Friday, October 31, 2008


If there's one thing that we've learned through the turmoil of the 17 widely differing GPs of 2008 it's... expect the unexpected. Just when you thought you could anticipate what would happen next in F1 - something else happened. It was going to be a Ferrari vs McLaren fight...and then BMW joined in.

Lewis Hamilton was making too many mistakes... and then drove the race of his life at Silverstone, Felipe Massa looked a spent force in Germany...and then he drove his heart out in Hungary. Kimi Raikkonen looked on for a shed-load of points after his win in Spain...and then didn't win at all, the Renault team were going to struggle to get on the podium this season...and then won two races, and most exciting of all, Toro Rosso's position looked under threat...and then they won a race...from the front.

It's been a season of extraordinary upsets, extraordinary decisions and right now, playing off camera, an extraordinary row between the manufacturers and the FIA over the introduction of standard engines.

If McLaren needed a diversion to keep the focus of attention way from their boy at Interlagos then the FIA has certainly provided one. The idea that they could put a tender out to an engine manufacturer (who wasn't already involved in F1, none of the teams will bid) to provide a standard engine is completely at odds with the goal of making it the pinnacle of motorsport. And though they have said that they're suggesting it in a bid to preserve F1, there is nothing more calculated to destroy it than to tell Honda, Toyota, Mercedes, Renault, BMW and Ferrari they can't bring their own engines.

It's way up there with Max's idea from a few years back that drivers should swap teams from race to race. He was always fascinated to find out what Michael would have been like driving a Minardi. And the answer we already knew was - faster than any other Minardi driver. That 'plan' was more mischief than anything else, but the standard engine is either one big negotiating lever, or the grim reaper for F1 as we know it.

Back to Brazil, the most predictable outcome would be a redwash at the front. This race is as close to a guaranteed Ferrari 1-2 as you can get. The cars were untouchable in 2007 for a 1-2 and would have been in 2006 if Michael Schumacher hadn't got a puncture early on. Felipe Massa will hope to repeat his 2006 triumph, with Raikkonen following him home.

However the logic of the 2008 season is that something else will happen. Already the weather prediction for the weekend is light rain on Friday, rain on Saturday and showers on Sunday. And as we know, nothing defeats predictions more than rain.

Rain is not good news for Ferrari because Felipe Massa had demonstrated that he doesn't perform as well in wet conditions. Lewis Hamilton may be able to race supremely in the wet, but as we saw in Monza qualifying, the McLaren can glaze its brakes, so one tyre choice at the wrong moment could make the difference between winning and losing the World Championship.

It would be a dreadful anticlimax if something terminal happened to Felipe Massa or Lewis Hamilton early in the race, but in wet races the level of jeopardy is always increased.

McLaren come to the race with a lot more new bells and whistles attached to the car and have a clear seven-point advantage in the drivers' title race, but a bigger disadvantage in the constructors's Championship. Though Ferrari are keen to stress how important and prestigious that is, no-one's really convinced. It's the ugly bridesmaid compared to the voluptuous bride. To use a Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross analogy, it's the sympathy shag of F1.

McLaren will go for the main prize. And what they really need to do is get Heikki Kovalainen into the thick of the action. Ever since Monza he's played a remote role, unlike Massa's understudy, who'se mostly been faster than him.

If the front end of the grid stays predictable then further back down the field there'll hardly be enough points to change positions. Kovalainen needs a couple of points to haul himself ahead of Alonso for 6th in the drivers' title and Jarno Trulli and Sebastian Vettel are level on 30 points each as they battle for 8th place.

McLaren need 11 points just to draw level with Ferrari in the constructors' table (unlikely) and BMW need 10 to trump McLaren for second place (also unlikely). Renault are firmly 4th, Toyota firmly 5th, but only five points separate Toro Rosso and Red Bull, currently in 6th and 7th, with Williams three points further back in 8th.

Though many of the drivers have professed that they'd sooner Felipe win the title than Lewis, that kind of emotion usually goes out of the window when they're sat behind the wheel. Only Alonso is prepared to put his car in the line of fire, but having voiced his support for Massa so openly and so candidly, should anything happen in the race then he'd be running the risk of bringing the sport into disrepute.

My own personal view is that it will be a shocking weekend. No matter who wins I will be disconsolate. For this race marks the end of...well...Mark. Unless someone at the BBC has an enormous sense of humour, the beloved ITV pundit Mark "Git orf me barra" Blundell will be filing his last report.

Readers (with access to ITV) revel in the last references to "the guys" and "stuff what he is alluding to" and "the equipment what he has under him". We shall not see his like again.

