Archive for the ‘My F1 Views’ Category

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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.

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The 2009 Season So Far…

July 6, 2009

Now we’re just about half way through the 2009 Formula One World Championship, there is no better time to round up the first half of the season, and have a bash at predicting the second half…

In an F1 comeback that is likely to go down in history, Jenson Button has gone from almost having no drive after a series of unsuccessful seasons, to championship leader, just like that. Who would’ve thought at the end of last season, when Lewis Hamilton was basking in the glory of being F1 World Champion, that less than twelve months later the Brits would be back on top, but in the unlikely form of Hamilton’s fellow Briton Button.

Hamilton started the 2009 season with one thing in mind: to defend his title, fending off the likes of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. Even Sebastian Vettel was a character to look out for. But who would’ve thought it, that McLaren would be struggling to get their MP4-24 into quali two race after race, and new kids on the grid, Brawn, would be running off into the distance to take a substantial lead over their nearest rivals, Red Bull. Ferrari and Renault, well their year has been nothing to write home about either.

Ok, so the 2009 season so far has been interesting to say the least. Hamilton didn’t have a chance to defend his title after qualifying at the back of the grid in Australia. Then, despite an impressive drive to fourth, and a promotion to third, he was disqualified from the race altogether.

At the other end of the grid, Button had pulled back from nowhere in 2008, to pole at the opening race in Melbourne in 2009. To top it all off, he converted pole into victory and made off with his bid for the 2009 title. From one Briton in car 22, to another Briton in car 22, all in the space of a year, just proves what a difference a year makes.

Then there’s Sebastian Vettel. Fresh from his 2008 win in the wet in Monza, in a Toro Rosso, Vettel charged to the grid taking David Coulthard’s place in the Red Bull team. Despite crashing out in the final few laps of Melbourne, taking Robert Kubica with him, and incurring a ten place grid drop penalty for causing the crash, Vettel has since proved he has what it takes to challenge for the title. Having shown off his skill in the wet last year, he did it again this year in China, in round three, and lead home teammate Mark Webber for a Red Bull one-two. His most recent victory in Silverstone showed his skill in the dry, and he is now chasing down Button and teammate Rubens Barrichello in the drivers’ standings. Since Vettel’s impressive win in Silverstone, there has been talk of Brawn watching out in the second half of the season, as Red Bull may just have what it takes to stop the new team in their tracks.

However, after 54% of fans voted in a poll on formula1.com for Red Bull to put their weight behind Vettel to take the championship, it seems startlingly obvious to point out that Vettel’s teammate Webber is only 3.5 points behind the German, and perhaps it is a bit too premature to focus on just one driver. Of course, Vettel is talented, and as one of only two winners this season, it seems he may be the most likely to take the title out of the two Red Bull drivers, but who can forget that Webber has stacks of experience, both with the team, and within Formula One. Perhaps we should be looking out for the Australian in the second half of the season. Having nearly nabbed his first pole in Silverstone last month, it won’t be long before he does, and perhaps takes his first F1 win too.

While Red Bull seem to be hot on the heels of Brawn, it is always worth remembering the history of recent championship winners. As reported in F1 Racing Magazine in April 2008, the winner of the opening round of the season in Melbourne is usually the champion at the end of the year. Take last year: Lewis Hamilton charged to victory and then took the championship in Brazil some 17 races later. The year before that Kimi Raikkonen won in Australia and pipped Hamilton to his first championship as a rookie in Brazil. In fact, in the last nine out of 13 years, the winner in Melbourne has been the championship victor. There have been years though where this hasn’t happened. But with Michael Schumacher doing it four times out of five, and the last three champions having done it, it looks like Vettel and Red Bull really have to have that special something to catch Button and the Brawn boys.

With nine rounds still to go, anything could happen. Button may stick his Brawn on pole a few more times and stomp to victory. Or Maybe Red Bull have found that special something to hang on to the chance of crowning Vettel, or indeed Webber Champion 2009. With their one-two in Silverstone, and Button coming home in sixth, it is still possible.

We can go on speculating and trying to predict the outcome for this year’s championship, but with the way the first half of the season has turned out, you’d be a bit daft to not put your money on Button, wouldn’t you?

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Mosley Angry Over ‘Dictator’ Accusations

June 25, 2009

It has emerged that Max Mosley is re-thinking his position as president of the FIA after FOTA’s claims that he is a “dictator”, and that they have made “deliberate attempts” to mislead the media.

Mosley said only 24 hours ago that he would not be standing for re-election in October as part of an agreement with FOTA over the 2010 budget row. Now, it seems, he is angry over FOTA’s misleading statements to the press.

