tyre failure. It was possibly okay to run two stops, but it was a bit more severe on Lewis’ and we put drivers’ safety first.

Lewis Hamilton added:

The reason we went with the three stopper was that Bridgestone were concerned. They thought the tyre was going to fail like it did last year and they made us do a three-stop as it was the safest route to go. Unfortunately that put us in not such a strong position to win the race.

Were the two problems related? If they aren’t then why did Hamashina claim they hadn’t had any problems? (If Dennis is feeling particularly paranoid, he may point out that it is not his cars that appear in Bridgestone’s television adverts, but those of a certain leading rival.)

It’s not easy to say how far was this Bridgestone’s fault and how far was it McLaren’s, although Bridgestone clearly made a mistake in the first place by failing to appreciate how different the conditions would be in Istanbul in May instead of September.

The difference in driving styles between the two McLaren drivers further complicates the picture. Hamilton is much harder on his tyres than most drivers including team mate Heikki Kovalainen. At the same circuit last year he suffered a tyre de-lamination during the race.

According to Dennis and Hamilton, they opted for a three-stop strategy out of concerns over safety at Bridgestone’s insistence. Under similar circumstances at Interlagos last year McLaren stuck to a short-stint strategy out of concerns that the tyres would not last, and Hamilton potentially lost the world championship because of that decision.

McLaren still haven’t gotten to grips with the rubber supplied by Bridgestone, but the tyre supplier’s mistake this weekend didn’t help.


Sunday 11th May 2008

Star of the Race
Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1st

Massa gets the verdict for Star of the Race based on Saturday and Sunday performance. In the race he was good, but he had a car that was widely predicted to be out of McLaren's reach. Hamilton's driving proved that not to be the case, but Lewis had already compromised his position by failing to get pole on Saturday. Massa made no such slip-up in Q3 and had a perfect start.

It is a tremendous result for the circuit owner. Bernie Ecclestone thought he had the title deeds to the track, but Felipe announced "I own this track" before the race. Now if that wasn't setting yourself up for a fall we don't know what is, but Massa delivered. Three poles converted to three wins in three years fully justifies ownership. But Massa really ought to do more to stop stray dogs getting onto his land. Who let the dogs out? Bruno Senna would like to find out.

Overtaking Move Of The Race
Lap 24, Lewis Hamilton on Felipe Massa

Though Heikki Kovalainen did more personal overtaking in one race than is seen in five years of the Spanish Grand Prix, most of the time he was overtaking cars where there was a quite disparate level of fuel. Otherwise he wouldn't have had such trouble overtaking Adrian Sutil's Force India early in the race.

That could also be said of Lewis Hamilton's move on Felipe Massa, but Lewis didn't have time to hang around, he had to overtake Massa immediately and get on with building a lead. It was reminiscent of Hamilton's move on Kimi Raikkonen at the Italian GP at Monza in 2007 when he came from a long way back and launched himself up the inside into Turn 1. For sure, Massa thought he was in trouble and tried his very hardest to outbrake the McLaren into the final complex of turns - to no avail.


Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1st
The win is just what Massa needs as we head towards Monaco and a track he's never really looked comfortable at. Felipe had to halt Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari charge and now with 28 points from three races he has certainly done that. A perfect weekend.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 2nd
In Barcelona McLaren were fortunate to finish as close to the Ferraris as they did. In Istanbul Ferrari were flat out and only beat them by a few seconds. What's more, the McLaren team demonstrated that they've put some distance between themselves and BMW.

Given that Hamilton's strategy was dictated by Bridgestone advice about how long his tyres would last (Lewis having punctured last year) it was a fantastic performance.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 3rd
Kimi is a lucky lucky boy. At the start going into Turn One he only just got his Ferrari stopped in time to avoid losing his front wing against Kovalainen's rear tyre. As it was, he hit the McLaren tyre hard enough to puncture it and ruin his fellow Finn's race. Had he lost his nose, there would have been no way back to the points with 17 out of 20 cars finishing.

Raikkonen is very pragmatic about these things and will probably view his race as six points saved rather than two lost to Lewis and four to Felipe. He knows his races will come.

Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, BMW, 4th and 5th
This was more like one of the races from 2007 where BMW were streets ahead of the mid-grid but had lost contact with the pace of Ferrari and McLaren. Ron Dennis had predicted this might happen and the Ron Prophecy was coming good.