Andrew Davies

Source : Planet F1


The weather could have a big say on where the World Championship ends up this season as wet conditions are expected in Sao Paulo over the weekend.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Felipe Massa will go head-to-head for the Drivers' Title on Sunday. Hamilton has the edge over local hero Massa as he takes a seven-point lead into the season finale.

Massa's task could be even tougher this weekend if the weather gods fail to play along. The Ferraris have struggled to make much of an impact during wet races while Hamilton relishes driving in the rain.

Showers are expected during qualifying on Saturday afternoon as well as during the race on Sunday and there are fears the demanding track could break down.

The FIA have already given Interlagos the green light, but tests have revealed that heavy rain could cause problems.

Race organisers therefore decided to make last-minute adjustments to the track and added grooves to parts of the surface to improve drainage.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


It's interesting looking at the upcoming race which happens to be the last of the season and the title decider. A lot is riding on Lewis' and Massa' shoulders this weekend. Perhaps more on Lewis' shoulders for many reasons but it would seem that the heaviest burden he is carrying would be to become the first black world champion.

Sometimes I feel that the whole F1 world is against a black driver winning and being so good. It's like they are shocked that a black guy could be so good. Maybe they are willing to go the extra mile to make sure it doesn't happen. Eddie Jordan is making a point about it. Makes sense.

And what is all this talk about Lewis' arrogance? Yes, I admit he does sound arrogant nowadays and personally, I'd like him to tone it down a bit but if you're looking for arrogance, look no further than Maranello and Mr Montezemollo. That is arrogance at it's finest.

Anyway, looking at this weekend's race, a lot is at stake. Lewis has to be calm and focused. I'd be looking out for Massa as he is surely desperate for the title which is a Massa trait - being desperate that is. It shows on his face all the time. Maybe he won't try to crash into Lewis, we have to look out for Kimi.

Whatever it is, lets try to enjoy the race and no cheating please.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Wow, it's been a while since I've written anything here on my own. It was due to my busy schedule as we've had the Malaysian round of the MotoGP recently and I was working at the paddock for 5 days straight. That was tiring. At least I got s Stoner signed cap for it.

Then I started work on my new job at Johnson Controls Malaysia and it has been non stop. Now I'm on the night shift starting at 2am. And finally my home internet connection has fizzled out, which is why I've been missing for so long. So, for those who do visit my site, so sorry for the delay.

My thoughts on the season and the sason ender coming up? Not much at the moment as my brain is sleeping at 3.30am now. But I do hope that Lewis is keeping low and focusing his mind on winning but without unnecessary risk at Interlagos next week. As Martin Whitmarsh said it, a lot of noise coming out from a lot of people nowadays is just "noise" and we need to filter them out at this stage.

I will be working on race day, what a shame. So I'll be missing the first hour of the race but at least my friends at F1Fanatic will help me out with the live blog. I hope to see a clean and fair race without any unscrupulous tactics of trying to take out Lewis for Massa's benefit. if somebody did try that, their reputation would be ruined forever.

So, for now, good luck to Lewis and here's hoping for a good race.

Lewis taking 'nothing for granted'

Lewis Hamilton is praying for "a straightforward weekend" in Brazil next week as he aims to become the youngest Champion in F1 history.

A year ago when Hamilton had the title in his sights at Interlagos his race weekend was anything but simple and clear cut.

McLaren had an FIA observer stationed in their pit garage to ensure fair play was administered to Hamilton and then team-mate Fernando Alonso following the Spaniard's dramatic fall-out.
On race day, an understandably tense-looking Hamilton endured a miserable opening lap, running wide at one point to drop to eighth after starting second on the grid.

More agony followed on lap eight when he suffered a gearbox issue that relegated him to 18th, and despite a brave charge through the field, he could only finish seventh.

Hamilton missed out on the title by a point that day, so you can appreciate his sentiment that he would like to avoid such drama a year on.

With Hamilton seven points clear of his only title rival in Felipe Massa in his Ferrari, the 23-year-old simply has to finish in the top five to take his place in F1 history.

"Fundamentally, I'll approach this race the same way I've approached the previous races," assessed Hamilton.

"Obviously, my aim for Brazil is slightly different from the other grands prix because I don't need to win the race.

"But that won't stop me from going into the weekend looking to be as strong as possible.
"The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai was a good example of that as we hit the ground running on Friday morning and never looked back.

"Our aim wasn't to push too hard, but we found ourselves in a position at the front and took it comfortably from there.

