Sunday, April 26, 2009


Button celebrates first 'real' chequered flag of '09
In Melbourne he led a ten-second sprint to the finish line following a late-race safety car intervention and in Sepang the washout that caused an early stoppage threatened to rain on his victory celebrations, but in Sakhir Jenson Button drove all the way to the chequered flag – and drove his heart out to ensure he got there first.

The 2009 Formula 1 World Championship leader was in pessimistic mood after qualifying just fourth in the desert kingdom, some margin from the front row of the grid and on barely more fuel than the pace-setting Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock. The 29-year-old ceded further ground at the first corner when compatriot Lewis Hamilton vaulted past him in his KERS-equipped McLaren-Mercedes, but he regained a position by going boldly all the way around the outside of fellow second row starter Sebastian Vettel into turn one.

The turning-point in Button's race, though, lay just a lap later still, as at the same place he dived bravely down the inside of Hamilton and made the move stick, allowing him to set off in pursuit of the leading Toyotas. By dint of remaining out on-track significantly longer and posting some very quick lap times, he was able to leapfrog both during the first round of pit visits, and from there even extended his advantage throughout the middle stint as second-placed Trulli held the chasing pack at bay on his lesser-favoured 'prime' Bridgestone rubber.

Consistent lap times in the final stint when he switched over the medium-compound tyres were enough to maintain the Frome-born star's lead, and he went on to take the flag just over four seconds clear of Vettel for his third triumph from four starts this season. It was, by all accounts, a magnificent drive.

“It was a great race today,” Button enthused. “I'm so happy to have seen the chequered flag without a safety car or red light in front of me! To achieve my third victory of the season is amazing, and we are going back to Europe with a strong lead in both championships. I couldn't wish for anything more.

“It has been a tough weekend for the team, which makes this win even more rewarding as we didn't have the pace that we had expected. I was really happy with my first lap. I knew that I had to overtake Sebastian quickly and got him round the outside on turn one.

“I had a couple of attempts at Lewis round the first lap and almost got him at the last corner. I knew that he would pull away from me on the straight so I dropped in behind and used the tow to overtake him at turn one. It wasn't easy from there, but getting up to third on the second lap was crucial for me. Our thanks to Mercedes-Benz this weekend who have not only provided us with a powerful engine but have integrated so well with our team. You need a close-knit unit to succeed in Formula 1, and that is what we have at this team.”

The sister car of team-mate Rubens Barrichello was never quite on Button's pace during the grand prix, with an aggressive three-stop strategy failing to really pay off for the experienced Brazilian, with the 36-year-old finding himself caught up in myriad on-track battles, most notably with compatriot Nelsinho Piquet and Glock. The São Paulista secured fifth place in the final reckoning after getting the better of a late-race scrap with Glock and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

“We brought home some valuable points today,” he reflected afterwards, “but it was a tough race for me. I lost a lot of time behind Piquet after my first stop, which was a real shame as it compromised my race plan. We went for a three-stop strategy and then took the decision to come in slightly early for my second stop as I was being held up behind Hamilton.

1 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 57 1:31:48.182 4 10
2 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 57 +7.1 secs 3 8
3 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 57 +9.1 secs 1 6
4 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 57 +22.0 secs 5 5
5 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 57 +37.7 secs 6 4
6 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 57 +42.0 secs 10 3
7 10 Timo Glock Toyota 57 +42.8 secs 2 2
8 7 Fernando Alonso Renault 57 +52.7 secs 7 1
9 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 57 +58.1 secs 9
10 8 Nelsinho Piquet Renault 57 +65.1 secs 15
11 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 57 +67.6 secs 18
12 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 57 +77.8 secs 11
13 11 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 57 +78.8 secs 20
14 3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 56 +1 Lap 8
15 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 56 +1 Lap 17
16 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 56 +1 Lap 19
17 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 56 +1 Lap 16
18 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 56 +1 Lap 13
19 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 56 +1 Lap 14
Ret 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 48 Oil pressure 12

Gutsy second for Vettel eases Red Bull 'disappointment'
A battling performance by Shanghai star Sebastian Vettel earned Red Bull Racing a hard-earned second place in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but his team nonetheless admitted to a touch of 'disappointment' at not having been able to repeat its Chinese glory in the desert kingdom.

