Bernie Ecclestone insists Formula One does not need the British Grand Prix as negotiations continue over the hosting of the race from 2010.
Donington's bid to stage the event collapsed after the failure of a bond scheme to raise the necessary £135million for redevelopment of the circuit."Silverstone have a contract in front of them. We've no commercial arrangement in place for a British Grand Prix for next year. That is why the race has an asterisk beside it on the 2010 calendar," Ecclestone told the Daily Express. "If they can't make it work then don't do it. If that happens, there won't be a British Grand Prix. Simple as that."
He added: "No-one is forcing them to take it. This is business. We have offered them a deal."
Silverstone has been left as the likeliest setting for the race, but track officials are are stalling over the terms of the contract being offered by Formula One rights holder Ecclestone.
The deal is thought to be similar to the one offered - and rejected as a financial loss-maker - 18 months ago.
Ecclestone ruled out the prospect of Britain being given a discount rate, similar to those enjoyed by Monza and Monaco as the sport's "traditional" grands prix.
"The contract they have is the contract we like," he said. "We are not prepared to charge less. Do we need a British Grand Prix? No.
"I want a British Grand Prix, of course, but we are not going to do special rates for Britain."
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Bernie Ecclestone insists Formula One does not need the British Grand Prix as negotiations continue over the hosting of the race from 2010.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Mark Webber lays his Interlagos demons to rest with a dominant victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix
New F1 champion Jenson Button wasn't the only happy driver in the paddock following the Brazilian Grand Prix after Mark Webber secured his second career win in the penultimate round of the 2009 season.
Webber had gone into the weekend looking to return to the points after a poor run of form and was also seeking an end to a disappointing run at Interlagos – a circuit he admitted he enjoyed but which had never delivered results.
The Red Bull man qualified on the front row of the grid alongside Rubens Barrichello and remained close to the Brazilian through the opening stint of the race before jumping into the lead following the first pitstops.
From that point onwards, Webber was barely troubled out front as he picked up his second victory of the season and he admitted it was nice to be back on the top step of the podium.
“I'm happy with that!” he said. “You never know in the first stint of a race what's going to happen, although I knew Rubens and Robert [Kubica] were a bit shorter than me. I was matching Robert's pace to start with and when they made their pit stops, I knew I had a clear run to make a gap to start my second stint. I just cleared Jenson on my outlap, which was good too.
“I was just making sure the tyres were comfortable for the whole stint. I was a little bit panicky in the second stint as Robert started closing, although my pace was not too bad and I knew he was quite short in the middle stint. I was then able to control the gap to Robert and he backed off towards the end, which gave me a nice run home. It's fantastic feeling to win again.”
While rivals Brawn duly wrapped up the constructors' championship in the race, Webber's victory and fourth for team-mate Sebastian Vettel secured second in the standings for Red Bull and Webber was quick to praise the team for its stellar 2009 campaign.
“As a team we've had quite a few victories this year off the back of some tough seasons, but today has confirmed second place for us in the constructors' championship,” he said. “We're very proud of what we have achieved this year as a team – I want to thank Renault as well, the engines have been very good and they're not easy environments for them to work in.
“Congratulations to Jenson and also to Brawn on clinching the championships today after a good fight. It was a good weekend for the Australians, as Jason Crump won the World Speedway Championship last night. He's a close friend of mine and he won it under difficult conditions, so a good weekend.”
Button is the world champion!
Jenson Button becomes the 2009 F1 champion following dramatic Brazilian GP as Brawn GP celebrates double title success
An elated Jenson Button has successfully wrapped up the 2009 F1 drivers' title following a dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix – admitting afterwards that it was a dream come true.
The Briton went into the event leading team-mate Rubens Barrichello by 14 points and was on the back foot after only qualifying down in 14th place – with his team-mate starting from pole.
However, casting aside criticism levied at him from those who said he was simply stuttering to the title, Button produced a storming performance to work his way through the field – surviving a number of incidents on the opening lap to quickly climb up to ninth place.
From there, Button produced a number of impressive overtaking manoeuvres to climb up to fifth place at the finish and secure an unassailable championship lead after Barrichello could only manage eighth.
Indeed, the Brazilian now drops to third in the standings behind Sebastian Vettel, who came home ahead of Button in the race in fourth.
"It's really amazing... my voice has gone!” the new champion told the BBC after climbing from his car. “After the last few races, this one makes up for it. It was awesome. I'm world champion, baby!
"The last few races have been a bit stressful for me, especially qualifying. But that race today, to me, was worthy of becoming world champion. Kobayashi is absolutely crazy, very aggressive. It was a great race really enjoyable. That was the perfect way to do it."
“Twenty-one years ago, I jumped into a kart and I loved winning - but I never expected to be world champion. You think that racing drivers in F1 are different, but we've done it today."
Button also helped Brawn GP to wrap up the constuctors' title, with the team having required just a single point to put the title out of Red Bull Racing's reach
Barrichello grabbed Pole despite the Rain
Rubens Barrichello gives the home fans reason to cheer in Brazil with a popular pole position for Brawn GP.
Rubens Barrichello said he was thrilled to secure pole position for his home round of the F1 season in Brazil, although the Brawn GP man was quick to point out that nothing is yet won when it comes to securing vital points from the weekend.
Barrichello went into the weekend trailing team-mate Jenson Button by 14 points in the standings, but was given a boost when the Briton failed to make it past the second phase of qualifying and could only set the 14th quickest time.
Barrichello himself only just made it through to Q3 after running on wet tyres throughout the second part of the session but he produced the quickest time when it really mattered to put his car on the front of the grid for race day.
“I am very proud of what we achieved today,” he said. “We were on the borderline in Q2 and we should have gone for intermediates, but we were lucky enough just to make it. I knew the car was competitive. I am keeping my feet on the ground as we have won nothing just yet. We did fantastic today. It is amazing. It is going to be a great night of sleep but we still have to get everything tomorrow.
“It's obviously great to start from the front - it is a number that goes to the records. What it means to me is that I am doing my job the way I have to. Be as fast as I can, at the front. I am not watching what's going on on the side. I am just concentrating, focussing on mine, so like I said, I will race as hard as I can to win the race and when the race is finished I will just go on the radio and see where Jenson and Sebastian [Vettel] finish but it is a great start to the weekend and I am looking very much forward to tomorrow.”
Barrichello admitted that no-one would have predicted that he would secure pole with Button and Sebastian Vettel down in 14th and 16th before the lottery that emerged in qualifying, although he questioned whether or not the session should have run to its conclusion following Tonio Liuzzi's accident in Q2.
“We were not expecting the rain that came down,” he said. “The worst time of qualifying was when Liuzzi went off. We shouldn't have restarted qualifying at that time. On that straight, when he went off, I was in fourth gear. You don't have much pleasure, because of the visibility plus the fact that you are aquaplaning, so you just don't know what's going to happen next. But then when the rain came down, it was a good session at the end of Q2 and Q3.
“I'm sorry for all you guys that you had to wait. I had to wait but I had the pleasure of driving the car after that. It was very much a situation that we need to learn for tomorrow if that's what's going to happen tomorrow in terms of rain.”
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Vettel wins Japan GP blow title race wide open
Sebastian Vettel charged to a dominant win as the Japanese Grand Prix returned to Suzuka, although the margin of victory was diminished by a late safety car period.
The German led from start to finish, returning to the front from both of his pit-stops as Red Bull Racing reclaimed the top step of the podium. Despite only have four laps to run after the safety car departed, Vettel still triumphed by 4.8secs.
Jarno Trulli gave Toyota its second runners-up finish in as many week, overcoming Lewis Hamilton at the final round of stops after the Briton had powered past under KERS at the start. Ironically, the McLaren driver suffered a repeat of his Singapore KERS problems in the closing stages, denying the chance to respond.
Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld filled the next three positions, before Brawn picked up three points to limit the potential damage caused by Vettel's win. Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button had to fend off the attentions of Robert Kubica after the safety car, but came home in seventh and eighth respectively as the Brazilian regained the point conceded to his team-mate last weekend.
Vettel's win and Button's eighth place trims the points gap between them to 16, keeping the German in the title hunt as the series heads to Brazil in a fortnight's time. Likewise, RBR lives to fight another day after brawn failed to score the requisite number of points to claim the constructors' crown.