"That's what I am hoping to achieve in Brazil - a straightforward weekend that allows me to just focus on my car and my driving."

But given the pressure of the situation again, Hamilton readily concedes he can "take absolutely nothing for granted".

"In terms of preparation, I have to look at things realistically and appreciate I have another weekend of maximum effort ahead of me with the team," added Hamilton.

"I still need to pull together a strong qualifying lap, be competitive during the race and avoid failing to finish.

"I know just how this sport works sometimes, so I'd be foolish to go to Brazil feeling over-confident."

Source : Planet F1

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Conclusions From The Chinese GP

Monday 20th October 2008

The World Championship is now Lewis Hamilton's to lose.
Problem is, it was last year as well...

Felipe Massa Is Delusional
"I was strong enough to catch and pass [Raikkonen] and that was the best part of the race for me."

Next he'll be accusing Lewis Hamilton of bumping him off the track on the first lap in Japan when the reality was that he out-braked himself.


Hang on...

Hamilton Has Set Himself Up For The Title. Or A Horrible Fall
For a driver who apparently can't cope with pressure, Lewis Hamilton didn't do badly in Shanghai.

His performance was a study in motor-racing perfection. After a statement of intent on Friday, when he finished both sessions in first place, the McLaren driver made good on his promise by taking P1 in all three qualifying sessions and then registering a lights-to-flags victory that included, for only the second time this season, the fastest lap of the race to complete the sweep. Look up 'comprehensive' in the F1 dictionary and the words 'Hamilton - China, 2008' should feature prominently.

A Hamilton victory tends to be a dramatic, controversial event; this was simply a masterclass in superiority. Ferrari's plan was to disrupt him off the line. Problem was, they couldn't get near him. Dominant, flawless and mature, Hamilton even succeeded in earning a respectful and volunteered handshake from Fernando Alonso and silencing his hitherto vocal army of critics.
But only for now.

They will not be completely muted until - if - he wins the World Championship in Brazil in two weeks' time. His own celebrations in Shanghai were low-key, presumably muted in the knowledge that, although a critical step had been taken, he is still to cross the line and, in sport, the final mile is often the hardest.

"This is another step to the Championship and towards my dream and towards my team's dream," he remarked. But after last year's calamitous nightmare, there will be plenty of sleepless nights ahead before that dream can be realised.

It's Still Hamilton's Title To Lose
Just as it was last year. And in 2008, as in 2007, he enters the final race with a seven-point lead that makes him the outstanding favourite but still leaves him vulnerable to a catastrophe.

One advantage Hamilton does have this year compared to last is that he need only concern himself with Felipe Massa (it is now mathematically impossible for Robert Kubica to claim the title, just as Kimi Raikkonen statistically relinquished his title of World Champion in Japan last weekend). Twelve months ago, he was so preoccupied with finishing ahead of Fernando Alonso that Raikkonen was able to sneak in under the radar ahead of both and claim one of the strangest titles in F1 history.

Next Sunday, 'all' Hamilton has do is ensure that Felipe Massa does not finish seven points ahead of him. Easier said than done, of course. Hamilton's title prospects would be so much more secure if only the first corner in Brazil was a soft, gradual curve - like Turn One in China - rather than the sort of sharp left-hander that is fertile ground for disaster.

Heikki Makes Hamilton Look Special
The question posed but unanswered by Rob Smedley, Felipe Massa's race engineer, during his post-race interview on ITV was whether McLaren now boasted the best car on the grid.

Hamilton's display suggested as much, but the argument to the contrary was the pathetic performance of Heikki Kovalainen in the sister McLaren. Was Hamilton very good or was Heikki very bad? The truth is probably - as it generally is - somewhere in the middle. The McLaren is not necessarily a faster car than the Ferrari but Hamilton was at the peak of his powers this weekend and out-drove every one of his competitors in a piece of machinery flattered by the circuit's characteristics.

Kovalainen, on the other hand, has proved himself a second-rate driver with more excuses than skill or pace and one utterly undeserving of his seat.

The Finn may have been unlucky in suffering a puncture but at that stage of the race he was already 30 seconds behind his team-mate. Incredibly, Fernando Alonso now heads his replacement at McLaren in the Constructors' Championship despite spending the first six months of an eight-month season in a mishandling and underpowered Renault. There's no way to judge Hamilton the fastest driver on the grid in the absence of any sort of meaningful team-mate comparison.