Mosley issued a letter to FOTA saying that if they did not correct the false statements made against him, with an apology, he would consider his options open, meaning he may well stand for re-election in October after all.

In a letter to FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo, he said: “You have suggested to the media that I was a “dictator”, an accusation which is grossly insulting to the 26 members of the World Motor Sports Council who have discussed and voted all the rules and procedures of Formula One since the 1980s.”

He added: “If you wish the agreement we made to have any chance of survival, you and FOTA must immediately retify your actions. You must correct the false statements which have been made and make no further such statements.”

He concluded: “Given your and FOTA’s deliberate attempt to mislead the media, I now consider my options open. At least until October, I am president of the FIA with the full authority of that office. After that it is the FIA members clubs, not you or FOTA, who will decide on the future leadership of the FIA.”

The letter throws the future of the sport in the balance once again.

It is believed the letter was sent prior to FOTA’s press conference in Bologna today, with Mosley hoping a correction and apology would be given then, however, it was not. For now, we shall have to wait and see what happens next.

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The End of F1 As We Know It?

June 19, 2009

The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) today dropped a bombshell on the F1 world: they plan to set up a rival championship, after declining to amend their original conditional entries into the 2010 Formula One World Championship.

The row between FOTA and the FIA has intensified over the last week since the FIA issued their list of competitors for 2010.

Ferrari made that list as ‘unconditional’ entrants, with McLaren, Brawn and Renault among those down as ‘conditional’. The FIA required them to amend the conditions that they had attached to their applications for next season by today, however, after four hours of talks last night ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, FOTA came back in the early hours of the morning saying that the teams would not be lifting their conditions, and they intend to start up a rival championship.

Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, who had made the FIA’s list as ‘unconditional’, are among the eight current F1 teams who have issued the threat. And all because the FIA want to impose a £40 million budget cap.

FOTA’s statement has shaken up the sport, and after weeks of threats from the teams, and with no compromise being made, they have taken extreme action, with many fans now saying the only solution is for the FIA to keep the 2009 regulations and enter all the current teams into the 2010 season in order to keep the sport as it is.

The row is the hot topic among many fans on Twitter, with many showing their support with Save F1 Max Out on their profiles. jayegan says: “I’m with FOTA- I’ve wanted Max out for about 3 years now.” MarkF1 says: “If a new series can keep the essence of the sport going it’s a good thing.”

The FIA, however, have issued a statement saying they plan to take immeditate legal action on FOTA, and in particular, Ferrari, who have breached their part of the Concorde Agreement, which was signed in 2007 stating their involvement within the sport until 2012. But this has sparked fury among F1 fans, with the suggestion that it was the FIA who breached the Concorde Agreement to begin with, by not consulting the teams of its plans for a change in the regulations, which in turn led Ferrari to breach their part of the contract.

The breakaway of eight teams could spell the end of Formula One as we know it, with former world champion Fernando Alonso telling the BBC: “Formula One is finished. It will be a standard engine, small teams and no drivers- this is not the Formula One people want.” He added: “The new series will be the new Formula One.”

FOTA’s statement said: “This series will have a transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans.” It added: “The major drivers, stars, brands, sponsors, promoters and companies historically associated with the highest level of motorsport will all feature in this new series.”

With teams such as Ferrari and McLaren who have had a role in Formula One for many years- in the case of Ferrari, since the beginning- many fans may believe that F1 is the big teams, and whatever series they participate in, that is F1. If so, how long will the current F1 last? And will the FIA give in to the teams, to protect the integrity of the sport? Whatever happens, the stage is set for one of the biggest fights in the sport’s history… and it’s likely to be a lengthy fight at that… Don’t expect a resolution any time soon.

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FIA Announces Prospective 2010 Line-Up

June 12, 2009

The FIA has published the entry list for the 2010 Formula One World Championship and perhaps the most surprising teams on the list are Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, who despite signing up to next season, “subject to conditions”, their entry is ‘unconditional’, whereas McLaren, Brawn and Renault, are ‘conditional’ entrants, even though their signing was “subject to conditions” as well.

So, how do Ferrari feel about this? Who else is on the list? And what happens next?

Since the FIA announced its plans for a budget cap of £40 million as off 2010, the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) have been opposing the plans, with teams such as Ferrari, Red Bull, Toyota and Renault threatening to quit Formula One if the regulations weren’t changed prior to them signing up for the next season. They have stated that the FIA has broken a contract called the Concorde Agreement, and failed to involve the teams with their plans for the regulation change.