Japanese Grand Prix – Race result
1. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 53 laps 1hr 28m 20.443s
2. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +00m 04.8s
3. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes +00m 06.4s
4. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 07.9s
5. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota +00m 08.7s
6. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber +00m 09.5s
7. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes +00m 10.6s
8. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes +00m 11.4s
9. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber +00m 11.7s
10. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +00m 13.0s
11. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +00m 13.7s
12. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 14.5s
13. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes +00m 14.9s
14. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota +00m 15.7s
15. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Force India-Mercedes +00m 17.9s
16. Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault +1 lap
17. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +2 laps
Rtd Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 43 laps completed
Rtd Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 11 laps completed
Dns Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota injury
Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 32.569s lap 50
Japanese Grand Prix – Qualifying times
1. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 32.160s
2. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota 1m 32.220s
3. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 32.395s
4. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 32.466s
5. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 1m 32.660s
6. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1m 32.945s
7. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1m 32.962s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 32.980s
9. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes no time Q3
10. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari no time Q3
11. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1m 31.482s
12. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 1m 31.638s
13. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1m 32.341s
14. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota no time Q2
15. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari no time Q2
16. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 31.704s
17. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1m 31.718s
18. Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault 1m 32.073s
19. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Force India-Mercedes 1m 32.087s
20. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault no time Q1
Saturday, October 3, 2009
A rash of red flags may have dominated Formula One proceedings at Suzuka, but could not prevent Sebastian Vettel from dominating Japanese Grand prix qualifying.
The German may be on the verge of bowing out of the F1 title race, trailing Jenson Button by 25 points with three races remaining, but continues to do all he can to keep himself in the mix by taking his fourth pole position of the year with fastest time in Japan.
The German was the class of qualifying, topping each of the three sessions, but again had to wait for no fewer than three red flag interruptions to pass before he could claim pole.
With Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber already missing after writing off his chassis on morning practice, Vettel's progress was slowed by two heavy accidents in Q2, when Jaime Alguersuari and Timo Glock suffered separate accidents. Those delays were then followed by a third stoppage when Heikki Kovalainen went off at Degner before posting a time in Q3.
Alguersuari joined the list of Degner victims when he went off at the start of his first visit to Q2, but emerged unscathed from his impact, caused by his Toro Rosso putting its left-hand wheels off the road on approach. Glock, however, was less fortunate, and was taken to hospital with what was reported as a 'leg wound', adding to the fever he was already suffering with. Kovalainen's accident was less violent, and the Finn was quickly back in the McLaren garage.
Once his countryman's car had been craned away, Kimi Raikkonen was the first to post a flying lap, but the 2007 world champion was no match for Vettel, who bided his time before venturing out - and then slashed the benchmark time by almost a second.
Simiarly, no-one had an answer for Vettel after the Red Bull driver had reset the target, with Jarno Trulli cementing second on the grid.
After that, the best anyone could manage was third, with Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil both occupying the position before Lewis Hamilton made it his with a late run. The Briton will line up alongside friend and rival Sutil for the second time in three races, while title contender Rubens Barrichello claimed a top five slot with his sole flier.
That put the Brazilian two places ahead of points leader Jenson Button, who managed only seventh as he followed his Brawn team-mate across the line, relegating Raikkonen to eighth and sandwiching BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld in sixth. Kovalainen joined Sebastien Buemi - who damaged his Toro Rosso at the end of Q2 - on row five after failing to set a time.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Hamilton wins in Singapore
Lewis Hamilton led almost from lights to flag to claim his second grand prix of the season, while Jenson Button again benefited from the misfortune of others to shore up his world championship advantage on the streets of Singapore.
Having made a lightning start, Hamilton was only briefly troubled, initially as Nico Rosberg tagged along with the McLaren, and later when Sebastian Vettel refused to be shaken off after a safety car restart, but looked comfortable as he paced the field to the chequered flag under the lights of Marina Bay. The world champion only lost the lead after taking his second fuel and tyre stop, allowing 2008 race winner Fernando Alonso a handful of laps at the front, but retook the advantage when the Spaniard stopped and cruised home over seven seconds to the good.
Rosberg appeared on course for another second place in Singapore, but made an error exiting the pits on his first stop and was relegated into the midfield by the ensuing penalty for crossing the blend line - a problem compounded by the timing of the race's only safety car, which was called for a collision between fellow Germans Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld on lap 21.
Vettel took up the mantle of chief pursuer to Hamilton, but made his own mistake by exceeding the pit-lane speed limit on his second stop, although the damage was not as severe as that endured by his Williams rival. The Red Bull driver came home as the best-placed title contender, in fourth place, despite concerns over his brakes after team-mate Mark Webber crashed when his right front disc failed.
Vettel's problem promoted yet another German, Timo Glock, into an eventual second, the Toyota team being rewarded with a solid run back to the podium as Glock equalled his best finish in F1. Alonso completed the podium for the beleaguered Renault team, which had earlier seen rookie Romain Grosjean post the race's first retirement.
The Brawns were also in brake trouble, forcing Button to call of his late-race pursuit of Vettel and settle for fifth, enough to extend his lead over team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who chased the Briton across the line in a race that almost made it to the two-hour time limit.
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 61 laps 1hr 56m 06.337s
2. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota +00m 09.6s
3. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +00m 16.6s
4. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +00m 20.2s
5. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes +00m 30.0s
6. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes +00m 31.8s
7. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +00m 36.1s
8. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber +00m 55.0s
9. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota +00m 56.0s
10. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 58.8s
11. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota +00m 59.7s
12. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +01m 13.0s
13. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Ferrari-Ferrari +01m 19.8s
14. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Force India-Mercedes +01m 33.5s
Rtd Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 47 laps completed
Rtd Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 47 laps completed
Rtd Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 45 laps completed
Rtd Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 23 laps completed
Rtd Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 19 laps completed
Rtd Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault 3 laps completed
Hamilton surprise by his pole!
Lewis Hamilton admitted it was an unexpected surprise to secure his third pole in four race for the latest round of the F1 season in Singapore.
Hamilton had endured a tough start to the weekend in Friday practice but a change of chassis overnight led to an upturn in fortunes when the current champion posted the quickest time during final practice.
The Briton then led the way in the first stage of qualifying and was again quickest after the first run in Q3 before the top ten returned to the track to complete their final qualifying runs. When Rubens Barrichello then went into the wall exiting turn five and brought out the red flags, a 16th career pole was secured and Hamilton admitted it had been a pleasant surprise.
“It's an absolutely fantastic result,” he said. “We came here with several technical upgrades, and we didn't know if we'd be up there – particularly after Friday practice, which wasn't spectacular for me. My pole lap was very relaxed: the car has just got better and better as the track has evolved, and I think I would have gone faster on my final lap if the session hadn't been aborted.
“I didn't expect to be on pole today, but our pace has been really good. We'll need to see what fuel loads everyone else is running, but I feel quite confident in what we're doing and I'm in the best position for the race tomorrow.”
While Hamilton benefitted from the red flag in Q3, the same couldn't be said for team-mate Heikki Kovalainen who could only post the tenth quickest time as he was unable to get a lap on the quicker option tyres due to the early stoppage.
“This is a very disappointing result for me,” the Finn said. “In the first two sessions, things went smoothly – although my laptimes weren't as competitive as I was expecting. For Q3, I didn't get a good enough lap in during my first run as I'd been running the harder tyre, which wasn't quick enough. I also made a couple of mistakes, but I was focusing my efforts on my second run – which would have been on a set of new option tyres.
“It's going to be a tough race tomorrow: starting from ninth will make things very difficult, but there's nothing I can do about that now, so I'm just going to absolutely go for it tomorrow.”
Hamilton takes Singapore pole under red flag
Lewis Hamilton was assured of pole position for the second Singapore Grand Prix after Rubens Barrichello banged the wall on his final flying lap around the Marina Bay circuit.
The Briton was already fastest of the final ten runners when Barrichello lost his car over the bumps heading into turn five, connecting the wall heavily with the left-hand side of the Brawn.
While Hamilton was left sitting pretty in his third pole of the year - and one that many expected him to take - Q2 pacesetter Nico Rosberg could be a little more aggrieved, having been on a better lap at the time the red flags were shown. The German will subsequently start from the inside of row two, with countryman Sebastian Vettel between himself and Hamilton, having also been denied a final shot at top spot.
Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber will line up alongside Rosberg, while Barrichello remained fifth fastest. The Brazilian, however, will drop to tenth after taking his gearbox change penalty, putting him just two spots ahead of Brawn team-mate and title rival Jenson Button, who missed the cut for Q3.
Fernando Alonso, Timo Glock, Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica and Heikki Kovalainen will all move up one spot because of Barrichello's penalty.
Singapore Grand Prix – Qualifying times
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 47.891s
2. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 48.204s
3. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1m 48.348s
4. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 48.722s
5. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 1m 48.828s*
6. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 1m 49.054s
7. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota 1m 49.180s
8. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1m 49.307s
9. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1m 49.514s
10. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1m 49.778s
11. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1m 47.013s
12. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1m 47.141s
13. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 47.177s
14. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 47.369s
15. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota 1m 47.413s
16. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 48.231s
17. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 48.340s
18. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 48.350s
19. Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault 1m 48.544s
20. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Force India-Mercedes 1m 48.792s
Monday, September 21, 2009
By Ossian Shine
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The race-fixing controversy that has shamed Formula One is a bump on the road that the sport will quickly get past, according to former world champion Mika Hakkinen.
The Finn, who escaped from an horrific accident that almost killed him before he won the world title in 1998 and 1999, said motor racing's premier category would also survive the ugly scandal surrounding the Renault team.
"Show must go on," Hakkinen told Reuters.
"People who have done wrong, they need a penalty...And life has to go on."
Formula One has been plunged into controversy after the Renault team were found to have ordered driver Nelson Piquet to deliberately crash at last year's Singapore Grand Prix to help his team mate Fernando Alonso to win the race.
Renault team boss Flavio Briatore was barred for life on Monday for his role and former engineering head Pat Symonds was banned for five years. Piquet walked away unpunished after being given immunity from prosecution for testifying.
The controversy has cast an unsavory shadow over the sport and undermined Formula One's credibility at a time when it is looking to bolster support and shore up investment.
But Hakkinen, who would have died at the 1995 Australian Grand Prix without the intervention of quick-thinking doctors who performed an emergency trackside tracheotomy, remains upbeat about the future.
"Forget it and concentrate on the future," he said. "I think what is important now is a great grand prix is coming."
Hakkinen, in Singapore ahead of this weekend's Grand Prix, said Sunday's nighttime spectacle was just the first step on the sport's road to recovery, as was the return next season of Lotus, the glamour-name that he started his career with.
"I think it's brilliant," Hakkinen said. "I think it's absolutely brilliant.
"A new organization in Formula One, new team in Formula One, new people in Formula One. All of this is a positive thing."
Running his hand through his blond-streaked hair the 41-year-old issued one piece of advice.
"You really, really have to keep your feet down on earth," he cautioned. "You have to have the right people running the operation.
"Obviously (there is) a lot of money involved, and you need professional people. So they, the people who have decided to bring the Lotus back, and run the Formula One team, I hope they have a good plan to get the right people."
Leading Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes will be the Lotus team principal. The 45-year-old set up Asian budget airline Air Asia, currently sponsoring the Williams team, and is Malaysia's 15th richest man with a net worth of $220 million according to the Forbes Malaysia 2009 rich list.
The team has the backing of the Malaysian government. Lotus will initially be based in Norfolk, some 10 miles from the original Lotus Cars factory in Eastern England, but the future design, manufacturing and technical center will be purpose built at Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit.
(Editing by Julian Linden)
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Barrichello wins Italian GP at Monza
Brawn Grand Prix's Rubens Barrichello came through to take the victory at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, ahead of his team-mate, Jenson Button.
Barrichello eventually finished the race around 3 seconds up on Button, with Kimi Raikkonen inheriting third late on, when Lewis Hamilton crashed out on the final lap.
Force India's Adrian Sutil was next up, shadowing Raikkonen's Ferrari, followed by the Renault of Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen.
Nick Heidfeld and Sebastian Vettel rounded out the points' finishers in seventh and eighth respectively.
Italian Grand Prix - Race result
1. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 53 laps 1h 16m 21.706s
2. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes +2.8s
3. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +30.6s
4. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes +31.1s
5. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +59.1
6. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +60.6s
7. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber +82.4s
8. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +85.4s
9. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Ferrari-Ferrari +86.8s
10. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota +120.0s
11. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota +163.9s
12. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
13. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
14. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +1 lap
15. Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault +1 lap
16. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota +2 laps
Rtd. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Force India-Mercedes 22 laps completed (gearbox)
Rtd. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 19 laps completed
Rtd. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 15 laps completed (oil leak)
Rtd. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 0 lap completed (accident)
Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 24.739s
Hamilton edges out Sutil for Italian GP pole
Lewis Hamilton secured pole position today in qualifying for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the thirteenth round in the 2009 FIA F1 World Championship, but only just as Adrian Sutil almost made it two in a row for Force India.
Hamilton was on the pace throughout, setting the second best time in both Q1 and Q2. In the final top-ten shoot-out he again looked strong in his McLaren-Mercedes and he held P1 until right at the end when Sutil demoted him to second.
However, Hamilton was still on track and clocking up best sector times, and he just edged back in front with a 1 minute 24.066 second lap, which was 0.195 seconds up Sutil.
Sutil thus had to settle for second and it could so nearly have been pole, especially as he made a slight error at the first Lesmo.
All-in-all though it was still another great result for Force India - following on from Giancarlo Fisichella's pole and runners-up spot at Spa, and with his replacement, Vitantonio Liuzzi also making it through to the final shoot-out and qualifying seventh, more points seem likely for the Silverstone-based outfit.
Meanwhile Kimi Raikkonen was third for Ferrari, almost half a second off Hamilton, with the second McLaren and fellow Finn, Heikki Kovalainen fourth.
Rubens Barrichello completed the top five, 0.015 seconds up on his Brawn GP team-mate and current championship leader, Jenson Button - both apparently running heavier than those up ahead.
Further down the order, after Liuzzi in seventh, came Renault's Fernando Alonso and then the Red Bull's of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Jarno Trulli just missed the cut for Q3 and had to settle for eleventh spot in his Toyota, followed by Romain Grosjean and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica. Kubica and his team-mate, Nick Heidfeld both bowed out in Q2 early on, when engine problems sidelined them.
Italian Grand Prix – Qualifying times
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 24.065s
2. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 24.261s
3. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 24.523s
4. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1m 24.845s
5. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 1m 25.015s
6. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1m 25.030s
7. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Force India-Mercedes 1m 25.043s
8. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 1m 25.072s
9. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 25.180s
10. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 25.314s
11. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota 1m 23.611s
12. Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault 1m 23.728s
13. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1m 23.866s
14. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 23.901s
15. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1m 24.275s
16. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota 1m 24.036s
17. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1m 24.074s
18. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1m 24.121s
19. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 24.220s
20. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 24.951s**
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Raikkonen wins Belgian GP at Spa
Kimi Raikkonen came through to take the victory at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday for Ferrari - but only just ahead of Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella.
Raikkonen took the lead from pole-man Fischella on the run to Les Combes after the re-start. The safety car had been deployed following the incident on the first lap, which saw four drivers retire, including current championship leader, Jenson Button and fellow Brit Lewis Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel meanwhile took the final spot on the podium, followed by the BMW Sauber's of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld.
McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen rounded out the top six, with Rubens Barrichello seventh, despite problems late on, which culminated with his Brawn GP car finishing the race on fire!
Nico Rosberg took the final point in eighth for Williams with Mark Webber and Timo Glock completing the top ten.
Belgian Grand Prix - Race result
1. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 44 laps 1hr 23m 50.995s
2. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes +0.9s
3. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +3.8s
4. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber +9.9s
5. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber +11.2s
6. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +32.7s
7. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes +35.4s
8. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota +36.2s
9. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +36.9s
10. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota +41.4s
11. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes +42.6s
12. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari +46.1s
13. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota +54.2s
14. Luca Badoer Italy Ferrari-Ferrari +98.1s
Rtd. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota 26 laps completed
Rtd. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 21 laps completed
Rtd. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 0 laps completed
Rtd. Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault 0 laps completed
Rtd. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 0 laps completed
Rtd. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 0 laps completed
Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 47.263s
Fisichella Surprised with Pole Position
Giancarlo Fisichella has admitted that securing a maiden pole position for the Force India F1 team was beyond his wildest dreams heading to the Belgian Grand Prix, despite acknowledging that Spa-Francorchamps is a circuit where he always expects to go well.