Yet again BMW were having trouble with their radio communication, as witnessed by the big block capitals on Kubica's pitboard NO RADIO. You'd have thought he might have sussed that by the lack of voices in his helmet. Either that or they could speak to him but he couldn't speak back, at which point they could have used the coded message: "Zere is no radio!"

Fernando Alonso, Renault, 6th
Alonso did well to nab a place off Webbo at the start and despite coming in very early managed to keep ahead of the Red Bull.

Kovalainen's demise meant that the 7th place they were targeting was exceeded.

Mark Webber, David Coulthard, Red Bull, 7th and 9th
Webbo brought his car home in the points again and it will be a relief to see the team's reliability problems of last year slipping into the shadows. What's more, despite some close racing, David Coulthard managed to bring his car home without hitting anyone or being hit by anyone. And he made it into Q3 on Saturday...

Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, 8th
More points for Williams, but better still they are outpacing the factory team.

Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 17th
Uncork the champagne, Sebastian finished a race.

Herman Tilke, Istanbul Otodrome Circuit Designer
The wheel-to-wheel duels through the final complex of corners were the best F1 action we've seen on televison this year. Thanks to Kovalainen, Glock, Piquet, Coulthard and Button for making it an entertaining race.

Though it has to be said that if McLaren hadn't suffered a puncture with Kovalainen and been forced to put Hamilton on a three-stop strategy it could have been a lot more snoozy than it turned out.


Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 12th
McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh came out and said that Heikki could have won the race today. It's a bit of a stretch of the imagination considering the Finn's poor getaway meant he would likely have been stuck behind Robert Kubica till the first pit-stops - by which time Massa was already eight seconds in front of the BMW driver.

What it does reveal is that McLaren think of themselves as a two-driver team. If Heikkii is as fast as Lewis at Monaco that could be very interesting.

Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, DNF
Nakajima was minding his own business trying to turn left when a Force India tried to drive through him. He would never have scored points from so far back, but it would have been good experience taking Turn 8 for 58 laps.

Ginacarlo Fisichella, Force-India,DNF
Just when we started to get complimentary about Fisichella he goes and acts like a GP2 driver with the ink not dry on his superlicence. How rubbish a start was that? For a driver who's made 199 previous grand prix starts it was as rubbish as it gets. Deductions of 10 grid places don't really work for back-of-the-grid teams though I'm sure Mike - the Rottweiler -Gascoyne might have some candid words for him in the privacy of the motorhome.

Nelson Piquet Junior, Renault, 15th
Piquet's poor qualifying on Saturday had already sealed his weekend, and though he showed some brass nerve in the race by shoving Jenson Button into the pitlane during an overtaking manoeuvre, that was as good as it got. Mild-mannered ginger bloke Button might not take that personally - considering he could have forced Piquet over the kerbs the corner before - but we know some drivers who would have.

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello Honda, 11th and 14th
Not a particularly great way to celebrate 257 races, cruising along on the wrong strategy with no hope of a points finish, but at least Rubens has broken Patrese's record.

Way way back in the mists of time (1986 actually) Jacques Laffite was about to break Graham Hill's then record of 176 GP starts. He broke both legs in a shunt at the start of the British GP at Brands Hatch and never raced an F1 car again. So it could have been worse.

The Blundell - git orf me barra Analysis
Rather than pick up the sultry gems of Blundell's punditry - the stagnant yellow flag etc - we thought we'd concentrate on the nuts and bolts of his analysis.

On Timo Glock in Q2: "I think he done a good job."

On qualifying: "Wevver there's something there wot's going to come out of the woodwork in qualifying we'll have to see."

On Kubica's chances in Q3: "I fink he's got something there he can muster up for his qualifying lap."

On Massa's chances for the race: "He's been here on a couple of times previous."

On Raikkonen's P4 in qualifying: "He just had a sector what blew out on him."

On Massa's set up: "He likes to have a front end what blends off the turn."

James Allen's Murray Moment
In Qualifying, Rubens Barrichello had already been firmly eliminated in Q2 - we were halfway through Q3 when the TV coverage switched to Lewis Hamilton's onboard camera - clearly visible was the trademark yellow helmet and the red McLaren front wing:
James: We jump back on board with Rubens Barrichello.
Surprisingly, there was no attempt to correct this. Muzza would have been proud of him.

