Archive for the ‘Australia- Melbourne’ Category

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Button Wins Action-Packed Australian GP

March 28, 2010

Jenson Button took his first victory of the season this morning, letting his rivals know they have a fight on their hands if they want to steal his crown.

The reigning world champion took an early gamble, changing his intermediate tyres to slicks on lap six, and while everyone thought it was a bad move, he proved he was a worthy champion when, after the rest of the front-runners pitted, he found himself in second, behind pole sitter, Sebastian Vettel.

Button said of his early pitstop: “It was the right call and I am happy I made it.” Of his first win with Mclaren he said: “It is very special.”

Button’s race started poorly, when contact in the first corner with Fernando Alonso saw the champion lose ground. Alonso came out worse off, spinning 180 degrees, being forced into last place. Michael Schumacher got caught up in the spin, and a broken front wing saw him take an early pitstop, and he spent the majority of his race at the back of the pack caught up behind Jaime Alguersuari.

A broken front wing for Kamui Kobayashi saw him slide off the track at turn three, collecting Nico Hulkenberg and bringing out the safety car. Sebastian Vettel led the way behind the safety car, with Felipe Massa, Mark Webber, Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg rounding out the top five.

On lap four the safety car came in, and Button, who by that point was down to sixth, was forced to defend himself against teammate Lewis Hamilton, up in seventh from 11th on the grid. Hamilton made a brave move on Button, making it stick, and it wasn’t long after that, that Button pitted for slicks.

His outlap was hit and miss, running off into the gravel in the first sector, but setting the fastest time in sectors two and three. Massa, Kubica, Rosberg and Hamilton then pitted for slicks, leaving Vettel leading Webber, with Button down in 19th.

By the time the Red Bulls pitted on the next two laps, they lost ground. Vettel, who pitted first, was eventually able to hold onto the lead, while Webber slipped through the pack, eventually ending up behind Massa. By the time the mid field, who momentarily had hold of the lead, pitted, Button was back in the mix, second behind Vettel, with Kubica, Rosberg and Massa in third, fourth and fifth.

Hamilton found himself behind Rubens Barrichello momentarily, after getting held up in the pitlane while other cars passed his pitbox, but after passing Rubens he soon had Webber and Massa in his sights. Webber made his move on Massa for fifth on lap 16 in the first corner, and Hamilton seized the opportunity, taking Massa as well to line up Webber in turn three. When Webber ran wide into turn three, nearly colliding with a dicey Hamilton, Massa saw a gap and passed both drivers to reclaim fifth.

Hamilton was then forced to stare at the back of Massa’s Ferrari until lap 22 when he got into Massa’s slipstream, passing him into turn one, while appearing to lose a bit of his front wing. Alonso, who had made his way up to seventh, passing Webber when he ran wide on lap 16, also fancied a look at his teammate, but Webber saw a way through and passed the unsuspecting Ferrari.

Hamilton then charged on, catching and passing Rosberg for fourth on lap 26. It soon became third when Vettel’s race came to an end on the same lap, suffering with brake failure.

Webber and Rosberg were the first to pit for the second time on laps 33 and 34, putting them both back behind Massa and Alonso, with a considerable gap of around 20 seconds.

Hamilton was then left to hunt down Kubica for second, and was all over the back of the Renault when he was pitted unexpectedly for a fresh set of tyres on  lap 35. Had it not been for the stop, Hamilton may have joined Button at the front, fighting for the first position Button had inherited from Vettel, but it wasn’t to be, and with a fresh set of tyres, Lewis, in fifth with Webber behind in sixth, began gaining a second or two a lap on the Kubica-Massa-Alonso train. A 20 second gap soon became no gap at all, but Hamilton, caught in Alonso’s dirty air had problems trying to pass, as his tyres started falling apart. On lap 56, Hamilton saw his chance, but while making a move on Alonso into turn three, Webber braked too late sending Hamilton into a spin, sending himself off the track. Hamilton recovered, but Rosberg was already through, having caught up with the pair. Webber was forced to pit for a third time for a new front wing, while Button was free to start his final lap on his way to victory.

Kubica kept it together to cross the line in second, just ahead of Massa, Alonso and Rosberg, with Hamilton down in sixth.

The McLaren driver said of his race: “I had probably one of the drives of my life. I am happy with the job that I did. I drove my heart out today” Of his unscheduled stop he said: “The strategy was not right.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi crossed the line seventh, ahead of Barrichello, Webber and Schumacher in tenth.

Schumacher’s main rival for the race, Alguersuari, narrowly missed out on some points, finishing in 11th, with De la Rosa in 12th, Heikki Kovalainen once again finishing for Lotus in 13th, and Karun Chandhok finishing his first race for HRT in 14th.

