Thursday, April 30, 2009
It would seem that the FIA have got what they wished for, that is getting rid of Ron Dennis and putting McLaren under ever more pressure to perform without making any mistakes no matter how small. On top of that they have an insurance in the form of the suspended ban should they feel like using it.
One thing I'm glad is that at least McLaren can still go racing and Lewis is still able to fight for the title. Hopefully the team will be able to find more performance on the car and win races from now on.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Lewis Hamilton has written off his chances of taking another stride towards retaining his World title in Barcelona in a fortnight.
Hamilton put all thoughts of Wednesday's Liargat' hearing out of his mind to finish fourth in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.
McLaren have worked 24/7 to give Hamilton a competitive car worthy of his status and given their woes before the season started.
The 24-year-old was strong off the line at the Sakhir circuit, and at one stage a podium place was potentially on the cards.
But the one-two-three of Jenson Button in his Brawn, the Red Bull of Sebastien Vettel and Toyota's Jarno Trulli were too strong for Hamilton.
Hamilton readily concedes there is work to do, and although McLaren - like every other team - will sport a new package of updates for the Spanish Grand Prix on May 10, he is not expecting miracles.
"I'm delighted with fourth," smiled Hamilton.
"It was definitely a good race for the team, and an encouraging step forward, but we've got to do a lot more work, to keep pushing.
"The Toyotas, Red Bulls and Brawns were so fast in the high-speed corners that it was just impossible to keep up.
"So I wouldn't suggest we're really fighting back up there. We have just done a better job than other people as they have made mistakes and we have collected the points.
"At least this was my best result of the season so far, which is great for the team. I'm glad I was able to bring some points home.
"It feels good to have made a step, to have consistency and we now have a foundation to improve, but we're still a long way behind with the car.
"When we get to Barcelona the gap will be bigger because it's a high-downforce circuit.
"We should challenge for the top 10 there, but another top-five finish will be harder."
Hamilton, though, refused to be drawn on whether his drive was at least a positive for himself and the team ahead of the date with the World Motor Sport Council in Paris.
"I'm not thinking about Wednesday," dismissed Hamilton.
"This is just another good boost for the team, for morale, to keep pushing so we can get back to the front."
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh hailed Hamilton's performance as "a great drive", fuelling his belief McLaren are firmly heading in the right direction following a wayward pre-season.
"Lewis made no mistakes during the race and pushed aggressively," assessed Whitmarsh, who will fight McLaren's cause on Wednesday.
"Without the pace to match the Toyotas, Brawns or Red Bulls, fourth place was a very strong result, and it's even more pleasing that we are steadily moving closer to their pace.
"A podium was in our grasp today, but we didn't quite make it.
"Overall, however, this circuit possibly flattered us a little, but we've nonetheless made substantial progress over the past few weeks.
"Our competitors won't stand still, but we will keep improving until we get back to where we expect to be - at the front."
Source : Planet F1
Monday 27th April 2009
Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that the WMSC will most likely heed Mercedes's warning when handing out punishment to McLaren in the Liargate scandal.
It is a widely held opinion in F1 circles that McLaren will face some sort of punishment in the form of a race ban, a monetary fine or a combination of the two.
In a thinly-veiled warning, Dieter Zetsche, the chairman of Daimler, recently stated that Mercedes may not remain in F1 if McLaren are slapped with an "unreasonable punishment."
"If circumstances should change, perhaps because of an unreasonable punishment by the FIA, it is possible that we could consider our engagement," he told German magazine Focus.
And it appears that the WMSC will heed Daimler's warning with Ecclestone revealing that, with all certainty, McLaren will receive a "fair" punishment.
"I am absolutely positive that Mercedes would like to look upon this as fair for everybody and, if there is any punishment to be meted out, it will be fair and I am sure they would support that," the F1 supremo told The Times.
"I don't think they would decide to leave Formula One because somebody had done something wrong and been punished. I think they will be very fair."
Source : Planet F1
Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel have ruled out talk of a two-team fight for this year's World title, with both drivers predicting that McLaren and Ferrari are already building towards a return to the top.
Button currently has a 12-point in the Drivers' standings after claiming his third race win of the season in Bahrain on Sunday. It's been an impressive start to the campaign for the Brit and his Brawn team, especially considering that just two months ago they weren't even sure if they would make the starting grid this season.
Despite his victory in the desert, however, the Brit was the first to point out that Brawn no longer holds the pace advantage boasted in the opening two races of the Championship where they dominated from start to finish.
With Red Bull and Toyota now breathing down Brawn's neck, Button also fears McLaren and Lewis Hamilton could pose a big threat to his World title bid.
"Well, at the moment you would say that these three teams sat here (Brawn, Red Bull, Toyota) have been the most consistent, you're right, but I would say that the McLarens seem to be a lot more competitive this weekend," Button said.
"They made a step forward in China. Supposedly they haven't had anything new on the car here but they've moved forward a lot and Lewis ended up fourth. They've obviously done a good job, so you can't forget McLaren.
"When we start in Europe I'm sure they are going to have some new parts and they are going to be very competitive. It's positive that we've got some points on them already."
Meanwhile, Vettel has also warned against writing off Ferrari, who finally bagged their first points of the Championship on Sunday, as the Scuderia has both the man-power, money and know-how to improve their car.
"There's a long, long way to go, we've done just four races. As Jenson said, I think his team has made the strongest impression so far. We are pushing very hard, we are getting closer, so especially on Saturdays we seem to get much stronger," said Vettel
"You may not forget the teams (that were dominant) the last couple of years, McLaren as well as Ferrari. They have a lot of resources and they have proven in the past that even if they have a bad start they can come back very quickly, so we have to keep pushing and for us, we want to be the best, and there is at least one team still in front of us, so we have to keep pushing hard."
Source : Planet F1
Monday, April 27, 2009
Lewis Hamilton has admitted he considered walking out on McLaren and F1 in the wake of the backlash he suffered over the Liargate scandal.
Found guilty by the FIA of 'deliberately misleading' race stewards after the season-opening Australian GP, Hamilton described the subsequent furore as "the worst experience of his life" as he issued a grovelling public apology.
In an interview conducted with the BBC on Friday but only broadcast during their coverage of the Bahrain GP, Hamilton, who has barely uttered a word to the press in the past week, confirmed that he did ponder leaving the sport because of the criticism he had to endure.
"I wasn't 100% sure I wanted to be here [in F1 with McLaren] for the next five years," he told the corporation. "There was so much going on. Do I want to be in the limelight with people slating me?
"Do I want be in the spotlight where I can't even go to go to the fish and chip shop or the cinema and have fun without people taking pictures of me?
"But if I want to race this car and if I want to continue doing this, that's what I've got to do."
Pressed to clarify whether he had decided to stay in F1, Hamilton replied: "I definitely have. And it's because of my fans."
With the FIA's hearing into the scandal to be held this week, Hamilton's future with McLaren has been cast in doubt in recent days with one newspaper even billing the Bahrain race as 'potentially his last with the team'. However, the World Champion has insisted he will not leave the Woking outfit.
"I'm very, very committed to my team," he vowed. "I love this team. I l have been here for many years. Since I was 10 years old I said this was who I wanted to drive for and I'm driving for them now.
"We won a world championship together. We just missed a world championship together and there's going to be many, many more years when we win and lose."
Source : Planet F1
Lewis Hamilton concedes McLaren just didn't have the pace needed to match the top three cars in Sunday's Bahrain GP.
The Brit, who could be hit with a two-race ban next Wednesday when McLaren face the World Motor Sport Council, at least gave his team something to smile about on Sunday afternoon when he brought his MP4-24 home in fourth place.
But while he was happy with the result, the defending World Champion admits his team is still lacking in pace.
"I'm delighted, considering we started fifth," he told the BBC.
"We had a great start, but it was so hard to keep up with the Red Bull and the Toyotas and Brawn. It was impossible."
And although his P4 was his best result of the season, Hamilton has urged McLaren to continue developing their car if they hope to stand any chance of winning this year's World title.
"We've got to keep pushing but this is good for the team," he added.
Source : Planet F1
Jenson Button claimed the victory in Sunday's Bahrain GP as the Brawn driver proved he had the race pace needed to outwit the Red Bull and Toyota
Sebastian Vettel claimed second place as the Red Bull racer continued to show a maturity beyond his age, holding off the Toyota of Jarno Trulli in the final stint of the race.
Lewis Hamilton added more points to his and McLaren's tally but didn't have the pace needed to finish on the podium, settling for fourth place. Meanwhile, the three-stopping Rubens Barrichello was fifth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who claimed Ferrari's first points of the season.
The temperatures on the sun-baked Sakhir circuit were slightly down on Saturday Qualifying but with an ambient temperature of 36C, the track was still at 50C as Jarno Trulli led the field round on a very slow parade lap. All the cars would take the super soft option tyre in the first stint.