A force, albeit unexpected, throughout qualifying, the Italian veteran topped the first phase of qualifying and was only toppled from P1 late in Q2, before bouncing back to turn the tables on countryman Jarno Trulli and claim an historic first pole that marked by far the best qualifying result for the Indian team. A nail-biting third phase ended with Fisichella posting a 1min 46.308secs lap just seconds from the end of the hour, leaving little time for Trulli - or anyone else to respond, as Ferrari's Luca Badoer crashed out and forced a yellow flag zone at Les Combes.
The 36-year old, who has been tipped as a contender for the soon-to-be-vacant second Ferrari for the Italian Grand Prix, will start from pole for the fourth time in his lengthy career, although for the first time since heading qualifying for the 2006 Malaysia GP.
"This is one of my favourite circuits," Fisichella admitted, "I did well here in the past, and I was sure we would be competitive again this year, but I didn't expect to be on pole!
"It feels just great, like a dream. I am so happy for myself, for the team, for the mechanics, the engineers, all of whom have done a fantastic job. They made a great step forward for Valencia for the last race, especially considering our budget and our resources. Now I am not only looking for points, but for more... We've got this far we need to finish the job!"
Fisichella, however, had to overcome a minor setback during morning practice, which had limited him to eighth place on the timesheets as Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil claimed third fastest time.
"We had a small accident when I hit a rabbit, but my engineer said it would be lucky - and it was!" Fisichella revealed, "What a result."
"It was simply an incredible result, and full credit to Giancarlo on a series of fantastic laps," chief race engineer Dominic Harlow concurred, "We started today a little unsure of our performance, and knew we had to work on the understeer that was in the car yesterday, but the engineers tried a few things in FP3 and found the right direction. From there, both drivers were much happier. Giancarlo concentrated on the soft tyre in Q2 and I think the track improvement came in that direction."
Sutil could have joined his team-mate in Q3, having looked strong throughout the day, but narrowly missed out on a slot for the second time this year, after trailing Nico Rosberg by just a tenth of a second.
"This is an unbelievable day for the team, and congratulations to Giancarlo - it was an amazing result for him and such a good boost for the team," the magnanimous German commented, "We've worked hard, so the guys really deserve it.
"For me, it was quite a good session, but I'm still a little bit disappointed as I couldn't use the soft tyre set effectively. The hard set was much better on my car - we don't know why, but we will look into it as, normally, we should have been Q3 - as Giancarlo showed. However, from eleventh, I still think points are possible. We are quite good on the long run pace, the car feels good and it was from this point of view I am quite happy."
Belgian Grand Prix - Qualifying times
1. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes 1m 46.308s
2. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota 1m 46.395s
3. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1m 46.500s
4. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 1m 46.513s
5. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1m 46.586s
6. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 46.633s
7. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota 1m 46.677s
8. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 46.761s
9. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 46.788s
10. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1m 47.362s
11. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 45.119s
12. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 45.122s
13. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 1m 45.136s
14. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1m 45.251s
15. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1m 45.259s
16. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 45.951s
17. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 46.032s
18. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1m 46.307s
19 Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault 1m 46.359s
20. Luca Badoer Italy Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 46.957s
Sunday, August 23, 2009
'Delighted' Barrichello won the Valencia F1 Grand Prix
Rubens Barrichello dedicated his victory in the European Grand Prix in Valencia this weekend to his injured countryman Felipe Massa – as the man many had written off as a has-been heading for retirement vaulted himself back in to genuine championship contention courtesy of as aggressive and determined a drive as he has produced all season.
Trailing Brawn GP team-mate Jenson Button by 26 points entering the meeting, Barrichello knew Valencia was effectively a last-chance saloon for his title aspirations – and in one fell swoop, he has cut that deficit by practically a third. Quicker than the Briton for the majority of the weekend, third place in qualifying was achieved despite carrying nigh-on ten kilograms more fuel aboard his car than the two front row-sitting McLaren-Mercedes' of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen ahead of him on the grid.
That marked the veteran Brazilian out as race day favourite in many observers' eyes, and he did not disappoint. Whilst Button fell down outside the points in the initial phase of the grand prix, Barrichello maintained a steady gap to Kovalainen in second throughout his opening stint, and by virtue of a succession of three supremely fast lap times after the Finn had made his first pit visit, successfully jumped the second of the two MP4-24s during the stops.
Following that, he went on to wage a cat-and-mouse duel with leader Hamilton, and when the reigning F1 World Champion found himself delayed at his second stop by his tyres not being ready, the wily old cat pounced. Almost five seconds ahead when the stops had all shaken out, Barrichello went on to preserve and occasionally extend that advantage all the way to the chequered flag for a supremely popular success and his nation's 100th triumph at the highest level.
“What a fantastic day!” enthused the 37-year-old São Paulista after bringing to an end an 85-race drought and registering the 100th Brazilian grand prix victory. “I am so delighted with the win after what was a really tough race out there. It's just amazing and a weekend that I will never forget. Even after five years, you don't forget how to win and the feeling is so good!
“Although we were fuelled heavier than the McLarens, I knew that I would have to push really hard throughout the race. My engineer Jock [Clear] was great today; he really encouraged me and helped me to maintain the pace, and the team did a fantastic job with two excellent pit-stops.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me, and this victory is dedicated to the whole of Brazil but particularly to my great friend Felipe Massa. I've been with him last week and he truly deserves a sort of dedication like this, and I hope the whole of Brazil is hoping for his best recovery. I just hope he is back racing against me soon.”
Barrichello's flawless performance also drew effusive praise from Brawn GP team principal Ross Brawn, who will now face the unenviable decision of whether to put the brakes on the sport's most experienced competitor of all time in order to focus solely on Button's chase of the crown, or let both of his drivers continue to duel it out until season's end, possibly to their own detriment.
“That was a fantastic performance from Rubens today to take his first and Brawn GP's seventh win of the season,” remarked the Englishman, whose team prior to this weekend had not won since the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul back in early June. “We knew that having a heavier fuel load would give us an advantage over the cars in front, but Rubens had to drive at his absolute best to have a chance of victory.
“He pushed exactly where he needed to. When we got on the radio and told him that he had to put in some quick laps, he delivered. It was a great performance and an extremely well-deserved victory. We're all delighted for him. Thanks and credit is also due to everyone at the track today and at the factory in Brackley for all their hard work over the past couple of weeks, and to our colleagues at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth for their dedication and the performance of our engine.” -Crash.net.
European Grand Prix - Race result
1. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 57 laps 1hr 35m 51.289s
2. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes +2.3s
3. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +15.9s
4. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +20.0s
5. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota +20.8s
6. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +27.7s
7. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes +34.9s
8. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber +36.6s
9. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +44.9s
10. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes +47.9s
11. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber +48.8s
12. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes +63.6s
13. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +64.5s
14. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota +86.5s
15. Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault +91.7s
16. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
17. Luca Badoer Italy Ferrari-Ferrari +1 lap
18. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota +3 laps
Rtd. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari +16 laps
Rtd. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 23 laps completed (engine)
Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota 1m 38.683s
Hamilton leads McLaren F1 lock-out in Valencia
Lewis Hamilton followed up his Hungarian Grand Prix triumph by scorching to pole position for the European Grand Prix on a baking day in Valencia – but the reigning F1 World Champion's glory was only secured by a late error from team-mate Heikki Kovalainen that arguably cost the Finn the top spot on the starting grid.
Still riding the crest of a wave from his Budapest glory – his first podium of the season, let alone first victory – Hamilton has been quick all weekend around the challenging Circuit Ricardo Tormo, and along with Kovalainen succeeded in achieving McLaren-Mercedes' first front row lock-out in the top flight since Hungary last year.
There were the odd mistakes along the way – in both Q1 and Q3 – but that aside the Stevenage-born ace was in peerless form, and pipped Kovalainen by a scant three hundredths of a second at the close as the Suomussalmi native twitched his way to the line through the last sector and compromised his entry into the final turn.
The only man capable of holding a candle to the two Silver Arrows was Rubens Barrichello, as the hotter temperatures under the Spanish sun saw Brawn GP, in the words of team principal Ross Brawn, 'back to dealing with a normal car again' – but world championship leader Jenson Button was only fifth, crucially behind Red Bull Racing title rival Sebastian Vettel, another driver to take a brief excursion into the scenery along the way.
