Monday, March 30, 2009

Lewis: McLaren face biggest challenge yet

Monday 30th March 2009

Lewis Hamilton feels he faces the hardest challenge of his career to help McLaren again become World title contenders.

Against the odds, the reigning World Champion clinched third place in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix in a car he has revealed is the hardest he has ever driven.

From 18th on Melbourne's Albert Park grid, Hamilton was given a helping hand as three accidents during a dramatic season-opener accounted for four of his rivals, whilst Jarno Trulli was handed a 25-second penalty after the race.

But on the other side of the coin, there was Hamilton's undoubted talent as he produced a masterclass to underline just why he is defending World Champion, conjuring up a number of memorable overtaking manoeuvres.

The fact it was in one of the worst designed McLarens to take to a circuit gives you some idea of just how well Hamilton performed.

But these are tough times, potentially worse for Hamilton than anything he has previously endured over the past two years in F1.

"Every year gets harder and I would say right now is the biggest challenge for myself, and also for the team," said Hamilton.

"We've had some serious challenges over the last two years, and this is another big one for us, if not the biggest.

"But like I've said from the beginning, if anyone can do it, we can.

"I've a huge amount of belief in this team we can turn it round, and this is a good foundation for us to work on."

However, the characteristics of Albert Park make it an anomalous circuit, so do not expect a repeat next Sunday in Malaysia.

"Going into the weekend I knew we could have a race where we didn't get any points," added Hamilton.

"Ferrari only got one last year, but they came back and were strong later on, so anything is possible.

"But in going to Malaysia there will be a bigger difference between us and the Brawn cars. We'll be further behind.

"It's going to be even harder for us because the car is incredibly tough to drive, probably the hardest I've ever had to drive.

"Malaysia is more dependent on downforce and aero, so I think there will be a bigger gap, but hopefully by China (a fortnight later), and from then on, we'll be a little closer."

The post-race penalty for Trulli, for passing Hamilton under yellow flags following an accident involving Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica, deprived the fans of seeing the Briton on the podium.

That mattered little to Hamilton as he said: "Podium or no podium, it's the result we need to keep everyone motivated and encouraged."

Source : Planet F1

Australian GP: Winners and Losers

Sunday 29th March 2009

It was an epic start to the 2009 season with incidents, accidents, overtaking, Safety Cars, and the cherry on the icing, a high-speed Nelson Piquet exit - what more can you ask for?

Jenson Button, Brawn GP, 1st
What a fantastic weekend for F1. Jenson Button has shaved off most of his ginger beard. Result. Oh and he also won the Australian GP for the Brawn team.

On paper - Grid: Button P1, Barrichello P2 - Result: Button P1, Barrichello P2, it all looks pretty straightforward. But there were many times when it could and almost did go horribly wrong. Button had no drinks bottle for the entire race, something that will cripple him next week in Malaysia if it happens again. He flat-spotted a tyre trying to get heat into the tyres during the Safety Car period. He had to resist the pressure from a tenacious Sebastian Vettel behind him and a pit-stop that he almost botched himself. It was touch and go. But he made it through for a very impressive second race win.

Lap 52: Timo Glock, Toyota on Fernando Alonso, Renault

Glock had the chance to practice this move through Turns 3 and 4 on Buemi several laps beforehand. It's easy enough to do it on a rookie anxious not to cause an accident in his first race, it's a lot tougher taking on a combative former World Champion who senses a points finish.

Glock showed Robert Kubica exactly how to do it.

He moved to the outside going into Turn 3, making Alonso/Buemi cover the inside line and run deep into the corner. As they did this Glock switched his car to the inside line and overtook on acceleration going out of Turn 4 on the outside.

Glock was confident and made the move stick both times. Perhaps Alonso was wary of him after Timo almost clattered him into the scenery at Turn 15 on Lap 40. Glock spun the car and lost a place to Raikkonen but all lived to fight another day. It was an unlikely fourth place for someone who started the race from the pitlane.

Red Bull
Despite having no points to show from their first 2009 outing, the Red Bull car was the 'non-diffuser car' to have in Melbourne. It may not have an advantageous elevated rear diffuser, but they ran Brawn GP very close. BMW only got near to them thanks to the Safety Car backing up the field and Williams were never in a position to challenge after a disastrous opening lap from Nico Rosberg.

They should have blocked out the second row of the grid but Mark Webber's second run in Q3 put paid to that. Vettel drove a brilliant race in a car that is likely to be in contention for a win in Malaysia and was unlucky to come into contact with a charging Robert Kubica.

Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP, 2nd
It's always interesting to hear Rubens' views on accidents. In the press conference afterward he gave the impression that he was an innocent party in the first corner shunt noting that he got hit from behind by a McLaren (...?)

He described the Raikkonen bump as Kimi "turning in on me" but then again he had to as there was a corner coming. Barrichello made a move down the inside, realised it wasn't going to work, stood on the anchors and then bumped the innocent Raikkonen up the arse.

The fact that his front wing stayed on after two hefty whacks is testament to the fabrication qualities at the Brackley factory not to Rubens' ability.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 3rd
Though McLaren aren't actually protesting the rear diffusers of the Brawn, Toyota and Williams cars, the unlikely scenario is that should they be deemed illegal, then Lewis will have won the Australian GP. How bizarre is that?

Hamilton had a fantastic race, picking off drivers in the opening stint and moving up to P9 by Lap 6. Though he suffered from running the soft tyres early (dropping back to P15) and the Safety Car didn't do him any particular favours (he restarted in P12) he learnt that patience is a virtue.

His rather huffy performance in talking to Lee Mckenzie after the race may well have been because he had to go and see the stewards about Jarno Trulli's misdemeanours. Apart from retaking a position he wasn't entitled to Trulli demonstrated why F1 drivers do well not to publicly criticise their fellow professionals. Having given Hamilton a load of grief about moving around under braking at Monza last year the GPDA director demonstrated exactly how to do it for the cameras and the new TV graphics package.

Fernando Alonso, Renault, 5th
A curious race from Alonso who found himself well behind his accident-prone team-mate, but still scoring good points in the end. He started from 10th on the grid yet managed to end the opening lap behind Lewis Hamilton who started from 18th.

Nico Rosberg, Williams, 6th
Rosberg's poor opening lap could have sunk him, he was swamped by Massa, Kubica and Raikkonen and then got severely delayed by Raikkonen. This in turn put him back in the pack when he had an overlong pit-stop on Lap 16. He should have been on the podium

Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 7th
A great opening race from Buemi - outqualifying and outracing his team-mate, pressuring Massa and keeping out of trouble.

In one small move the Bridgestone team have provided the degree of overtaking that was meant to be achieved by KERS and the mickey mouse aero package. The super soft tyres didn't really rubber in towards the end of the race and were a liability whenever anybody used them.

This will make races even more of a strategy-fest than they are now, because how and when you use the non-prime tyre is going to be critical in some GPs - in qualifying as well as the race.

Radio Traffic
Now that the airwaves have been opened up to broadcasters we're getting a lot more interesting stuff. Most interesting of all was Ross Brawn actually getting a little bit excited - and angry - for once, with Rubens Barrichello, at the end of the race. Rubens was going too fast under the second Safety Car and his team boss yelled at him. Great stuff.

We've yet to hear from McLaren if their energy system was the difference between Lewis Hamilton getting past so many cars early on, but it was noticeable how much more extra overtaking went on in Melbourne. If the under-pressure Woking team have got this aspect of the new technical package right, then it bodes well for the rest of the season.

Robert Kubica, BMW, DNF
Kubica ruined what was otherwise a great drive by trying to get past Vettel too quickly. Kubica may be a great battler but he's not Alain Prost. There's no great calculation going on upstairs.

Now I know this won't come as music to the ears to the Kubica fans who think he can do no wrong (and let me point out I tipped him as my World Champion of 2009 for his never-say-die attitude). But he suffers from chronic impatience. It was that quality that triggered his spectacular roll in Canada in 2007 and caused the accident today.

The golden rule of F1, if not all motorsport is that he who overtakes on the outside of a corner puts himself in harm's way. If you're on the outside, beware. Battling for a podium place against a driver whose tyres are fading fast is always going to be a risky business, especially when you try and take them on the outside and don't leave them much room.

What's more, he could probably have limped back for a low points finish if he hadn't rushed off and planted his car in the wall in his impatience to get on with it.

Sebastien Vettel, Red Bull, DNF
Though Vettel's said he's sorry for the accident, he's being characteristically generous. Yes, maybe in retrospect he should have given way, because third place is better than a DNF. But the emphasis is always on the following driver to get past, not for the car in front to make it easy for him. Especially when you're dealing with the calibre of driver of Robert Kubica. Maybe slightly different if it's an F1 debutant or someone with limited car control.

Mario Theissen, BMW boss
Mario should be in his own section - whingers and losers. To say that Robert Kubica was closing on Vettel and Button by two seconds a lap is absolute tosh. Kubica, had he applied any kind of reasoning to his actions, would have grabbed second place, but he would have had to catch Jenson Button and was only making up ground in clear air at about 0.3 of a lap.

Heikki Kovalainen, Mclaren, DNF
That didn't last long, did it.

Jarno Trulli, Toyota, Much further back than before
Trulli was one of those keen to air his criticism of drivers who decided to move around in the braking areas last season. Very dangerous concluded Jarno with his GPDA hat on. So what a surprise to view his Toyota through the onboard camera of Lewis Hamilton on lap 49 and find him blocking to the right under braking just as the TV graphics came up with the technical information that the cars were braking. You could hear Hamilton come off the gas as well which made it doubly obvious. One rule for some, eh, Jarno...?