Kovalainen's inadequacies are not just a talking point. Its most profound affect is the likelihood of Ferrari being crowned the Constructors' Champions in Brazil (they now lead McLaren by 11 points). He might yet cost Lewis Hamilton the Drivers' Championship as well because it would be foolish in the extreme of the Englishman to expect his team-mate to provide the sort of points-paying support in Brazil hat Raikkonen provided for Massa this weekend (and Massa provided for Raikkonen a year ago for the Finn to win the title).

Nor is it actually outlandish to state that had Kovalainen risen to the occasion last weekend in Shanghai then Hamilton would already be the World Champion. After all, if one McLaren driver can qualify in pole position, it is not unreasonable to expect his team-mate - especially one out of the title race and who has less reason not to sacrifice race strategy - to line up alongside him. Had Kovalainen done so, the mayhem of the first corner would surely not have occurred and there would be no reason to suspect that Hamilton would not have collected the points haul necessary to make the result in Brazil academic.

Heikki's Failure Makes Alonso Worth The Hassle
There's an element of tragedy to Fernando Alonso's year at McLaren. The loss has been threefold: his own, the team's and F1's. If there is one thing better than a two-way fight in the final race then it is a three-way battle.

Courtesy of Renault's late-season revival and his back-to-back wins in Singapore and Japan, 2008 hasn't been a complete disaster for Alonso. In his absence from F1's top table, his reputation has risen in stock and the general consensus is that he is driving better than ever. Yet the season has still represented a waste of talent.

When Ferrari and McLaren reflect on their errors this season, and they have made plenty, they should both consider the advantages they would have gained from employing the Spaniard. The point worth emphasising is that even if there is a case for arguing Raikkonen should be replaced by Alonso, there is an even stronger argument for stating that he ought to be in Kovalainen's place.

When Damon Hill was asked to envisage himself as team boss and given the pick of the entire field from which select his preferred driver line-up, he nominated Hamilton and Alonso. "Put them back together and try again," was the gist of his explanation.

The hassle may have been considerable, but that would have been a price worth paying for two championships.

The Stewards Remain Consistent In Their Inconsistency
The punishment of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen at the Malaysian GP after being judged by the stewards to have impeded Nick Heidfeld during qualifying: five grid slots.

The punishment of Nick Heidfeld at the Chinese GP after being judged by the stewards to have impeded David Coulthard during qualifying: three grid slots.

Ferrari's Defence Is Flawed
"You don't remember what happened in Germany and no one has complained, between Kovalainen and Hamilton? I know why you are asking that question so I am saying the same thing" - Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali.

It's not unreasonable for Domenicali to plead precedent in defending Felipe Massa's move past Kimi Raikkonen but his memory is as mistaken as his comparison is flawed. While Kovalainen did indeed let his team-mate past in Germany, the difference was that Hamilton caught him; in China, it was obvious that Raikkonen had to slow down in order for Massa to take second.

That is not to say Ferrari or their drivers ought to be punished for what occurred in Shanghai, because what occurred was a world away from events in Austria in 2002 and nobody is bothered by the use of 'team orders' in the penultimate race of a season, but for Domenicali to accuse McLaren in his own team's mitigation was desperate and shoddy.

Pete Gill
Source : Planet F1

The Chinese GP Winners & Losers

There was more incident in one corner at Mount Fuji than the whole of the Chinese Grand Prix, and absolutely no moving under braking. Everyone happy now...?

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1st An excellent pole, the fastest lap of the race and a race win. It doesn't come much more emphatic than that. Hamilton was a model of control from the moment he got a clean getaway. One more good start at Interlagos and he's home and hosed.

In fact with a seven-point lead going into the final race the McLaren team could probably buy the front row in Brazil. By going light they could take the first two places and avoid any opening lap trouble. Even though the strategy would probably work against them finishing 1-2, they could slot back into a steady 4th and 5th, which is all they need. Because they need a major Ferrari failure to win the Constructors' title now.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 2nd Though commentators are citing Massa's blown engine and comedy pit stop in Singapore for his failure to have won the Drivers' title already, he's now been handed points by Raikkonen as well as the race stewards. It's a luxury that his rival doesn't have.

This was definitely a favour repaid from Brazil 2007 because Massa looked surprisingly ill-at-ease with his car. However he did enough to keep the Drivers' title going to Interlagos, which Bernie and all the F1 broadcasters will be grateful for. Now it's going to be Big Box Office.

That's if the Sao Paulo police officers resolve their pay dispute. There were reports this week that police were rioting in the streets after a pay dispute escalated and some of their colleagues had to get out the riot control gear to subdue the strikers. Not a great environment for what is the most feared GP for team personnel.