Mark Webber in the sister RBR confirmed fears that the energy drinks-backed outfit is on the back foot this weekend by lapping half a second adrift of Vettel in ninth – the Australian's second-worst qualifying performance of the season to-date, compounded by a near-miss with the wall during Q2. Ahead of him will be Kimi Raikkonen in the lead Ferrari, Williams' Nico Rosberg and home hero Fernando Alonso in the Renault, with Robert Kubica fading to tenth in the final reckoning having on occasion threatened to break into the top four.
There was no such disappointment, however, over in the McLaren garage, where the 2009 campaign has come alive with a vengeance in recent weeks. Back at the start of the year, Hamilton had written off all hopes of even winning a single race this season. He now stands on the brink of triumphing twice in quick succession.
Both McLarens were similarly quick in Q2, with Hamilton and Kovalainen winding up second and third-fastest respectively, but both men were pipped in the final moments by Barrichello, with the remainder of the Q3 graduates composed of Vettel, Rosberg, Button, Webber, Alonso, Kubica and Raikkonen. The latter, indeed, made it through by a scant four hundredths of a second, in so doing demoting Nick Heidfeld into the Q2 abyss, though eleventh nonetheless equalled the BMW star's best qualifying showing of 2009 to-date.
Joining the German in the drop were countryman Adrian Sutil – disappointed with twelfth in the leading Force India, after proving rapid indeed throughout practice and Q1 and with the Silverstone-based squad reckoning to have gained a full seven tenths of a second since the British Grand Prix two months ago – Timo Glock in the Toyota, Renault debutant Romain Grosjean and Scuderia Toro Rosso ace Sébastien Buemi. Grosjean, for his part, impressed on his maiden appearance at the highest level, lapping within four tenths of double F1 World Champion team-mate Alonso, who only narrowly made the cut himself.
The five Q1 casualties, finally, were composed of Giancarlo Fisichella – spoiling Force India's day after both VJM02s had shown well up the order for much of the session – Williams' Kazuki Nakajima, who rolled to a halt with three minutes to go, Jarno Trulli on a poor day for Toyota, Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Jaime Alguersuari and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Luca Badoer.
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 39.498s
2. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1m 39.532s
3. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 1m 39.563s
4. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 39.789s
5. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1m 39.821s
6. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 40.144s
7. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1m 40.185s
8. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 1m 40.236s
9. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 40.239s
10. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1m 40.512s
11. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1m 38.826s
12. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 38.846s
13. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota 1m 38.991s
14. Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault 1m 39.040s
15. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 39.514s
16. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes 1m 39.531s
17. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1m 39.795s
18. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota 1m 39.807s
19. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 39.925s
20. Luca Badoer Italy Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 41.413s
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Hamilton wins in Hungary
Lewis Hamilton finally got his 2009 world championship defence back into top gear by claiming a first victory of the year for McLaren with a crushing display in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Already buoyed by his performance leading up to the opening lap in Germany a fortnight ago, and again by McLaren sweeping free practice in Budapest, the Briton made the most of his KERS system to move into an early second place, and then be best placed to capitalise on polewinner Fernando Alonso's problem with a loose wheel.
The Spaniard led through to his early pit-stop, but lost his right-front wheel on the subsequent out-lap and, despite taking on a replacement, was forced to retire shortly afterwards. Having got around Mark Webber on lap four, Hamilton assumed the lead and, with his McLaren able to use its tyres better than the majority of its rivals, was able to cruise to victory, coming home eleven seconds clear of the field.
Kimi Raikkonen likewise moved into second spot, surviving an opening lap brush with both the world champion and Sebastian Vettel to claim Ferrari's best result of the season, while Webber emerged as the leading Red Bull driver, having got ahead of Vettel on the opening lap and then made the most of the German's suspension-induced retirement.
Once Timo Glock had made a late single stop, Nico Rosberg claimed another fourth place for Williams, coming home ahead of 2008 race winner Heikki Kovalainen - who confirmed McLaren's improvement in fifth. Glock slotted back into sixth, ahead of championship leader Jenson Button - who struggled with tyre woes all day - and the second Toyota of Jarno Trulli.
Hungarian Grand Prix – Race results
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 70 laps 1hr 38m 23.876s
2. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 11.5s
3. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +00m 16.8s
4. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota +00m 26.9s
5. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +00m 34.3s
6. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota +00m 35.2s
7. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes +00m 55.0s
8. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +01m 08.1s
9. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota +01m 08.7s
10. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes +01m 09.2s
11 Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber +01m 10.6s
12. Nelson Piquet Jr Brazil Renault-Renault +01m 11.5s
13. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber +01m 14.0s
14. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
15. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
16. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
Rtd Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 29 laps completed
Rtd Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 15 laps completed
Rtd Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1 lap completed
Dns Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari qualifying accident
Alonso grabs pole but Massa takes a knock in Hungary
The qualifying session for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix will likely go down as one of the oddest in recent memory, with an accident for Felipe Massa caused by an errant piece of rear suspension from the Brawn GP of Rubens Barrichello hitting the Ferrari star on the helmet – and a first pole position in 32 races for double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, though due to a timing failure, the man himself didn't actually realise he had done it.
In cooler conditions than the previous day during practice, and with strong winds blowing, the all-important top ten shoot-out got underway without Massa, still in the Hungaroring's medical centre following his blow to the head and hefty impact with the circuit's tyre barriers [see separate story – click here].
The men on the move to begin with were Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton – seeking a consecutive hat-trick of Hungarian poles – and the in-form Red Bull Racing pairing of German Grand Prix winner Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, but with the lap times continually tumbling, it could have gone one of a number of ways.
Confusion then swiftly set in, however, as F1's official timing system went down, leaving drivers, teams, spectators and commentators alike all in the dark as to who was going quickly and who wasn't. With chaos reigning in parc fermé afterwards, the drivers knew what times they personally had done – but not how fast any of their rivals had been. Alonso approached every one of his Q3 competitors to enquire about their lap times, and even as he stood on the scales to be weighed the Spaniard still seemed unsure that he had clinched the top spot.
Delayed celebrations they may have been for the Oviedo native and his Renault crew, but celebrations they nonetheless were, as the news was confirmed amidst a farcical ending to a qualifying hour that had endured for almost an hour-and-a-half. Alongside Alonso on the front row of the grid will be Vettel, with the sport's youngest-ever grand prix-winner ably backed up by team-mate Webber in third, though the Australian arguably has the better position for the start, being on the grippier inside line.
The top ten was completed by Hamilton, Rosberg, Kovalainen, Kimi Raikkonen – who spoiled his initial effort with a scrappy end to the lap – Jenson Button, the improving Kazuki Nakajima for the third time in the last five races and the luckless Massa, though whether the latter will be able to take the start of the race remains unclear. The world championship leader only ventured out for a single run towards the end of the ten-minute segment, following suspension checks to his Mercedes-powered BGP 001 in an effort to ensure that he would encounter no similar failure to that of Barrichello.
The Red Bulls had swiftly proven to be on the pace in Q2, and Webber would wind up in P1 at the end of the 15-minute session, with Hamilton and the impressive Nakajima separating the New South Wales ace from the sister RB5 of Vettel in fourth. The reigning world champion, indeed, survived an off-track moment at turn four en route, but there would be far greater dramas in the same corner later on for Massa, who was hit on the helmet by a piece of flying debris, shot off-piste and embedded his Ferrari firmly in the tyre barriers. Though the Brazilian was eighth-quickest, behind team-mate Raikkonen, Button and Kovalainen, it took some time to extract the concussed São Paulista from his car, and the 28-year-old would take no further part in the action.
Alonso and early pace-setter Rosberg completed the Q3 graduates, with Sébastien Buemi narrowly missing out in the upgraded Scuderia Toro Rosso STR4, and Toyota duo Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock similarly falling at the second hurdle. There they were accompanied by birthday boy Nelsinho Piquet – confessing to having pushed a bit too hard in the upgraded Renault R29 for the first time – and, most surprisingly of all, Barrichello, the nine-time grand prix-winner blaming his broken rear suspension for not making it into the top ten for the first time all year. Brawn GP, indeed, looked to be far from the force they had been earlier on in the campaign, with Button only hauling himself to safety in sixth right at the end.
