Archive for August, 2009

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Raikkonen Takes Victory in Spa

August 30, 2009

Kimi Raikkonen won his first Grand Prix of 2009 in Spa this afternoon, just about managing to hold off the Force India of Giancarlo Fisichella.

Raikkonen, who started from sixth on the grid, got a clean getaway to get up to second on the first lap, but it appeared it was Fisichella, who despite losing the lead following the restart on lap five, who had the faster car, keeping the Finn pushing all the way to the end.

As usual, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit provided a thrilling race, and as always there was first lap carnage.

The La Source hairpin is usually renowned for its first corner collisions, but it was turn five, Les Combes, that saw a four-car pile-up involving championship leader Jenson Button, and current champion Lewis Hamilton. Button was tagged by Romain Grosjean, who out-breaked himself at the end of the straight going in to turn five, and Hamilton, who had been trying to keep clear of any contact, was tagged from behind by Jaime Alguersuari, resulting in the end of the race for the four drivers, and the safety car being deployed.

While pole sitter Fisichella got a clean getaway off the grid, leading behind the safety car after the first lap drama; at the restart, it was Kimi Raikkonen who claimed the lead, taking advantage of a good slipstream and his KERS button, passing Fisichella at the top of Eau Rouge.

Leading into the first round of pitstops, Raikkonen kept Fisichella behind him, but in the second round of pitstops, the pressure was on for Raikkonen to maintain the lead, with the Force India having maintained the gap in the second stint. Raikkonen maintained the lead on the exit of the pits, and finished less than a second ahead of Fisichella.

Sebastian Vettel, who started the race from eighth, came through to finish third, with Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld finishing fourth and fifth for BMW. Heikki Kovalainen, Rubens Barrichello and Nico Rosberg finished sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, rounding off the points scorers. Mark Webber who went in to the race third in the drivers standings, finished just outside the points in ninth.

Aside from the four retiring in the first corner, Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso also failed to finish the race. Alonso, who was on a one stop strategy, and had been running well in the Renault, retired shortly after his pitstop, where there had been problems with securing his front-left wheel, which was a result of contact in the first corner. The decision to retire was made by the team, who it seemed were keen to avoid a repeat of the loose wheel incident in Hungary.

For Button, it was all down to damage-limitation, with closest championship rival and teammate Barrichello, scoring only two points, bringing the gap down to just 16 points in the championship. Vettel’s third place puts him back into third in the standings, 1.5 points ahead of Webber.

Raikkonen’s win elevates him to fifth in the standings, and Fisichella’s second place gets him and Force India their first points of the season.

 

The next race takes place in Monza in two weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 12th September, and the race live on BBC One at 1pm on the 13th.

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Fisichella Takes Surprise Pole in Spa

August 29, 2009

Giancarlo Fisichella pulled a surprise pole out of the bag in Spa this afternoon, in an exciting, yet shocking qualifying session.

The Italian, who it is rumoured may replace Luca Badoer at Ferrari from the next race in Monza, shocked everyone when he topped the time sheets in quali one, and again in quali three, lapping the track in 1:46.308.

Fisichella’s teammate, Adrian Sutil, will start in 11th, having narrowly missed making it into Q3.

Jarno Trulli will start the race second in the Toyota, with the  BMWs of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica third and fifth respectively. Rubens Barrichello is the first Brawn on grid in fourth. Kimi Raikkonen will start sixth, with Timo Glock seventh, the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber eighth and nineth, and Nico Rosberg in tenth.

Jenson Button failed to make it through to Q3 for the first time this season, and will start down in 14th. Lewis Hamilton, who qualified on pole just a week ago in Valencia, also failed to make it into Q3. Despite being the fastest through sectors one and three, his McLaren struggled through sector two and he will start in 12th, with teammate Heikki Kovalainen down in 15th.

Luca Badoer will start what may possibly be his last Grand Prix from the back of the grid for the second race in a row, after beaching his Ferrari as the clock stopped at the end of Q1.

With the weather frequently having a part to play in the outcome of a race in Spa, whether it rains or shines tomorrow, one thing is for certain, that once again, one of the best circuits on the F1 calendar is likely to produce an exciting race where just about anything can happen, just as it did in qualifying this afternoon.

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Barrichello Scores First Win in Five Years

August 23, 2009

Rubens Barrichello won his first race in five years in Valencia this afternoon, as the perfect strategy saw him snatch the win from McLaren.

Lewis Hamilton made the perfect getaway from pole, and led the race up until the second round of pitstops where an error made by the McLaren mechanics enabled Barrichello to leapfrog the race leader to take victory.

Barrichello had held his nerve up until that point, leapfrogging Heikki Kovalainen running second in the sister McLaren in the first round of pitstops. After spending the second stint hunting down and maintaining the gap to Hamilton, Rubens saw the opportunity to pass him in the second round of stops after the McLaren mechanics failed to get the Briton’s tyres out in time. The error cost Hamilton time, and inevitably the race. Barrichello passed the chequered flag just over three seconds ahead of Hamilton, with Kimi Raikkonen taking the last step on the podium.

Barrichello said: “It has been fantastic. It has been a weekend that I’ll never forget.”