The FIA required the current teams wishing to enter next season, and any new teams wishing to apply to join them, to do so before May 29th. Williams and Force India both signed up to the next season, budget cap or not, however the rest of the current teams signed up on the condition that the FIA re-evaluated their plans for the cap next year.

The FIA and FOTA have been in talks over the cap, with intentions for a compromise to be sort, with mention of staggering in the cap over the next couple of years.

However, Ferrari’s inclusion, which was top of the list, caused disappointment within the team. It appears, however, that the Scuderia may be obliged to remain within F1 until 2012 under the Concorde Agreement, hence their appearance on the list, and despite their conditional entry. 

The team have released a statement saying they will not be participating in the 2010 championship until the conditions of their entry are satisfied. The FIA say their contract to race next year is binding. The team added: “Despite Ferrari’s previous written notice to the FIA not to do so, the FIA has included Ferrari as an unconditional participant in next year’s Formula One World Championship.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, Ferrari reaffirms that it shall not take part in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship under the regulations adopted by the FIA in violation of Ferrari’s rights under a written agreement with the FIA.”

FOTA’s conditions were that the 2009 regulations be applied to next season, and as the FIA have not confirmed the terms in which Ferrari or indeed any of the ‘unconditional’ teams have been accepted into the 2010 season on, we can only assume that they, along with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, who also entered under FOTA’s conditions, have been accepted in on that basis. Williams, Force India and the three new teams are believed to have been entered under the new regulations for 2010.

For the ‘conditional’ teams, McLaren, Brawn, Renault, Toyota and BMW, their entry into next season is still uncertain, and the final decision should be reached by June 19th following further negotiations.

For Ferrari the only way forward for them now is to take the decision to court.

Former F1 commentator for ITV, James Allen, said on his website, jamesallenonf1, today: “I expected them to be angry about what the FIA has done, here but they are not. They are disappointed, but they are not budging in their convictions nor in their path. So the positions are fairly entrenched now and it will either take a legal battle or a piece of mediation on a spectacular scale to sort this out.”

For Ferrari, this battle is far from over, and at present, for many of the other current F1 teams, their future within the sport hangs in the balance. FOTA have issued a statement saying that in their opinion this is a turn-off for the fans. They said that the conditions “have still yet to be met.”

For three of the current teams on the list, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Brawn, it has not been confirmed what engines will be provided to the cars next year, again, causing uncertainty.

However, three teams who have benefited from this argument, are the three new teams entering the 2010 season. Campos Grand Prix, headed by former F1 driver, Adrian Campos; Manor Grand Prix; and Team US F1, led by Peter Windsor. All three teams will be powered by the Cosworth engine, which will make its return to F1 since leaving at the end of 2006. Team US F1, say they are close to revealing the names of their drivers.

Prodrive, who lodged an entry for 2010, but failed to make the top 13, claim they are not giving up on joining the other teams next year. And if any of the ‘conditional’ teams do not lift their conditions, as invited by the FIA, then they could be in with a chance.

For now, the future of F1 and the line-up of the 2010 grid remains uncertain, with the question of when this will be resolved, remaining unanswered.

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McLaren Back on Track?

April 25, 2009

After three races with an under-performing car, McLaren are hot on the pace and chasing down this season’s front-runners in Bahrain, this weekend.

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the first practice session at the Sakhir circuit on Friday, proving the new aero parts added to the car are certainly helping the team on their quest back to the top. Heikki Kovalainen in the sister McLaren had managed sixth fastest in the first session, but only managed 19th in the second, whilst Hamilton peaked 11th.

In qualifying, Kovalainen just missed out on making it through to quali three, in 11th, and Hamilton put his Number 1 car fifth on the grid ahead of Sunday’s race. During quali one the current champion managed to go fastest at one point.

Hamilton said he was pleased that the team’s hard work had been paid off and that they were able to battle out in the top ten in quali three. “We’ve got a similar pace to some of the guys in the top five; as long as everything goes smoothly we should be able to get a top five finish tomorrow. I can almost see pole position now – and I’m really looking forward to getting there soon!”

Kovalainen said: “I am now looking forward to the race, where my target is to achieve a solid points result.”

The team are stepping up their game after the first three races, in which the highest grid slot they managed was ninth by Hamilton, and the highest race finish was fifth by Kovalainen, both in China last weekend. After the FIA ruled the diffusers of the Brawn, Toyota and Williams teams legal, McLaren have been working on their own double-decker design, introducing it for the first time at the Chinese Grand Prix.

With ‘liar-gate’ being heard before the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) next week, it remains to be seen whether McLaren will be let-off and allowed to move on and continue to race. Speculation over whether the team will receive a ban from part of this season is rife, with the added threat of losing sponsorship, after they brought the sport into disrepute when Hamilton and team manager Dave Ryan lied to officials at the Australian Grand Prix.