As the red lights went out there was a scramble forward as the cars equipped with KERS; McLaren, Ferrari and Renault sought to maximise their advantage off the line. It was a frantic opening two laps in Bahrain.
Despite starting on the dusty side of the track Timo Glock managed to outdrag his heavier-fuelled team-mate, and Jarno Trulli had to slot in behind him going through Turn 1. Behind him Lewis Hamilton chose to dive down the inside of Sebastian Vettel in a move reminiscent of Mount Fuji 2008 but this time managed to get his car stopped in time to take P3. At the same moment Jenson Button came round the outside of the Red Bull driver to take P4 as Vettel had to back off.
Through the second turn and Lewis Hamilton was able to overtake Jarno Trulli and was briefly into P2 before running wide on the exit of Turn 3 handing the place back to the Toyota driver.
Behind Vettel in P5, Raikkonen had chosen the inside line to steal a march on his fast-strating Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa. Both of them had overtaken the slow starting (or KERS-less) Rubens Barrichello who then nipped up the inside of Raikkonen again and put his car between Raikkonen and Massa.
Fernando Alonso took to the grass to get past Rosberg and almost shoved his Renault into the back of Massa in the braking zone for Turn 1.
Rubens Barrichello didn't want to stay behind Raikkonen for long and was past the Ferrari before Turn 17. Fernando Alonso would pass Massa on the opening lap also.
So, as the cars streamed over the line on the opening lap the order was 1.Glock, 2.Trulli, 3.Hamilton, 4.Button, 5.Vettel, 6.Barrichello, 7.Raikkonen, 8.Alonso, 9.Massa, 10.Rosberg, 11.Piquet. The fast-starting Red Bull of Mark Webber was up to P.14.
Somewhere on the lap there was contact and Nakajima and Kubica returned to the pits for new front wings, while the second McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen had fallen back to 17th.
Jenson Button was close to the back of Lewis Hamilton from the moment he outbraked himself passing Jarno Trulli and on the second lap Button managed to hurl his Brawn GP car down the inside of the McLaren at Turn 1. It was a critical moment because it allowed him to keep in touch with the two Toyota drivers as Hamilton's pace would fall away.
On the third lap Felipe Massa cruised down pitlane suspecting a problem with his KERS device but continuing nonetheless. Heidfeld also pitted on what would be a wretched afternoon for the BMW team.
At the front, Jarno Trulli started setting a series of fastest laps to haul in Timo Glock. Trulli's pace just inspired Glock to go faster and he responded with Personal Best lap times. The published weights on Saturday had shown that both Toyotas were the lightest on the grid, indicating that they might be trying a three-stop race or a two-stop race with a very short opening stint.
Button was already being told to turn down the engine on Lap 7, but by Lap 9 he was still only 3.4 seconds adrift of Jarno Trulli, who was still two seconds behind Glock. Hamilton had been dropped off six seconds back in fourth place and he was clearly holding up Sebastien Vettel in fifth.
The strategy started to play out at the end of Lap 12 as Glock pitted and exited behind Nico Rosberg in 9th. Trulli pitted a lap later but was able to exit in front of Alonso in 7th, leapfrogging his team-mate in the process.
The Toyota team had chosen to run the prime (medium-hardness) tyre in the middle stint and it looked to be a mistake. Alonso was soon on the back of Trulli and passed him with an epic overtaking move round the outside on Lap 14.
When Button and Hamilton came in for their first pit-stops at the end of Lap 15 it left Sebastian Vettel briefly in the lead for Red Bull. The result of the stops was that Button had leapfrogged Trulli on the road and Hamilton was now ahead of Glock.
So the positions on lap 17 were: Vettel (not stopped), Raikkonen (not stopped), Button, Trulli, Rosberg (not stopped), Hamilton, Glock, Piquet (not stopped), Barrichello, Alonso.
When Vettel pitted on Lap 18 he emerged behind Button and Trulli but now in front of Hamilton. Though Vettel was just 30 metres behind Trulli when he got back on track it was enough. For the rest of the middle stint Trulli would hold up the Red Bull driver while Button increased his advantage. And got away.
On Lap 22 the Briton led by 7.5 seconds - by Lap 34 he had stretched that gap out to 15.6 seconds thanks to running on the option (super soft) tyre in the middle stint. Both he and Vettel would have to run the slower prime tyre in the final stint.
Jenson's team-mate Rubens Barrichello looked to be running on a three-stop strategy and cruised up to the back of Jarno Trulli's three-car train of Trulli/Vettel/Hamilton before pitting for the second time on Lap 26.
The sometimes frantic opening few laps of the race were replaced with an old-fashioned no-passing-on-track strategy duel in the closing stages. The faster Vettel and Hamilton could not find a way past Trulli and had to sit behind until Jarno pitted for the second time on Lap 37. The only problem for Hamilton was that he had to pit at the same time.
Button also chose that moment to pit for the final time, handing P1 to Vettel for four laps. When the German emerged from his stop he was a long way back from Button but had made up enough time on Trulli to take P2. It was then Trulli's turn to sit on the Red Bull's gearbox. Trulli still had the chance to use his faster super soft tyres to get past Vettel but the Toyota couldn't get close enough to make a move in the final stint of the race.
Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari had been running strongly all afternoon but out of phase with the front runners. When he came out after his final stop on Lap 44 he was immediately passed by Timo Glock who took P8 into Turn 1. Raikkonen, having to do his best with the slower prime tyre, managed to out-muscle the place back a few turns later.
That small fracas on track allowed Rubens Barrichello just enough breathing space to sneak into the pits from his P4 place on Lap 47 and rejoin in P5, just metres in front of the Raikkonen/Glock tussle.
So with nine laps to go it was 1.Button, twelve seconds ahead of...2.Vettel, a second in front of... 3.Trulli, eight seconds clear of... 4.Hamilton, 5.Barrichello, 6.Raikkonen, 7.Glock, 8.Alonso 9.Rosberg.
And from there it was positions held to the flag, the only notable moment coming on Lap 49 when failing oil pressure on Kazuki Nakajima's Williams-Toyota made it the first and only retirement of the afternoon.
Button eased his car back and was just eight seconds ahead of Vettel as he crossed the line for his third win in four races. Vettel had to settle for second place, his chance of winning having been ruined by falling behind Hamilton at Turn 1 on Lap 1 and thus not getting past Trulli for the middle stint.
Though Jarno Trulli was unhappy at failing to deliver Toyota's first win, when the qualifying weights had been published on Saturday it was clear that it was going to be a tall order. He looked in considerable distress after the race unlike Lewis Hamilton whose fourth place was as good as his car deserved and who had the appearance of someone who'd done about 10 laps on a kart track.
Barrichello again rode his luck to claim fifth, while Ferrari will at least welcome their first points of the year with a 6th for Raikkonen, Glock will rue an opportunity missed in 7th and Alonso ended up only 13 seconds in front of his much-criticised team-mate in 8th place.
Nick Heidfeld made it 25 consecutive race finishes for BMW-Sauber in what is probably his lowest F1 finish, P19. It had been a race where the new F1 order was established in the first non-Safety Car GP of 2009. With all the technical innovations planned for Barcelona that order will soon change again.
01. Button Brawn GP 1h31:48.182
02. Vettel Red Bull + 7.187
03. Trulli Toyota + 9.170
04. Hamilton McLaren + 22.096
05. Barrichello Brawn GP + 37.779
06. Raikkonen Ferrari + 42.057
07. Glock Toyota + 42.880
08. Alonso Renault + 52.775
09. Rosberg Williams + 58.198
10. Piquet Renault + 1:05.149
11. Webber Red Bull + 1:07.641
12. Kovalainen McLaren + 1:17.824
13. Bourdais Toro Rosso + 1:18.805
14. Massa Ferrari + 1 lap
15. Fisichella Force India + 1 lap
16. Sutil Force India + 1 lap
17. Buemi Toro Rosso + 1 lap
18. Kubica BMW + 1 lap
19. Heidfeld BMW + 1 lap
Did not finish
20. Nakajima Williams lap 49
Source : Planet F1
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday 24th April 2009
"Some of the comments are so ridiculous I find it hard to believe some of you have ever watched a race, let alone a whole season. I absolutely know without any doubt that if it was your favourite driver telling a lie, or your favourite team, you would be a lot less intent upon dramatising this affair. Lie about it, I dare you. Come to this forum and lie to me that you would be exactly the same about any driver/team. Tell me you would have done this to Schumacher who we know for a fact lied, and we know for a fact cheated in a way that endangered another drivers life several times. Tell me a lie that you demanded his head on a platter."
McLaren have written a letter offering their unreserved apologies to motor sport's world governing body, the FIA, in relation to the Liargate scandal.