Raikkonen, too, at one stage appeared to be in perilous waters, with both of Maranello's drivers struggling for grip throughout and enduring a number of grassy moments, whilst Kovalainen's expected form was not overly apparent, with the defending race-winner making it through to the top ten shoot-out – but only just.
Hungarian Grand Prix – Qualifying times
1. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 1m 21.569s
2. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 21.607s
3. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 21.741s
4. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 21.839s
5. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1m 21.890s
6. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1m 22.095s
7. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 22.468s
8. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1m 22.511s
9. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1m 22.835s
10. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari no time Q3
11. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 21.002s
12. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota 1m 21.082s
13. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 1m 21.222s
14. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota 1m 21.242s
15 Nelson Piquet Jr Brazil Renault-Renault 1m 21.389s
16. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1m 21.738s
17. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes 1m 21.807s
18. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 21.868s
19. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1m 21.901s
20. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 22.359s
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Webber wins German GP
Mark Webber finally opened his Formula One victory account by winning the German Grand Prix in dramatic fashion at the Nurburgring.
Despite starting from pole, the Australian was beaten into the first turn by Rubens Barrichello and had to chase the Brazilian through the early laps before then being given a drive-thru' penalty for an aggressive defensive move on the Brawn that had resulted in contact on the run to the opening corner.
The Red Bull team kept its driver out until the leader pitted for fuel and tyres, and the move kept Webber in contention despite having to make his own stop several laps later. When everything had shaken out, the Australian was still in second place but was able to cruise up to the back of Barrichello and, when the Brazilian pitted for the second of three scheduled stops, he assumed a lead he would only lose during his own second stop.
Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel was largely anonyous all afternoon, but also took advantage of Brawn's need for three stops to come through and claim second, finishing ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa, while Nico Rosberg also got ahead of Button and Barrichello - whose positions were swapped at their final stops - leaving Button fifth and Barrichello fending off a fired-up Fernando Alonso for sixth.
Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock scrapped over the final point, the German having one-stopped after starting from pit-lane, before the Finn finally secured a point for McLaren.
The hopes of both Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil were dashed by contact, the Briton with Webber's front wing at the opening corner and Sutil with Kimi Raikkonen at the same point mid-race. Hamilton finished a lap down, having ahd to pit for repairs, while Sutil came home 15th after needing a new front wing while running in the points.
F1 » German Grand Prix – Race result
1. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 60 laps 1hr 36m 43.310s
2. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +00m 09.2s
3. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 15.9s
4. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota +00m 21.0s
5. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes +00m 23.6s
6. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes +00m 24.4s
7. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +00m 24.8s
8. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +00m 58.6s
9. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota +01m 01.4s
10 Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber +01m 01.9s
11. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes +01m 02.3s
12. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota +01m 02.8s
13. Nelson Piquet Jr Brazil Renault-Renault +01m 08.3s
14. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber +01m 09.5s
15. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes +01m 11.9s
16. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari +01m 20.2s
17. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +01m 30.9s
18. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
Rtd Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 34 laps completed
Rtd Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 18 laps completed
F1 » Webber: First F1 pole makes this 'a very special day'
It may have taken him 132 attempts to do it, but Mark Webber confessed that the wait only made his maiden F1 pole position for this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring all-the-more 'special' – as he lauded Red Bull Racing for the part they played in helping him to achieve it, and vowed to do his best to reward them with his breakthrough victory on Sunday to-boot.
The Australian paced FP1 on Friday morning, and has been a consistent front-runner from thereon in around the Eifel Mountains circuit – one where he notched up his first rostrum finish for Red Bull back in 2007, in similarly unpredictable wet/dry conditions.
Having been defeated by team-mate Sebastian Vettel three weeks ago at Silverstone – paying the price on race day for a patchy qualifying effort – it was quickly clear that the 32-year-old was in no mood to make the same mistake again on the German's home turf. After leading the way in Q1, in Q2 he was at one stage almost four seconds clear of any of his rivals, before finishing the job off with a flawless final run in the Q3 top ten shoot-out, getting the better of Brawn GP pairing Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button as well as the fans' favourite to make his own little piece of F1 history.
“This is a very special day for me,” underlined the New South Wales native. “I've been close to getting pole a few times in the past. Today we're here and the team has done a great job. We've been quick all weekend and all the teams and drivers got really tested in that session. It was very, very chaotic and to deliver the lap time when it absolutely counted was very important to me. Getting the best time is fantastic.
“The car is working very well here and I was talking to my engineer Ciaran all the time, asking him what we were doing, because the track conditions were so hard; it looked quite dry, but the slicks just wouldn't take it at all. In Q2, it was really hard to read what we needed for the last ten minutes. In the end, the key for me was three clean sectors – and that's what got me pole.
“I called on my experience, and I have a great team of people – the guys on the pit wall – making the right calls for me. They can see what the other drivers are doing. We're the best drivers in the world, and we know when people are making mistakes that it's down to the wrong tyres – so we stick to the decisions we make and believe in them and go out and do the best we can, because we know everyone's in a bit of trouble in those conditions.
“A huge thanks to all the team, both here and in the factory, and I hope that it can be my first win tomorrow. We're in a fantastic position to do it. Obviously these guys (Barrichello and Button) have had a very strong season and will push us, but we're looking forward to a fight. I'm up for trying to take my first race win tomorrow if I can.”
Webber's performance drew warm words of praise from the energy drinks-backed outfit's team principal Christian Horner and Fabrice Lom, principal track support engineer for engine-supplier Renault – both content in the knowledge that with RBR seemingly in the ascendancy over Brawn as the season heads into its second half, they have two drivers capable of taking points away from runaway world championship leader Button, not just one.
“Despite the very tricky conditions, it was great for Mark to secure his first Formula 1 career pole and it puts him in an ideal place to start tomorrow's race,” remarked Horner.
“I'm so, so happy for Mark,” added Lom. “He really deserves it – he's a good guy and a good driver. We owe him this pole position; he missed it by almost nothing at Silverstone, but here he has got it. We are very happy within Renault to be able to offer him this first pole position.”
F1 » German Grand Prix – Qualifying times
1. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 32.230s
2. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 1m 32.357s
3. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1m 32.473s
4. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 32.480s
5. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 32.616s
6. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1m 33.859s
7. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 34.316s
8. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 34.574s
9. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 34.710s
10 Nelson Piquet Jr Brazil Renault-Renault 1m 34.803s
11. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1m 42.310s
12. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 1m 42.318s
13. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1m 42.500s
14. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota 1m 42.771s
15. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1m 42.859s
16. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1m 32.190s
17. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 32.251s
18. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes 1m 32.402s
19. Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 33.559s
20. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota 1m 32.423s
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Sebastian Vettel stole Jenson Button's thunder on the Brawn GP star's home turf to consummately triumph in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend, leading home a crushing Red Bull Racing one-two ahead of team-mate Mark Webber to prove that the energy drinks-backed outfit can win in the dry too – and demonstrating that it is very much game on for the 2009 F1 World Championship crown.
A textbook getaway from pole-sitter Vettel when the lights went out was almost bettered by that of Rubens Barrichello alongside, but the German kept his nose in front into Copse, with Webber slotting into third and Kazuki Nakajima moving up a place into fourth in the leading Williams. The biggest gain was made by Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari, however, as the 2007 title-winner exploited his KERS power boost to maximum effect to storm down the outside – bravely brushing the grass en route – and vault up into fifth.
The Finn was aided along the way by a slow start from Jarno Trulli on the second row that dropped the Pescara native back to seventh and also compromised home hero Button, who found himself tucked up behind the Italian and with nowhere to go, falling back from sixth to ninth in the process, behind Nico Rosberg, Trulli and the second fast-starting Ferrari of Felipe Massa.
Trulli was desperate to find a way back past Rosberg on the first lap but found his efforts swiftly rebuffed, and after Button profited from a mistake by Massa to move back up into eighth, he again found himself frustratingly stuck behind the Toyota. Further back, there was a superbly opportunistic move by an inspired Giancarlo Fisichella into Stowe, as the experienced Italian took advantage of Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso squabbling ahead of him to dive down the inside of both and into eleventh.
That left the tardy Heidfeld – nursing a damaged front wing and defying the advice of his team in not pitting for a replacement – doggedly staving off the earnest and energetic advances of Alonso, the sister BMW of a slow-starting Robert Kubica and defending F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton in an entertaining scrap, with the latter having had his own grassy moment on the entry to Stowe after getting held up by Alonso and complaining of no grip from his underperforming McLaren-Mercedes.