Then at the end he threw it all away by leaving the track, rejoining and taking back a place, giving himself a nice big 25 second penalty. It's hard to know why Toyota are appealing, maybe it's out of embarrassment after all Jarno's macho gestures on the podium.

Mark Webber, Red Bull, 13th
Mark was unlucky to be involved in the first corner incident that spun him round, but then again if he'd made a better job of qualifying on Saturday he'd have been near the front with Vettel and avoiding all that trouble. Even so, it's yet another Aussie GP nightmare for a man who deserves way better. Way better may come next weekend.

Ferrari, DNFs
Raikkonen was very honest after the race and blamed himself for the spin that put him out of contention, no fault of the car. Massa suffered a technical failure which as yet I've been unable to discover. So presumably it's something they're embarrassed about. All in all, though, they had a pretty strong weekend running close to the front, so they can't be that downhearted. They've got the same constructors points tally as BMW.

BBC Coverage
The BBC had a miserable start to their GP coverage. It all started with forgettable opening credits that looked like a promo for an X-Box game - if you're going to use the classic theme tune The Chain then you have to marry it up to spectacular old footage of F1 action. Like it used to be. Not what some designer thinks looks hip and cool and ends up looking bland.

The minute the race started it was come-back-James-Allen all is forgiven. The chemistry between Jonathan Leggard and Martin Brundle was non-existent. It was like someone had put an enthusiastic weatherman in the commentary box with him. When Leggard stopped talking Brundle seemed disinclined to chip in. With Allen and Brundle, Martin was keen to butt in whenever he could, despite a chaotically exciting opening race there were periods of silence.

One of the major new innovations for 2009 is the rules governing pit-stops under Safety Cars. They weren't explained, even though we had a Safety car just at the time when teams might need to come in.

Another great new innovation is the FIA releasing car weights before the start. You would have thought someone on the BBC production team might have cobbled together a graphic to show when all the cars might be coming in for their first pit-stops. Or even do a post-qualifying analysis of how well the Top 10 had done given the fuel they were carrying. No.

The sheer lack of facts and information after the race was over, gave the impression that Leggard can only explain what he sees and doesn't have Allen's journalistic insight. But then again what do you expect from the BBC's 2008 Football Correspondent.

Further mystery surrounds the involvement of Murray Walker. The Muzza was photographed with the 'new BBC team' and appears ready and waiting to contribute to the F1 coverage in the Radio Times, but there was no mention of him on the programme. Is he available only on the red button?

Nelson Piquet, Renault, DNF
After hauling himself up to sixth place Nelson Piquet was in danger of getting a great result in Australia. That's NOT what he's employed to do. He's employed to not beat Fernando Alonso. Thankfully the overlong Safety Car allowed his brake temperature to slip away and come the re-start they "went crazy" out of neglect, sending him into the warm embrace of the gravel. Reassuring, that.

Charlie Whiting, Race Director
I'd love to hear the logic for not deploying the Safety Car the minute that Nakajima hit the wall on Lap 18. We've had SCs dispatched for less in the past. Charlie and Ross Brawn are old mates, so I'm sure that had nothing to do with it at all.

Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Boss
Ever on the hunt for publicity, Richard Branson wasted no time in getting to Australia and slapping his Virgin logos on the car once he knew that Brawn were going to be successful. Wasn't this the same Richard Branson who said two weeks ago that now wasn't the right time to get involved in F1 and that they would look at it at some stage in the future? What a difference a Barcelona test makes.

Branson sounds like he's trying to give the impression that he's been backing Brawn all along, but he had the chance to buy the team and turned it down.

While it's good to have new, high-profile money coming into the sport as a vote of confidence for F1, you can't help feeling that this enthusiasm might not have been so evident if Brawn had been in the middle of the pack. If this had been Branson's intention all along he would have had more than a couple of logos in place by the time the cars rolled out on Friday.

Oh, and get a haircut you old hippy.

Andrew T. Davies

Source : Planet F1

Hamilton: That was one of my best performances

Sunday 29th March 2009

Lewis Hamilton has described his performance in the Australian GP as one of the best of his career.

The World Champion silenced the critics who have opined that he can produce good results in a good car by hustling his under-paced MP4-24 into third place with a mixture of fine driving, determination and a little luck.

"It was one of the better races that I've driven simply because of the way the car is to drive. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to drive in my life," Hamilton said.

"We scored way more points than we could have realistically expected. I was looking to try and get one point, so to get six is a great achievement. We've definitely not forgotten how to win: our strategy was perfect and the team did a fantastic job. Considering the package we've got, I wrung every last ounce of pace out of the car, drove one of my best ever races and absolutely raced my heart out - I'm so satisfied.

"Also, my heartfelt congratulations to Jenson - he's driven brilliantly all weekend and both he and his team really deserve this success."

Hamilton also received fulsome praise from his bosses at McLaren-Mercedes.

"Today was one of those days on which Lewis demonstrated very clearly just what a fantastic racing driver he is. Throughout the race he showed great speed and tenacity, tempered when necessary by commendable patience," commented Martin Whitmarsh.

An equally-impressed Nobert Haug added: "He drove an excellent race under very difficult circumstances and proved his world-champion class."

Source : Planet F1

Problematic footage of Hamilton overtaking Trulli emerges

Monday 30th March 2009

Footage of Lewis Hamilton overtaking Jarno Trulli behind the Safety Car has raised more questions than answers about the legality of the move and the fairness of the stewards' subsequently decision to add 25 seconds to Trulli's time for Sunday's Australian GP.

In two separate incidents missed by the televisions cameras following the collision between Seb Vettel and Robert Kubica, Hamilton overtook Trulli for third when the Toyota slid off the circuit before Trulli then retook the position when Hamilton, under instruction from his McLaren team, slowed down to let him through.

The footage - now removed from the Youtube website - clearly shows Trulli falling off the track and struggling to keep his Toyota under control on the grass before belatedly returning to the track behind Hamilton's McLaren.

Whilst cars are not allowed to overtake under the Safety Car, article 40.7 of the 2009 F1 Sporting Regulations stipulates various exceptions when 'Overtaking will be permitted', including 'if any car slows with an obvious problem' - a description that presumably applies to a car falling off the track.

However, the ambiguity of the rule was highlighted Trulli's explanation for why he then repassed Hamilton to claim back third: "I thought he had a problem so I overtook him as there was nothing else I could do."

Without any dialogue taking place between the two teams, or the stewards, Trulli's belief that the sight of the McLaren pulling to the side of the road and slowing down was evidence of a problem is understandable. It was, though, discounted by the stewards as they added on 25 seconds to his time, demoting the Italian out of a points-paying position. The option of demoting Trulli to fourth was not available to the race officials.

Toyota have confirmed their intention to appeal, an announcement that has resulted in a few raised eyebrows given that Hamilton's own appeal against 25 seconds - the equivalent of a drive-through penalty - being retrospectively added to his time in last year's Belgian GP was thrown out by a FIA hearing declaring that drive-through penalties could not be challenged. However, according to reports, Toyota have found a loophole to bypass that stipulation and have appealed to the clerk of the Melbourne circuit rather than the stewards themselves.

What The Rules State:
'All competing cars must then reduce speed and form up in line behind the safety car no more than ten car lengths apart and overtaking, with the following exceptions, is forbidden until the cars reach the Line after the safety car has returned to the pits. Overtaking will be permitted under the following circumstances :

- if a car is signalled to do so from the safety car ;

- under 40.15 below ;

- any car entering the pits may pass another car or the safety car remaining on the track after it has crossed the first safety car line ;

- any car leaving the pits may be overtaken by another car on the track before it crosses the second safety car line ;

- when the safety car is returning to the pits it may be overtaken by cars on the track once it has crossed the first safety car line ;

- any car stopping in its designated garage area whilst the safety car is using the pit lane (see 40.10 below) may be overtaken ;

- if any car slows with an obvious problem.'

Source : Planet F1


I was quite confused during the race and after it about what actually happened. Reading the news from 3 different websites did not help as one reported Trulli to be saying and doing one thing while another reported the opposite. But after reading what Keith reported on F1Fanatic, I'm convinced of the truth. Here it is and I quote Keith:

"Meanwhile, unseen by the TV cameras, Trulli went off the track, losing what was now third place to Hamilton. Trulli then re-passed Hamilton after the safety car had arrived on track, and was later handed a 25-second penalty by the stewards which demoted him from third to 12th.

Trulli’s form at Melbourne was quite atypical: out-qualified by his much heavier team mate, but in superb form on race day, he deserved much more from the weekend. He later claimed Hamilton had slowed and he had no choice but to pass the McLaren.

Hamilton inherited third place against all expectations, and was the highest-placed KERS-equipped finisher."

Source : F1Fanatic

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Making Conclusions From The Australian GP

Sunday 29th March 2009

The lights have gone out but the guessing game goes on...

Brawn Really Are Out In Front
Determining the reality of Brawn's pace at the front is a hazardous undertaking, with the results presented in the race confused and clouded by differing fuel levels, the double deployment of the Safety Car and the sudden deterioration in lap times caused by the soft tyres.

Having led the grand prix from start to finish, and finished on top in all three segments of qualifying, it is indisputable that Brawn currently possess the fastest car. The rest of the pecking order can be debated endlessly without resolution, but Brawn's status as number one is fixed.

But Not By As Much As Feared/Expected. Possibly
The indication in testing, and even from qualifying, was that the Brawns would be up to a second faster than the rest per lap. The indication from the race was that their margin of superiority is less than half a second - and possibly less.

Confused? We are probably supposed to be.