After qualifying third, Vettel was confident of being able to overhaul the two front row-sitting Toyotas on race day by dint of carrying rather more fuel than Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock – but that was to count without the Brawn GP of Formula 1 World Championship leader Jenson Button and, more significantly still, the McLaren-Mercedes of defending title-holder Lewis Hamilton.

A solid getaway at the lights was eclipsed by the KERS-aided start of Hamilton, and with one Briton on his inside into turn one, the other one took advantage to go around the outside, leaving Vettel with nowhere to go and having to cede position to both through the opening corner. From there the young German found his ambitions frustrated over the first 15 laps until the McLaren pitted, but he got past by waiting a further four laps before he made his own pit visit.

After shadowing Trulli throughout the middle stint of the race – with Hamilton never far from his mirrors – the 21-year-old would leapfrog the Italian too during the second round of stops, but by then Button was all-but home and dry, and though he would slowly chip away at the leader's advantage until the chequered flag, barring any overheating problems for the Brawn, the end result was never really any longer in doubt. Nonetheless, the runner-up spoils – after fending off Trulli to the close – have maintained Vettel's stellar start to the 2009 campaign and lifted him to within a single point of Rubens Barrichello for second place in the drivers' standings.

“Very good,” summarised the top flight's youngest-ever grand prix-winner. “A good result and good points, but it was a difficult race. The start was okay, but then suddenly Lewis was next to me – he must have pressed his special button and got an advantage. At the first corner we were three-deep – me in the middle and Jenson on the outside – so I had to give way and lost two positions.

“Unfortunately I then got stuck behind Lewis, which caused degradation to the tyres – you start to slide and never really come back from that. It's hard-braking here, so you need the tyres and rear stability. In the second stint I was just behind Jarno, which was a shame as I was on soft tyres and could have gone a bit quicker.

“In the third stint, it was the other way round and I had to defend against Jarno who was then on the soft tyres. He was very close in my mirrors, but I didn't make any mistakes and we came second! A massive thanks to all the guys for this great result.”

Team-mate Mark Webber, for his part, staged a brave recovery from his back-of-the-grid starting position, battling his way gamely up the order and pulling off an impressive move on Ferrari's Felipe Massa, but ultimately losing too much time behind the KERS-equipped Renault of Nelsinho Piquet en route to eleventh spot at the finish, still behind his arch-nemesis Piquet and 17 seconds shy of the last of the points-scoring positions.

“My start was okay,” the Australian mused. “We had a reasonable first few laps, but then I got stuck behind Piquet. It's very difficult to overtake a car with KERS – he was too quick on the straights and that really wrecked the first stint for me. We then converted to a two-stop strategy, but the grip was quite low on the prime tyres, although it was the same for everyone.

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 57 1:31:48.182 4 10
2 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 57 +7.1 secs 3 8
3 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 57 +9.1 secs 1 6
4 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 57 +22.0 secs 5 5
5 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 57 +37.7 secs 6 4
6 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 57 +42.0 secs 10 3
7 10 Timo Glock Toyota 57 +42.8 secs 2 2
8 7 Fernando Alonso Renault 57 +52.7 secs 7 1
9 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 57 +58.1 secs 9
10 8 Nelsinho Piquet Renault 57 +65.1 secs 15
11 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 57 +67.6 secs 18
12 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 57 +77.8 secs 11
13 11 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 57 +78.8 secs 20
14 3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 56 +1 Lap 8
15 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 56 +1 Lap 17
16 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 56 +1 Lap 19
17 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 56 +1 Lap 16
18 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 56 +1 Lap 13
19 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 56 +1 Lap 14
Ret 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 48 Oil pressure 12

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vettel delivers Red Bull first F1 win in Shanghai!

It may have taken them 75 races to get there, but when they finally did so they did it in style, as Sebastian Vettel led team-mate Mark Webber home in a resounding Red Bull Racing one-two triumph in a water-logged Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai today.

In an historic result, Vettel not only atoned for his error in the 2009 curtain-raiser in Melbourne that cost RBR the runner-up spoils Down Under, but he survived a nudge from behind from Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Sébastien Buemi under a mid-race safety car period and demonstrated all the composure of a seasoned Formula 1 veteran to hold his nerve in treacherous conditions that saw many of his rivals spinning off left, right and centre for his second wet weather grand prix victory.

What's more, much as when Jordan broke its own F1 duck in the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps – a race held in similar conditions – Red Bull's success was a double cause for celebration, with Webber taking the chequered flag second to cement the Milton Keynes-based squad's superiority. After two races of Brawn GP domination, the 2009 season has suddenly come alive.