The team’s determination to get back on track in the early stages of the 2009 season, hasn’t been dampened by their forthcoming court appearance. However, if the team were to receive a suspension or a ‘disproportionately large’ fine, their sponsors such as Vodafone and Diageo, the owners of the Johnny Walker label, could find a way to pull out of their sponsorship deals, leaving the team in hot water, particularly in the current economic crisis.

For now it seems McLaren are still fighting to both improve the car and to earn valueable points, and their speed on the track yesterday and today in Bahrain has shown they are not about to give up on another world championship this year.

As with the previous two seasons where McLaren have fought with Ferrari for the world title, things can easily change, and teams such as Brawn-Mercedes and Red Bull who so far have had impressive successes this year, could find themselves fighting to stay ahead.

Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race from fifth on the grid, with Heikki Kovalainen in 11th, having got the best from the car. Toyota’s Jarno Trulli will start the race from pole position, having lapped the Sakhir circuit in 1:33.431. Trulli said: “I’m thrilled to be back on pole again. This weekend has gone well and it’s great to be starting at the front tomorrow.” His teammate Timo Glock will start alongside him in second, with Sebastian Vettel in third. Jenson Button starts ahead of Hamilton in fourth, with the Ferrari’s of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen starting eighth and tenth respectively. Force India’s Adrian Sutil, who qualified 16th, has been issued a three-place grid drop after getting in the way of Red Bull’s Mark Webber at the end of quali one, preventing him from obtaining a faster lap-time and getting him through to quali two. Webber will start in P18.

 

Coverage starts on BBC One tomorrow at 12pm, with the race due to start at 1pm.

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Hamilton Disqualified

April 4, 2009

Lewis Hamilton has been stripped off his third-place finish in last Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, by F1 governing body the FIA.

Hamilton who produced a faultless drive at the Melbourne circuit, from 18th on the grid to fourth, has been dubbed a liar following a new investigation by the stewards prior to this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix. The reigning world champ who finished in fourth behind the safety car had been promoted to third shortly after the race, as it emerged Jarno Trulli had passed Hamilton under yellow flags and was subsequently penalised. The Brit had passed Trulli, after the Toyota driver fell off the track whilst following the safety car. Lewis, knowing the rules of not passing whilst behind the safety car, conceded the place back to Trulli, but later told the stewards that he had not knowingly allowed him to pass.

Ok, so both Lewis and the McLaren team should not have lied about this, however, it is a bit harsh that the British press have gone to town on branding Hamilton “a liar”.

The facts are inevitably clear-cut. Hamilton did ask his team on the pit wall whether he should hand the place back to the Toyota after he had lost track position, the team did instruct him to concede back the place. The evidence is in the radio transmissions. Hamilton and team manager Dave Ryan did mislead the stewards when asked, telling them the team had not told Lewis to hand back the place.

In all fairness to Hamilton, he was only doing what he was instructed to do, and told the media on Friday in Malaysia, “I am not a liar. I’m not a dishonest person. I’m a team player and every time I’ve been informed to do something, I’ve done it. This time I realise that it’s a huge mistake and I’m learning from it.” He adds: “I was misled – it’s easy to be misled sometimes – but that was the situation and that’s why I’m here.”

Lewis even stated in his interview with the media that he did not have time to think about it before he went in to see the stewards after the race in Melbourne. He says he was instructed prior to going in and “I went in and I did it and felt awkward and very uncomfortable and I think that the stewards could see that. I’ve never felt so bad. Try to put yourself in my position. As I’ve said I am not a liar and I’ve not gone through life being a liar or dishonest. So for people to say that and for the world to think that way, what can I say?”

Following the Briton’s press conference the FIA have put Hamilton in the clear as far as this controversy is concerned. For McLaren, they face further investigation and could face a fine or disqualification from this year’s championship.

Hamilton, having been disqualified from the Australian GP, is now back on zero points and will be aiming to start a-fresh in Malaysia and bring home as many points as possible. Consequently, the Toyota of Jarno Trulli has been reinstated in third with six world championship points.

Hamilton now needs to keep his head down and focus on Sunday’s race. Both Lewis and teammate Heikki Kovalainen will start from 12th and 14th on the grid respectively, with the McLaren still off-pace, failing to make it through to Quali Three. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa will start from 16th on the grid after failing to make it into Quali Two – a mistake on the team’s part as they had been over-confidently preserving his tyres for Q2 and Q3. Brit Jenson Button starts on Pole for the second week in succession for Brawn-Mercedes.