Within the letter, it is understood McLaren accept they were in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code which relates to fraudulent conduct or act prejudicial to the sport.
The pro-active move comes ahead of next Wednesday's extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris.
The WMSC have it within their power to suspend the team from races or exclude them from the Championship.
Speaking in Bahrain, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "We are co-operating with the FIA.
"I have written to Max (Mosley), but before the 29th I can't say anything more."
Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton was stripped of third place at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne four weeks ago after he and Dave Ryan, since sacked as sporting director, were discovered to be lying to the stewards.
The team must now answer five charges against them, with the most crucial element for the WMSC to determine is how far the deception ran within the team.
Whitmarsh has insisted Ryan acted alone, coercing Hamilton into fabricating a story that no order was given asking the 24-year-old to allow Toyota's Jarno Trulli to pass as they ran behind the safety car.
However, pit-to-driver radio that soon materialised undermined their deceit, one they attempted to spin out at a second hearing of the stewards in Malaysia, compounding their earlier indiscretion.
Hamilton's humble, emotional apology, Ryan's dismissal, followed by Ron Dennis' exit as CEO of McLaren Racing and Formula One as a whole will aid McLaren's cause when they face the WMSC.
But the WMSC will primarily be seeking answers as to who did what, the complete truth, before they deliver their judgment.
Another hefty fine, unlikely to be of the scale of the £50million levied against them in the wake of 'spy-gate', can be expected.
The question then will be whether the council take further action against the team.
Source : Planet F1
Lewis Hamilton believes that as World Champion it is now time for him to stand up and be counted.
Just seven days after a tense, edgy, inhibited press gathering at the back of the McLaren garage in Shanghai, Hamilton was a little more positive, more lucid in Bahrain.
There were still no direct questions to be asked pertaining to the 'lie-gate' hearing due to take place in front of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Wednesday.
Instead, there was a skirting around the edges of a subject which has tainted the team, with queries about his feelings and focus following one of the most turbulent periods of his career.
The 24-year-old was still guarded at times, but then feeling more at ease at others to suggest he was now stronger and had learned from the experience, or 'personal trauma' as it was put to him.
"Your words. It's just one of those tough times," said Hamilton.
"I'm working hard to put it behind me, and as every day goes by I'm feeling better and better and more prepared.
"I definitely feel stronger and far more experienced after what has happened over the past few weeks.
"I am growing all the time, learning. When I met Nelson Mandela he said at 90 years old he is still learning, so I know I am going to continue learning every day of my life.
"As for the guys within the team, the great thing is they are still very enthusiastic, and working harder than ever. They seem even better than they ever have been."
There was a terse "he's got a right to his own opinion" response when it was put to Hamilton that Stirling Moss recently remarked on how let down he felt by the actions of the 24-year-old.
In China, there was also furious conjecture that followed a tame reply to questions about his long-term future with the team.
With rumours flying of a rift between himself, his father Anthony and the McLaren hierarchy, Hamilton hardly nailed his colours to the mast when pressed on the subject seven days ago.
A week on, and there was no doubting his commitment as he spelled out his desire to be the world champion he is, to drive the team, now and into the future.
"I thought it was just a silly question (in China)," reprimanded Hamilton.
"I'm here, I'm enjoying myself and my time at the team. I don't abandon my team when times get tough.
"We ride the bad and good times together, so I am happy where I am.
"We've a long way to go, and hopefully I've got a long, long time here with them, so I am looking forward to it."
When it was put to Hamilton that as world champion it was time for him to stand up and be counted, to be that strong driver, his answer was unequivocal.
"Definitely. It's a good challenge, and I definitely feel I am up for it," replied the Briton.
"Literally, my job is to drive the team forward, to keep doing a good job, and that's what I'm trying to do.
"We have a goal, a target, and whilst we work towards that target, there are no distractions."
So now onto Sunday's race, and a positive start in practice as he finished with the fourth fastest time overall following the two 90 -minute sessions at the Sakhir circuit.
Underlining his positivity, Hamilton is adamant that despite a slow start and the fact he trails leader Jenson Button by 17 points in the standings, he is far from giving up on retaining his crown.
"I think it (the title) is still on, and although the other guys are quite a bit ahead, I guess anything can happen in 14 races," remarked Hamilton.
"We remain optimistic and we will just keep doing the best job we can. If we can catch up, we catch up. If not then we will focus on next season."
Hamilton conceded his day was "consistent and constructive" which was enough to encourage the team ahead of a race which may yet be hit by a sandstorm, known locally as a shamal.
He added: "For Sunday, top five would be great - that would be our wish."
Source : Planet F1
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Although McLaren showed marked improvement during the Chinese Grand Prix last week, Lewis Hamilton believes it will take another couple of races before they are fully up to scratch.
After failing to pick up points in Australia following Hamilton's exclusion from the race results, the team bounced back in Malaysia with the World Champion finishing seventh. In China they added another seven points to their total with Heikki Kovalainen and Hamilton ending fifth and sixth respectively.
Hamilton warns that although they are heading in the right direction it could take a fair few races before they are back to their best.
"We seem to have a solid direction within the team - all our upgrades invariably bring a laptime improvement and our direction on set-up and strategy shows what a strong group we still are," Hamilton said.
"I still think we are several races away from being truly competitive but a straightforward race at Bahrain would give us a very good opportunity to accurately assess where we sit among our rivals."
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed they will make updates to the MP4-24 ahead of this weekend's race and are once again targeting a points finish.
"The points we scored in China were encouraging because they showed that, even without a fully competitive car, we have lost none of our ability to attack over a race weekend and to maximize every opportunity that comes our way," he said.
"Until our package reaches full competitiveness, that must remain our aim for the Bahrain weekend. Once again, we will introduce a series of upgrades to MP4-24 and remain optimistic that they will once again deliver a further performance improvement."
Source : Planet F1
Lewis Hamilton insists it was business as usual for McLaren at the Chinese Grand Prix despite the departure of Ron Dennis.
Dennis ended his 43-year F1 career last week and the Woking-based outfit started life without their former CEO with a seven-point haul in Shanghai - their best performance so far this season.
Although Hamilton admits he owes Dennis a lot for investing in him, he is nevertheless confident his successor will do a good job for McLaren.
"Certainly, this weekend I would have to say that it was business as usual, but that is how Ron built this team," he told his official website.
"Ron is an incredible man and we all owe him more than we could ever repay him for building this great team. Both my family and I are going to do our best to continue the progress we have made over the past two seasons with the team and hope that we can continue to make him proud of having invested in me.
"I was 12 when I first met Ron and, without his vision, I would not be here. I'll never forget - and neither will my family.
"Ron's decision to focus solely on the automotive side must have been tough, but I wish him the very best. Not that he'll need it - everything he touches turns to gold - well, normally!
"But seriously, Ron's departure brings with it an opportunity for change and I firmly believe that under Martin and our new chairman Richard Lapthorne and with Mercedes-Benz we have great potential for the future."
Source : Planet F1
Mark Webber has acknowledged that Brawn are still the current frontrunners in F1 despite the Aussie being part of a Red Bull 1-2 in China on Sunday.
Although the Red Bulls were untouchable in the wet in Shanghai, with Jenson Button finishing the race 45 seconds adrift of winner Sebastian Vettel, Webber believes that Red Bull are still behind both Brawn and Toyota.
"There's nothing to suggest a huge amount has changed since Malaysia when, in the dry, Brawn were a second faster than anyone else," he told the BBC.
"That car is definitely strong and they are the team that is the benchmark for every team to try to close in on."
"If you look at the fuel-corrected timings, taking into account the loads being carried by each car, the grid would have been Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber so clearly we have to keep improving."
However, Button remains wary of the Red Bulls after suffering his first defeat of the season on Sunday.
"Red Bull are competitive, that is for sure," he told The Daily Telegraph. "People ask if their performance on Saturday and Sunday was a shock but it wasn't. In Melbourne they were very quick.
"Going to Bahrain, our main challengers are going to be Red Bull and Toyota. Toyota didn't have a good weekend in China but they are going to be strong."
Source : Planet F1
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday 20th April 2009
Christian Horner reckons Sebastian Vettel is a World Champion in the making after the German claimed Red Bull's debut win in Sunday's Chinese GP.
Vettel, already dubbed 'Schumi 2' by the German media, put in a stellar performance at the Shanghai circuit this past weekend, claiming pole position despite very little running on Saturday and then following that up with the win on Sunday.
It was the 21-year-old's second grand prix victory, after making history last year when he became the youngest-ever F1 race winner when he took the chequered flag at a wet Italian GP driving for Toro Rosso.
"Sebastian has demonstrated his prowess in the wet. But, for me, his performance in qualifying in difficult conditions was unbelievable," Horner told The Sun.