Andrew Davies


Sunday 11th May 2008

Kimi Raikkonen was happy with his third-place finish at the Turkish Grand Prix after a problematic race weekend.

The Finn made a poor start on Friday when he picked up a gearbox problem and also didn't have the best of time during Saturday's qualifying.

To compound problems, the Ferrari driver's front wing was damaged during a collision with McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen on the opening lap in Turkey.

"I think it wasn't the best qualifying for me, and maybe our weakest point," Raikkonen said.

"We had a bit more fuel than the others, that is the reason (we were slow) but also the lap was not as good as we wanted. It all started on Friday when we had a problem.

"We had a difficult weekend and I'm happy to be third. I didn't lose too many points. We'll see what we can do in the next few races.

"I didn't have a very good start.

"I got alongside (Kovalainen) under braking and got inside and tried to slow down. He turned in a bit and we touched. I broke the front wing and he got a puncture. It is racing.

"We chose to use the front wing all race as it takes too long to change it. It was difficult weekend but at least we got some points."

But despite finishing third, Raikkonen maintains his lead in the Drivers' Standings. The Finn has a seven point lead over team-mate Felipe Massa and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.


Sunday 11th May 2008

Lewis Hamilton may have missed out on the victory in Turkey but the McLaren driver says for him his second-placed finish still gave him that winning feeling.

Hamilton has failed to win a grand prix since Australia, instead having to watch as rivals Ferrari clinched four on the trot and took a commanding lead in both Championship races.

However, instead of getting down on himself about his current situation, Hamilton is finding comfort from other aspects of his racing.

"I am so thrilled with today's result, and I think this is the best race ever for me. It's not about winning, it's about feeling that you extract 100% from yourself and the car and I did that today," Hamilton said.

"Before the race our prediction was that all being well I would finish fifth, so second is such a bonus."

And he secured that second place using a risky three-stop strategy, which McLaren opted to employ after falling short of pole position in Saturday's qualifying and experiencing severe tyre problems earlier in the weekend.

"I was not happy with my performance yesterday and perhaps if I had managed to get the car on pole I could have won," he added.

"However, we knew that we would have to use a three stop strategy as a precaution as we had some issues with our tyres.

"The team did a fantastic job, the pitstops were great, and the balance of the car was superb, and we all kept our spirit up. There were no problems with the tyres in the race.

"I managed to overtake Felipe at one point, and I really think we have closed the gap to Ferrari."

The 23-year-old has now set his sights on Monte Carlo, a race that should suit the McLaren MP4-23. "I am so excited about the next race in Monaco and just can't wait."

After five races Hamilton is third in the Championship, tied on 28 points with Felipe Massa. The duo trail Kimi Raikkonen by seven points.


Sunday 11th May 2008

From the outside, Felipe Massa appeared to be serene and unruffled throughout the Turkish GP as he secured victory. In reality, it would seem as if the young Brazilian was rattled by the unexpected challenge of Lewis Hamilton.

On a surprise three-stop strategy, the Englishman kept pace with Massa from start to finish, and even overtook the Ferrari around the half-way stage of the race. While one thought was that Massa had allowed Hamilton to pass him without much of a confrontation because he realised that his rival was on a different, less threatening strategy, the Brazilian was in fact caught entirely unawares by the speed of the McLaren.

"We had to keep him calm by telling him that Hamilton was three-stopping and the race would come back to him if he kept his head," Rob Smedley, Massa's race engineer, revealed to ITV.

Massa himself made no attempt to deny he was alarmed by the sight of the McLaren charging past him.

"It was a very difficult race," he reflected. "Lewis was pushing hard from the start, I thought he was light, but when I did my pit stop I thought he was straight away there so I thought maybe had less fuel, and the team told me he was on three stops and for sure that was a help.

"He was strong and I could not hold him on track so he passed me. I knew I still had a big chance to win the race as three stops was quite optimistic."

He added: "It was difficult, but we made it. A third win in Turkey is just amazing."

The Brazilian also concedes that there was a time he was worried that Ferrari may have chosen the wrong tyres. "It was a very difficult day to choose the tyres because the difference was not so big from the soft and the hard. Even on the first lap and during the run, the hard was much better on Friday but we were really keen to use the soft today.

"Then I saw Lewis going very quickly with the hard and we thought maybe that was a little bit of a mistake but on the last run the car was easy on hards so maybe the right choice was to choose the hard."

