Archive for October, 2010

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Alonso Wins in Korea, Red Bulls Fail to Finish

October 24, 2010

Fernando Alonso has taken the lead of the championship after winning the first ever Korean Grand Prix – a race which was eventful to say the least.

The race started behind the safety car after a combination of heavy rain and a slippery new track delayed the start by ten minutes. At first it lasted four laps while the drivers complained the conditions were too dangerous, and once again, they lined up on the track in their grid positions.

The restart was then delayed until 4pm local time, and even then the race only got underway behind the safety car. The safety car stayed out until the 18th lap, with many drivers still saying the conditions were too dangerous, and others, including Lewis Hamilton saying that the conditions were fine to race in, Hamilton even saying the conditions were good enough for intermediates. As the track started to improve and visibility became far better, the safety car was pulled back into the pits and Sebastian Vettel lead the rest if the field through the first corner to get the race underway.

In the opening corners as the race finally got underway, Michael Schumacher made a move on Robert Kubica for eighth, and Nico Rosberg made a move on Hamilton for fourth. Felipe Massa and Jenson Button, who were sixth and seventh were also having their own personal battle, allowing Schumacher to sneak up behind them.

On lap 20, Mark Webber found himself out of the race after getting in a spin on the exit of turn 12. He collected Rosberg in the process, and the two crashed into the wall. The safety car was deployed while the wreckages were removed, and remained out until lap 23 when Vettel led Alonso and Hamilton into the restart.

By lap 27, Schumacher was making a move on Button, while Lucas di Grassi found himself out of the race. On lap 29, Button pitted early for intermediate tyres, but the gamble cost him, and with another safety car just a few laps later, he soon found himself towards the back of the field.

Hamilton, Massa and Schumacher pitted as soon as the safety car was deployed, to switch to intermediate tyres, and a lap later, Vettel and Alonso pitted to cover them off. Vettel rejoined in the lead, but Hamilton was able to get ahead of Alonso who had problems in the pitlane.

At the restart on lap 35, Vettel once again sprinted off ahead of Hamilton and Alonso, but Hamilton ran wide at turn one allowing Alonso back through into second. Hamilton was forced to go defensive against Massa, but was able to keep the second Ferrari behind him.

On lap 41, Vitaly Petrov lost the back end of his Renault and crashed into the wall at the entrance to the pitlane.¬†But the next big retirement came on lap 46, when raceleader Vettel’s engine failed, and he was forced to stop along the straight heading into turn three. Alonso took the lead, with Hamilton on his tail, but from then on, Hamilton’s tyres began to lose grip, and he began to lose two seconds per lap to Alonso.

Alonso crossed the line to take his fifth victory of the season, with Hamilton second and Massa third. Schumacher came through to finish fourth, with Kubica fifth, Vitantonio Liuzzi sixth, Rubens Barrichello seventh, Kamui Kobayashi eighth, Nick Heidfeld ninth and Nico Hulkenberg tenth. Button finished behind Jaime Alguersuari in 12th, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen, Bruno Senna and Sakon Yamamoto.

Alonso’s win puts him in the lead of the championship on 231 points. Webber’s retirement has been significant in the fight for the title, as Webber’s 14 point advantage over Vettel and Alonso has been¬†diminished, as Alonso is now 11 points ahead of Webber. Hamilton is a further 10 points behind Webber on 210. Vettel is on 206, while Button trails on 189, 42 points off Alonso’s lead, and seemingly out of the championship unless he wins the next two races, and the others fail to be successful.

In the constructors’ standings Red Bull remain on 426, with McLaren just behind on 399 and Ferrari just behind them on 374.

The next race is in Brazil in two weeks time for the penultimate round of the season. We’ve seen that anything can happen and one race can change the shape of the championship, but who will leave Brazil and head to the last race in Abu Dhabi with the advantage? Qualifying is on Saturday 6th November, with the race live on BBC1 at 4pm on Sunday 7th.

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Vettel on Pole for First Ever Korean GP

October 23, 2010

Sebastian Vettel will start the first ever Korean Grand Prix from pole, after setting a time of 1:35.585 in qualifying, less than a tenth of a second ahead of teammate Mark Webber.

Vettel and Webber lock out the front row yet again this season, but championship leader Webber will have to start on the dusty side of the new grid. Fernando Alonso will start third, despite looking for a long time like he had pole in the bag. Lewis Hamilton will start fourth, with Nico Rosberg fifth and Felipe Massa sixth.

Jenson Button struggled throughout qualifying for grip, and he will start from seventh ahead of Robert Kubica, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello who will start eighth, ninth and tenth respectively.