"He was under real pressure to deliver with only one lap available to him. It was a mightily impressive job. What he has achieved in such a short space of time, he clearly stands out."
But whether the German is in the same class as defending F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton is down to opinion, although Horner believes he has a star of the future in Vettel.
"For sure he is a very exciting prospect. It's difficult to say how he compares to Lewis Hamilton as Lewis doesn't sit in our car. But in coming years, he's going to be one of the predominant drivers in F1.
"Sebastian's just matured so quickly. The spare capacity that he has whilst driving the car marks him out as a real star. Not just for now but for the future."
Source : Planet F1
Martin Whitmarsh has denied reports that Lewis Hamilton's mechanics are furious with the Brit, saying such claims are nothing more than a campaign designed to "get us."
On Sunday, the Daily Mail claimed that the McLaren mechanics were livid with Hamilton, blaming him for the sacking of sporting director Dave Ryan in the wake of the liargate scandal. Furthermore, it was reported that Hamilton's mechanics were also unhappy with rumours suggesting that the World Champion was looking to leave the team.
"They have all known Davey for many, many years and are upset he became the fall guy," a McLaren team insider told the newspaper.
"Then there was the talk of Lewis threatening to quit the team. That did not go down well because we feel he should have shown more support after the work we've done for him. The guys put all the hours in and don't get anywhere near the rewards he does."
Whitmarsh, though, has refuted the report, declaring he believes it's just a campaign aimed at unsettling those at Woking.
"Lewis has come to me at the last two grands prix and told me he loves the team and this is where he wants to be," the McLaren team boss told The Daily Mirror. "He's asked me what he can do to help.
"This talk of him being disliked by his mechanics over what happened to Davey is just rubbish. The reality is that there is an agenda here: some people are out to get us.
"But we have to accept things are going to be tough for a while and just get on with it. Champions have to be hard as nails, but Lewis is different because he also has this humanity and that gets misunderstood sometimes."
Source : Planet F1
Monday, April 20, 2009
F1 continues to write a page-turning script...
Red Bull Diffuse Briatore's Burning Complaint
Pity poor Flavio. Scorned for the bitterness of his comments against the paracarro and his pensioner team-mate, the Renault boss was further ridiculed by events in China. In the dry, Brawn would, most probably, have been in a class of their own, but the wet rained spectacularly on Briatore's lament that the World Championship had been decided by Tuesday's FIA hearing. No matter that the RB5 is particularly effective in the wet, its non-diffuser speed in general is proof that the legality of a two-tier diffuser need not be decisive.
Brawn, by some accounts, have welcomed the diffuser furore because it has distracted attention from the other parts of their car that they believe are critical to their current performance advantage. If so, Briatore has erred from a sporting as well as reputational perspectice by taking the bait to Brawn's red herring.
Vettel Change His Status
Vettel is no longer a star of the future; he is a star of the present.
(And possibly, we suppose, a history maker having claimed the first grand prix victories of two different F1 teams in less than a year. Has any other driver recorded that feat previously?)
Brawn Think Long-Term
Team Brawn's joy and celebration at finishing on the bottom step of the podium in a race that, in normal circumstances they ought to have won with comfort to spare, can be interpreted in two ways. The first is disconcerting, the second ominous:
1st) As the reaction of a small team made good, still thinking small when they should be thinking big.
2nd) As a team thinking of the bigger picture, appreciating that World Championships are won with podiums as well as victories.
The good news for those of a Brackley allegiance is that the small print of Ross Brawn's own race summary suggested the latter. Too experienced to expect F1 to be a tale of the expected, the team leader's response to the vagaries of the Chinese weather was philosophical rather than disappointed, resulting in the sensible acceptance that third and fourth place still constituted a decent result.
This may not have been Brawn's day but neither was it a bad day and any disquiet at the failure to maximise their points potential can be balanced against the likelihood of another strong showing in Bahrain.
Back The Driver Who Is Beating His Team-Mate
Nonetheless, it is still arguable that Button's result was even better in terms of his own World title ambitions than third and foruth was for Brawn in their quest to win the Constructors' Championship. Because the evidence of China was that the battle between the two Red Bull drivers is significantly closer than that between Button and Rubens Barrichello, a situation that can only strengthen Button's position as favourite for the title - especially if Red Bull retain the right to pose Brawn's hardest questions.
Just How Fast Are Red Bull?
General consenus even in the wake of Red Bull's 1-2 was that victory could not and would not have been achieved but for the rain. But is that viewpoint exaggerated?
In the second segment of qualifying, when every car runs at their maximum with a minimum load of fuel, Webber and Vettel were out in front by a considerable margin from the two Brawns. Qualy 3, however, offered an alternative viewpoint, as did Ross Brawn's post-qualy lament that both of his cars had suffered in Qualy 2 due to low tyre temperatures. So the Guessing Game goes on...and a non-event procession in Bahrain would be something of a relief if it revealed the exact composition of F1's current pecking order.
Three races in to the 2009 season, there are plenty of pointers but very few definitive answers.
Weightings Don't Ease The Guessing Game Burden
An addendum to the previous point: One fresh expectation for the 2009 season was that the post-qualy weightings, published by the FIA, would reveal not merely who was the 'real' winner of qualy but also how each race would unfold in terms of strategy and pit stops.
Or so we thought.
While the weightings do indeed give an indication of strategy, the story told is far from complete and apparently subject to last-minute revision. Take, for instance, the tale of the two Red Bulls in China. If the post-qualy weightings were prescient, then the 646.5kg Webber would pit after the 644kg Vettel. Instead, Webber stopped before Vettel.
And then there's the mystery of how Lewis Hamilton's McLaren could carry the KERS device, which weighs between 30 and 50 kgs, and still run five laps longer than the non-KERS-carrying Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen when their post-qualy weighting revealed a discrepancy of just 5.5kgs. Is the McLaren an exceptionally light with a massive fuel tank? Is the Ferrari a relatively heavy car with a relatively small fuel tank? Is the KERS device removed from the weightings procedure? If so, why? It's a puzzle.
If It Aint Broke...
It made for a good headline but the claim that Adrian Newey suddenly cancelled his flight to Shanghai on Tuesday in the wake of the FIA rulng to return to the Red Bull factory to begin a redesign of the RB5 should be treated with considerable sceptisim. Are we really to believe that Newey's drawing board wasn't already swamped with fresh designs that would enable the team to install a twin-diffuser?
That Red Bull had more reason than any other team to hope that the diffusers would be ruled illegal is not in dispute. In that alternative F1 world, Red Bull would be out in front by a second a lap and they wouldn't face the aggro and complication of having to redo their rear wing. Such is the particular difficulty of finding room for a twin diffuser on the RB5 that the team were implying until a couple of weeks ago that they would carry on with a single unit. Given their position and the reported complexity of the task, the change now being considered represents a significant risk. Remember, Brawn believe that their diffuser design is just one of a number of reasons why they are out in front. And as Red Bull prepare to change a number of parts on their RB5 in order to install a second diffuser, they risk losing the magic ingredient that made them winners in China. If it aint broke...
Nelson Makes A Fool Of His Boss
It goes without saying that Nelson Piquet's seat at Renault is in jeopardy. It has been since this time last year. What makes the statement worth a repeat is the claim of Flavio Briatore on Friday that "The drivers in our teams have been and are World Champions". Piquet's performance in Shanghai suggested that the only World Championship he could ever win would be in figure skating.
Source : Planet F1
Red Bull gives you wins. Adrian Newey's RB5 has struck back for the non-diffusers in a race where Robert Kubica tried to re-enact Canada 2007 and the stewards got some much-deserved sleep.
STAR OF THE RACE
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Winner
Vettel showed that his Monza race victory for Toro Rosso in 2008 was no fluke. Not that many people thought it was. The German driver didn't put a foot wrong in a car that was supremely adapted to the conditions.
While all around were wobbling, going straight on, and exploring interesting new parts of the circuit, the Red Bulls stuck the track. Just as at Silverstone in 2008 with Lewis Hamilton, had the team not been cautious and let Sebastian off the leash, he would have finished 30+ seconds clear of Webber.
OVERTAKING MOVE OF THE RACE
Lap 32 Mark Webber on Jenson Button
Webber had a great race. He's been in so many good positions before that were interrupted by fate or mechanical failure but today all the driveshaft seals stayed in place and he was able to enjoy a much-deserved second place.
Though he went wide on the final turn of Lap 31, he gathered the car up and came storming past Jenson Button on the outside of Turn 7 to take back second place within eight corners. Though Hamilton and others made that kind of pass throughout the race there was far more at stake when Mark did it - and he went on to set a string of personal best lap times for the four laps following.
Jenson Button, Brawn, 3rd
Jenson was far quicker than Rubens Barrichello's Brawn in race pace even though he had to give best to the Brazilian in qualifying.
