Archive for July, 2009

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Schumacher to Return to F1

July 29, 2009

Michael Schumacher is being prepared to return to Formula One to replace Felipe Massa while he recovers from his accident at the Hungaroring at the weekend.

Seven-time world champion Schumacher, has been confirmed by Ferrari as Massa’s replacement from the European Grand Prix as long as he has the full fitness required for an F1 race.

The German driver quit F1 at the end of 2006, and following days of speculation since Massa’s accident, he had been ruled out of returning by his manager Willi Weber.

However, following a meeting with Stefano Domenicali and Luca di Montezemolo, it was decided that Schumacher would prepare himself to replace the Brazilian driver.

Schumacher said: “Though it is true that the chapter of Formula One has been completely closed for me for a long time, it is also true that for loyalty reasons to the team I cannot ignore that unfortunate situation.” He added that he is looking forward to returning and facing the challenge.

It will be the first time the former Ferrari driver has driven the F60.

Felipe Massa is now out of intensive care, and his personal doctor, Dino Altmann is certain he will to return to the sport. He also said that the fears of Massa having damaged his left eye have been proved to be unjustified. He said: “His eye has been opened, with care because it is swollen, and he has said he can see. His vision has not been weakened.”

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BMW to Quit F1

July 29, 2009

BMW announced this morning that they will be quitting Formula One at the end of this season.

The reasons behind the announcement are plans for a restructure of the manufacturer’s motorsport activities.

The team had given themselves three years to win the world championship, but have been unsuccessful, only managing one win in that time, in Canada last year.

The team had high hopes for the 2009 season, after its success last year, where Robert Kubica led the championship for a while. However, following the new regulations, the current car has been unsuccessful.

Team boss Mario Theissen said: “[We] would all have liked to continue this ambitious campaign and show that this season was just a hiccup following three successful years, but I can understand why this decision was made from a corporate perspective.” He added that the team plan to continue through the remaining races of the season and demonstrate their fighting spirit.

The FIA said that they were not surprised to hear of the team’s plan to quit.

BMW joined Formula One in 2000, supplying the engine for the then Williams team. In 2006 they became the BMW Sauber team.

They will become the second major manufacturer to leave the sport in the last few months, following Honda at the end of last year.

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Full Recovery Possible for Massa, say Doctors

July 27, 2009

Doctors treating Ferrari driver Felipe Massa at the AEK hospital in Budapest have said that the Brazilian could make a full recovery following his accident in qualifying on Saturday.

Chief surgeon of the Hungarian Defence Forces, Colonel Dr Lajos Zsiros, said that Massa was woken from his artificial coma this afternoon, and is unlikey to be sedated again following improvements to his condition.

Massa has also been able to communicate. Zsiros said: “He gives adequate answers to the questions we ask him, and he can move his arms and legs spontaneously.” He also denied reports from the media earlier today that he had damaged his left eye, saying that it is too soon to tell, as at present he is unable to open his eye.

Massa’s family have been pleased with the treatment that he has received at the hospital, and there have been no plans to move him. He will remain in intensive care for the time being.

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Renault Suspended from European Grand Prix

July 27, 2009

Renault have been suspended from the next round in Valencia following an incident in yesterday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, where Fernando Alonso lost his right-front wheel.

The stewards in Budapest said that Renault had knowingly let Alonso leave the pits with a loose wheel, which he subsequently lost out on track whilst hobbling back round to the pits.

The incident came a day after Felipe Massa’s crash where he was hit on the helmet by a spring from the suspension of Rubens Barrichello’s car, and a week after the death of Formula Two driver Henry Surtees, who was hit on the head by the wheel of another competitor’s car. The events of the last week have raised concerns over the safety of motorsport.

The suspension means Alonso will not be driving in his home Grand Prix next month.

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Hamilton Back on Top in Hungary

July 26, 2009

Lewis Hamilton made a spectacular come-back in Hungary this afternoon, after claiming his first win of the 2009 season.

The reigning world champion made a charging start from fourth on the grid, almost making it round the first corner in second. While former teammate Fernando Alonso took an early lead, Hamilton went about chasing down second-placed Mark Webber, who had started third, successfully passing him on lap 4.

Alonso, the lightest driver on the grid, pitted earlier than expected on lap 11, gifting the lead to Lewis. After suffering from a loose wheel in the following lap, which he lost out on the track, Alonso soon retired, and from there Lewis stayed in P1 for the remainder of the race, leading Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen in second and third respectively, into the first round of pitstops.