There was a suggestion from Ross Brawn after the grand prix that Button was under orders not to run at full speed throughout and an underlying impression from the weekend was that the team deliberately opted against displaying their full hand in Melbourne. Had they, for instance, low-fuelled in qualifying then the result would have been a humiliation - which, in turn, would have been the ultimate motivation for the rest of the field and could have persuaded the stewards to take another look at those diffusers. R.Brawn is a canny operator and his mastery of cunning strategy will not be restricted to the timing of pit-stops...

Team Brawn also surely possess a larger potential to improve their car's set-up and balance than any of their rivals. After a mere seven days of winter testing, this is a team still driving in the unknown. Button complained of bottoming out in the race while Barrichello was caught out by the handling of a heavy fuel load in qualy. There's still much to learn, and lest we forget, their 1-2 marked the first time either car had completed a full race distance in a single stint.

Nor is there particular reason to suspect that they will fall far behind vis a vis their rivals in terms of development. As they were able to afford to pay Barrichello a wage rather than accept a pay driver, the team's finances cannot have been particularly parlous even before Richard Branson arrived to provide a welcome financial injection.

Only in the very unlikely event of the FIA contradicting the judgement of their own stewards, technical delegate and president will the team be in danger of suddenly fall away. They are out in front - not, perhaps, by as much as we all thought on Saturday night but in front nonetheless - and should thus be considered favourites for both titles.

Honda's Two-Year Strategy Is On Course
Forgive the intrusion to the "incredible fairytale" proclaimed by Eddie Jordan, but, upon reflection, the Brawn GP story is not the romantic tale of plucky underdogs making good that some elements of the F1 media are intent on depicting.

Brawn GP are not the new boys on the block. They are the massively-resourced Honda team operating under a new badge and with a considerable budget. Their figurehead is the most-celebrated engineer in the team's history. Their drivers are both established race winners. And they've been working on this car for over a year.

Where precisley is the romance in that? And where's the underdog? There is, undoubtedly, a novelty factor in finding another team at the top of the pile but, in general, Brawn are being portrayed as something they are not.

As Martin Whitmarsh remarked, Brawn are effectively reaping the rewards of "a strategy" devised by Ross Brawn 15 months ago when, in his own words, "we decided to virtually drop the programme for 2008 and concentrate on 2009."

Some might consider that strategy duplicitous. Not so; it was a business decision, and one made easy by the full horror that was the unfixable Honda. There's no polishing a turd, after all. But there's a flip-side to consider. McLaren and the like should have no shame - and suffer no repercussions - from copying aspects of the Brawn, including their controversial diffuser. "We had 15 months to look at the regulations," remarked Brawn at Melbourne. The rest of the field, busy racing to the maximum in 2008, had no such luxury.

Keep A Close Eye On McLaren
Outside of the Brawn bubble, a game of catch-up is already underway. BMW's starting point to the front-runners is encouragingly close, with Ferrari a little further adrift. Red Bull are already there or thereabouts and, while they suffered in the stewards' office, Toyota's overall pace was competitive.

Of the leading teams, McLaren are the furthest adrift, which, paradoxically, probably makes them the most threatening. A little corner of Woking has already been working around the clock 24-7 for upwards of a month in search of a solution to their self-expressed 'performance shortfall' and towards that end the 'Diffusergate' row may already have worked to their advantage.

Whereas rumour has it that Red Bull cannot incorporate a two-tiered diffuser on to the back of their rear wing - hence Christian Horner leading the protests against the Diffuser Three - and Renault have acknowledged that its implementation would require a radical overhaul of their rear design, McLaren have been in the process of redesigning their rear wing since the middle of February. It is inconceivable that their new design will not incorporate a facsimile of the diffuser design on the Brawn, Williams and Toyota that apparently reaps a performance advantage of upwards half a second a lap.

Note, too, that McLaren were conspicuous by their absence in the protests made against the Diffuser Three. Is that a clue towards their progress? A factor in their silence will also have been the partnership of Mercedes with both Brawn and McLaren. However, our guess is that, in the expectation of the FIA declaring the twin design legal on April 14, McLaren will be the first team to break ranks and join the Diffuser Three.

Pity Red Bull
If it is a) true that the Red Bull's rear design is so complicated that they cannot use a twin diffuser, and b) true that a twin diffuser is half a second faster than a single, then Red Bull must be aghast. Because, otherwise, they would boast the fastest car on the grid.

The sight of Seb Vettel hassling Jenson Button for 50 laps must have been a source of anguish as much as pride and the youngster's late calamity will only have served to develop the impression of an opportunity missed. By Spain, and perhaps beforehand, McLaren, Renault and Ferrari will all have installed significant improvements. Due to their far inferior budget, the same is unlikely to be true of Red Bull.

Source : Planet F1


What an incredible race. Started by an incredible practice then qualifying and topped off by this. I was glued to the TV set as never before. The start wasn't as good because Lewis started 18th and Heikki was taken out at the first turn. That first turn is so dangerous, everybody knew it was gonna happen. Poor Heikki.

The Brawn of Jenson was straight out of the grid like a bat out of hell. Not much to shout about for Rubens though except maybe he was too aggresive (or in a rush) at turn 1 and caused that accident which took out Heikki..and Webber. Surprisingly the car was quite tough as he went on to finish second with a couple more other run ins with a few other cars. I'm surprised there was no penalty or reprimand or fine or anything.

Lewis was attacking like mad as expected. I already knew he would do that as I've seen him before being relegated to the back and fighting his way up. It was incredible watching him lining cars up and overtaking them. That KERS has it's uses during the race as one can see him clearly using it coming out of corners and overtaking. That is what a champion is made of.

Before this race, a lot of people said that Lewis had a good car for the last 2 years, that's why he found it easy. Well, this years' car suck but he still managed to do what he did today. So suck it all up to all the doubters.

My only regret was towards the end when Kubica was somehow out of his mind and caused the crash with Vettel. i was looking forward to Vettel on the podium. And it didn't help to see my favourite brand - BMW - end up with no points. Mario Theissen needs to have a chat with Kubica.

All in all, a great race. I'm so looking forward to Sepang next week.

Button: We deserve this

Sunday 29th March 2009

An elated Jenson Button feels Brawn GP deserve everything they got from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Just weeks after it appeared that Button and team-mate Rubens Barrichello might be forced to sit out the season after the collapse of Honda, Button led home a Brawn GP 1-2 after starting on pole.

"The way I'm feeling is like yesterday but times 100!" the 29-year-old said on the BBC.

"It was still tough but we came away with the win and I know I've said it before but I'll keep saying it, we deserve this, I really feel we do."

Button had a 35-second lead over second-place man Sebastian Vettel in the early stages of the race, but the gap was cut after the Safety Car was deployed following Kazuki Nakajima's crash on lap 17.

Once the Safety Car returned to the pits, the Brit found it tough to get going again and Vettel and Robert Kubica made sure they kept the pressure on him.

"I think it always looks easier than it is. The first few laps of the race were great for me, and then I could settle into a pace.

"But then when the Safety Car came out I struggled massively to get heat into the tyres, and the car was hitting the ground.

"Just before the restart I flat-spotted a tyre quite severely, so I was struggling a lot with vibration, and with the light as well. Being at the front should be easy, but it was not easy, I can tell you that."

Button admits the team are heading into the second race of the season high on confidence following their magnificent showing in Australia.

"Without the Safety Car periods it'd have been a whole lot easier and there's room for improvement, but we're going to enjoy this for now and then look forward to Malaysia with high hopes.

Source : Planet F1

Hamilton celebrates unexpected points haul

Sunday 29th March 2009

Lewis Hamilton has celebrated his fourth position as the best possible outcome for him and McLaren from the Australian GP.

Having travelled to Melbourne warning that he was unlikely to even collect a point in the season-opening race, a combination of fine driving and a little luck saw the World Champion wrestle his MP4-24 into fourth. Incredibly, despite the McLaren's lack of pace, Hamilton was within a second of finishing on the podium and only yielded third place to Jarno Trulli under orders from his McLaren after overtaking the Toyota behind the Safety Car. The matter is under investigation.

"We did an incredible job," a jubilant Hamilton told the BBC. "We did all that we could. I am very happy and very proud.

"If you'd have offered me that before the race I'd have bitten your hand off."

Update: Hamilton was awarded third place and an extra point after he was promoted when Jarno Trulli was penalised post-grand prix

Source : Planet F1

25s penalty for Trulli & fines galore for Vettel

Sunday 29th March 2009

Jarno Trulli has fallen out of the points for the Australian GP after being slapped with a 25sec penalty by the race stewards for overtaking Lewis Hamilton under a Safety Car while Seb Vettel has not one but two punishments.

The final lap of Sunday's grand prix, which took place behind a Safety Car after a huge crash involving Vettel and Robert Kubica, saw Trulli, who was lying in third place spin his Toyota TF109, allowing Lewis Hamilton through.

But rather than accept the situation the Italian retook the third place, which broke the F1 regulations that state no overtaking behind the Safety Car.

As a result the Toyota driver was slapped with a 25second penalty, which dropped him from third place to 12th with Mark Webber the only runner behind him in the classification.

Toyota are believed to be considering an appeal.

Meanwhile Vettel was hit with not one but two punishments after causing the penultimate lap accident that cost both him and Kubica a podium finish. But because he didn't finish the grand prix, he will take a ten-grid slot penalty through to the next race in Malaysia.

His woes, though, didn't stop there.

Because of his damaged car Vettel was obliged to park it but he didn't, instead trying to continue through to the last lap as other were not allowed to pass him. His actions resulted in the Aussie stewards handing him a cash fine of $50,000.

Source : Planet F1

Australian GP Report: Button Delivers Dream Debut

Sunday 29th March 2009

Brawn GP couldn't have asked for a better debut, nor the 2009 season for a better start, as Jenson Button clinched the Australian GP victory, while the two men in line to join him on the podium crashed into each other on the penultimate lap.