Clearly the Brawns had problems getting heat into the tyres - that's why he was weaving on the straights sometimes and also why Rubens Barrichello fastest lap came after a pit-stop when they'd pre-heated the tyres. But third place is not-too-shabby and there's very little chance of there being rain in Bahrain.
So, a day to bank the points. And nice to see Jenson genuinely happy for Red Bull boss Christian Horner in the pre-podium ceremony. Your rival trounces you and you're pleased for them - Sportmanship doesn't come any better than that.
The "milepost" leads the World Championship from the "nearly-retired" old git. Long may it stay that way.
Rubens Barrichello, Brawn, 4th
On fuel adjusted pace Rubens was the unofficial polesitter in China. Things went downhill after the start of the race but he still brought the car home in P4. Had Lewis Hamilton kept his car on the road consistently then it might well have been P5.
Rubens may have been unlucky but it's just payback time for his spell at Ferrari alongside Schumacher when he was the unluckiest F1 driver of all time.
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 5th
Lewis Hamilton, Mclaren, 6th
Kovalainen was slower than Hamilton but had far fewer adventures. It's a credit to Lewis that he could make so many overtaking moves and not hit anyone, but his title of Der Regenmeister has to be officially withdrawn and handed over to Vettel.
It would be interesting to take a poll of the Mclaren team personnel right now and ask them who they'd sooner have in the garages during a race - Anthony Hamilton or Dave Ryan.
The Hamiltons are in danger of becoming like the Cash-for-Questions Conservative Hamiltons, Neil and Christina, figures of fun, thanks to their posturing of total innocence in Melbourne Porkygate. The speed at which they chose to distance themselves from the affair (he's a World Champion, he should know his own mind) and potentially exit the team has left a very nasty taste.
The offence was a minor one. Stewards are staggeringly inconsistent and proven to be incompetent, and so telling a little white lie to hoodwink them is all part of the game. But it's the aftermath that has been so damaging.
Timo Glock, Toyota, 7th
Glock should have been penalised for sideswiping Nick Heidfeld on Lap 14 so he was a lucky lucky boy to get away with P7. He admitted an error under braking, like Vettel in Melbourne, but the stewards didn't even investigate it.
How does that work then? Are the rules different if the race is a busy one. You have a driver who doesn't even claim "it's a racing accident" putting his hands up and no sanction. Surely we should review the radio transcripts, dig up YouTube clips and reconvene the stewards in Bahrain and take this further...? Or not as it doesn't involve Mclaren.
Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 8th
Another great race from Buemi. Though it's still a bit unfair to see them score constructor points and for Ferrari to be mocked in comparison. They are not a constructor, they are just a clone of the Red Bull with less development time.
Ferrari, 10th and DNF
It may be the Scuderia's worst start to the season in 27 years, but the potential is there. Felipe Massa was driving strongly in conditions that don't usually suit him when his car gave out. Raikkonen qualified inside the top 10. It's not where they usually are after the third race but it's a cathartic release from all those Todt/Brawn/Byrne/Schumi years. And Bahrain has always been a good circuit for them.
Fernando Alonso, Renault, 9th
As he was only 8th in the Q2 qualifying session you knew straight away that P2 on the grid was a bit of showboating from the Renault team. What they hoped to achieve from that is hard to fathom and the fact that an experienced World Champion was happy to go along with it is also a bit mysterious.
Alonso could have been up there with Glock contesting P7 but a disastrous spin sent him back to P13 in the latter stages and he never recovered.
Nelson Piquet Junior, Renault, 16th
For a race in which Lewis Hamilton was all over the place Nelson Piquet was doing very well to keep out of trouble till Lap 28. Or as someone next to me said so succently "****ing miracle". Having done so well Junior proceeded to derange a front wing at Turn 5 and then rattled the Armco with another trademark snatched brake move requiring another front wing.
Like we've said before, Nelsinho and Alonso in the same team is like keeping a donkey in a field with a race horse. He's there for company and not to make the thoroughbred feel threatened. His role is not to be faster than Fernando, which he manages effortlessly.
The only trouble is that teams cannot continue with drivers that exit in Q3 when their team-mates get through to Q1 (though Alonso had a higher spec car at his disposal for this race). Bourdais, Nakajima and Piquet are all staring into the abyss.
Adrian Sutil, Force India, DNF
He'd done really well to hold off Heidfeld, Glock and Alonso - and the two or three points were nearly in the bag. Then BANG! At least it was his mistake this time.
The BBC upped their coverage of the sport by replacing Eddie Jordan with ex-Toyota, ex-Force India technical director Mike Gascoyne. A good move. Mike added a level of technical insight that ITV never even began to provide, and though Jordan is good at saying the things most people choose to avoid, Gascoyne has only just left the sport while Jordan is a has-been.
The most interesting thing that Mike had to say was about FOTA's technical group, which Ross Brawn heads and he was a part of (on behalf of Force India). When Ross Brawn made the offer to close off aero loopholes in the 2009 regulations back in March 2008, which would have harmonised diffuser development, he needed unanimous support.
He didn't get it because two teams objected - Renault and BMW were happy with the rules as they were draughted. Now Flavio Briatore is thrashing around like a wounded elephant about depriving the Brawn team of TV money and it's clearly his own fault.
That amiable freak of nature Jake Humphry failed to ask either Gascoyne or Coulthard why we saw footage of Heikki Kovalainen's Mclaren being held up by Vettel in Q2 yet there were no consequences.
At the French GP when Kovalainen held someone up less significantly he was given a grid penalty - did McLaren opt to sit on their hands because they preferred to have Vettel rather than Alonso on pole or were they earning brownie points with Red Bull?
We'd sooner find that out that than have reminiscences about David Coulthard's underpants.
During the commentary Jonathan Leggard was keen to show Martin Brundle just how many things he could remember about F1 in the past in the same hammy way that the teams were asking their drivers how conditions were on the circuit. "Is the circuit bone dry where you are, Fernando?" "Si."
We had a bit of vicar-speak on Lap 7. Talking about Fernando Alonso, Jonathan spouted, "You could just tell his gander was up on the grid." Oi Leggard: this isn't Jeeves and Wooster. Fernando's bally Renault is going awfully quickly, let's hope he doesn't go orf the track, doncha know.
Briatore is staggering around taking a swipe at his F1 rivals like a cross between a tragic Shakespeare character and Tony Soprano. "Rage, rage against the dying of the light!"
The TV pictures of him walking to the grid made it look like he was on extreme medication, all he needed to resemble James Gandolfini in the hit TV series was less hair and that towelling bathrobe.
The ferocity and absurdity of his accusations make it sound like this is his last season in F1. We've now found out that Ross Brawn offered to close the loopholes in the tech regulations in March 2008 and Renault were one of the two teams who objected. If Flav genuinely wanted to save the money he is spending on a new diffuser, then he should hire a driver who doesn't get through three noses in a race.
Pat Symmonds was asked why Briatore made such stupid remarks about a driver (the milepost) he tried to hire recently and adopted the kind of forced chuckle adopted by people who've had their elderly parents escape from the local secure Alzheimer's Unit.
Jean Todt, Max's 'Chosen One?'
Poor old Jean Todt was obviously keen not to be the focus of attention on the grid. Looking like a wet hobbit with his trademark gallic nose sticking out from underneath an anonymous anorak, he was being taken round by Max Mosley's FIA race representative (and Ferrari PR lobbyist) Allan Donnelly. The second he saw the TV cameras the two mysteriously parted company and Jean put an embarrassed hand up as if to say there must be something more interesting you can film . So what have those two got planned?
Andrew T. Davies
Source : Planet F1
In sharp contrast to last year's result when he won the Chinese GP, this season Lewis Hamilton was just grateful to finish the race and do so in the points.
Last year Hamilton won the Chinese GP on his way to the World title but this year it's a vastly different McLaren machine that the Brit has underneath him. The MP4-24 is suffering from a lack of pace and ill-handling, the latter of which was not help by the extreme wet conditions facing the drivers.
And as such the best Hamilton could have hoped for, starting ninth on the grid, was a handful of points, which he achieved with his sixth-placed finish.
"Just that we finished and obviously the reliability of the car is fantastic, so it was great job from the guys," Hamilton told the BBC when asked what positives he could draw from the race.
"Just continue to try and move forward and try and score some more points. Good points for the team."
The Brit, though, who has been billed as a master of the rain in recent years, suffered no fewer than three spins or off-track excursions as the conditions got the best of the majority of the drivers.
"It was terrible," he said. "It was a little bit fun at the beginning when I had some grip. But as always, I don't know if it is my driving style or my car, we seem to destroy my tyres very early on.
"Especially at the end, there was 20 laps left, and after five laps my front left tyre was finished. So it was just really tough - aquaplaning all over the pace.
