Archive for May, 2009

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Button Produces Faultless Win at Monaco

May 24, 2009

The Monaco Grand Prix is the showcase of the Formula One season, where narrow streets and slow-speed corners wind their way past the casino, through the tunnel, and alongside the glamourous harbour. Qualifying means all or nothing to your race: put it on pole and you’re halfway to victory, but drop it in the barrier in quali one and you may as well watch the race from onboard Flavio Briatore’s lavish yacht.

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton proved just that this afternoon. After placing his Brawn on the front row of the grid in qualifying yesterday, Jenson made a storming start to turn his pole into victory and edge his way even further into the lead of the championship. After breaking late into Mirabeau in quali one yesterday, and incurring a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox, Lewis started 19th and could only manage 12th in a drawn-out race at the Monte Carlo circuit.

Flashback to this time last year and Lewis Hamilton won the race in spectacular style, despite a puncture to one of his tyres after an early collision with a barrier. Then it was raining, today it was hot. Then he was driving a fast car, today he was driving an injured car. Then he won in car 22, today it was Button’s turn to win in car 22.

Button’s drive couldn’t have been more faultless, in fact the only error he made all afternoon was where he parked his car at the end of it. Unlike the other races on the calendar where park ferme is in the pit lane, Monaco sees the top three cars line up on the grid in front of the podium. But in the true fashion that comes with a driver who has rarely been at the top- and never won the Monaco Grand Prix- Button parked his Brawn in the pits, meaning he had to run back to the grid for the podium ceremony. Still, considering some of the errors that are frequently made at this narrow street circuit, this was only a minor blunder, and somewhat amusing at that.

Button’s getaway was quick, but it was teammate Rubens Barrichello who made the fastest move off the grid from third to second, passing Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen before he could even think about hitting his KERS button.

Button lead for the majority of the race, gifting the lead to Rosberg on lap 16 at his first pitstop, only to re-claim the lead a lap later, and again to Raikkonen at the second pitstop for two laps.

Raikkonen’s teammate Felipe Massa showed that Ferrari are on the move again after a slow start to the 2009 season. Raikkonen finished alongside the Brawn drivers on the podium, with Massa following closely behind. Mark Webber was the sole Red Bull to pass the chequered flag after Sebastian Vettel clipped the barrier on the exit of turn one early on in the race.

Despite running third before his first pitstop, Hamilton’s teammate Heikki Kovalainen lost control of his McLaren going past the swimming pool in the last third of the race, and became one of five retirees.

After six races of the 2009 season, and with Button claiming victory at all but one, it appears Lewis Hamilton needs to get a move on if he wants to defend his title. His fellow Brit has set the pace for the remainder of the season, and with his 16 point lead over teammate Barrichello, and 42 over Hamilton, it is clear that Lewis and indeed the rest of the pack have some catching up to do. After Hamilton’s second pitstop, his lack of pace in the first half of the race became apparent to be his front wing which was broken early on. The defending champion soon picked up the pace in his final stint, proving the McLaren is more than capable to match the pace of the Brawn. Towards the end of the race Hamilton made a charge and managed to improve on his race-long second-to-last position. However the champion has some catching up to do in the coming races if he wants to retain his title at Abu Dhabi in eleven races time.

As for Button, he can leave for the next race in Turkey knowing that he is somewhat unstoppable. He went into the race saying he was taking each race as it came and would only worry about the championship come the final race in November, but surely if anyone is going to catch him, they’re going to have to pull something out of the bag, and sooner rather than later…

 

The next race is in Turkey in a fortnights time, with qualifying at 12pm on 6th June, and the race live on BBC One at 1pm on the 7th.

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Go! Go! Go! in Monaco!

May 24, 2009

The glitz and glamour of Formula One comes together in one weekend, with this afternoon’s Monaco Grand Prix . Jenson Button put his Brawn on pole in qualifying yesterday, but following late-braking into Mirabeau and and a clip of the barrier, last year’s race winner Lewis Hamilton starts the race from the back of the grid.

As with any race, anything can happen, but Monaco is renowned for being a hard circuit to pass on, making Jenson’s pole all the more worthwhile. For Hamilton, his work is cut out to make up for the error in qualifying.