In an incident-packed race, the Brawn GP driver endured the pressures of two Safety Car periods, no drinks bottle and a botched pit-stop to score a lights-to-flag victory

Rubens Barrichello lucked into second place after Robert Kubica collided with Sebastian Vettel late in the race, the accident handing a podium finish to Jarno Trulli and an unlikely fourth place for World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

Both Ferraris failed to finish while rookie Sebastien Buemi claimed a point in eighth place for Toro Rosso.

Race Report
The cars lined up on the grid in late afternoon sun with an ambient temperature of 21C and the track at 31C.

As the tyre warmers came off, it revealed that the two Ferraris, plus Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton had opted for the super soft tyres. Everyone else had chosen the hard or 'prime' tyre.

As the red lights went out, Jenson Button's Brawn was straight off the line from pole, but Rubens Barrichello's anti-stall mechanism kicked in and he was slow away. Immediately the second Brawn GP car was swamped by the rest of the field. Kubica drove straight round him and Vettel was through into second.

Most impressive of all, though, on the opening lap was the Ferrari team, making the most of the stored energy in their KERS devices and getting maximum grip from the super soft (qualifying) tyres.

Kubica lost momentum in his slalom round the almost stationary Barrichello and Massa was able to get past him by Turn 1. Then Massa/Kubica/Raikkonen all managed to take advantage of Rosberg through turns 3 and 4.

The major incident, though, came when Rubens closed on the apex of Turn 1, just as Nick Heidfeld got there alongside him, with Mark Webber on the outside. It's impossible, if not dangerous, to apply the brakes, so Rubens took the inside line, sidewalled into Heidfeld who was pushed out wider into the path of Mark Webber's Red Bull

The desperately unlucky Aussie's car was spun round and in doing so swiped the front left of Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren. All three cars in the sandwich kept going; Barrichello with a damaged front wing, Heidfeld and Webber needed to return to the pits, but it was the passer-by, Kovalainen, who was out of the race.

Adrian Sutil in the Force India also picked up damage and had to return to the pits at the end of Lap 1.

At the end of the first tour it was Jenson Button leading by 3.9 seconds. The order was: 1.Button, 2.Vettel, 3.Massa, 4.Kubica, 5.Raikkonen, 6.Rosberg, 7.Barrichello, 8.Nakajima, 9.Piquet, 10.Buemi, 11.Fisichella, 12.Bourdais, 13. Hamilton

The Ferraris, having had some great gains on the opening lap, started to fall back as early as Lap 4, as the super soft tyres began to go off quickly. Lewis Hamilton, who was also on the softs, had made up places quickly at the start and was using his tyres and KERS button efficiently to pick his way through to P11 by Lap 3. He then disposed of Buemi on Lap 4 and Piquet on Lap 6 to elevate himself to a heady P9.

At the front, Button's immediate four-second lead was held by Vettel who reduced the Fastest Lap to 1:28.424 on Lap 6. Button responded with a 1:28.246 and Vettel took it lower with a 1:28.235.

By Lap 8 the super soft tyres were slowing down badly - on some cars they were four seconds off the leaders pace and by Lap12 they were an incredible six seconds off! Nico Rosberg quickly closed up on Kimi Raikkonen and passed him on Lap 10 to take P5. Barrichello had the same idea, and looked to brake up the inside into Turn 3...

"He closed the door and we touched," said Rubens afterwards, meaning Raikkonen took the racing line and Rubens failed to brake in time. The Brawn suffered its second significant contact of the race, bumped the Ferrari from behind but kept the front wing on - just. Rubens was able to accelerate past the slightly displaced Ferrari which couldn't outdrag the Brawn away from the turn on failing tyres.

Kimi pitted at the end of Lap 10, Massa and Hamilton at the end of Lap 11 and Kubica lasted till Lap 12.

So at the end of Lap 13 many of the World Championship contenders were in a little gaggle all their own. 11. Massa 12. Kubica 13. Raikkonen 14. Trulli 15. Hamilton while at the front Jenson Button led by 4.3 seconds from Vettel who had a massive 27 second advantage over third place man Rosberg (delayed by failing to get past a slowing Raikkonen).

The second Brawn GP car was suffering from Rubens limp front wing and some other aero bits that had disappeared from the back of the car during the accident he had generated. He was three seconds off Jenson's pace.

Vettel and Rosberg duly pitted for the first time at the end of Lap 16, but Rosberg's game plan was ruined by a sticking left front wheel giving him a 21 second pit-stop. The Williams team's afternoon then got a whole lot worse when Kazuki Nakajima managed to spin his car after Turn 4 and it speered into the inside wall on Lap 18.

There was a very long - surprisingly long - delay before the Safety Car was deployed which enabled the two Brawn GP cars to take their first pit-stops before they lined up behind the Safety Car which was finally dispatched on Lap 19.

It was all change at the front. The Safety Car had reversed the order with the cars stopping disastrously early on the super soft tyres now promoted up the order to the front of the race. The race order behind the Safety Car on Lap 24 was: 1.Button, 2.Vettel, 3.Massa, 4.Kubica, 5.Raikkonen, 6.Rosberg, 7.Piquet, 8.Trulli, 9.Buemi, 10.Barrichello, 11.Glock, 12.Hamilton.

Nelson Piquet Junior became the third retirement on the restart when he lost control of his Renault on cold brakes coming into Turn 1 "the brakes just went crazy" and ploughed straight on into the gravel.

Jenson Button controlled the restart very well and by Lap 27 had established a 2.4 second lead over Vettel. On Lap 30 it was up to 3.9 seconds.

Felipe Massa's time in P3 didn't last long because by Lap 31 he had to pit for more fuel and rejoined in P14. Focus then switched to the new third placed man, Robert Kubica, who started to put in some Fastest Laps of the race. On Lap 34 he set FL at 1:27.989 and on Lap 36 it was 1:27.988

On Lap 37 the order was: 1.Button, 2.Vettel, 3.Kubica, 4.Raikkonen 5.Barrichello, 6.Buemi, 7.Rosberg, 8.Hamilton, 9.Alonso, 10. Glock

Kubica took his second stop on Lap 39 and emerged in P7, Raikkonen chose the same lap and rejoined in P10, both still in front of Felipe Massa. This left Sebastien Buemi in 4th place in his debut grand prix!

Hamilton pitted from 5th place on Lap 43, just as Kimi Raikkonen returned to the pitlane for a mysterious third time. The reason became apparent when replays showed the Ferrari spinning out on track and bumping the wall side-on. After a precautionary check in the pits Raikkonen returned to the track but was officially retired by the team at three laps down.

Vettel pitted from P2 and re-emerged still in P2 resisting the attentions of the still-to-stop Rubens Barrichello. On Lap 47 the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa - which had struggled to keep Buemi at bay - cruised back to the pits and retirement.

Jenson Button came in for his final pit-stop on Lap 47 and made the stop even slower by failing to select first gear, but still managed to get out in front of Vettel - but it was close at the front. Button led from Vettel, Barrichello was in third but would lose that place to Kubica when he pitted again for the final time.

Further back Lewis Hamilton was duelling with Jarno Trulli in what was effectively 6th and 7th place (once the cars in front of them pitted). Trulli having to move around the track to block Hamilton's overtaking intentions.

With Barrichello taking his final pit-stop, the race to the flag was on and Button held a slender 1.6 second lead from Vettel. The race order was: 1.Button, 2.Vettel, 3.Kubica, 4. Rosberg, 5.Barrichello, 6.Trulli, 7.|Hamilton, 8.Glock, 9. Alonso, 10.Buemi.

Timo Glock was charging in the Toyota and had monstered both Buemi and Alonso in an identical move around the inside/outside of Turns 3 and 4. Nico Rosberg was going backwards at a rate of knots as his super soft tyres faded. He lost his fourth place to Barrichello on Lap 53 and soon Trulli, Hamilton and Glock were past.

But the significant man on the move was Robert Kubica. Armed with a set of hard tyres he was reeling in both Vettel and Button (on the soft tyres now) and would surely catch them both before the finish. On Lap 54 of the 58 laps, at the front, Button was leading Vettel by 2.5 seconds who was 1.3 in front of Kubica.

On Lap 56 Vettel made a mistake in Turn 2 and Kubica aimed to overtake going into Turn 3 on the outside. Vettel held the inside line and Kubica tried to go round the outside with the extra momentum. But going into the turn the BMW driver made the mistake of squeezing the Red Bull too hard and while Vettel took the apex, Kubica was sidewalled by the Red Bull who had nowhere else to go.

It was a racing accident but one that Kubica could probably have avoided by allowing Vettel more room. As it was, both cars were spun round, Vettel lost his front wing and Kubica damaged one half of his. Kubica didn't want to get off the gas and carried on as though 100% of the wing were still there, understeering the car into the wall further down the road. Vettel also drove too quickly and put his car into the wall. Vettel's front left wheel was buckled underneath and he still tried to drive on with a severely crippled car.

The Safety Car was immediately deployed meaning that the race order was set as long as the cars could make it for the final three laps to the flag. Kubica's hasty attempt to get past Vettel had handed the Brawn GP team a 1-2.

The timing screens after the accident had Lewis Hamilton in P3, but then Jarno Trulli regained the position. Trulli had been weaving under braking in his defence of his place from Hamilton and the in-car footage showed this graphically. With 9 of the 58 laps to go Trulli moved across as the TV graphics package showed the cars braking on the left-hand side of the screen. The Grand Prix Drivers Assopciation (GPDA) have condemned this kind of driving and Trulli is a director of the GPDA.