"I'm sure it was the same for everyone - but I could only do my best."
Meanwhile, team boss Martin Whitmarsh has hailed McLaren's performance as Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen also bagged his first points of the season, finishing in fifth place ahead of the Brit.
"Very, very difficult for everyone out there," he told Autosport. "For us, solid points, which is worthwhile.
"Lewis was trying very hard and made it exciting. Obviously he had a few spins, but that's just his determination and perhaps his confidence to push so hard in these conditions.
"For Heikki, who hasn't had much running in the races this year, to get to the end without any mistakes at all was a fantastic drive by him."
And despite being the best team behind the Red Bulls and Brawns, Whitmarsh admitted that his team's MP4-24 just didn't have the pace to match the front-runners.
Source : Planet F1
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Sebastian Vettel claimed Red Bull's first-ever grand prix win at Shanghai on Sunday with the team's joy being further compounded by Mark Webber's second placed finish.
Starting from pole position, Vettel's light fuel load was negated by the Safety Car start as the rain hammered the Chinese track. But after nine laps it pitted with the German quickly building up a lead over the chasing pack.
It was one that Vettel would not reliquishing except after pitstops, leaving it to Webber and Brawn GP's Jenson Button to fight for second place. In the end, though, it was Webber who triumphed, handing Red Bull the 1-2.
Button and Rubens Barrichello, though, extended Brawn's lead in the Constructors' Championship while Heikki Kovalainen bagged his first points of the season with his fifth placed finish.
The Finn, though, was largely helped by team-mate Lewis Hamilton's failure to keep it on the track with the reigning World Champ suffering no fewer than three spins on his way to sixth.
Timo Glock and Sebastien Buemi completed the top eight with the latter doing an impressive job in his Toro Rosso.
As for Ferrari it was another race to forget with Kimi Raikkonen finishing in tenth place while Felipe Massa retired.
Full report to follow...
01 S. Vettel Red Bull 1:57:43.485
02 M. Webber Red Bull + 10.970
03 J. Button Brawn GP + 44.975
04 R. Barrichello Brawn GP + 1:03.704
05 H. Kovalainen McLaren + 1:05.102
06 L. Hamilton McLaren + 1:11.866
07 T. Glock Toyota + 1:14.476
08 S. Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1:16.439
09 F. Alonso Renault + 1:24.309
10 K. Räikkönen Ferrari + 1:31.750
11 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1:34.156
12 N. Heidfeld BMW + 1:35.834
13 R. Kubica BMW + 1:46.853
14 G. Fisichella Force India F1 + 1 laps
15 N. Rosberg Williams + 1 laps
16 N. Piquet jr. Renault + 2 laps
Did not finish
17 A. Sutil Force India F1 + 6 laps
18 K. Nakajima Williams + 13 laps
19 F. Massa Ferrari + 35 laps
20 J. Trulli Toyota + 37 laps
Source : Planet F1
What a race. After all the bullshit that has been going on since Melbourne, today's race was such wonderful excitement. The rain helped in a way though it was quite heavy, something like Fuji 2007.
It started with the SC. I didn't even notice the race had started because of that but after the SC went in, Vettel really put the hammer down. He didn't put a foot wrong this whole race, again showing what a masterclass he is in the rain. I'm sure the Red Bull car has been designed correctly and will dominate this season. it does not have KERS or the double diffuser but yet manages to threaten the Brawns from day 1 in Melbourne and keeps showing its pace even in the rain. Reliability is good too. Can't imagine the performance when they get new upgrades soon like a new diffusser.
The Brawns were outclassed here though still formidable even in the rain. It looks like the Brawns are built for multi weather missions. Button and Barrichello were in control and smooth. Alonso didn't fare so well, his strategy fucked up. And Piquet was hisnusual self, spinning without intervention. I don't think he will last very long there. What with a superb performance from Buemi the rookie. He managed to score his maiden points after only 3 races.
The BMW s were not much in the picture with a lacklustre performance, the only excitement was when Jubica rammed Trulli from behind. Quite a big crash but he managed to continue. Amazing. Only Glock shone for Toyota who managed to score some points.
Ferrari..Ferrari..another day to forget but a day to rejoice for me. Massa had a DNF due to some sort of electrical problem or engine failure. His car just stopped on track suddenly, he got out and flapped his arms around in frustration (mpphh..sorry). Kimi was his usual self in the rain. He had no real pace and was hesitant, even scared at the braking points. He was overtaken maybe 7 or 8 times, 3 of those by Lewis Hamilton. He was really treading carefully thereby losing time and positions.
McLaren fared better, both cars finished the race in the points. Kovallainen did a good job, stayed under the radar, did some overtaking but generally held his line well and finished with points..finally. Lewis on the other hand was mixed. I really enjoyed his agressive racing and no holds barred overtaking, he did maybe 7 or 8 overtaking moves (half of those on Kimi) and could have finished top 5 or even on the podium. But somehow, he spun too many times even by his standard. It was amazing when he spun, lost positions and re-took them. But the spins were unnecessary. He could've handled it better.
The saddest part of the race was Sutil. He was on his way to score some points in 7th when he spun out and crashed with his tyres flying across the track. I was surprised there was no SC or red flag. The last time he was about to get points was in Monaco when Kimi rammed his back. Really felt for him.
The Williams were nowhere to be seen except for a few spins, quite a few spins by Nakajima. Rosberg not delivering the promise..again.
All in all, a great race due to the rain. But even without the rain, it would've been incredible to watch as well with Vettel up front battling the Brawns in that incredible Red Bull. Look out for that car. And McLaren are showing promise of improvement. This season should be a cracker as long as the FIA and Bernie get the fuck out when the red lights go off.
Lewis Hamilton believes McLaren are on the road to recovery after he produced his best qualifying performance of the season to secure ninth place on the grid for Chinese GP.
The 24-year-old has endured a trying start to his title defence having been stripped of third at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix before registering his solitary point with seventh place in Malaysia.
Following Wednesday's FIA ruling that the controversial 'double-decker' diffuser is legal, McLaren acted quickly to equip Hamilton's MP4-24 car with a modified design of the component as well as a new front wing.
The result was an instant improvement in performance as Hamilton topped the timesheets in first practice on Friday before reaching Q3 for the first time this season on Saturday.
While there is still some way to go before McLaren show the sort of form they enjoyed over the past two seasons, Hamilton believes the team is moving in the right direction.
"Step by step, we are moving forward," he said.
"Thanks to all the guys back at the factory for doing such a fantastic job and for churning away on all the new parts - every little step helps us catch the leaders.
"There is still a long way to go but this definitely feels like the start of the road to recovery."
Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen could only qualify 12th but the performance of the two was enough to convince McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh that both can claim good results tomorrow.
Whitmarsh said: "There is still a long way to go - and we will not be happy until we are back at the front - but this is an encouraging and significant step for the whole team.
"We go into tomorrow's race seriously optimistic of getting both cars into the points."
Source : Planet F1
Sebastian Vettel ended Brawn GP's run of pole positions as the Red Bull driver came out late in Q3 to grab the coveted grid slot for the Chinese GP.
Vettel, who had drive-shaft problems that curbed his running during the weekend's final practice session, put it all behind him as he proved that the Red Bull is the best of the non-diffuser cars, claiming pole position with a 1:36.184.
Fernando Alonso, who is using Renault's interim 'double-decker' diffuser in Shanghai, was second quickest, 0.192s behind Vettel while Mark Webber ensured that Red Bull's improvement continued as he claimed third place.
The Brawn GP cars of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button will line up behind Webber on the grid .
The sun was shining bright on The Shang circuit as qualifying started, with Lewis Hamilton having featured prominently in the morning practice and once again Nico Rosberg running fastest. The air temperature was at 24C and the track surface way up at 38C when Giancarlo Fischella's Force India rolled out of pitlane to start Q1.
The session as a whole was characterised by the faster cars running two quick laps to get a time on the harder 'Prime' tyre and the slower, more pessimistic teams strapping on the Super Soft tyres straight away.
Fisichella set the initial pole but Sebastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso set the first meaningful time of 1:38.394, Nico Rosberg reduced this to 1:37.646 on his first run and then edged it down to 1:37.518 on the second lap. It seemed like everyone would take the P1 slot as continually the names changed on top
Massa 1:36.780 (on Super Softs)
Hamilton 1: 35.381 (on Super Softs).
Only three of the cars were running with KERS, those of the two McLarens and Nick Heidfeld's BMW.
Rubens Barrichello looked to be a match for Jenson Button for the first time this year and took over P1 with a 1:36.374 as the abrasive Chinese circuit continued to rubber in. Meanwhile, on his way back to the pits, Mark Webber was fortunate to run into and escape out of Hamilton Corner, the 2007 pitlane gravel trap that lost Lewis Hamilton the 2007 World Championship.