Button’s win elevates him to third in the championship standings with 31 points, with Massa just ahead on 33. Alonso retains the lead on 37 points, while Hamilton drops to fourth with 23 points. Ferrari extend their lead in the constructors’ championship with 70 points, with McLaren just behind on 54 points.

The next race is next weekend, with qualifying on Saturday 3rd April, and the race live on BBC1 at 9am on Sunday 4th.

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Vettel Heads Red Bull 1-2 in Australia Qualifying

March 27, 2010

Sebastian Vettel scored his second pole position of the season in Australia this morning, topping the timesheets in all three rounds of qualifying and just pipping teammate Mark Webber by a tenth of a second.

The weather may have been dismal, but the young German was on fire, setting a time of 1:23.919. Webber had set the provisional time early on in Q3, but just four minutes in Vettel set the fastest first two sectors of anybody, and despite being on the ragged edge in the final sector, managed to edge ahead of his teammate, who had hoped to score pole in front of his home crowd.

Fernando Alonso, who snatched the win off Vettel last time out in Bahrain, set the third fastest time, with reigning champion Jenson Button completing the second row in fourth, even though the McLaren was three-quarters of a second off the pace of the Red Bull.

Button’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, who had his Mercedes roadcar impounded last night after being pulled over by the Australian police for ‘over-exhuberant’ driving, failed to get into the top ten shoot-out, and will start tomorrow’s race from eleventh on the grid.

Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg make up the third row of the grid, with Massa fifth and Rosberg sixth, once again ahead of his seven-time world champion teammate, Michael Schumacher, who will start seventh. Schumacher’s former Ferrari teammate, Rubens Barrichello will start alongside him on row four, in eighth, while Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil round out the top ten in ninth and tenth respectively.

Hamilton set the fastest time of the Q2 drop-outs, ahead of Sebastien Buemi, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Pedro de la Rosa, Nico Hulkenberg, Kamui Kobayashi and Jaime Alguersuari in 12th down to 17th. Vitaly Petrov in the Renault joined the new teams, bowing out at the end of Q1. Heikki Kovalainen was the fastest of those drivers for Lotus, taking 19th, ahead of his teammate Jarno Trulli, who soldiered through Q1 with a loose seat. Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi will start 21st and 22nd for Virgin, with Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok on the back row of the grid for HRT.

Where a second or two used to cover the entire grid, it is spaced out even more this season, with three-quarters of a second between first and fourth, and the HRT team at the back of the grid, some seven seconds off the pace of the front runners during Q1.

The Australian Grand Prix is often one of the most exciting races of the season, with turns one and two normally claiming its victims early on. The weather could also play a part in the race, as rain may well have its say.

The race starts live on BBC1 at 7am tomorrow.

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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.

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Brawn’s “Virgin” on ’09 Success

March 29, 2009

As the first race of the new Formula One season took the chequered flag, the 2009 World Championship was officially under-way. And while it was the Brits who triumphed again in Melbourne, it wasn’t the Hamilton-McLaren domination of 2008. No, this year it was the turn of Jenson Button and Brawn Mercedes…

 At 7am local time, as the lights went green on Melbourne’s Albert Park, 20 men hit their accelerators and went racing.  

Leading them was Jenson Button, who three weeks ago, didn’t even know if he would be racing this season, following the Honda Racing team’s pull-out from F1.

The new kids on the grid, Brawn-Mercedes, fronted by the brains of Ross Brawn, managed an astonishing result in their first ever Grand Prix. The team started the race on Sunday with Button on pole and Rubens Barrichello in P2, and despite Sebastian Vettel dominating second place throughout the majority of the race, the British team managed to bring home a one-two, the first time a new team has qualified and finished a race at the top since the French Grand Prix in 1954 when Mercedes-Benz first entered F1.

For entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Group, the move to sign a sponsorship deal with the Brackley-based team proved to be the right thing to do as Brawn-Mercedes have dominated since qualifying on Saturday. Branson has revealed he may take over the naming-rights and identity of the team within weeks.

The reigning world champ Lewis Hamilton, who qualified 15th in his McLaren MP4-24, started from 18th on the grid following his first penalty of the season after the Woking-based team changed his gearbox as a precautionary measure. 24-year-old Hamilton perhaps gained the most in the season opener, after finishing in fourth place, following a dramatic end to the race after Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber and Vettel in the Red Bull collided and crashed-out three laps from the chequered flag.