Jenson Button in the sister Brawn, had less luck than his teammate, and a poor getaway saw him lose three places in the first corner. After chasing the Red Bull of Mark Webber for the majority of the race, a quick out lap in the second round of pitstops, coupled with a slow in lap by Webber, saw Button finish seventh, with Webber out of the points in ninth. An engine failure for Sebastian Vettel enables Button to maintain his lead in the drivers’ championship over the Red Bulls, and puts Barrichello back into second place, and 18 points adrift from the Brit.

Kovalainen brought his McLaren home in fourth, having been unable to match his teammate’s pace, and losing third place to Raikkonen. Nico Rosberg finished in fifth, with Fernando Alonso in sixth, Button seventh, and Robert Kubica rounding off the points scorers in eighth.

Barrichello’s win puts the Brazilian back in the hunt for the title, and with six rounds to go, it is becoming more likely that the title fight will once again go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi in November.

Rubens can now head to Belgium next weekend knowing that he has finally got a win under his belt for Brawn, and that the championship can still be his for the taking.

 

The next round will be in Belgium next weekend, with qualifying on Saturday 29th and the race live on BBC One at 1pm on Sunday 30th.

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Hamilton on Pole in Valencia

August 22, 2009

Lewis Hamilton followed his first win of 2009 by taking pole in Valencia this afternoon, his first since China last year.

In a hot qualifying session, the reigning champion showed that McLaren’s comeback in Hungary a month ago, was not a one off, leading teammate Heikki Kovalainen home for a McLaren front row for the start of tomorrow’s race.

Hamilton set the pace early on in qualifying, only being beaten to P1 in both Q1 and Q2 by the Brawns of Button and Barrichello respectively, as he remained in the pits saving his tyres. Hamilton’s pace heated up even more in Q3, when as the only driver of ten on brand new soft tyres, set the pace 1.3seconds faster than Kimi Raikkonen on his first lap. Even with a well timed change of tyres, and crossing the line to start his last flying lap with 10 seconds left on the clock, Lewis didn’t need to complete another lap, no one could beat his previously set time anyway.

Rubens Barrichello starts third in the first of the Brawns, with teammate and championship leader Jenson Button in fifth. Sebastian Vettel starts fourth, with teammate Mark Webber in ninth. Kimi Raikkonen is the first Ferrari, in sixth, with Nico Rosberg seventh, Fernando Alonso eighth, and Robert Kubica rounding off the top ten.

Luca Badoer, who is standing in for the injured Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari, starts 20th and last, after a poor qualifying session, his first in a decade.

Rookie Romain Grosjean, who replaces Nelson Piquet at Renault, impressed in his first F1 qualifying session, momentarily getting his Renault up to fourth in Q1. It wasn’t to be in Q2 though, and the Frenchman starts the first race of his F1 career from 14th.

For Hamilton and McLaren, they have put their early races of the season behind them to start from the front row of the grid for the first time this season, and they’ll be hoping to make it two wins in a row tomorrow. Heikki Kovalainen, who was told by his team this week that he needs to perform to retain his seat for next year, certainly upped his game, narrowly missing out on pole on his final lap, in the final corner.

After three F1-free weekends, the fight is back on, and although McLaren pose no threat to Brawn and Button’s title hopes, they will be hoping for a good result, and that they can keep the Red Bulls behind them.

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Renault to Race in Valencia

August 17, 2009

Renault will race in this weekend’s European Grand Prix after their suspension was overturned by the FIA International Court of Appeal in Paris today.

The team had been issued with a one-race ban after releasing Fernando Alonso from his first pitstop in Hungary with a loose wheel.

The team said that there had been no conscious wrong-doing and that the two mechanics who dealt with the wheel had been unable to notify the pit wall to notify Alonso of the situation.

Renault admitted unsafe conduct, and the court upheld the appeal, issuing the team with a reprimand and a $50,000 fine instead.

The team issued a statement on their website saying: “The ING Renault F1 Team welcomes the decision of the FIA’s International Court of Appeal to lift the team’s suspension from the European Grand Prix. However, the team acknowledges that sporting regulations were breached during the incident in the pit lane of the Hungarian Grand Prix, which compromised safety. The team therefore accepts the decision of the FIA to issue a reprimand and a $50,000 fine is fair and balanced.”

It is expected an announcement will be made over who will replace Nelson Piquet as Alonso’s teammate after he revealed over the summer break that he had been dropped from the team.

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Schumacher Pulls Out of F1 Comeback

August 11, 2009

Michael Schumacher will not be returning to F1 to replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari, due to the injuries he suffered earlier this year, it was announced today.

The German told the team last night, and it was announced this morning, that the injuries he suffered to his neck following a motorcycle accident in February are still too severe to cope with the pressures that will be put on his neck in Formula One.

Schumacher said on his website that he’d tried everything possible to make a temporary comeback to stand in for Massa. He said: “I am disappointed to the core. I am awfully sorry for the guys of Ferrari and for all the fans which crossed fingers for me.”

The injury to Schumacher’s neck flared up again following testing of the F2007 at Mugello last week.

Schumacher was set to take Massa’s place at the European Grand Prix later this month, instead, the Brazilian will be replaced at Ferrari by test driver Luca Badoer, who told the team’s website that despite always wanting to drive for Ferrari, he is upset that Schumacher will not be making a comeback.

He said: “I’m really sorry for Michael, because I know how much he wanted to return: I’m saying that as his friend and his fan.” He added: “I know that he’ll always be ready to give me some advice and he will shout for me.”

Badoer has been test driving for the team since 1998.