With a wet track, the decision was taken to begin the grand prix under safety car conditions – a controversial move that threatened to play in the favour of the Brawns of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button and work against the top three cars on the grid, the Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber and the Renault of former double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, all of whom were significantly lighter on fuel than the two starting behind them.

Even at low speed behind the safety car, though, there were a number of incidents, with both Ferraris skating off-piste at the same corner and Force India's Adrian Sutil taking a trip through the gravel trap. The young German seized the opportunity to pit, as did countryman Nico Rosberg in the Williams – the first of the leading runners to blink – and then front-row starter Alonso, leaving the trio at the back of the field, but still with the pack and with a pit-stop already in their pocket.

The safety car remained on-track for what must have seemed an interminable length of time for the front-runners, finally coming in at the end of lap eight to release the drivers in a Red Bull one-two, with the menacing Brawns right up behind – and none of them having completed a flying lap in such conditions over the course of the weekend.

Reprising their Malaysian wet weather pace, the Red Bulls rapidly set about scampering away from the Brawn pairing to the extent that after just two racing laps, leader Vettel already had a ten-second advantage over third-placed Barrichello. The gap between the young German and team-mate Webber see-sawed until the first round of pit-stops arrived, when the Brawns took charge, Button now leading Barrichello after the latter had run slightly wide heading onto the pit straight earlier in the grand prix.

Behind the front-runners, it was an inspired Buemi who was the main man on the move, the architect of a truly superb performance that saw him not only hassle but go on to pass the similarly Ferrari-powered Kimi Raikkonen in a gritty and determined display that belied his lack of experience in the top flight.

The young Swiss ace's next target and victim was Jarno Trulli, who went backwards as he struggled for grip in the torrential conditions until his race was prematurely ended by Robert Kubica 17 laps in, with the Pole entering the final corner rather faster than the Toyota ahead of him and the F1.09 riding up over the back of the TF109, destroying the entire rear section of his Italian rival's car and ensuring that the Pescara native's sorry record in China was maintained.

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 56 1:57:43.485 1 10
2 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 56 +10.9 secs 3 8
3 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 56 +44.9 secs 5 6
4 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 56 +63.7 secs 4 5
5 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 56 +65.1 secs 12 4
6 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 56 +71.8 secs 9 3
7 10 Timo Glock Toyota 56 +74.4 secs 19 2
8 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 56 +76.4 secs 10 1
9 7 Fernando Alonso Renault 56 +84.3 secs 2
10 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 56 +91.7 secs 8
11 11 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 56 +94.1 secs 15
12 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 56 +95.8 secs 11
13 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 56 + 106.8 secs 17
14 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 55 +1 Lap 20
15 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 55 +1 Lap 7
16 8 Nelsinho Piquet Renault 53 +2 Laps 16
17 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 50 Accident 18
Ret 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 43 Transmission 14
Ret 3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 20 Electrical 13
Ret 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 18 Accident damage 6

R3 2009 FORMULA 1 CHINESE GRAND PRIX (Shanghai) 19 April 2009

Red Bull expect 'big day' after 'last-minute' Vettel pole

Red Bull Racing is expecting 'a big day' in its Formula 1 history in tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix, after Sebastian Vettel left it late to lead the team to its maiden pole position in the top flight by just under two tenths of a second – a result the German described as 'unbelievable'.

Both Vettel and team-mate Mark Webber were bang on the leading pace from the word 'go' in qualifying in Shanghai, belying a troubled FP3 session that had seen them complete just 15 laps between them as a result of driveshaft issues. On low fuel loads for the first time in Q2, the pair wound up first and second respectively – and in the closing stages of Q3 looked set to do the same, only for a meteoric effort from former double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso in the Renault to split the two energy drinks-backed machines right at the close.

All-the-more impressive was the fact that Vettel pulled off his pole position feat despite only venturing out for a single run in the top ten shoot-out due to his practice woes, whilst most of his rivals benefitted from two – consequently putting him under considerable pressure to produce. He did so to perfection.

“I'm very, very happy,” enthused the 21-year-old, already the sport's youngest-ever grand prix-winner and a man who similarly stormed to the top spot on the starting grid for Scuderia Toro Rosso in Monza last year. “It's unbelievable, and it was a bit last-minute! I only had one run in each qualifying session but, as you can see, you don't need more!