Hamilton’s Finnish teammate, Heikki Kovalainen, who started the race from twelfth, failed to finish the race after a first-corner collision with the Red Bull of Mark Webber, after Barrichello failed to get away cleaning from the grid. The Brazilian’s anti-stall had kicked in allowing Vettel and Kubica, the Williams of Nico Rosberg, and the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen through, before getting caught up with Webber and Kovalainen and the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld and Force India of Adrian Sutil. The Finn subsequently retired from the race.

Lap 19 saw the first safety car of the season after Kazuki Nakajima dropped his Williams and smacked into the wall. By then, Button had built a 47.7s lead over his closest rivals and he saw it reduced to nothing as the safety car remained in the race until the end of lap 24. New rules this year mean that the cars are free to pit during the safety car period and do not need to wait until Race Control open the pitlane, something Button took to his advantage when the safety car was deployed a few laps before his scheduled stop.

As for the Ferraris, neither managed to finish. Massa suffered mechanical problems later on, and Raikkonen retired following a shunt in the wall in the third half of the race.

At the start of lap 55 Vettel and Kubica, who were running second and third respectively, collided on turn three and Kubica subsequently crashed out. Vettel continued, despite his left-front tyre being mangled, but later parked his car on the grass. The safety car was again deployed and remained there until the end of the race.

Button took the chequered flag to claim the second win of his career, followed by teammate Barrichello, who had been fourth prior to the crash. Jarno Trulli, who along with his teammate had started the race from the pitlane, came through in third place in the Toyota, followed by reigning champ Hamilton in fourth. The second Toyota of Timo Glock came through in fifth, with the Renault of Fernando Alonso in sixth and Rosberg in seventh. Rookie Sebastien Buemi took the last of the points-paying positions in eighth.

Button’s victory marked the 200th Formula One victory for a British driver. In the press conference after the race he said the win was not just for him, but the whole team; he dubbed it the “fairytale ending” to their first race as a team.

 

Following the race, the stewards investigated an incident involving third place Jarno Trulli, who had run off the track behind the safety car in the final stages of the race. Hamilton had taken the position off the Toyota driver, who then claimed it back. The stewards handed Trulli a 25 second penalty for passing under waved yellow flags.

 

For the McLaren team, who have struggled with the grip of their car since testing, a third place and six points for Hamilton are a welcomed reward. For Brawn-Mercedes, the reward is huge considering their non-existence just weeks ago.

 

With the new season finally under-way, and with the grid mixed-up, this year is set to be more exciting than before, where it really can be anyone’s for the taking.

 

 

The next round is in Malaysia next weekend, with qualifying at 10am on Saturday and the race live on BBC One at 10am on Sunday.

 

 

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Countdown to Australia

March 5, 2009

On Sunday 29th March 2009, F1’s newest world champion will line up on the grid for the start of the 2009 season at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit to begin the fight to defend his title.

Alongside reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton will be his closest rival from 2008, Felipe Massa, and his 2007 team-mate Fernando Alonso.

With new rules and regulations coming in in 2009, this is the year many predict will be the closest season yet. But how can it get any closer than in 2008? You cannot forget Massa and Hamilton’s fight to the bitter end in Brazil last November, where it all seemed to be lost for the second year in succession for Hamilton- that is of course until Timo Glock and his performance-lacking tyres stepped in, or rather stepped aside to allow Lewis through to take the title. However, this year sees a number of changes to the rules and regulations, which promises to keep F1 fans teetered on the edge of their seats right up until the finale in Abu Dhabi on November 15th. 

As well as the changes to the rules and regulations, which sees the introduction of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), the return of slick tyres and new aerodynamics that are set to make overtaking easier, there have been a few amendments to the racing calendar. Last year both Valencia and Singapore hosted new and exciting street races, with Singapore being the first ever night race in F1. This year, both tracks will be back, along with another brand new circuit in Abu Dhabi, which promises to be an exciting end to the season where all cars and drivers will be racing in the unknown. After two consecutive years at the Fuji Speedway for the Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka will be making a welcome return to host the country’s GP, and there will no longer be rounds in France or Canada as both were removed from the calendar during 2008. 

Over the winter the teams have been testing out their new cars to make sure they have perfected them under the new regulations for when the lights go out in Melbourne. New rules this year state that teams will not be able to test their cars during the season, so testing has been crucial throughout the winter. With KERS coming in in 2009 the drivers will be able to recycle energy wasted under braking at the push of a button to give them an extra boost for up to seven seconds per lap. KERS, along with new aerodynamics and the return of slicks, means 2009 is set to be F1’s closest and most unpredictable season for years.

It may not be possible to predict who will come out on top in Melbourne, or in fact, the season as a whole, but one thing for sure is that Lewis will be aiming to defend his title when the lights go out in Melbourne at the end of the month.

In the words of Murray Walker, when the lights go out, it’ll be “Go! Go! Go!” for 2009.