Going into the final three minutes times were very close and the danger positions were: 12.Webber, 13.Buemi, 14.Alonso, 15.Kubica, 16.Trulli, 17.Heidfeld, 18.Glock, 19.Sutil, 20.Fisichella.
The cars flooded out onto the track for their final runs, Massa jumped to P2, Glock went P3, Mark Webber took P1 with a 1:35.751, the Super Soft tyres giving him over a second on the original tyre. Trulli tucked safely into P4, Alonso took P8, Jenson Button (who had slid to 11th by now) reinstated himself in P1 with a 1:35.553 and Rubens slotted in behind him in P2.
Sebastien Buemi grabbed an impressive P6 and Lewis, taking no chances, elevated himself to P4.
Robert Kubica could only manage 16th on his final run in the BMW and it would get worse. Bourdais edged past him into P15 and then Nick Heidfeld made the Frenchman start thinking of suitable excuses as he took P12 and eliminated the second Toro Rosso. So out went:
The big casualty was Robert Kubica, who had opted not to take on the extra weight of the BMW KERS device. Piquet added to his unenviable qualifying record against his Renault team-mate. It's now 21-0 to Alonso. Bourdais hastened the chance of an early season exit by posting 16th at a track he knew while his rookie team-mate got his Toro-Rosso up to 8th.
With qualifying getting ever more frantic, it would be useful to have an on-screen graphic showing who has used what tyres in the opening session. Because for the remaining two sessions it was a question of who had saved up the hugely advantageous Super Soft tyres.
Kazuki Nakajima set the P1 time of the session at 1:36.193 which Williams team-mate Nico Rosberg knocked down to 1:35.809. Barrichello reduced it to 1:35.784 and then Mark Webber showed the real pace of the Red Bulls with a 1:35.632. His Red Bull team-mate Sebastien Vettel opted to leave it to the very last minute to attempt a single banzai lap.
Behind the Red Bull, Lewis Hamilton was able to set a very creditable P2 time, setting the fastest first and last sector times with the aid of his KERS system. Despite sitting in P2 going into the last three minutes, he still felt the need to go out again.
So into the final three minutes and the danger places were: 7.Heidfeld, 8.Button, 9.Kovalainen, 10.Massa, 11.Trulli, 12.Glock, 13.Nakajima, 14.Buemi, 15.Vettel (not run yet). The difference between P1 and Timo Glock in P12 was an incredible 0.4 of a second!
Nobody was resting on their laurels and everyone took to the track. Across the line they streamed, Button into P1 with a 1:35.556, Buemi into P8, Mark Webber into P1 with an incredible 1:35.173 (that's 0.4 quicker than the Brawn on the same fuel load), Trulli into P3, Alonso into P7 and Vettel a tremendous last minute P1 time of 1:35.130.
Raikkonen got his Ferrari into Q3, as did Buemi ending up in P10 when the dust settled, but neither Glock or Massa could improve their placing. So out went:
Massa will have been unhappy not to beat his team-mate, and it was notable that two of the Toyota-powered diffuser cars were down in 14th and 15th. Timo Glock, having had a gearbox change after practice would take a further five-place grid penalty.
Unhappiest man of all was Heikki Kovalainen. His first run was ruined by a locked brake that badly flatspotted his front left tyre and on the second he was clearly blocked by a Red Bull that failed to move out of the way going into the corner at the end of the back straight. The Finn lifted his hand off the steering wheel in exasperation.
Kovalainen was hit with a penalty at the French GP for exactly that offence and it will be remarkable if whichever Red Bull is not demoted down the grid (though McLaren may choose to keep a low profile and not protest it).
Into the final session and Fernando Alonso started things off with a pole time of 1:37.586, Mark Webber reduced this to a 1:37.188 with Jenson Button only able to slot into P2.
Rubens Barrichello showed that he had his Brawn dialled into The Shang circuit a little better and took P1 with a 1:37.146. Nico Rosberg could manage only P4 on his first run and the Mclaren of Lewis Hamilton, now groaning with fuel, was only P7. It would have been P8 had Sebastien Vettel gone out before him. But like Q2, the German was saving himself up for one banzai run.
So after one run it was: Barrichello, Webber, Button, Alonso, Trulli. Hamilton had only one set of Super Softs and settled for his time, safe in the knowledge that he was at least in the Q3 Club for this grand prix.
Into the final runs and Mark Webber took pole with 1:36.466, Jenson Button was not going to make it three in a row and came up short with a 1:36.532. Sebastien Vettel put in the same kind of stellar lap that got him pole at Monza last year and took P1 with a 1:36.184 making it an all-Red Bull front row.
Rubens Barrichello looked like he might split them up but fell short in P3, and then came perhaps the most remarkable lap of all, Alonso put his Renault on the front row with a 1:36.381.
The Renault team had laboured till 5am in the morning to fit the new parts flown in on Flavio Briatore's private jet and Alonso had produced a miracle result. Just how miraculous we will find out when the car weights are revealed later on Saturday.
With the 15 cars separated in Q2 by just 0.5 of a second, the fuel level in each car is even more instrumental in determining grid slot. Alonso was only eighth quickest with no fuel in the cars, yet the Red Bulls had been faster than the Brawns with or without fuel.
Maybe that's why their grins were so wide. What they need now to convert pole to a debut win is reliability. But it could still be any one of six drivers standing on the top step of the podium on Sunday.
1 S. Vettel Red Bull 1:36.184
2 F. Alonso Renault 1:36.381
3 M. Webber Red Bull 1:36.466
4 R. Barrichello Brawn GP 1:36.493
5 J. Button Brawn GP 1:36.532
6 J. Trulli Toyota 1:36.835
7 N. Rosberg Williams 1:37.397
8 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:38.089
9 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:38.595
10 S. Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:39.321
11 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:35.975
12 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:36.032
13 F. Massa Ferrari 1:36.033
14 T. Glock Toyota 1:36.066
15 K. Nakajima Williams 1:36.193
16 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:36.906
17 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:36.908
18 R. Kubica BMW 1:36.966
19 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:36.669
20 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:37.672
Source : Planet F1
Friday, April 17, 2009
That incident at Melbourne did not have to as far as it did if the incompetent FIA had just used all the technology available to them during races, technology of which they've spent millions on. Max argues about cutting costs but after spending millions on technology for the FIA to manage races, they don't use it. Isn't that a fucking waste? Waste equals costs doesn't it? Or does Max needs somebody to spell it out to him.
We all know how much Max hates Ron and everything he does is angled at making life difficult for Ron. These past 2 years have thrown up exciting opportunities for Max to hammer Ron and McLaren and he has taken full advantage of it. The culmination is the stepping down of Ron Dennis from McLaren racing, effectively ending his F1 career.
In the middle of all this are rumours. There are so many rumours and conspiracy theories abound especially circulating around Lewis. I've read many articles and comments around the net that it makes me sick. On the one hand, these people are saying that Lewis is wrong and on another hand they're saying that they "sincerely" hope he doesn't get hammered too much. But there are some blogs and reporters out there that are continuosly providing damning information and analysis that makes Max extremely happy. Instead of a simple racing incident, we have a non-stop saga that gets everybody up in arms and fucks up the racing and the championship.
Talking about rumours, it seems that everybody who writes, believes and are making everybody who reads, believe that Anthony Hamilton is some kind of ungrateful monster that is engineering the ouster of Ron Dennis. They even claim that Anthony thinks Ron is "prickly" and "arrogant". How do they know all this? Best of all, the experts seem to work for tabloids with names like The Daily Mail. Do you pick up a tabloid at the shops if you wanted to know what is happening around you? Or do you pick it up to read thrash and look at half naked girls? I rest my case.
The worst bunch are those who read the trash and then spurt out even worse trash. Especially the Hamilton haters and racist motherfuckers out there. Yeah, you know who you are. These people just react like animals based on instinct without thinking. They've got so much hate that it clouds their thinking and judgement.
Why can't we just get back to the racing? Why is everybody trying to cheat and claiming everybody else is cheating? Why is the FIA not acting like a motorsport governing body but behaving like an episode of Dallas?
Thursday 16th April 2009
Ron Dennis has ended his 40-year F1 career by standing down as McLaren CEO - and insisted that the decision was his alone.
According to reports on Thursday morning predicting his announcement, Dennis' exit was motivated by a wish to of lessen McLaren's punishment in their upcoming World Motor Sport Council hearing. It was also claimed that the decision was made in an attempt to ensure that Anthony Hamilton - who was described as wanting the "prickly and arrogant" Dennis away from Lewis - would keep his son on McLaren's payroll.
And although Dennis shied away from both topics in the McLaren press release, he did insist the decision was his alone - and took a dig at his old nemesis Max Mosley by saying he doubts whether the FIA President will shed too many tears over his departure.