Elsewhere in qualifying, Hamilton was fastest in Q1, while Button struggled to get heat into the prime tyres, setting a time in tenth. In the dropout zone were the usual suspects, Vitantonio Liuzzi out in 18th, joining the new teams with Jarno Trulli 19th, Timo Glock and Heikki Kovalainen 20th and 21st, and Lucas di Grassi, Sakon Yamamoto and Bruno Senna 22nd to 24th, respectively.

In Q2, Webber was fastest, while Button continued to struggle, and Nico Hulkenberg, Kamui Kobayashi, Nick Heidfeld, Adrian Sutil, Vitaly Petrov, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi found themselves out in 11th to 17th. Petrov will start 20th following his penalty for causing the first lap collision in Japan two weeks ago.

The race will start at 7am UK time tomorrow.

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Vettel Back on Top in Suzuka

October 10, 2010

Sebastian Vettel led from pole to take an important win in today’s Japanese Grand Prix to edge him closer to Mark Webber in the bid for the world championship, while first corner collisions saw the end to several drivers’ races, and Lewis Hamilton continued to have problems as after a troublesome weekend, his brand new gearbox lost third gear.

After qualifying was postponed to the morning of the race, Vettel and teammate Webber locked out the front row of the grid, and pretty much stayed where they were. At the start, Robert Kubica, who started third, split the Red Bulls, but after Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg’s collision straight off the start, and Felipe Massa and Vitantonio Liuzzi’s coming together at the first corner, the safety car was deployed for five laps, and by lap three, Kubica had lost his right rear wheel, and he was forced to pull over at the hairpin.

The Red Bulls were then left in their own race, while a good start for Lewis meant he was able to make up for starting eighth after a five-place grid-drop penalty for changing his gearbox, and he was soon into fifth behind Fernando Alonso and teammate Jenson Button.

The safety car returned to the pits at the end of lap six, and Vettel was leading from Webber, Alonso, Button and Hamilton. By lap 23 Hamilton became the first of the front-runners to pit, and the McLaren team were hoping to get him out in clear air in order for him to put in some fast laps to get closer to Alonso and a potential podium, but when he exited the pits in seventh, he found himself behind Kamui Kobayashi and in dirty air. However, within a few laps he was able to get into the slipstream of the BMW Sauber, and he passed him down into turn one.

Button, who had taken a gamble on the harder compound tyre to start the race on, took the lead as the leaders pitted, but was unable to pull out enough of a gap to ensure he remained ahead of Hamilton after his stop. Hamilton had put in some fast laps to get ahead of his teammate, but he soon ran into difficulty, and after it became apparent he had lost third gear, he started slipping back into Button’s clutches, and had to hand over fourth.

On lap 49, after the two Mercedes drivers had spent some time fighting over sixth, Nico Rosberg crashed out into the wall at turn five, after what appeared to be a failure of his left rear wheel. With just five laps to go, it looked like the safety car would have to be deployed, but the marshals were able to remove the car from the side of the track, and in the meantime, Kobayashi gave us some on-track action as he made a move on Barrichello, and a lap later passed teammate Nick Heidfeld to take seventh position.

Vettel took his third win of the season, leading home Webber for a Red Bull one-two, with Alonso in third. Button took fourth, while Hamilton finished fifth to take his first points since the Belgian Grand Prix. Schumacher finished sixth, with Kobayashi in seventh, Heidfeld eighth, Barrichello ninth and Sebastien Buemi in tenth, the last of the points-scorers. Jaime Alguersuari, Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock, Bruno Senna and Sakon Yamamoto finished 11th to 16th, respectively, each having been lapped at least once. As well as Rosberg, Kubica, Hulkenberg, Massa, Petrov and Liuzzi’s retirements, Adrian Sutil also failed to finish the race, following engine failure, while Lucas di Grassi failed to start the race after crashing his Virgin on the way to the grid.

In the drivers’ standings, Webber edges even further ahead on 220 points, with Vettel and Alonso both on 206 points, and Hamilton and Button on 192 and 189 points each. 31 points now separate the top five. In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull are 45 points ahead of McLaren.

The next race is in Korea in two weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 23rd October, and the race on Sunday 24th.

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Japanese Qualifying Postponed Following Torrential Rain

October 9, 2010

Qualifying for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix has been postponed to race day, after heavy rain and standing water meant it was unsafe for the drivers to take to the track.

The drivers and teams waited patiently in their garages and on the pitwall, but Race Control confirmed it was too dangerous to let the session commence.

Qualifying will be live on BBC1 at 2am, with the race due to start at 7am tomorrow.