The real focus of the race, however, was up front, where Vettel was busy eking out a commanding advantage of a second a lap, helped by Barrichello's difficulties in warming his tyres up to temperature sufficiently quickly. Fastest lap after fastest lap carried the top flight's youngest-ever grand prix-winner almost 15 seconds clear just 13 laps into the action, with Webber able to make little impression on the Brawn GP right ahead of him and seeing his chances of victory evaporating into thin air.
Nakajima unsurprisingly became the first man to pit on lap 15, releasing the duelling Raikkonen and Rosberg into fourth and fifth respectively, with Trulli, Button, Massa and Timo Glock similarly in attendance at the foot of the top ten. Raikkonen was the next to blink, promoting Rosberg to fourth, and the extra lap completed enabled him to leapfrog Nakajima in the process.
There was tension as Trulli and Button pitted together next time around, but unfortunately for British fans the status quo was maintained, and even worse, whilst Trulli was able to jump Raikkonen, the understeer-plagued Button was not – as the luckless Nakajima slipped behind all three of them following his excellent opening stint.
Barrichello was the next in, followed only a lap later by pursuer Webber, but whilst the latter's stop was longer, the Australian narrowly rejoined ahead – though there was a brief heart-stopping moment as the Red Bull emerged from the pit-lane and the Brawn GP stormed up behind him on the exit of Copse, with Webber just doing enough to stave 'Rubinho' off on his cold tyres. Interestingly, too, the two teams went in different directions on tyre strategy – and this time it was RBR that would prove to hold the winning hand.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 60 1:22:49.328 1 10
2 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 60 +15.1 secs 3 8
3 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 60 +41.1 secs 2 6
4 3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 60 +45.0 secs 11 5
5 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 60 +45.9 secs 7 4
6 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 60 +46.2 secs 6 3
7 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 60 +68.3 secs 4 2
8 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 60 +69.6 secs 9 1
9 10 Timo Glock Toyota 60 +69.8 secs 8
10 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 60 +71.5 secs 16
11 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 60 +74.0 secs 5
12 8 Nelsinho Piquet Renault 59 +1 Lap 14
13 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 59 +1 Lap 12
14 7 Fernando Alonso Renault 59 +1 Lap 10
15 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 59 +1 Lap 15
16 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 59 +1 Lap 18
17 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 59 +1 Lap 20
18 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 59 +1 Lap 19
Ret 11 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 37 Accident damage 17
Ret 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 36 Retired 13
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Button damns F1 statistics for Turkish GP glory
Jenson Button had vowed to re-write the unwritten Formula 1 rule that says the pole-sitter always wins the Turkish Grand Prix – and in dashing Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel's dreams in the 2009 edition, the current world championship leader did just that.
The Brawn GP star took advantage of an opening lap error by Vettel to pounce and dive past into the lead around the undulating, technically challenging and physically demanding, anti-clockwise Istanbul Park Circuit – and he went on to fairly crush the opposition with his searing raw pace and flawless consistency, meaning he will travel to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix in front of his adoring home supporters in a fortnight's time with a 26-point lead in the drivers' title chase, and every inch the 2009 F1 World Champion in-waiting.
A textbook getaway propelled pole-sitter Vettel into the lead when the lights went out, with Button – who had positioned his car aggressively pointing inwards on the grid – slotting into second as a fast-starting Jarno Trulli in the Toyota vaulted up to third, with Rubens Barrichello in the second Brawn entry bogging down and falling back ten places to 13th.
Later around the lap, however, Vettel's costly error as the young German got out-of-shape on the exit of turn nine enabled Button to snatch the lead, and the Briton immediately set about pulling away, lapping as much as a second quicker than his Red Bull pursuer despite carrying two laps' more fuel on-board. Less than a lap into the grand prix, and it was already advantage Brawn – and Vettel would never truly regain his lost momentum.
Behind the lead pair, Mark Webber in the second RBR battled his way past Trulli for third, with Nico Rosberg in the Williams making impressive progress from ninth on the grid in aggressively fighting his way past both Ferraris and up to fifth.
The remainder of the top ten early on was completed by Istanbul specialist Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica, Kimi Raikkonen and Kazuki Nakajima, with Raikkonen slipping back to ninth as a result of tapping the rear of Alonso's Renault and losing part of his front wing. Barrichello, meanwhile, was finding his progress frustrated by the KERS-equipped McLaren-Mercedes of Heikki Kovalainen, finally finding a way by on lap seven only for his Finnish adversary to exploit his power 'boost' button on the following straight to go immediately back past him again.
Indeed, things would soon go from bad to worse for the veteran Brazilian – the most experienced driver in F1 history – as he went for the inside into turn nine and almost collected Kovalainen as he spun his chances away. That left him to rejoin even further back in 17th, behind the second McLaren of Lewis Hamilton – which was carrying an even heavier fuel load than the sister Silver Arrow...
The racy-looking São Paulista – by now missing seventh gear, to add to his woes – made much shorter work of the defending world champion, however, as his team-mate continued to edge clear at the front of the field, holding a 3.7-second advantage over Vettel nine laps in, with Webber five seconds further in arrears in third and Trulli and Rosberg holding on well in fourth and fifth respectively.
Barrichello's next drama came when he lost his front wing endplate as he attempted in vain to wrest 15th place away from Adrian Sutil in the Force India, though the sister VJM02 of Giancarlo Fisichella had long since trundled into retirement in the Silverstone-based squad's pit garage with ongoing braking issues, meaning the Italian has still to complete more than a handful of racing laps in Turkey in the last four years, though on this occasion he did at least get slightly further than his successive first corner exits in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
1. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 58 laps 1hr 26m 24.848s
2. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +00m 06.7s
3. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +00m 07.4s
4. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +00m 27.8s
5. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota +00m 31.5s
6. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 39.9s
7. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber +00m 46.2s
8. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota +00m 46.9s
9. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 50.2s
10. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +00m 62.4s
11. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber +00m 64.3s
12. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota +00m 66.3s
13. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes +00m 80.4s
14. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
15. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
16. Nelson Piquet Jr Brazil Renault-Renault +1 lap
17. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
18. Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
Vettel atones for Monaco error with Istanbul F1 pole
Red Bull Racing star Sebastian Vettel has thrown down the gauntlet to Formula 1 World Championship leader Jenson Button in atoning for his Monaco mistake with a storming run to pole position for this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul – suggesting that after three races of pure Brawn GP domination, the title battle is back on.
It was, indeed, a breathless conclusion to qualifying around the anti-clockwise, technically challenging and physically demanding 14-turn Istanbul Park Circuit close to the Bosphorous, with Mark Webber and then Button stealing the top spot late on in Q3 before Vettel responded with a scintillating final effort to blow all of his competitors out of the water.
Rubens Barrichello in the second Brawn made the best of a bad situation in hauling himself up from seventh place to third on his very last effort, with Webber winding up fourth and Toyota's Jarno Trulli – who had similarly threatened to challenge for P1 after lapping a close second-quickest to Vettel on the first run – fifth.
The Ferraris underwhelmed somewhat with Kimi Raikkonen sixth and Istanbul expert and record man Felipe Massa seventh, with Fernando Alonso recovering well from a spin to take eighth in his Renault and Nico Rosberg for Williams and BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica rounding out the top ten at the close.
A fraught final few minutes to Q2 witnessed the top spot changing hands with alacrity from one moment to the next. With the suspicion that Brawn was keeping its powder dry, Red Bull and Toyota duelled it out for supremacy, though Webber left it late after a mistake on his first run put the Australian under pressure to perform later on – and perform he did. From 15th he leapt up to sixth at the close, with team-mate Vettel leading the way, seeing off a late challenge from Trulli to steal P1 in the 'low-fuel' session.
Toyota team-mate Timo Glock, by contrast – a man who had already struggled in Q1 – failed to produce the same pace, dropping out in a lowly 13th, in company with Nick Heidfeld in the BMW and Kazuki Nakajima in the Williams just ahead of him, with the Japanese ace's strong practice and Q1 form seeming to evaporate when it mattered the most, and a couple of off-track 'adventures' scarcely helping his cause either. McLaren-Mercedes' Heikki Kovalainen and the impressive Adrian Sutil completed the top 15, with the latter handing Force India its second Q2 breakthrough in as many outings.