"I passed the role of team principal of McLaren to Martin Whitmarsh on January 16th, the day of the launch of our new Formula 1 car. That day I was asked many times whether I would attend the 2009 Australian Grand Prix. My answer was "yes". I duly attended it - albeit not as the person in charge of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It was, I admit, a strange feeling," he stated.
"The next race, the Malaysian Grand Prix, I watched on TV in the UK - an activity I found surprisingly easy. I'd expected to be more emotional about it, after an unbroken run of attending so many grands prix for so many years.
"I admit I'm not always easy to get on with. I admit I've always fought hard for McLaren in Formula 1. I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.
"Equally, I was the architect of today's restructure of the McLaren Group. Again, no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision.
"I feel enormously enthused about the prospects for the McLaren Group and for McLaren Automotive, and have no qualms about leaving Martin to report to the board regarding matters connected with Formula 1."
The restructuring sees Dennis takes the reigns over McLaren Automotive while Martin Whitmarsh will become Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Racing, which means he will be responsible to the board for the activities of McLaren Racing in addition to his role of team boss of McLaren's F1 team.
Source : Planet F1
World Champion Lewis Hamilton has conceded it will take time to catch compatriot Jenson Button after the controversial diffuser used by Brawn GP was ruled legal.
Button has enjoyed his best-ever start to a season having won both the Australian and Malaysian Grand Prix - his first victories since 2006.
In stark contrast Hamilton has endured his worst start to a Formula One season after being disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix for his part in deliberately misleading race stewards before he then finished seventh in Malaysia and currently trails Button in the driver standings by 14 points.
And while Hamilton admits it will take a lot of effort to catch the Brawn team, he has vowed to work as hard as he can to get back on top.
"I don't think it's been as bad as it seems, because the car is really not great at the moment," the 24-year-old said in China Daily.
"Last year at this time, when I was leading in the Championship, it looked much better.
"But we have ups and downs as humans and as a team. I don't think the approach is different, but we have to work as hard as we can to get back to the top."
McLaren Racing on Friday underwent a major reshuffle as Hamilton's mentor Ron Dennis severed all ties with Formula One by stepping down as chief executive officer.
The team has much to do if they are to have any hope of challenging this season with their first task to make the necessary changes to their car following the FIA's International Court of Appeal ruling that the double rear diffusers are legal.
Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams were the only teams to use the diffuser since the start of the season and have subsequently been very competitive in the opening two races.
"The Brawn team did a fantastic job," added Hamilton.
"They are way ahead of everyone else because they started to develop their car way before everyone else.
"It will take some time to catch up."
Source : Planet F1
McLaren have become the first team outside the Diffuser Three to run the double-decker diffuser as the Woking outfit fitted an interim design to Lewis Hamilton's car for the first practice session in China.
Earlier this week the FIA's International Court of Appeals upheld the design of the controversial twin-diffuser that was used by Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams with much success in the opening two races of the Championship.
The race was then on for the other teams to incorporate the design, which increases the downforce of the car.
McLaren were the first to blink as the Woking outfit installed a interim version of the design on Hamilton's MP4-24, adding a small winglet above their diffuser and beneath the car's crash structure. The design increased the height and length of the team's diffuser.
McLaren, though, are not the only team expected to introduce the new part this weekend with Renault also believed to be set to use the design - or a version of it - during the course of the Chinese GP weekend.
Source : Planet F1
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I know this sells papers and provide incredible traffic to sites but what happened to decency and the racing? Enough already..we all know Mclaren/Lewis are always in the FIA scope and the trigger is primed to strike..don't worry, April 29 will hammer them some more, so what is with this dousing the flames with jetfuel? Enough..it seems that the Daily Mail has a free lifetime supply of jetfuel..they keep on churning out cheap trash on a daily basis..maybe the Daily Mail should be renamed the Daily Trash..
What the fuck? Get over it already. Lewis will continue to impress and win no matter what crap you people spew out. Other drivers and teams don't get hammered as much for something worse. Fucking racism.
Wednesday 15th April 2009
Jarno Trulli feels the FIA wanted to "show who is the charge" when they decided to summon McLaren to an extraordinary World Motor Sport Council meeting to answer disrepute charges.
McLaren and Lewis Hamilton are in hot water with motorsport's governing body after they "deliberately misled" stewards at the Australian Grand Prix.
Hamilton and McLaren have been stripped of the points they picked up at Melbourne, but the FIA may yet to decide to punish them further.
Trulli, the man who Hamilton overtook when the Safety Car was deployed in Australia, praised the FIA for showing "common sense" by re-opening the case against McLaren.
"It was great that once they announced the decision of giving the position back, afterwards I was doing some interviews with some journalists, and two of the stewards walked straight up the paddock to find me and shake my hand to say you deserve it, because you have been honest - in front of all the press. This was really appreciated by me," he told Autosport during an interview.
"That's why I say in that particular case I believe that the FIA has shown good common sense and a lot of strength, re-opening a case that was basically closed.
"They felt and they smelled that something was wrong, they were good enough to do it. This pays a lot of credit to the FIA, after so much trouble in the first race with so many problems."
The Italian also feels the FIA decided to come down hard on McLaren as they wanted to stamp their authority.
"My feeling is that the FIA took such a strong decision because they felt that someone was making a joke of them at the end of the day, and they want to show to everyone that the FIA is just like a judge," he added.
"Go in front of the judge and you have to be honest and tell the truth. You might get away with it once, but it's better not to do it. You take a lot of risk. This is what happened, basically.
"I think it was a very, very unfortunate circumstance for both of us. I personally don't know who had lied and why he had lied. In my opinion, there was no interest there to lie. Really, no interest. But someone has really misjudged the rules.
"Personally I'm not here to blame anyone. The problem is on that particular occasion I looked stupid and I haven't done anything wrong. I'm not the kind of person who thinks about revenge or anything, I get on with everyone. I use a sentence like live and let everybody live."
Source : Planer F1
Wednesday 15th April 2009
In a ruling that could have major implications on the outcome of the 2009 World Championship, the International Court of Appeal has ruled that the diffusers of Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams are legal.
The verdict means there will now be a major scramble from the rest of the pack to get their diffusers up to standard.
In a short statement, the FIA declared:
'The FIA International Court of Appeal has decided to deny the appeals submitted against decisions numbered 16 to 24 taken by the Panel of the Stewards on 26 March at the 2009 Grand Prix of Australia and counting towards the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.
'Based on the arguments heard and evidence before it, the Court has concluded that the Stewards were correct to find that the cars in question comply with the applicable regulations.
'Full reasons for this decision will be provided in due course.'
The ruling means the teams keep the points they have won in the two races so far this season with Brawn GP's Jenson Button leading the Drivers' Championship after two victories.
At the centre of Tuesday debate aired in front of five judges, and with a remarkable 38 other personnel present - either legal counsel, team or FIA representatives - was the legality of the diffuser currently used by Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams.
The device has helped Button win the opening two grands prix of the season in Australia and Malaysia, and with Brawn GP heading the constructors' ahead of Toyota.
Although Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and BMW Sauber argued fervently against the design, the judges have sided with the FIA and the stewards who had already determined the part was legal.
That has left Brawn GP, along with Toyota and Williams, free to race in this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
Source : Planet F1
Thursday 16th April 2009
Ron Dennis is reportedly set to announce his complete retirement from McLaren later today as the CEO falls on the sword to save his team ahead of their upcoming hearing with the WMSC.
The announcement is bound to be linked to McLaren's on-going battle with the FIA, with Dennis' role in the Liargate scandal expected to be examined closely on April 29 when the team appear in front of the governing body.
And although Dennis is no longer the man calling the shots at McLaren, having handed the reigns to Martin Whitmarsh at the start of the season, the 61-year-old is ready to take the fall for McLaren's latest scandal.
The British newspapers are all reporting that Dennis will speak to the staff at McLaren headquarters in Woking today to inform them that his 40-year career in Formula One is over.
The decision is meant to be a pre-emptive strike that will not only lessen McLaren's punishment but also ensure that the team holds onto Lewis Hamilton, as his father/manage Anthony is still debating whether to move his son to another team.
The Daily Mail claims that 'his withdrawal will also meet with approval in the Hamilton household. Lewis's father and manager, Anthony, finds Dennis prickly and arrogant. They have not seen eye to eye for some time.
'It is understood that Hamilton Snr and Mosley have been in contact over the last few days, with both keen to see Dennis leave the sport. The Hamiltons have sided with Whitmarsh since the scandal broke prior to the Malaysian Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
'The fact that they have effectively won the battle means that Lewis is now unlikely to seek to leave.'
McLaren, though, are expected to spin Dennis' retirement from F1 as the CEO rather wanting to switch his attention to the road-car side of the company.
Source : Planet F1