As it was, Trulli took a podium place from a pit-lane start with Hamilton fourth and Timo Glock in fifth. Barrichello was a fortuitous second - yelled at by his team to slow down at the end - but it was Jenson Button's day. Having resisted a huge amount of pressure he muddled through some pit-stops with an under-practised crew and took a deserved second career win.

It was an epic race to start the season - and the start of things to come.


01 J. Button Brawn GP 1:34:15.784
02 R. Barrichello Brawn GP + 0.807
03 J. Trulli Toyota + 1.604
04 L. Hamilton McLaren + 2.914
05 T. Glock Toyota + 4.435
06 F. Alonso Renault + 4.879
07 N. Rosberg Williams + 5.722
08 S. Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 6.004
09 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso + 6.298
10 A. Sutil Force India F1 + 6.335
11 N. Heidfeld BMW + 7.085
12 G. Fisichella Force India F1 + 7.374
13 M. Webber Red Bull + 1 laps
Did not finish
14 S. Vettel Red Bull + 2 laps
15 R. Kubica BMW + 3 laps
16 K. Räikkönen Ferrari + 3 laps
17 F. Massa Ferrari + 12 laps
18 N. Piquet jr. Renault + 34 laps
19 K. Nakajima Williams + 41 laps
20 H. Kovalainen McLaren + 55 laps

Source : Planet F1

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hamilton: I'll still attack despite grid-slot penalty

Saturday 28th March 2009

Lewis Hamilton has vowed to attack in Sunday's Australian GP despite starting the race from a lowly 15th place on the grid.

McLaren have wallowed near the back of the pack for much of this weekend's practices but showed an improved performance in Saturday's final session.

It all came to naught, though, as Hamilton's MP4-24 let him down after Q1, forcing him to sit out the second segment even though he had made it through.

"Something broke on the rear of my car on my second flying lap in Q1. I just lost all drive in the gearbox and couldn't continue," he explained.

Unfortunately for Hamilton the fault lay with his gearbox meaning the Brit needs a new one and as such will incur a five-grid slot penalty, putting him at the back of the pack.

"It was a gear failure and although we are allowed to change gears under the regulations, we will change the gearbox," said McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

But rather than become down about it, Hamilton has vowed to come out attacking in Sunday's 58-lap race.

"The team will look at the problem tonight and I'm determined to drive an attacking race - we'll have some fun from 15th tomorrow."

Hamilton also took the time to congratulate fellow Brit Jenson Button on his and Brawn GP's pole position, a remarkable feat for F1's newest team.

"My congratulations to Jenson and everyone at Brawn GP - they have done a fantastic job all weekend and have a lot to look forward to tomorrow," he said.

Source : Planet F1

Hamilton forced out of qualifying

Saturday 28th March 2009

Has a World Champion ever endured such an ignominious start to a season?

Already suffering the indignity of being relieved just to sneak through to the second round of qualifying, Lewis Hamilton's woes were compounded by a failure on his McLaren forcing him to retire even before Qualy Two had begun.

At the time of writing, Hamilton is listed as 15th for the start of the Australian GP. However, if the "drive failure" that resulted in his early exit from Saturday's proceedings requires the remedy of a gearbox change then he would suffer the demotion of five grid slots and start his first race as World Champion in last place.

To his credit, Hamilton sought to put a brave face on his predicament, but there can be no disguising the simple reality that McLaren are way off the pace.

"I'm happy we made it through [to second qualifying] but something has gone wrong on the back of the car," he reported through a forced smile.

Source : Planet F1


What can I say - nothing really. I was dumbstruck by the flurry of times set, not because the times were set in quick succession but because they were set by the most unlikely of drivers/teams. It's no more Ferrari-McLaren-BMW but Brawn-Red Bull-Toyota and even Force India.

It is weird trying to fathom the top 5 or even top 10 of the order without the big guns there. I was so happy to see names like Sutil, Rosberg, Button, Barrichello, Glock, Trulli, Nakajima, Vettel, Webber topping the times in quick succession. It was incredible to watch and I was laughing to myself all the time. I hardly could get my eyes off the TV.

But as fun and exciting as it was, there are deeper concerns at play. The most important being the reason all this excitement has been produced and that is the rear diffuser on Brawn, Toyota and Williams (although it didn't produced the required results for Williams in qualifying). The other teams will definitely want to produce similiar diffusers for their cars as soon as possible although I doubt they'll have it done by Sepang which means probably another clean sweep for Brawn.

But if the diffusers were to be banned before China by the FIA courts of appeal, then suddenly the 3 diffuser teams will have a problem immediately in China and the other teams might have a fighting chance.

But looking at the situation, McLaren is in the most difficult position. Either way they have a problematic car which can't be solved by a quick fix (I hope it can though). How did they get into this mess anyway? I hope they will have a solution by Sepang and if by China the diffuser is deemed legal, I hope they have a solution for that as well. As much as it was exciting to watch the grid upside down, it was no fun watching McLaren helpless like that.

Qualy: Button & Rubens hand Brawn a dream debut

One word - Incredible! Wow!
Saturday 28th March 2009

It was a dream debut for Brawn GP as Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello locked out the front row of the grid, easily outpacing their rivals.

Saturday's session in Melbourne marked Brawn's GP first qualifying as a constructor, but that didn't seem to worry the former Honda outfit with Button calmly grabbing pole position with a 1:26.202.

Only his team-mate Barrichello came close to matching his pace, finishing 0.3s behind the Brit.

Sebastian Vettel, who qualified in third place in his first grand prix weekend for Red Bull Racing, was followed by Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg and Timo Glock.

Felipe Massa was the best placed Ferrari driver in seventh place, although the Brazilian was 0.83s off the pace.

Meanwhile it was a disappointing afternoon for McLaren with Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton qualifying down in 14th and 15th places with the latter suffering a "drive failure".

As for the back of the pack, despite the numerous new regulations, it was still Toro Rosso and Force India who brought up the rear.

Qualifying 1
Despite the late afternoon qualifying slot for the Melbourne GP, with sun slanting low creating long shadows in the braking zones, the temperature was still up at 24C with the track at 32C when Giancarlo Fisichella got the 2009 season underway.

Fisichella, in the Force India, set the provisional pole at 1:28.840. This was reduced to 1:27.833 by the Williams of Nico Rosberg which had been quickest in morning practice, making it three practices in a row. He went on to set a faster second lap, while team-mate Kazuki Nakajima reduced P1 to 1:26.752.

Kimi Raikkonen bounced back from a morning hydraulics failure on his Ferrari to reduce P1 to 1:26.615, which Fernando Alonso took to 1:26.474. Rubens Barrichello re-set P1 at 1:26.247 on his first flying lap and then set it down at 1:25.815 on the one that really counted.

Those using the hard tyres in Q1 needed two laps to get temperature into them, but it was significant that McLaren didn't even bother to try the compound and sent Lewis Hamilton out on the green-walled super softs for his opening lap. Lewis's 1:26.454 on his first run was good enough to get him into Q2, but when he went out for his second run he lost drive in the car. He would start from P15 or worse (if he had to change a gearbox in parc ferme).

With four minutes of the session left Felipe Massa found himself in P.20 .The order was: 20. Massa, 19. Fisichella, 18. Trulli, 17. Sutil, 16. Kovalainen 15. Bourdais, 14. Buemi, 13. Raikkonen, 12.Piquet, 11. Webber, 10.Vettel

As the cars flooded onto the track for their final runs, the degree of change, up and down the order, was huge. So many had switched from the hard tyres of their initial runs, to soft tyres for the second, and thus the timing screens pinballed the way they do on a drying track.

Massa elevated himself to P2, Webber jumped to P1, Raikkonen took P4 despite a wheel on the grass in the final sector, Kovalainen jumped to P8, Trulli to P7, Alonso to P9, Glock leapt to P2 while Rubens Barrichello reduced the P1 time to 1:25.006.

In the space of thirty seconds Jarno Trulli's time went down from P7 to P13 but he and the two McLaren drivers survived in P14 and P15 (though Hamilton would not continue).

Out went:

So - no major scalp in Q1 but the McLarens were mighty close. The usual suspects of Force India, Toro Rosso and Nelson Piquet looked like they might become the Q1 Club of 2009.

Qualifying 2
With no Hamilton in Q2, there would be just four cars exiting the 15-minute Q2 session. Kimi Raikkonen, continuing a trend he started last year, came out early and set P1 at 1:25.380 for Ferrari.

Timo Glock showed up his more experienced team-mate and stuck his Toyota into P2 with a 1:25.281. Rubens Barrichello could only manage P2 but Jenson Button's Brawn reduced P1 to 1:25.205.

Local boy Mark Webber then thrilled the home crowds by grabbing P2 behind Jenson. The leapfrogging continued with Vettel grabbing P1 for Red Bull with a 1:25.121 and Nico Rosberg taking P2 behind him.

With three minutes of the session left, the danger positions were: 15. Hamilton(out), 14.Kovalainen, 13.Nakajima, 12.Heidfeld, 11.Trulli, 10.Alonso, 9.Massa, 8.Raikkonen, 7.Barrichello

The cars rejoined battle and the two Brawns leapt to the front, Rubens taking P1 with a 1:24.783 and Button P2. Massa improved to P8, Heidfeld moved to a temporary P10, Kovalainen couldn't improve in P14. Trulli managed to take P7, while Nakajima could only set the P12 time.

Fernando Alonso was looking to improve his time but ran wide in the second last corner and his qualifying was over..

So out went:

Such has been the pace of the Williams this weekend that it was a shock to see one of the 'diffuser gang' (Toyota, Williams, Brawn) not make it into Q1 in the shape of Nakajima.

Also interesting to note was the BMW with KERS onboard, Heidfeld, was out, while Robert Kubica, who'd opted to leave it off his BMW had made it through. The two Ferraris had scraped into the top 10 in 9th and 10th, but at least they were there - unlike Mclaren.