“It wasn't easy; we had a problem with the car and had to run as little as possible. The car was really quick, though; Mark had two runs in each session and was always up there, so I didn't have any concerns. Still, if you have only one lap, you can't make any mistakes.

“I'm really happy – we made it to pole position in the end! This morning wasn't ideal, but it seems the less I run in the morning, the better it is in qualifying! A big thanks to the mechanics, who have been working very, very hard, basically all night, and thanks to all the team back in Milton Keynes too. We made it! I'm looking forward to tomorrow; it's a long race and there's a long way to go, but we have the best starting position.”

Webber will begin the grand prix from directly behind his team-mate in third, just under three tenths adrift and – as with Vettel – marking the Australian's highest starting position since last year's Italian Grand Prix. The New South Wales native admitted that the gaps in the times had taken him a touch by surprise, but he acknowledged that it was an 'incredible' outcome nonetheless – particularly given that only a matter of months ago he was laid up in hospital with a badly broken right leg.

“What a result!” the 32-year-old remarked. “The work that's gone into this from the team, especially over the last few weeks, has been incredible. It would have been good to have both cars on the front row, but Fernando did a great job.

“I was expecting to be a little bit tighter in the end, but we'll see how the fuel loads pan out tomorrow. We've done a good job. Q2 was strong for us and the car is behaving well, with a lot of grip. I'm doing what I can to give the youngster (Vettel) a hard time; we're pushing each other hard and it's working very well!”

Vettel's Pole Lap Video...

Pole Positions
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault
2 Fernando Alonso Renault
3 Mark Webber RBR-Renault
4 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes
5 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes
6 Jarno Trulli Toyota
7 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota
8 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari
9 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
10 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Malaysian GP washed out by Rain

The red flag thrown to halt proceedings at Sepang proved to be the final event of the Malaysian Grand Prix, as ongoing torrential rain prevented the remaining runners from taking a restart. The race started in dry conditions, defying most predictions, but the rain eventually came just short of 20 laps, prompting most of the field to pit for full Bridgestone wet tyres within the next two or three tours.

The expected downpour took longer to come, however, and Timo Glock showed the intermediates were the way to go initially, scything through the field. Just as his rivals decided to follow suit, though, the German pitted for full wets, anticipating what was to become a veritable monsoon. Again, the remainder of the field stopped for suitable rubber, with Jenson Button, who had made a poor start, rejoining in the lead, having picked off Fernando Alonso, Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg - either on track or as the result of pit-stops - before the conditions degenerated to the point where racing was absolutely impossible.

With just 31 of the scheduled 56 laps in the books, half points will be awarded, but Button will be credited with his - and Brawn GP's - second win of the 2009 season. Behind the Briton, Glock, Nick Heidfeld, Trulli, Rubens Barrichello, Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg and Mark Webber stand to score, although the order may yet be reshuffled according to the point at which the stewards decide to take the result.

F1 » Malaysian Grand Prix – Race results
1. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 31 laps 1hr 91m 35.181s
2. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber +0m 22.7s
3. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota +0m 23.5s
4. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +0m 46.1s
5. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes +0m 47.3s
6. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +0m 52.3s
7. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes +0m 60.7s
8. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota +0m 71.5s

9. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +0m 76.9s
10. Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari
11. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault
12. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota
13. Nelson Piquet Jr Brazil Renault-Renault
14. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari
15. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault
16. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari
17. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes
18. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes

Rtd Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1 lap completed
Rtd Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 0 laps completed

Button: Malaysia F1 pole 'more special' than Oz

Jenson Button has described securing the top spot in qualifying for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix as 'even more special' than when he did so for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne seven days ago – as after more than 150 appearances in Formula 1, the British star has finally registered back-to-back pole positions to bring his career total up to five.

Having swept all before him Down Under, Button did so again in Sepang, as Brawn GP's early-season supremacy in the top flight shows few signs of easing up. However, he did not have it quite all his own way in Kuala Lumpur, after being unhappy with the balance of his Mercedes-powered BGP 001 during practice, having to stave off a sustained threat from the Toyota of Jarno Trulli and lapping 'only' seventh-quickest in Q1. He would not lay that far down the timing screens for long.