Looking ahead to the next race, the Monaco GP, the Brazilian reckons Ferrari could face a tough challenge as the streets of Monte Carlo have in the past suited the McLarens. "McLaren were very strong there (last season). We have been working a lot on the set-up for Monte Carlo, so hopefully we will have a good car and can win there."

Massa has secured 28 points from a possible 30 in the last three races and now trails team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in the Drivers' Standings by seven points.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


11/05/08 15:54

Felipe Massa has claimed his third straight victory at Istanbul Park, taking the chequered flag four seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton in a race of tyre and fuel strategy. Kimi Raikkonen finished in third position to retain his lead at the head of the championship standings.

Massa drove a great race, keeping his cool when Hamilton breezed by him to take the race lead. The McLaren driver also had a good race, opting for an unconventional three stop strategy to challenge for the race win and ultimately only lose out to the flying Massa by a small margin. Massa’s victory moves him second in the championship from fourth, tied with Hamilton.

The start of the race saw Massa convert his pole into the race lead while Raikkonen lost ground to Robert Kubica. Front-row starter Heikki Kovalainen was the man to lose out as Raikkonen’s front wings caught Kovalainen’s rear tyre forcing the Finn to make an unscheduled stop for a new set of tyres.

As Massa and Hamilton pulled away at the front, Raikkonen tailed Kubica but did not make any real impression until the BMW Sauber driver pitted. A string of fast laps from the championship leader saw him regain third position but even then he seemed comfortable with the position and did not continue to push.

Hamilton’s third and final stop saw him exit the pits just ahead of the second Ferrari, holding the position to the chequered flag.

It was an impressive performance from Hamilton while Raikkonen could - and probably should have pushed to ensure he finished second to his team-mate.

It was a pretty lonely race for the BMW Sauber duo as Kubica finished fourth, 17 seconds behind Raikkonen while team-mate Nick Heidfeld made a good start and then picked up another two positions in the first round of stops to finish an equally distant fifth. It was a pretty good result after a tough weekend for the Swiss-based team.

Fernando Alonso got the jump on Mark Webber at the start of the race and had a relatively trouble-free run to sixth position in his Renault, ten seconds ahead of the leading Red Bull Renault. For Webber, seventh position was a solid result, with points now in the last four Grand Prix.

After a poor showing in qualifying, Nico Rosberg charged hard in the 58-lap Grand Prix to take the final points paying position for Williams Toyota. David Coulthard was ninth in the second Red Bull Renault, crossing the line four seconds behind Rosberg.


Sunday 11th May 2008

McLaren boss Ron Dennis has revealed that Lewis Hamilton's three-stop strategy in the Turkey GP was the consequence of concerns about tyre degradation.

Hamilton surprised onlookers with his exciting but risky strategy, which required the Englishman to retain a dramatic on-the-edge pace throughout the two-hour race. While the strategy paid dividends in so much as Hamilton finished ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Dennis afterwards revealed that it was actually enforced on the team.

"Our strategy was linked to a tyre problem that we experienced in practice on Friday in terms of the tyre structure. We had to take what was the very safe option of three stops."

So rather than Hamilton ending Ferrari's run of 1-2 victories because of the strategy change, Dennis depicted Hamilton's second place as being secured in spite of the ploy.

"We had the pace to win," he maintained. "We could have done better but it is a good feeling to be so competitive."


Well, the race is done and over with. The result - Massa, Hamilton and Raikonnen. Damn, another Ferrari domination. It would've been different had Kovalainnen not gotten a puncture as a result of Kimi hitting his rear tyres at turn one.

It was quite an exciting race compared to the others so far this season. A lot of overtaking and strategy mixing up. Obviously Kovalainnen's strategy was screwed up at turn one when after the puncture he h dropped down to last place. His fight back up the grid to 11th place was incredible to watch. He should be the man of the race.

Kimi didn't start very good, Kovalainnen lost a place but Lewis was great. He took 2nd straight away and stayed under Massa's rear wing for a long time. Lewis' strategy change where he did short pitstops to stay with the Ferraris was good too, I was thinking WTF was McLaren thinking but they pulled it off.

All in all, a good race and now the championship race gets more interesting heading to Monaco. Monaco is said to be a good track for McLaren, so I'm hoping for a good finish for them - hopefully a 1-2. Meanwhile, next week there is testing at Paul Ricard.