Qualifying 3
The strategy game of GP racing now made its presence felt in qualifying. With Bridgestone now supplying tyres of varying hardness, there is one clear qualifying tyre and one clear racing tyre. With teams limited to four sets of super softs for qualifying, the teams who had scrambled through Q1 on hards now had two sets available for Q3. Brawn were sitting pretty.

Ferrari had to do their first runs in Q3 on hard tyres and save the one set of super softs they had left for the final blast for pole. (Had McLaren got there, they wouldn't have had any super softs at all).

Jenson Button set the initial P1 at 1:26.600, Rubens was over half a second slower at 1:27.161, but nobody was really close to the Brawn duo. Rosberg claimed P3 and then Mark Webber took it off him, with Sebastien Vettel only fractions back in P4 and Kubica in P5.

Felipe Massa's tyres were so slow that he though he had a puncture, but at least he was able to switch to the super softs.

Onto the final runs and Rubens Barrichello snatched pole off Jenson Button. Timo Glock jumped to P3 for Toyota, Rosberg took it off him, Kubica took it off him and then Vettel snatched it off him for the definitive P3.

Mark Webber obviously had the fuel level of Vettel (able to match him on the first run) but failed to improve on his second run and wound up P10, which was a major disappointment. Massa managed to stick his Ferrari in P7 which was a great result in the circumstances.

But the star of the session was Jenson Button and the Brawn team. Button calmly put his Brawn GP on pole with a 1:26.202, three tenths quicker than his team-mate. It was the end of a sporting recovery to end all sporting recoveries. After facing oblivion a month ago, the team were blocking out the front row in Melbourne with a car that will almost certainly remain legal.

It makes that £5m pay cut almost worthwhile.


01 J. Button Brawn GP 1:26.202
02 R. Barrichello Brawn GP 1:26.505
03 S. Vettel Red Bull 1:26.830
04 R. Kubica BMW 1:26.914
05 N. Rosberg Williams 1:26.973
06 T. Glock Toyota 1:26.975
07 F. Massa Ferrari 1:27.033
08 J. Trulli Toyota 1:27.127
09 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:27.163
10 M. Webber Red Bull 1:27.246
11 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:25.504
12 F. Alonso Renault 1:25.605
13 K. Nakajima Williams 1:25.607
14 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:25.726
15 L. Hamilton McLaren no time
16 S. Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:26.503
17 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:26.598
18 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:26.677
19 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:26.742
20 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:26.964

Source : Planet F1

Prac Three: Nico pulls off a clean-sweep

Saturday 28th March 2009

Nico Rosberg and his Williams finished fastest in Saturday's practice, giving the German a hat-trick of P1s and a confident starting point ahead of the day's qualifying session.

It was in fact another session that belonged to the 'diffuser three' with Rosberg leading Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Brawn GP's Jenson Button. Ferrari, though, will be buoyed to see that Felipe Massa was able to mix it up at the front as the Brazilian finished P4.

Report: A beautiful sunny day greeted the drivers for this late-starting third practice, with the track temperature sitting at a comfortable 35'C.

All 20 drivers ventured out in the first 10 minutes to complete their installation laps. However, silence descended in the minutes after as the teams waited to see who would be the first to blink.

Nelson Piquet Jr set the day's first lap time, a 1:31.330, but he was quickly overhauled by Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Timo Glock. Alonso taking the P1 slot with a 1:28.758. Piquet, though, continued lap to move up behind his team-mate as Renault took the early lead. But their 1-2 was short-lived as Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg, Nick Heidfeld, Jarno Trulli and Glock all moved ahead of Piquet.

Raikkonen's run came to a premature end 23 minutes into the session when the Finns' F60 broke down on the side of the track with a hydraulics problem. Not a good start to the day for the Ferrari and their 2007 World Champion, who may struggle in qualifying as a result.

Back on the track Jenson Button took control of the session, posting a 1:27.863 to take P1 off Alonso while Felipe Massa moved up to fourth place, slotting in between Rosberg and Heidfeld. Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton were seventh and eighth before the latter improved to fourth place with Giancarlo Fisichella putting his Force India up into P5.

Rubens Barrichello is the next to take the P1 slot, ahead of the two Williams of Kazuki Najakima and Rosberg. All three, though, were dropped when Seb Vettel put his Red Bull racer up into first place.

Heikki Kovalainen finally sets his first time of the day halfway through the session and it was a 1:29.336 for the Finnish driver, which put him in P18. Only one other driver, Adrian Sutil, had yet to set a time.

Vettel kicks up dirt as he pushes hard to improve his P1 time to a 1:27.009, which is 0.7s up on Barrichello's P2 time. Team-mate Webber, having seen Vettel's lap time, fought with his car as he tried to match Vettel's pace. But the Aussie could only manage P10.

Sutil sets his first timed lap with 25 minutes remaining and passed a spin Kovalainen on his way. The German went P12 with a 1:28.214.

The two Brawn GP cars again put on the pace with Barrichello going P1 ahead of Button while Glock moved up to third place ahead of Vettel. Webber moved up to sixth place.

Massa improved to third place only to be bumped a position as Trulli takes second off Button. Massa, though, upped his pace on his next lap to retake third place.

Nakajima took a trip across the grass as did Vettel, who moments later reported that 'something broke with the brakes' as he crawled back to Red Bull's garage.

A flying Glock took second place and a lap later improved to first with a 1:26.410. But he was soon overhauled by Button, who in turn was beaten by Trulli.

Piquet nearly lost it coming into Turn 6, the Brazilian down in 15th place, one ahead of team-mate Alonso.

Trulli set a 1.25.811 and was joined by Button in the sub 1:26s as the Brit also powered on the pace as the two tussled for the final P1 slot of Aussie GP practice.

But it was actually Nico Rosberg who finished the day in P1 with a 1:25.808 as the German ensured a clean-sweep of this weekend's practice sessions!

01 N. Rosberg Williams 1:25.808 21 laps
02 J. Trulli Toyota 1:25.811 19 laps
03 J. Button Brawn GP 1:25.981 20 laps
04 F. Massa Ferrari 1:26.020 17 laps
05 K. Nakajima Williams 1:26.078 18 laps
06 R. Barrichello Brawn GP 1:26.348 19 laps
07 M. Webber Red Bull 1:26.355 16 laps
08 T. Glock Toyota 1:26.410 25 laps
09 R. Kubica BMW 1:26.514 18 laps
10 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:26.555 19 laps
11 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:26.652 13 laps
12 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:26.714 18 laps
13 S. Vettel Red Bull 1:27.009 12 laps
14 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:27.062 12 laps
15 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:27.152 16 laps
16 S. Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:27.192 17 laps
17 F. Alonso Renault 1:27.357 18 laps
18 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:27.492 20 laps
19 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:27.739 22 laps
20 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:28.801 5 laps

Source : Planet F1

Friday, March 27, 2009


After waiting for so long for the new season to start and going through a very thin winter testing season, finally the first race weekend of the year has begun. And what a way to start. Practice 1 and 2 were explosive with almost everybody topping the timesheets one time or another. Even Sutil in the Force India managed to go P1 for a while which was unthinkable last year.

Although the McLaren pace was expected from what we've seen in winter testing (who says testing times does not mean anything) the rest of the field especially the smaller and unfancied teams were incredible to watch. Williams, Toyota, Force India, Brawn, Red Bull were swapping times at the top 10 end of the charts. It was surreal. Also surreal was watching McLaren, Ferrari, BMW and Renault at the bottom and midfield. Weird actually.

Yes, the new rules has shaken up the order and given a chance for others to shine. No doubt about it. But this diffuser thing is not good. It would mean another day in court with some races being driven under appeal. That is what we fans hate, to watch a great race then only to be told that the results have changed because of a meeting in Paris.

As for McLaren, boy do they have a problem on their hands. The MP4-24 somehow is tail happy and not so fast especially in Lewis' hands. It seems to like Heikki better somehow. I hope McLaren can work out the bugs soon before Lewis is too far behind to compete for the championship.

All in all, still gonna be an explosive season.

Hamilton: It's not as bad as it looks

Friday 27th March 2009

Lewis Hamilton's lap times in Friday's practice sessions for the Australian GP have concerned McLaren fans but the the World Champion insists it's not as bad as it looks.

After struggling in pre-season testing for both pace and grip it was suggested in some optimistic quarters that McLaren were sandbagging and would display their true pace come this weekend's Australian GP. But instead all the Woking team showed was that those sandbags are geniunely weighing them down.

Defending Champ Hamilton failed to impress in either of Friday's two practices, finishing 16th in the first and 18th in the second, 1.8s behind pace-setter Nico Rosberg.

But despite his sluggish start to the Championship - evident in his unimpressive lap times - the 24-year-old Brit insists McLaren have actually made progress.

"My day was not too bad," Hamilton told Autosport. "We're not as quick as we would love to be, but we are working very hard.

"We got through quite a programme and made some decent steps for us. We don't know what anyone else is doing on track, but we're happy with what we have done today."

A lack of grip proved to be Hamilton's main downfall as his MP4-24 battled to stay stuck to the tarmac.

"In general, it's just a general lack of grip everywhere, it is not one particular area of the corners," he explained. "We cannot carry the speed through corners we would like.

"We are working very, very hard. We've made some steps forward, the gap to the others is not as big as it was at Barcelona. But there is no quick fix, it is going to take time."

Hamilton, though, isn't the only one trying to sound positive about what can only be described as a trying day.

Fernando Alonso, who finished 10th and 12th in the day's two sessions with a best time of 1:27.232, also insisted that Renault have made significant progress but at the same time admits there is more to be made.