“Achieving pole position today in Malaysia is possibly even more special than last week in Australia,” the 29-year-old enthused, after narrowly pipping Trulli by just under a tenth of a second. “It's not easy to get one pole, but two successive poles is just fantastic and it's a first for me in my Formula 1 career. It's a great feeling and proves that our car works well on different types of circuit.

“We were really struggling with the balance yesterday and I had a lot of rear locking; however, we made some changes to the car overnight which really improved it for today and it felt really good throughout qualifying. It's a big turnaround, and I have to say thank you to the team for their hard work in such tough conditions. They did a fantastic job. We are hoping that the rain stays away tomorrow, but you just never know at this circuit and we will be working hard tonight to make sure we are prepared for all eventualities.”

Unfortunately for the team, this time around Rubens Barrichello in the sister Virgin-backed entry was unable to join Button on the front row, having to take a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change the previous day. That notwithstanding, the experienced Brazilian was never quite on the Briton's stunning pace, even if he did snatch P1 in the one phase of qualifying in which his team-mate failed to do so, maintaining Brawn GP's uninterrupted 2009 qualifying hegemony.

“It was a good qualifying session for the team today,” reflected the 36-year-old, who admitted to having grappled with understeer en route to fourth spot, what becomes eighth with his penalty taken into account. “Well done to Jenson once again as he had the pace to put the car on pole.

“Unfortunately on my side of the garage, the car developed understeer in qualifying and we were not able to resolve the problem. However, we know the performance of the car in race conditions is strong, and I will be aiming to score as many points as possible tomorrow before I can start chasing for my own pole positions and wins.”

“It was a great qualifying performance from Jenson and the team today,” summarised team principal Ross Brawn, “particularly as we had some issues with the balance of the car in yesterday's practice sessions. At the start of qualifying there was a distinct possibility of rain, so we went out early in Q1 to bank some dry running and from there it was a busy session with the track evolving incredibly quickly.

“Rubens was struggling for grip under braking which resulted in understeer, and he was never completely happy with the balance of his car. With the replacement of his gearbox, this puts him further back on the grid than we would have hoped; however, his experience will stand him in good stead in the race.

“Jenson was much happier with the balance, which reflects in his second pole of the season after an excellent lap. It was an incredibly close session, and with the prospect of rain in the race tomorrow, we should be in for a very eventful and exciting Malaysian Grand Prix.”

McLaren confirms Ryan 'suspension'

McLaren has moved swiftly to react to spreading rumours concerning the future of sporting director Dave Ryan, following suggestions that he was to fall on his sword as a result of Lewis Hamilton's exclusion from the Australian Grand Prix.

Ryan and Hamilton appeared at the original post-race stewards' enquiry to give their side of the story regarding the incident that saw Jarno Trulli pick up a 25-second time penalty for allegedly passing the McLaren while the field was neutralised behind the race's final safety car. The Italian had already ceded third spot by running off the road on the previous lap, but Hamilton appeared to slow to let him retake the position.

The subsequent debate has centred on whether Trulli overtook Hamilton illegally - something the Toyota driver denies - or simply reacted to being allowed to pass. Hamilton apparently told one post-race media interviewed that he had moved over and handed the place back under instruction from his team, but neither he nor Ryan disclosed the same fact to the stewards' hearing.

Only when the interview and McLaren's pit-to-car radio transcripts [see separate story – click here], came to light was the truth of the matter revealed, leading to the stewards to determine that Ryan and Hamilton has been 'deliberately misleading', stripping the Briton of any place in the official results, and reinstating Trulli to third place [see separate story – click here].

The FIA has not stopped there either, suggesting that, while Hamilton will be allowed to contest this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, further sanctions could follow.

When Ryan did not appear in his usual position in the McLaren pit during free practice in Malaysia, team CEO Martin Whitmarsh confirmed that the veteran engineer would play no further part in the weekend's activities, having been 'suspended from his position as sporting director' but admitted that it had been a tough decision to take.

"In my 20-odd years working for McLaren, I doubt if I've met a more dedicated individual than Davey," he pointed out, "He's been an integral part of McLaren since 1974 and has played a crucial role in the team's many world championship successes since that time.

“However, his role in the events of last Sunday, particularly his dealings with the FIA stewards, has caused serious repercussions for the team, for which we apologise. Therefore, I suspended him this morning and he has accepted this.”

Whitmarsh will undoubtedly face further questions in Friday afternoon's official FIA press conference at Sepang, although whether he chooses to reveal any further details remains to be seen.