Less than half a second, meanwhile, covered those who progressed on to the all-important Q3 shoot-out, with Vettel leading the way from Trulli, Button, Ferrari duo Massa and Raikkonen, Webber, Barrichello, Rosberg, Kubica in the improved, double-diffuser equipped BMW F1.09 and Alonso, who left it late to save his skin and ensure that his record of beginning every race of 2009 from inside the top ten remains intact.
Given how tightly-packed the field had been throughout practice – with barely seven tenths of a second blanketing the leading 16 runners on Friday, and a similar margin covering the top 15 in FP3 on Saturday morning – it was anticipated that there might be a number of big-name casualties inQ1. Nobody, though could have anticipated that the session would claim arguably the highest-profile scalp of them all.
As Toyota, Red Bull, Ferrari, Williams and Brawn GP set the leading pace – with Nakajima, Trulli, Vettel, Rosberg and Raikkonen all swapping the top spot between them – there were contrasting fortunes at BMW and McLaren, with Heidfeld and defending F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton looking to be the men most in danger as the clock ticked down, belying the progress the latter believed the Woking-based outfit had made after the opening practice day.
1. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 28.316s
2. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1m 28.421s
3. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 1m 28.579s
4. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 28.613s
5. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota 1m 28.666s
6. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 28.815s
7. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 28.858s
8. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 1m 29.075s
9. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1m 29.191s
10. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1m 29.357s
11. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1m 27.521s
12. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1m 27.629s
13. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota 1m 27.795s
14. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1m 28.207s
15. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 28.391s
16. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 28.318s
17. Nelson Piquet Jr Brazil Renault-Renault 1m 28.582s
18. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 28.706s
19. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes 1m 28.717s
20. Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 28.918s
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Button wins Monaco GP
Jenson Button made it five wins from six grand prix starts in 2009 by cruising to victory on the streets of Monaco at the head of another Brawn GP 1-2.
The Briton was seldom troubled after making a good start from pole position, aided by team-mate Rubens Barrichello getting a blinder from P3 to jump ahead of front row starter Kimi Raikkonen and prevent the Ferrari driver from benefitting from being able to use his KERS to take the lead. Despite the Brawns being more heavily fuelled than the Finn, Button and Barrichello pulled away over the early laps, cementing the British team's path to victory.
Although Button was unable to hold the lead throughout, with the likes of Raikkonen, team-mate Felipe Massa and Williams' Nico Rosberg all taking turns at the front during the various pit-stop windows, there was little doubt that victory would come his way unless fate intervened.
Barrichello came under greater pressure as Ferrari's resurgence allowed both Raikkonen and Massa to become podium threats, but the Brazilian was ultimately able to back Button up in the third Brawn 1-2 of the year.
While nemesis McLaren's weekend went from bad to worse with Heikki Kovalainen's exit against the Swimming Pool barriers, Ferrari held on to secure a season's best third and fourth, while Mark Webber, Rosberg, Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Bourdais claimed the remaining points positions.
Rosberg had earlier made a daring move to pass Massa when the Brazilian was forced to back off and allow Sebastian Vettel through after overtaking the German by cutting the seafront chicane, but was not a threat after dropping away from a high of fourth. Webber thus proved to be Ferrari's biggest threat but, despite posting some of the fastest laps of the race, the Australian could not sustain his pace consistently and had to settle for fifth.
Alonso's decision to run long from the start did not pay dividends for Renault, while Bourdais had enough in hand to keep Giancarlo Fisichella at bay and deny Force India some measure of recompense after Adrian Sutil's 2008 disappointment. The German was never a factor this time around, and brought up the rear of the field, three places behind former F3 team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who only recovered to 13th from his rear of the grid start.
F1 » Monaco Grand Prix – Race result
1. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 78 laps 1hr 40m 44.282s
2. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes +00m 07.6s
3. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 13.4s
4. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 15.1s
5. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +00m 15.7s
6. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota +00m 33.5s
7. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +00m 37.8s
8. Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari +00m 63.1s
9. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes +00m 65.0s
10. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota +1 lap
11. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber +1 lap
12. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
13. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +1 lap
14. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
15. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota +2 laps [DNF – accident]
Rtd Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 51 laps completed accident
Rtd Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 28 laps completed mechanical
Rtd Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 15 laps completed accident
Rtd Nelson Piquet Jr Brazil Renault-Renault 10 laps completed accident damage
Rtd Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 10 laps completed accident
Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 15.154s lap 50
Button storms to Monaco F1 pole as Hamilton slips up
Formula 1 World Championship leader Jenson Button made it four pole positions out of six in 2009 in qualifying for this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, pipping Ferrari rival Kimi Raikkonen to the top spot by the narrowest of margins – and now he is bidding to turn it into his fifth victory of the season too around a circuit where Lady Luck has never really shone upon the Brawn GP star before.
A KERS-equipped Raikkonen doubtless believed he had got the job done after keeping his powder dry until the final stages of a tense Q3 to masterfully snatch what appeared to be his first pole since Magny-Cours last year, but then Button – who had looked distinctly off-colour in both Q1 and Q2 – pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the very dying moments to demote the 2007 title-winner by a scant 0.025 seconds.
Behind the front row pairing, the sister Brawn entry of birthday boy Rubens Barrichello – 37 today – took third, despite having again seemed to have the legs of Button for much of the weekend so far, with Red Bull Racing ace Sebastian Vettel a slightly low-key fourth, Felipe Massa fifth in the second Ferrari and Nico Rosberg in the leading Williams sixth. Heikki Kovalainen, Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima will complete the top ten.
Rosberg and Vettel may have made much of the early running, but when action stopped it was Button once more on top of the pile. In the last 23 years, on just one occasion has the Monaco Grand Prix been won from outside the top three on the grid – when Olivier Panis sensationally triumphed for Ligier back in 1996 – and Sir Jackie Stewart has repeatedly stated that concentration, consistency and confidence are key around the narrow, tortuous streets of the glamorous Principality. Button has only once finished in points in Monte Carlo in seven previous starts – that could be set to change on Sunday with interest.
Rosberg similarly flew in the low-fuel Q2, setting the initial time to beat before ultimately winding up fifth, as Kovalainen's raw pace showed what might have been for McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, by far the highest-profile victim of Q1 after expensively clouting the Mirabeau barriers. The Finn would ultimately be pipped by three tenths of a second in the final reckoning by a stunning effort from compatriot Raikkonen, with Webber a consistent third, Barrichello fourth, Rosberg fifth, Vettel sixth, Massa seventh, Button a comparatively lowly eighth – indeed at one point looking in danger of not actually making it through at all, following a mediocre first run and no great turn of speed from thereon in – Alonso ninth and Nakajima tenth, seeing Williams get both of its cars through to Q3 for the first time in 2009.
Out of the reckoning, by contrast, were Sébastien Buemi and Nelsinho Piquet, with the latter lightly kissing the wall on the exit of the Swimming Pool section before spinning backwards in Anthony Noghès Corner towards the end of his flying lap, only narrowly avoiding reversing into the barriers. Giancarlo Fisichella – who recovered well from losing his first two Q2 times for having cut the chicane on both occasions – the second Scuderia Toro Rosso of Sébastien Bourdais and the second Force India of Adrian Sutil similarly, if perhaps unsurprisingly, missed the cut for the top ten shoot-out.
With a number of big names fearing the Q1 chop around a circuit famous for throwing up surprises, both Toyotas took to the track immediately at the very beginning of qualifying, with Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock having struggled weekend-long with graining issues and getting heat into their rear tyres. There was greater drama by far, however, for 2008 pole-sitter Massa, who nosed his Ferrari into the unforgiving Armco barriers on the way into the Swimming Pool on his opening 'out' lap, necessitating a return to his pit box for his F2009 to receive some TLC.
The greatest casualty of Q1, though – and undoubtedly the most surprising – was defending race-winner Hamilton, who with eight minutes of the session remaining and having just set the fastest first sector of anyone locked up on the way into Mirabeau, causing the back end of his McLaren to step out and hit the barrier going through the corner, breaking his rear suspension in the process and instantly bringing out the red flags. The 24-year-old's first mistake of the weekend, it was the worst possible time for it to have been committed.
With STR rookie Buemi and the two Force Indias showing impressive form – indeed at one stage running one-two, with more than ten cars having set a representative time – a further upset hung in the air, and an upset certainly materialised.