"I am happy but I could be more happy," the Spaniard said. "Pace-wise it is difficult to understand, it is only Friday but we were 10th in first session and 12th in second, so it is not a position to fight for a podium and wins.

"Hopefully tomorrow we need to find some performance in the car, we need to be a little bit quicker and we cannot afford to start the race in the middle of the pack if we want to score some good points.

"The first day is always difficult, there are many things to discover. It's the first time we have tested in warm conditions after the winter in Europe, so we gathered useful information as usual.

"We will try to analyse all the information tonight and hopefully tomorrow we will have a normal improvement."

Source : Planet F1

Diffuser appeal gives teams impossible dilemma

Friday 27th March 2009

The performance advantage accrued from what they still believe is an illegal diffuser design has been acknowledged by Renault contemplating a 'substantial reworking of the rear of the car' in order to incorporate a version of the controversial diffusers used by Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota.

Renault were one of three teams to make a formal protest against the designs on Thursday ahead of the Melbourne GP. After six hours of scrutineering by stewards, the cars of Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota were deemed legal. However, an appeal has now been lodged and the matter is set to culminate in a FIA hearing.

The simplest solution to the furore would be for the remaining teams to immediately introduce a similar design to that of the 'Diffuser Three'. However, that, it would seem, is far easier said than done, with the expert word in the paddock suggesting that it would be far easier for Brawn, Williams and Toyota to modify their design than the other seven to modify theirs.

"It would be possible to have something done to our car by the first race in Europe, the Spanish grand prix on 10 May," Pat Symonds, Renault's director of engineering, told The Guardian. "That could find us maybe three-tenths of a second. But, in order to find the other two or three tenths necessary to put us on a par with the three cars carrying what I believe to be an illegal diffuser would require a substantial reworking of the rear of the car. Ironically, the three would have a much easier job converting the other way."

Another dilemma for the teams has been presented by the decision to lodge an appeal. Do they themselves continue to explore the possibility of modifying their diffuser and its incorporation even in the build-up to a FIA hearing at which they will argue that type of diffuser design is illegal? As the device seemingly improves a car's performance by upwards of a half a second per lap, and it far from certain that the FIA will deem the controversial two-tiered design illegal, the 'other seven' will surely conclude that they have no option but to devote all their development work to the issue.

Source : Planet f1

Prac Two: 'Diffuser three' lead the way

Friday 27th March 2009

Expect fresh cries over illegal cars after the 'diffuser three' grabbed the top three places on the timesheets in Melbourne's second practice where Nico Rosberg led home Rubens Barrichello and Jarno Trulli.

Report: Jarno Trulli was the first to venture out as the session began, leading a train of driver as they completed their installation laps. The Italian opted to remain out on track, clocking the sessions first lap time, a 1.32.102, but he was quickly overhauled by Timo Glock, Mark Webber, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastian Vettel.

With 14 drivers out on track the timesheet continued to change with Adrian Sutil putting his Force India up into first place while Fernando Alonso went fourth quickest for Renault. Sutil's reign was short-lived as Heikki Kovalainen went fastest only to lose out to Nico Rosberg.

Alonso, pushing hard, clipped the inside kerb at Turn Five before going into the corner backwards. The Spaniard, though, managed to avoid damaging his Renault R29.

Sutil returned to the front of the pack with a 1.28.111 with Kovalainen slotting into second place, just 0.03s off the pace. Mark Webber put his Red Bull into third place before being dropped by Timo Glock. Hamilton improved to third place while Jenson Button took control of the session, posting a 1:28.002.

Button continued lapping, bettering his time to break into the 1:27s before Jarno Trull overhauled him at the top with a 1:27.168. Kovalainen had an off-track excursion across the grass at Turn One.

With the drivers putting in serious laps the timesheets continued to change with Rosberg, Trulli, Glock, Sebastian Vettel, Sutil, Mark Webber, Felipe Massa and Button completing the top eight after the first half an hour.

Rubens Barrichello moved up to fourth place behind the two Toyotas before struggling to get his Brawn GP car into Turn 1, which resulted in his running wide and skipping across the gravel.

The Renaults continued their struggle from Practice One for pace and grip with Nelson Piquet Jr and Fernando Alonso down in 16th and 17th places. Only the two Toro Rossos and Nick Heidfeld were slower.

Rosberg continued to etch out a lead at the front, posting a 1:26.053 while the Toyotas and Brawn GP cars were far off the pace. At the back of the pack the Toro Rosso drivers improved to 15th and 16th places while Heidfeld moved up to P18 leaving the Renaults at the very back of the field.

Glock and Vettel both ran wide at Turn 3 within seconds off each other with the latter bringing out the yellow flags for the second time today as his Red Bull remained stuck in the gravel.

With half an hour left on the clock the top eight were: Rosberg, Trulli, Barrichello, Webber, Button, Glock, Nakajima and Vettel.

The lap times slowed down in the final third of the session as the drivers concentrated on longer runs, and putting the mileage on their cars.

Ferrari, though, had cause for concern as Kimi Raikkonen, who was one of the quicker drivers in Practice One, was languishing at the bottom of the timesheets with 15 minutes to go. The 2007 Champ finally managed to improve to 14th place but was still over a second off the pace.

Pushing hard for the final few minutes Heidfeld ran wide at Turn 3 and Nakajima and Button almost collided after taking the same line.

And despite all 20 drivers having a go at it Rosberg held onto the P1 slot, finishing the session ahead of Barrichello and Trulli. Meanwhile Ferrari's best-placed driver was Massa in 10th place and McLaren's was Kovalainen in P17.

01. Rosberg Williams 1:26.053 36 laps
02. Barrichello Brawn 1:26.157 38 laps
03. Trulli Toyota 1:26.350 42 laps
04. Webber Red Bull 1:26.370 30 laps
05. Button Brawn 1:26.374 38 laps
06. Glock Toyota 1:26.443 42 laps
07. Nakajima William 1:26.560 33 laps
08. Vettel Red Bull 1:26.740 19 laps
09. Sutil Force India 1:27.040 29 laps
10. Massa Ferrari 1:27.064 35 laps
11. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:27.204 32 laps
12. Alonso Renault 1:27.232 28 laps
13. Fisichella Force India 1:27.282 32 laps
14. Heidfeld BMW 1:27.317 34 laps
15. Kubica BMW 1:27.398 36 laps
16. Bourdais Toro Rosso 1:27.479 36 laps
17. Kovalainen McLaren 1:27.802 35 laps
18. Hamilton McLaren 1:27.81 31 laps
19. Piquet Renault 1:27.828 35 laps
20. Buemi Toro Rosso 1:28.076 33 laps

Source : Planet F1

Prac One: Late pace sees Williams finish on top

Friday 27th March 2009

A late charge from Williams driver Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima saw them edge out pre-season favourites Ferrari and Brawn GP to lead the way in the first practice session for the Australian GP.

Report: Partly cloudy conditions and a track temperature of 25'C greeted the drivers as the 2009 F1 season kicked off with its first practice session in Melbourne, allowing teams and drivers to witness for the first time the full impact the new regulations governing the aerodynamics, as well as slick tyres and the introduction of KERS, will have on competitive lap times.

Robert Kubica was the first driver to turn a wheel in anger as the BMW driver led out the field for their installation laps. But it wasn't until almost half an hour of the session had passed before this year's only rookie driver, Seb Buemi, set the first timed lap of the day, a 1:41.493. The Swiss driver improved to a 1:33.622, while was overhauled by 1.5s by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on his first lap out.

Raikkonen moved up to a 1:28.718 before having an off-track excursion while pushing too hard. The halfway point of the session saw the Finn leading Felipe Massa, who also found himself taking to the run-off area after missing the last corner and going on straight, Nick Heidfeld, Williams' Nico Rosberg, Jarno Trulli, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Timo Glock.

Button, racing for the new Brawn GP team, improved to second place before the yellow flags were waved after Sebastian Vettel stopped at Whiteford due to a hydraulic pressure problem with his Red Bull RB5. Marshals pushed his car out the way and the track returned to green.

Rubens Barrichello headed up the timesheets to take P4, giving Ferrari and Brawn GP total dominance over the top four slots on the timesheets. Heikki Kovalainen quickly put an end to it as he took third place while Mark Webber moved up to fifth. The Finn, though, moved on to overhaul Raikkonen for the top spot with a 1:27.982 but his stay was short-lived as Barrichello improved to a 1:27.743.

With half an hour remaining the top eight was led by Barrichello, followed by Kovalainen, Glock, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Button, Kazuki Nakajima and Massa while Hamilton was down in 15th place and Fernando Alonso had yet to even set a time.

Moments later Raikkonen put on the softer option Bridgestone slicks - the first driver to do so - and immediately lit up the timesheets as he posted fastest sector times in all three sectors to end with a 1:26.750, which put him back in the P1 position.

Alonso only manages 17th place on his first timed lap as his 3.5s off the pace, which slots him right behind his team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr. Only the two Toro Rossos of Seb Bourdais and Buemi, as well as the stationary Vettel, are slower. Alonso improved to ninth place a few laps later while Button took second off his team-mate Barrichello.

Nakajima missed Senna as he suffered a flat right rear tyre while Piquet Jr spun his Renault at the Jones Chicane. Hamilton improved to 12th place but was still 2.2s off the pace. Barrichello joined the list of those running wide as he too missed the Jones Chicane.

Kovalainen improved to third place behind Rosberg while Nakajima moved up behind the Brawn GP cars and into sixth place.

The timesheet continued to change for the final five minutes with Rosberg putting in two fastest sector times to finish at the top with a 1:26.687. Nakajima was second followed by Raikkonen.