Perhaps it will be an even bigger home advantage for Felipe Massa who basks in the adoration of his home crowd. And love him they should, win or lose he's had a brilliant 2008. And Fernando's definitely joined the fanclub.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 3rdMassa managed to hand the lead of the 2007 Brazilian GP to Kimi Raikkonen in a much more subtle fashion than Raikkonen handed his second place to Massa at Shanghai. But nobody's that bothered with team orders this late in a season.

Raikkonen showed that for a change he can be fast in the opening laps of a GP and all but guaranteed that Ferrari retain the Constructors' Championship. For Kimi, like Felipe, it's a question of what might have been.

Fernando Alonso, Renault, 4thFernando Alonso didn't look capable of competing with Ferrari or a fully fit McLaren, but the Renault team are faster than BMW now. Or at least one of them is. This result secured fourth place in the Constructors' Championship for Renault
Nick Heidfeld, BMW, 5thHaving endured quite a few qualifying low-points in 2008, for once Nick managed to establish an edge over Robert Kubica and held it through the race, despite his grid demotion.

Robert Kubica, BMW, 6thKubica did well to haul his BMW up to 6th place after qualifying 11th - though three of those places were down to Bourdais and Trulli nudging each other at the start and Heikki Kovalainen getting a puncture.

So the World Championship dream is over, but he did a remarkable, if unspectacular job in getting this far.

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, DNFKovalainen may have had a brake problem, but that doesn't explain away another poor qualifying performance. To finish the first round of Q3 runs in P1 and then slump to P5 is worrying.

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 17thFisi may have acted like a mobile chicane in the race, but at least he was consistent. He impeded everyone at the front. As it was, Raikkonen lost the most time, but it was time he wouldn't need anyway as he was never going to challenge Hamilton and spent his race waiting for "the call".

Mark Webber, Red Bull, 14thIt's interesting to see some of the fall-out after the Japanese GP. Perhaps the most ill-advised comment came from Mark Webber. Mark's view on F1 is refreshingly lacking in the usual F1 posturing and normally I agree with most things he says, but not this time. To talk about "cars moving around under braking" and then use the death of a fire marshal to underline the consequences, in this instance was wrong.

Though a tragic event in F1 history, and one that left the usually chilled Michael Schumacher with tears in his eyes after the race, it transpired that Paulo Ghislimberti, the marshal that Webber had been talking about, tragically died because he was not in his safe position.

The Independent's David Tremayne described it at the time as being a case of "someone in the wrong place at the wrong time" and that he'd sprinted from his position for a last minute check of his equipment when he paused, just as a Jordan wheel came flying at him after a five-car incident.

Mark backtracked immediately when the media turned the "someone could get killed" into "Lewis could kill someone" but it was wrong even to mention the two incidents together. Heinz-Harald Frentzen wasn't blamed for that incident and neither Jacques Villeneuve nor Ralf Schumacher were blamed when in March the following year another freak accident occurred.
A marshal died after a tyre found its way through an unfeasibly small gap in the fence at the Australian GP after the pair collided unnecessarily.

When you go to a motorsport event there are notices around that warn you that motorsport is dangerous. That's part of the attraction. If these were replaced with signs that confided that motorsport was a processional event interspersed with clearly defined overtaking moves in well-defined areas, it would lose a lot of the thrill. There will always be an element of risk and danger, but if you minimise it to such a degree, you lose the appeal, the thing that brought you to the sport in the first place.

Let's get this in proportion, there are more deaths in Three-Day Eventing than there are in F1.
Ironically, Webber's remarks also came in the wake of the Singapore GP when his team-mate David Coulthard had veered towards Hamilton in the braking area of Turn 7, yet Lewis made no mention of it.

However, that said, Hamilton should sign up to the GPDA and get involved. Not doing so is a mistake.

Interesting also to hear the views of Mark's fellow GPDA director Jarno Trulli bellyaching about being held up by Lewis Hamilton for two laps at Mount Fuji. It's the job of the flag marshals to wave blue flags at those cars that are being lapped. Ignore three and you've got another penalty.
Judging by the extreme way Lewis jumped out of the way of a car that was lapping him later on, he must have assumed Trulli was not catching him. It's more likely to be the case that Trulli couldn't get close enough to Hamilton for the marshals to realise he was being "held up".
It's all so much, miaoow miaoow miaoow.

In the GP the Red Bull team still appear to be stymied by the lack of power from their Renault engine, and it seems slightly odd that the Renault team can make excellent progress while the customer is languishing at the back.