From there on he was in control, maintaining his lead after the first round of pitstops, and through the second. In the final stint he built up a 17sec lead over Kimi Raikkonen, and after crossing the line for the final time, he thanked his team over the radio, for giving him a car that “is so nice to drive”. It just goes to show how far McLaren have come to turn things around from just a few races ago.

After the race he said the team had not expected to win, but the car felt fantastic. He said: “It is an incredible feeling to be back here after what feels such a long time” adding: “It is incredibily special to get back up here. It’s amazing.”

A mistake by the Red Bull mechanics in Webber’s first stop, gifted second place to Raikkonen, with the former being released into the latter’s path by his pit crew, narrowly avoiding a collision, after time was lost removing the fuel rig. Raikkonen maintained second for the remainder of the race, finishing ahead of Webber in third. However, the Finn is under investigation following incidents with Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in the first few corners of the race, where he nudged both drivers, something Vettel claims caused his front suspension failure, and ultimately his retirement. If penalised, Raikkonen could lose his second place with a 25 second penalty.

Championship leader Jenson Button could only hope for damage limitation after qualifying down in eighth. A win from Lewis proved to be in favour of the Brawn team, minimising the points available to Webber and Vettel. With both Hamilton and Raikkonen’s charge off the start, and Vettel retiring, Button lost only 2.5 points.

New on the grid in Hungary was Jaime Alguersuari, the youngest ever starter of an F1 race, who managed to finished ahead of more experienced teammate Sebastien Buemi in 15th. Alguersuari had started at the back of the grid, following problems in qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton’s win has put McLaren back in the game, with it being the first under new team principal Martin Whitmarsh, and the first from a KERS equipped car. After failing to score any points in the last few races, it puts Hamilton up to eighth in the drivers standings, with 19 points, having been out of the top ten for a series of races. Jenson Button retains the lead of the championship on 70 points, with Webber in second on 51.5.

 

Formula One now takes its summer break, and will return to Valencia in four weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 22nd August, and the race live on BBC One on the 23rd. For now, the attention turns back to Felipe Massa, who everyone will be hoping makes a full recovery following his crash in qualifying yesterday. He is expected to remain in a medically induced coma for the next couple of days to aid his recovery.

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Massa in Intensive Care Following ‘Positive’ Surgery

July 25, 2009

Felipe Massa had emergency surgery yesterday evening following his crash during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Massa is now in intensive care in a medically induced coma and is said to be in a “stable” condition. It is believed Massa is due to be woken at some point this morning.

The Ferrari team said last night that the outcome of the operation is “positive”, and he will remain under observation.

There will be more information on Massa’s condition as it becomes available…

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Massa to have Operation for Skull Damage

July 25, 2009

Felipe Massa suffered a nasty blow to the head at the Hungaroring this afternoon, when a piece of debris, confirmed to be from Rubens Barrichello’s car hit the Ferrari driver’s helmet.

Qualifying was delayed for some twenty minutes while marshalls and medics extracted Massa from a tyre wall in turn four, where his car had become embedded, following the tap from the debris.

While Massa did not make any contact with his race engineer Rob Smedley over the radio, it was clear to all at the track that the Brazilian had been conscious following the spring from the damper of Barrichello’s car hitting his helmet, as he left behind the evidence of heavy breaking through turn four, into the tyre wall.

Massa was eventually pulled from the wall and taken to the on-track medical centre where he was checked over by medics. Fellow compatriot, and friend Barrichello, raced off to see him, and returned saying he was agitated, but talking.

Massa was then airlifted to the AEK hospital in Budapest. Ferrari released a statement on Massa’s condition saying “Felipe was conscious at the arrival at the hospital and his general conditions remain stable. Following a complete medical examination it emerged that he had suffered a cut on his forehead, a bone damage of his skull and a brain concussion. These conditions need to be operated on after which he will remain under observation in intensive care.”

With the news Massa will not be racing in tomorrow’s race, and Ferrari’s statement that he will need surgery, many fans are speculating whether Massa will return for the remainder of the season, with many saying they do not expect to see him back in Formula One until 2010.  

The crash comes a week after the death of 18-year-old Henry Surtees who died in a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch last Sunday, after the wheel of another competitor’s car struck him on the head.

With last weekend’s tragedy, and today’s events, driver’s are calling for something to be done to stop things like this happening.

For now, I wish Massa the best, and on behalf of many F1 fans, our thoughts are with him.