01 N. Rosberg Williams 1:26.687 19 laps
02 K. Nakajima Williams 1:26.736 21 laps
03 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:26.750 24 laps
04 R. Barrichello Brawn GP 1:27.226 21 laps
05 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:27.453 15 laps
06 J. Button Brawn GP 1:27.467 12 laps
07 F. Massa Ferrari 1:27.642 24 laps
08 T. Glock Toyota 1:27.710 24 laps
09 A. Sutil Force India 1:27.993 20 laps
10 F. Alonso Renault 1:28.123 16 laps
11 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:28.137 20 laps
12 J. Trulli Toyota 1:28.142 21 laps
13 R. Kubica BMW 1:28.511 22 laps
14 G. Fisichella Force India 1:28.603 16 laps
15 S. Buemi Toro Rosso 1:28.785 27 laps
16 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:29.042 18 laps
17 M. Webber Red Bull 1:29.081 7 laps
18 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:29.461 25 laps
19 S. Bourdais Toro Rosso 1:29.499 21 laps
20 S. Vettel Red Bull 1:32.784 4 laps

Source : Planet F1

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lewis blames 2008 success for 2009's slow car

Actually thinking about it, the amount of effort put in for the 2008 car was not worth it and didn't make a difference as without Glock, Lewis would've lost the title. McLaren should've just let Lewis race his heart out. He probably would've finished higher than 5th.

Thursday 26th March 2009

Lewis Hamilton has blamed last year's success for this year's slow car, saying McLaren focused too much on their 2008 car rather than switching their attention to their 2009 challenger.

Last season, in a bid to win the Drivers' Championship title, McLaren continued to develop the MP4-23 right up until the season-ending Brazilian GP. And the decision paid off for the Woking outfit with Hamilton clinched the title by one point over Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

Long-term, though, the decision has, according to Hamilton, cost the team as they've struggled for both pace and reliability during pre-season testing of their 2009 MP4-24.

"I think we focused so much on last year's car, we maybe left it a little bit late to focus on this year's car," AFP quotes Hamilton.

"It's difficult to say but people have obviously done a better job at the moment."

Asked to rate this year's challenger, the 24-year-old said: "Last year's car, in marks out of 10, I'd probably give it an eight."

But despite starting the season on the back foot, the defending World Champion has confidence in his team, saying they can return their fortunes around.

"We've got a fantastic team and the guys are working flat out to recover the situation and to bring it back to the top," he said.

"Who knows? This weekend we've got lots of bits coming, so hopefully we can try and fight at least for some points.

"I think over the course of the next four or five races, that's where we'll see the major improvements and hopefully see us get back to the front. It will be challenging."

Source : Planet F1

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hamilton: I'll still race my heart out

Monday 23rd March 2009

Lewis Hamilton insists he's still race his "heart out" even if he fails to start this Sunday's Australian GP from a strong position on the grid.

With McLaren struggling in pre-season testing questions have been raised about how the Woking team will do in this weekend's season-opening Melbourne race.

And comments coming from the team haven't been at all encouraging with team boss Martin Whitmarsh confessing to a performance shortfall while Hamilton himself recently said they may battle to make their way to the front of the pack.

But despite his earlier assessment, the defending World Champion insists he's going to Australia determined to get the best result that his car and himself can offer.

"My plan is to be at the front of the grid in Melbourne, but if I'm not able to start the Australian Grand Prix from the front of the grid, I'll still race my heart out - I can't wait to get back to racing," the Brit told The Times.

The Brit is also confident that between himself and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen they will do their utmost to resolve the issues McLaren have with their MP4-24.

"I've driven for McLaren for two years and, in both seasons, the team has developed a fantastic car," he said.

"At the moment, this year's car is a little behind the rest in terms of development, but I'm absolutely confident we will get stronger and grow as the year progresses.

"I have complete faith in my team... they are working so hard at the moment, putting in incredible hours and massive effort. And I'll do my bit, too.

"Both Heikki and I will work together to improve the car's pace. We're totally committed to working with the team to develop the best car possible."

On a personal level Hamilton has been hard at work improving both his physical and mental strength ahead of the new campaign, stating that he has never been more prepared than he is this year.

"I'm already better than I was last year in terms of my physical and mental preparation, in terms of the balance of my life," he added.

"So if things just continue to get better and I continue to work and improve my driving and understanding of the car, then I see no reason why we can't win more."

Source : Planet F1

Bernie: New system will be used in 2010

Monday 23rd March 2009

Bernie Ecclestone insists the 'winner-takes-all' Championship system "will be" used in 2010 even if the team's aren't in favour.

Last week the FIA shocked the F1 community when they announced that this year's Championship would be decided on the number of race wins. But 48 hours later motorsport's governing body were forced to back down after the Formula One Teams' Association questioned the validity of the FIA's ruling.

And even though the teams are clearly not in favour of the plan, Ecclestone insists it will be implemented next season.

"It will be supported by the FIA and it will be in the regulations. So when people enter the championship, that's what the regulation will be," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"To make any changes when the entries have closed you have to get the unanimous agreement of all the people that have entered. It would appear that some of the teams don't like the idea."

The F1 supremo added that in his opinion Formula One has missed out on a great chance to improve racing this season.

"It's logic - you go to athletics and you look at the 100 metres, you're not looking at the guy that's second, you're looking at the winner. In most sports, people are looking at winners," he said.

"It's very simple, when people start the race I want them to want to win. I don't want them sitting there, which is what Lewis Hamilton did, quite rightly, a couple of times last year.

"He even admitted to me he could have won. Didn't need to, why should he take a chance falling off the road or wrecking the car to get two points?"

Source : Planet F1

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hamilton: Everyone makes mistakes

Massa..what a prick. If you are something, you don't have to say it or tell people, they will know or find out by themselves. What a sore loser and childish prick. Up yours la Massa.

Sunday 22nd March 2009

Lewis Hamilton is ready to start the next chapter in his career after finally winning the World Championship last year.

After narrowly missing out on the Formula One title in his rookie season, the McLaren driver bounced back in 2008 to win the Championship in dramatic circumstances in the season finale in Brazil.

The 24-year-old admits it was a massive relief to win the title last year, but says his focus is now firmly on the 2009 World Championship.

"I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders," he told The Independent. "I want to win more, I want to be more consistent, though in 2007 nine podiums in my first nine races was pretty special.

"I am happy with what I have achieved, but now is the beginning of something new. Every year I have got better. I am already better than I was last year, physically, mentally, in terms of the balance in my life."

The Englishman admits it could be a lot tougher to win this year's title. McLaren's MP4-24 has been sluggish during winter testing.

"I am very appreciative that last year I had a great opportunity, a great car, and a great team who did a great job," he said.

"I am mindful that you can't do it all the time. Some win one, some win two or three. I don't know how many I am going to win, but I know that I am just as determined as ever before.

"Driving the car is going to be harder this year, with the new front wing and KERS controls. It's hugely challenging. But perhaps the pressure from the outside world will be easier. I love this sport. I love this job. It's so cool working for the best team in the world."

Hamilton has often been accused of being arrogant by his fellow driver - with 2008 Championship runner-up Felipe Massa claiming the entire field was rooting for during last year's title-decider at Interlagos because "I always respect everybody".

Although he concedes "everyone makes mistakes", Hamilton insists he is not arrogant.

"I never want to hear that kind of thing," he says. "I think you know I am not. I know what I am capable of, I know where I am, but what I do is take the criticism and try to understand why it's being said.

"Everyone makes mistakes, for sure, maybe there is a point where you have been arrogant and come across as arrogant. So I have to accept that. You have to accept it - you can't say everyone else is stupid. So you just have to deal with it."

Source : Planet F1

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Diffuser row grows ahead of Melbourne

Another example of FIA stupidity with changes occuring often and not well thought out with loopholes. The best way the could resolve this when the shit hits the fan is by changing the results in a committee and spoiling the race for us fans.

The growing row over diffuser designs in Formula 1 appears to be heading for a showdown protest at the Australian Grand Prix, with the FIA saying it is now too late to resolve the matter before the start of the season.

The designs of the diffusers on the Brawn, Toyota and Williams have led to questions from rival teams, who think the trio are unfairly using a bigger diffuser than was originally intended by the regulations.

So far the FIA has said that it believes the designs are within the wording of the regulations, but the matter has moved up a gear with at least one team believed to have written to the governing body to state its belief that the design is illegal.

Now, FIA president Max Mosley has said that he thinks the matter can only be sorted out in Australia - because it is too late to organise a formal hearing before the first race.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, Mosley said: "It's a very clever device and you can make a very good case for saying that it's legal and a very good case for saying that it's illegal. It's going to be difficult.

"What's actually happened is that teams are saying 'We think it's illegal for this and this reason.'

"If there had been more time before the detailed objections to the system were sent in, I would probably have sent it to the FIA Court of Appeal before Australia. And actually I have given thought to that this week. But there isn't time. It wouldn't be fair. I think the thing will probably come to some sort of a head in Australia."

The most likely outcome from the current situation is that one or more teams may choose to lodge a protest at the first race of the season - either once scrutineering has taken place on Thursday or after the finish of the race.

Mosley added: "One possibility is that all the teams agree that it is illegal, and therefore all the teams shouldn't have it from Barcelona. But then those teams who say it is legal will say 'Why should we do that?' And those that say it's illegal will say 'Why should we lose an advantage for four races?'

"And so probably what will happen is it will end up going to the stewards, who will make a decision. That will almost certainly be appealed by whichever side is disadvantaged. And then that will go to our Court of Appeal and be hammered out.

"It's not straightforward. I have an open mind on it at the moment - I can see it going either way. I really can. But somebody has to make their mind up and fortunately it's not my job."

Source : Autosport