ITVMy heart sank when the ITV coverage started with all the images of past British World Champions. They did it last year and I thought it was ill-advised then. As it was, it proved premature and they'll have to wait another week. What would be nice is less presumption and a much better highlights programme if and when it does happen.

There was a bit of post-Japan revisionism going on about the pundits views of the race and Lewis's part in it. But as Mark Blundell wisely said: "both the guys in Japan were a little adrift with their train of thought."

For the race he guessed that: "Alonso will be in there, watching and hovering."

And afterwards he left us with thought of the day with regards to Lewis's chances in Brazil: "If he does what he done today in Brazil then it's done and dusted."

Andrew Davies
Source : Planet F1

Thursday, October 16, 2008


At the Chinese Grand prix Lewis Hamilton could become World Champion... or end up 12th again. It could go either way. After his moment of madness at the Japanese GP and all the criticism that has got him, he could easily produce an immaculate drive in Shanghai. He had to weather a lot of criticism before the British GP at Silverstone and we know what happened then, he produced the race win of the season.

Sadly for Lewis fans I can't see that happening in China, for the very reason that the World Championship is at stake.

Equally Felipe Massa will be on edge too. Whereas Lewis can afford one more slip-up before the end of the season Felipe cannot afford a single error. He knows that Lewis has still got his get-out-of-jail-free engine change before the last race so he'll have maximum revs on the Mercedes for both events.

He also knows that he screwed up in qualifying for Japan by driving too fast on his outlap and setting the fastest sector time of anyone in Sector 3... of his outlap.

What he doesn't know (but if he were a statistician he could probably guess - see Pete Gill's brilliant feature below) is that he has the stewards on his side. He may have been given a drive-through penalty at the Japanese for side-swiping Lewis by cutting the chicane, but Hamilton got one for just running a little bit wide at the first corner.

What's more he was given a World Championship point for an incident with Bourdais of which Bourdais was entirely blameless. Race Director Charlie had told drivers that in just such an event of two drivers heading for Turn 1 together, one from the pitlane, racing for position, that the driver from the pitlane has the right of way.

Bourdais had the right of way. What was even more suspicious was the fact that the stewards couldn't work out what to do until the race was over and that nice Mr Donnelly could talk to them. Unlike the opening phase of the race, the last 16 laps at Fuji weren't exactly packed with incident were they?

And what was most worrying of all was the lack of outcry about what appears to be one of the most blatant sporting result manipulations of all time. What if French punters had bet money on Bourdais scoring a point...?

We'd like to think there was a logical explanation to it all, and so Max Mosley - in the interests of sporting fairness - should explain the process. Because there must have been a process behind the stewards' thinking.

This is all grist to the mill for Robert Kubica. He is just 12 points behind Hamilton with two races to go and we all know that Kimi Raikkonen was a massive 17 points behind Hamilton and had Alonso in front of him as well going into the last two races in 2007.

Should Hamilton and Massa have another little bash at Turns 1 and 2 (quite easy at Shanghai) then he could easily arrive at Interlagos with a mathematical chance of becoming World Champion.

I have to confess, a little part of the PF1 office thrills at the prospect of BMW walking away with both titles having endured a season of watching Ferrari and McLaren taking all the headlines.

With seven drivers winning races and some epic dramas through the season, it's hard to see that there needs to be a major change in the F1 regulations other than: save money, give more to the smaller teams and elect three professional stewards who will oversee every race and report to the race director.

Fernando Alonso will be out to make it an unlikely three in a row in Shanghai. Now that Renault have embraced the 'safety and reliability' issues that Ferrari and Mercedes have been addressing with their engines all season, they seem to be a lot quicker.

Alonso just needs two more races to make it an 18-0 qualifying whitewash over team-mate Nelson Piquet Junior. Junior himself looked to be vying for third place in Japan but made a critical error in the closing laps when he was on Raikkonen's tail. We hope he's got something interesting planned for 2009.

Toyota will need to go some to take fourth in the Constructors' now, while Toro Rosso haven't given up the chance of taking fifth ahead of Toyota - they're 16 points behind with two races to go - and it should have been 14 points behind.

That could equate to around $5m difference in prize money, so I'd be interested to hear Gerhard Berger's end-of-season views if Toyota snatch it by a single point.

Or alternatively if Mark Webber scores the kind of result for Red Bull that he's been threatening all season, they might lose 6th place to the sister team who are just five points behind them.

For Williams, Honda and Force India it's a question of damage limitation. It would be a nice reward for Vijay Mallya to get at least a point with his team in their debut season. They lost the best chance at Monaco when Kimi Raikkonen punted Adrian Sutil off the road when he was in fourth place.