Watch out for Kimi Raikkonen into the first corner. The Finn, who put his Ferrari alongside Button in qualifying comes to the grid equipped with KERS, meaning as the lights go green, Jenson will have his mirrors full of red Ferrari. And perhaps Lewis will be seeing a different kind of red.

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Renault Join Threat to Quit F1

May 13, 2009

Renault have become the fourth team to threaten a pull-out at the end of the 2009 season unless plans for the £40 million budget cap are abandoned.

Yesterday Ferrari issued a statement declaring “No F1 in 2010 if the rules change.” Today, Renault boss Flavio Briatore said: “If the decisions announced by the FIA are not revised, we have no choice but to withdraw from the world championship at the end of 2009.”

The FIA’s plans hope to encourage new teams to enter their cars into the 2010 season, however, the proposals will ultimately mean that the teams who are able to limit themselves to the budget cap will have more technical freedom than those who don’t, subsequently splitting the field in two.

One of the advantages that would be available to capped teams would include a flexible rear wing, which, currently outlawed in the 2009 regulations, could see a capped team next season with a two second per lap advantage over an uncapped team.

Renault F1 team president, Bernard Rey has said the team cannot be in a championship where there are two different sets of rules operating together. A statement issued by the team said : “[The team] is also of the firm view that all entrants in the world championship must adhere to and operate under the same regulations.”

Yesterday, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo warned the budget cap would lead to a two-tier championship that could potentially be “fundamentally unfair and perhaps even biased”.

As it stands, with entries opening for sign-up to the 2010 season on May 22nd, and lasting until the 29th, the line up on the grid next March could look somewhat different to the line up five races ago, with the likes of Ferrari, Renault, Toyota and Red Bull not being there.

The threats of the last two days do not seem to be idle on either team’s part, posing a question over what is going to happen next. The teams are likely to meet with Max Mosley in the next week to discuss the plans, and the current dissatisfaction over their feelings that the FIA have failed to discuss the rule changes with them is also likely to be on the agenda.

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Ferrari Quit Threat

May 12, 2009

Ferrari have shaken up the world of F1 by announcing they will quit the sport if the £40 million budget cap goes ahead in 2010.

Ferrari’s fears of a two-tier system emerging between those teams accepting the budget cap and those who don’t, have prompted the threat which was announced today.

A statement issued by Ferrari said: “No F1 in 2010 if the rules change.” They have said they do not intend to enter their cars into next season if the budget cap remains.

Their position comes in light of the meeting between the board of directors in Maranello and ahead of planned talks with Max Mosley in London later this week.

The team have made their position clear: if the new regulations come in, the team goes. The regulations call for the current teams, and prospective teams for the 2010 championship, to enter their cars into the next season by May 29th, and confirm whether they wish to accept the budget cap. For the teams who accept the proposals, they will have more technical freedom in the 2010 season, with those declining having less freedom.

The threat will put Max Mosley’s previous claims to the test that the sport could carry on without Ferrari. For others, they do not see the team pulling out of the sport, but they have said their threats are not posturing.

Bernie Ecclestone dismissed claims that Ferrari would quit Formula One for good, telling the Times: “Ferrari are not stupid. They don’t want to leave Formula 1 and we don’t want to lose them, so we’ll get to grips with it.”

For the drivers, current champion Lewis Hamilton said he “could not imagine” the sport without Ferrari, and Renault’s Fernando Alonso said it would be “impossible” for it to happen.

Both Toyota and Red Bull had previously threatened to pull out of the sport if the rules do not change, but Ferrari’s threat has shaken the sport up, since they are the longest standing in F1, the most famous, and most successful.

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Jenson Makes it 4 Out of 5 For Brawn

May 10, 2009

Jenson Button has made it four out of five at the Spanish Grand Prix, and edged his way ever further into the lead of the driver’s world championship, in a race where Ferrari failed to fuel their sole remaining driver long enough to get him comfortably to the finish, and McLaren struggled for grip throughout.

Button started the race from pole, but soon found himself staring at the back of teammate Barrichello, as the Brazilian claimed two places into the first corner. Felipe Massa made a quick getaway from fourth making up one place to position himself in front of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. Further down the field, contact between Nico Rosberg and Jarno Trulli ended up putting the latter out of the race, taking the Force India of Adrian Sutil and the two Toro Rossos with him.