Raikkonen wasn't penalised for that incident even though Hamilton was penalised for ramming into him at Montreal. Still, it certainly wasn't as dangerous as when Lewis ran a little bit wide. Now that was shocking.



And here is the final proof of the FIA stewards bias for sorry..FIArrari. For all of you blind FIArarri supporters out there, can it get any more stupid than this? It's so obvious it makes me wanna puke.


Thursday 16th October 2008

Fresh controversy over the stewarding of the Japanese GP has been sparked by the revelation that Felipe Massa's move past Mark Webber on the penultimate lap was investigated - but only to determine if the Red Bull driver ought to be punished for allegedly forcing the World Championship contender wide.

In the process of overtaking Webber for the final points-paying position, Massa crossed the white lines along the pit-straight deemed to indicate the limits of the race track. As Massa passed the Australian, all four wheels of his Ferrari were placed in the pit-lane exit, prompting some observers, especially during these litigious times, to question whether his move illegal. By the letter of the rulebook, any driver who leaves the race-track has committed an offence that warrants a penalty.

However, far from probe Massa's manoeuvre, the stewards are instead reported to have questioned Webber over whether he resisted the Ferrari too robustly - an offence that Sebastian Bourdais was seemingly found guilty of.

'It turns out the stewards spoke to Webber about this,' reports The Times' F1 correspondent Ed Gorman in his blog. 'They were quite happy with Massa's driving at this point but were concerned about Webber "pushing Massa into the wall." There was "never any question in relation to the legality" of Massa's move. The stewards saw this as primarily a safety issue.'

As an aside, Gorman also reports that the stewards remain adamant that they were right to punish Lewis Hamilton for allegedly forcing Kimi Raikkonen off the track at the first corner of the race.

'I have the impression that the powers-that-be regard Lewis's driving in Fuji at Turn 1 as bordering on reckless and that if he had touched another car or caused an accident he would be looking at a 10-place penalty in Shanghai,' he claims.

It's unclear whether the 10-place penalty would have been imposed in addition to his drive-through penalty at Suzuka. Immediately after the race, Kimi Raikkonen accused Hamilton of hitting his Ferrari, but, after footage to the contrary materialised, he withdrew the claim. As yet, there has been no confirmation from the stewards that, they also investigated the driving of Heikki Kovalainen, who definitely did bang wheels with Raikkonen's Ferrari and was apparently guilty of forcing his fellow Finn off the track.

Source : Planet F1



Thursday 16th October 2008

Nick Heidfeld has called on F1 to bring back permanent race stewards after two controversial penalties were handed out last Sunday in Japan.

At present Formula One uses one permanent steward, Max Mosley's friend Allan Donnelly, and three others who are appointed on a race-by-race basis.

However, some of the stewards' decisions have been rather controversial of late with two alone coming in Japan last Sunday.

Firstly Lewis Hamilton was penalised for pushing Kimi Raikkonen wide at the start of the race, a move that almost the entire field does at the start of a grand prix. The decision cost Hamilton any chance of scoring points.

Not content with stopping there, the stewards retrospectively penalised Sebastien Bourdais for coming together with Championship contender Felipe Massa, even though it appeared to be the Ferrari driver's mistake. As a result Massa was boosted up order, scoring two World Championship points.

"Until the last race I wasn't, but in the last race I think penalties were not justified," Heidfeld told Autosport.

"I did not see the race in full, I only saw the highlights quickly afterwards, but the one on the start with Hamilton was for me not worth a penalty at all. It is just racing. What did he do (wrong)?

"The other one with Bourdais was also not understandable."

Adding to the controversy, though, Massa was handed the same drive-through penalty as Hamilton and Bourdais for crashing into Hamilton, in a move that the Brit reckons was 'deliberate.'

"The one that is acceptable, maybe arguable, but you can at least follow what they may be thinking, is the one that Massa got for turning around Hamilton," he said.

"In my view it does not need to be given, but okay it could be. The other two I don't understand."

Heidfeld, though, reckons F1 could do away with the controversial penalties if permanents stewards were appointed, a topic that the drivers are set to once again raise with F1 race director Charlie Whiting.

"I am sure it will be asked and discussed what was going wrong there," he said. "As I have said before and, as we had last year, I would like to see it come back where we have one guy, like Tony Scott-Andrews.

"I was on the receiving side also, I think Bahrain a few years ago I did not agree with (a penalty), but it was a lot more consistent and for me a lot better than what we have had this season."

"The consistency was a lot better last year, and it is easier than if there are just some guys who are coming to a few races. They don't have the insight compared to a guy who is always there.