The safety car was quickly deployed after the carnage that was turn two, and at the restart, Barrichello led Button away from Massa and Vettel.

Heikki Kovalainen saw his third retirement of the season shortly after the restart due to gearbox failure, and Kimi Raikkonen ground to a hault on lap 18 with suspected electrical problems, after having spent the previous laps since the restart hunting down the BMW of Nick Heidfeld.

Barrichello led Button through the first round of pitstops, however, a stategy change by Button’s engineers from three-stopping to two, saw the Brazilian fall back behind Jenson after his second stop, despite his second-per-lap advantage over his teammate in the second stint. An early stop and a switch to the hard tyres by Massa and Vettel allowed Barrichello to make up time on his softer tyres and he came out of the pits for the third time ahead of the fighting Ferrari and Red Bull. Despite losing out to Button by three-stopping, the soft tyres proved to be the best compound and brought Barrichello home in second to make it a Brawn one-two.

Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber also three-stopped, pitting for the final time behind Rubens, and he too leap-frogged Massa and Vettel to get his second podium this season.

Lewis Hamilton had a less-lucky race, being forced to run onto the grass at the start, after getting caught up behind the Toyota of Trulli, and narrowly escaping the crash in turn two as he made his way round at the back of the pack. Hamilton said: “I drove my heart out as I always do” adding, he just didn’t have the grip to get into the points-scoring positions, narrowly missing out in 9th.

In the closing laps of the race, it soon became apparent that Massa didn’t have enough fuel on board to push to the end of the race, and subsequently he had to allow Vettel through, and later Fernando Alonso, to at least ensure he finished the race. After crossing the finish line in 6th, he parked his F60 on the circuit, having finally run out of fuel.

For Brawn, they have dominated the Circuit de Catalunya all weekend, with Barrichello pushing Button all the way, at one point looking set to take his first victory since 2004. However, it was Jenson Button who proved that you certainly have to be on the front row of the grid to win in Barcelona, and having made it four wins out of five, he seems to be in a league of his own.

 

The next race will be in Monaco in two weeks time.

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Button Takes Pole as F1 Heads to Europe

May 9, 2009

Jenson Button has recorded his third pole of the season in sunny Spain today, as Formula One heads north for the Spanish Grand Prix, with the European leg of the season hopefully leaving behind the heavy monsoon rains and heated temperatures that were the opening four races. 

It wasn’t just Jenson leading the way in qualifying, in fact the Brit was pretty quiet up until the final lap in quali three when he recorded a lap of 1:20.527 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. Button started his flying lap with two seconds left on the clock, and ended up pushing Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and teammate Rubens Barrichello, who had both been hot on the pace the whole session, back down to P2 and P3 respectively.

Ferrari couldn’t have had more of a mixed bag of results if they tried, with Felipe Massa leading the way in quali one, and securing P4 in quali three, and Kimi Raikkonen being ousted out in the first round thanks to his engineers making a blundering error by assuming he was safe and through to round two – did they not learn from that mistake with Massa in Malaysia? Still, at least it would have given the Finn the possibility for another choc ice if needs be.

For McLaren, Heikki Kovalainen was another of the usual front-runners failing to make it into quali two, a trend that is increasing this season as the mid-field and back-markers bunch up the grid. He will start tomorrow’s race in 18th. Lewis Hamilton failed to make it into quali three, placing himself 14th on the grid.

Button will be hoping to make it four wins out of five when the race starts tomorrow, and considering the Spanish Grand Prix has always seen a front-row sitter take victory, (bar Michael Schumacher’s victory from third), it is looking ever more likely it will happen. At least, if previous victories are anything to go by, we will still only have two winners so far this season. However, when the lights go green tomorrow, watch out for the Brazilian in the red Ferrari on the second row. With a long run down to turn one, Massa will be hoping to make it a victory from fourth, getting his championship campaign off to a start after a somewhat testing start to the season.

With many saying it will be the new start to the 2009 championship, with new aerodynamic upgrades coming from most of the teams, it is set to open the competition up once again.