"It is not that easy to (keep) consistency because each accident is different in each case, but I don't understand what happened there (in Fuji) and I don't even think you (the media) do."

And Heidfeld isn't the only driver who believes the F1 powers-that-be need to be more transparent. "I also have no idea how the stewards in Japan reached some of the decisions they did about the race," David Coulthard told ITV.

"The penalty that particularly mystified me was the Sebastien Bourdais one.

'I saw his pit exit collision with Felipe Massa as a standard racing one. Sebastien had every right to be there, every right to be defending his position.

"I think we need more transparency in some of these decisions, more explanations as to the reasons for the penalties."

Source : Planet F1



Thursday 16th October 2008

Rather than engage in a war-of-words with Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton has told his old nemesis that he really doesn't care about what he has to say - right before being the bigger man and complimenting Renault.

The relationship between Hamilton and Alonso has been anything but pleasant since the two teamed up at McLaren last season. The rivalry caused a huge rift at Woking and ultimately resulted in Alonso leaving the team after just one season.

But despite not being team-mates the situation is still volatile with Alonso admitting in Thursday's press conference in China that he will do everything he can to help Felipe Massa beat Hamilton to this year's World title.

Hamilton, though, doesn't really care what Alonso has to say.

"I don't particularly have an opinion on it," Hamilton replied when asked about the comments.

"I focus on my job, if we can be competitive this weekend we will try and get points and be up front great, what the others do is up to them."

The Brit went on to prove that he is the bigger man by complimenting Renault on their improved performances rather than continuing to express his opinions on Alonso as he was asked to do.

Source : Planet F1

"They (Renault) have done a fantastic job and great to see them do so well, and see how hard they have worked over the last two years," he said.

"Not a surprise to see them do so well, sure they will be pushing us hard through the weekend."


Well, there goes Alonso again, being the best that he can be. Being an asshole, that is.


Thursday 16th October 2008

Fernando Alonso has reiterated his desire to help Felipe Massa beat Lewis Hamilton to the World title - but not by any means fair or foul.

Following the Japanese GP, which Alonso won, the Spaniard told the press that he do would do whatever he can to help Massa beat his former McLaren nemesis to the title.

And given Alonso's apparent animosity for Hamilton, this sparked some concerns that he would soon be bumping the Brit off the track should the two find themselves side-by-side.

Alonso, though, has clarified his comments, clearly stating that while he wants to see Massa beat Hamilton he will help only be taking points off the McLaren man and not by shunting him into retirement.

"Obviously I was waiting for this question," he told the media in Thursday's press conference in Shanghai.

"When I said this in Fuji now we have a competitive car it seems we are able to fight with Ferrari and McLaren," he added.

"And first of all we need to have a competitive car here in Shanghai and in Brazil to be fighting with McLaren and Ferrari, and if we do that and Felipe Massa wins the race and I am second or third, I will be happy for Felipe to take as many points as possible and this is the only approach."

Having said that, though, Alonso would rather the third man in the title race, Robert Kubica, claim the crown. But sitting at 12 points behind Hamilton, Alonso concedes it won't be easy.

"You can be here forever, and you cannot misunderstand what I said," he said. "When we say all these things, my best relationship is with Robert and I would like to see him win the Championship.

"But it is quite difficult because the performance of his car means it will be difficult to recover 12 points.

"But I will do my own job but when you see the results you prefer some teams to win or some teams to win compared to others.

"I will not be any key part to the Championship, whatever driver wins will win because he did a better job in the last two races."

He added: "You can take whatever you want from my comment but it is very simple."

Source : Planet F1

Tuesday, October 14, 2008



Fernando Alonso has inadvertently confirmed that he judged Lewis Hamilton's penalty in the Japanese GP fully deserved without even knowing what the Englishman was punished for.

In the post-race press conference conducted immediately after Sunday's event, the three podium finishers were asked if they thought Hamilton's drive-through penalty was fair. While Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica both replied that they "didn't know" because they "didn't see the whole thing", Alonso, without hesitation, declared he "agreed" with the decision.

However, speaking later to a Spanish newspaper, the former McLaren driver, who endured a fractious relationship with Hamilton during his season at Woking, admitted he didn't know what had happened or even what the stewards had found him guilty of.

"I don't know what he did," said the Spaniard, "but it's good he's punished anyway."

Alonso, the most outspoken critic of Hamilton's driving in the Belgium GP, went on to confirm that, "without a doubt", he would attempt to help Felipe Massa win the title ahead of Hamilton.

Source : Planet F1