Formula One at Bathurst

March 25th, 2011 No comments

Two years ago I wondered what it would be like to see Formula One cars lapping the Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst so I was happy to see McLaren take their championship winning MP4-23 to the Mountain as a promotional exercise with Vodafone.

The official lap record set by a V8 Falcon is 2:08.4651. Jenson button took the McLaren around in about 1:48.

Categories: Circuits Tags: , ,

2011

March 24th, 2011 No comments

Wow! That was a long time between posts.

But we’re back! Just in time for the start of the 2011 Formula One World Championship and with a new tyre supplier, adjustable rear wings and KERS what an interesting season it’s going to be.

The prediction game is back too. If you haven’t already got it head over to the Facebook page and add it to your account. The rules and prize are the same as last year. And speaking of last year, congratulations to Miguel for winning the 2010 competition! The scores were close right up until the end, just like on the track.

2010  was another fantastic year for Formula One. Let’s hope 2011 is even better!

Image: Williams

Categories: 2011 Season Tags:

Hamilton reclaims the lead

August 29th, 2010 No comments

Lewis Hamilton proved his mastery of slippery conditions by claiming his third win of the season at the Belgian Grand Prix.

From second on the grid, Hamilton took advantage of Mark Webber’s poor start to beat the Australian into the first corner. From there he was unstoppable and despite the rain led the rest of the race. Hamilton now leads the championship from Webber by just 3 points.

Robert Kubica demonstrated the effectiveness of Renault’s new f-duct by finishing third, only narrowly missing out on second thanks to an error entering his pits. Team boss Eric Boullier was happy:

Overall I think we can be very satisfied with this weekend, especially because we brought our latest updates, including the f-duct, and managed to get it working properly straight away.

Once again, Force India were strong at Spa with Adrian Sutil finishing fifth and Tonio Liuzzi fighting against Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher. Force India is now 17 points clear of Williams in the Constructors’ Championship.

While it is still a five-way battle for the Championship, Hamilton and Webber were able to pull away slightly from their rivals thanks to Vettel finishing out of the points and Alonso and Button not finishing at all.

Alonso suffered an early pitstop after being speared by an unstoppable Rubens Barrichello (on his 300th GP start) and Button fell victim to an erratic Sebastian Vettel who seemed to be doing his best to trade paintwork with everyone around him. Jenson was understandably disappointed:

All I felt was a really big bang in the sidepod and I lost drive immediately, I don’t know what he was playing at really. From the point of view of the championship, it’s a massive blow.

There is no doubt that Vettel is seriously fast, but he seems to make too many hot-headed mistakes.

Categories: 2010 Season Tags: ,

Webber back on top

August 3rd, 2010 No comments

Mark Webber lifted himself to the top of the Drivers’ Championship with a remarkable drive in the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Although the circuit is well liked by the drivers, the narrow, twisty Hungaroring has a reputation for producing somewhat processional races but Sunday’s race was anything but boring. Thanks to a safety car period and a drive-through penalty for Sebastian Vettel, Webber was able to leapfrog both his team mate and Fernando Alonso and seal a much needed  fourth victory.

Sebastian was clearly upset at missing out on what he thought would be a certain victory and for the second race in a row there were two team mates on the podium; one looking less than happy.

But while Webber now leads the Championship, Lewis Hamilton is only 4 points behind and Sebastian Vettel only 10 points. It is still very much a five-way battle between the Red Bulls, McLarens and Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. Webber knows he can’t afford to relax:

It’s nice to have more points than anybody else, but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves as there are some big events coming up.

In the closing stages of the race a furious battle for 10th was taking place between old team mates Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. Rubens had complained over the radio that Schumacher was closing the door on his passing attempts very late in the corners and on lap 68 Schumacher very nearly forced Barrichello into the wall. Barrichello managed to scrape through with centimetres to spare but it was clearly an extremely dangerous move by Schumacher.

Barrichello called for Schumacher to be shown a black flag and ex-F1 driver Derek Warwick (who was on the stewards panel) told BBC’s Radio 5 Live just how close Schumacher came to being disqualified:

Throwing a black flag would have shown a better example to our young drivers but by the time we got the video evidence we ran out of time and we had to do it retrospectively.

In the end the stewards handed Schumacher a 10 place grid penalty for Spa. With Schumacher’s current performance this virtually guarantees he won’t score any points in Belgium so it seems a fair penalty. After initially claiming innocence Schumacher eventually conceded his driving was dangerous:

Immediately after the race yesterday I was still in the heat of it all, but after I looked again at the situation with Rubens I have to say that the stewards were correct with their judgement.

What it does show is that Schumacher may have lost some of his old speed but he has lost none of his old ruthlessness.

Categories: 2010 Season Tags: , ,

Massa moves over for Alonso

July 26th, 2010 No comments

At the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix, at the height of Michael Schumacher’s dominance of the sport, Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to give up his race lead and let Schumacher past to take the victory. Barrichello duly slowed at the final corner of the last lap and let his team mate pass him just before the finish line.

The crowd didn’t like it. There was jeering during the podium ceremony which was made even more awkward when Schumacher encouraged Barrichello to take the top step and handed him the trophy for first. Both Barrichello and Schumacher were fined one million dollars for their behaviour and a new rule was introduced banning so-called team orders.

39.1: Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited

Such is the clear intention of this rule that many were surprised at Ferrari’s blatent imposition of team orders at Hockenheim on Sunday.

Having led the race from a fantastic start, Felipe Massa was told by his engineer, Rob Smedley:

OK, so, Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?

There was silence on the radio but confirmation was given when Massa obviously slowed at the exit of turn 6 and allowed Alonso to pass. Smedley then told Massa:

Good lad. Just stick with him now. Sorry.

The stewards fined Ferrari $100,000 for the move although the race result still stands. The stewards have also referred the issue to the World Motor Sport Council which may take further action against Ferrari.

This is the second time Alonso has picked up a victory due to the blatant altering of the race by a team mate. While not as dangerous as Nelson Piquet Jr’s deliberate crash in Singapore, Massa’s move was equally unsporting and like Singapore, Alonso doesn’t seem to treat his win as anything less than fully deserved.

There has been a lot of debate about whether team orders should or shouldn’t be allowed but the fact remains that there is a specific rule forbidding them and Ferrari willfully broke that rule.

As to the question of whether team orders should be allowed, I think it is clear that the fans don’t want them – no matter how much the teams may.

There is an inherent conflict of interest in a Formula One team. Both drivers are hired by the team to drive for the team but when it comes down to it, each driver is driving for themselves. There can be only one champion and every driver wants it to be him. And while Ferrari have legions of supporters devoted to the Scuderia I don’t think the fans want to see race results manipulated even if it is for the good of the team.

What made Sunday’s result even worse was that it was the first anniversary of Massa’s terrible accident at Hungary. A win for the Brazillian would have been a fitting and well-liked result. Instead Ferrari showed clear Alsonso favouritism and did nothing for the Spaniard’s popularity.

All the talk of Alonso being faster than Massa is specious. A similar point was made about Webber and Kovalainen at Valencia but the reality is that Formula One is not just about who has the fastest car. It is also about who is the best driver and it can be just as exciting to see a skilled driver holding off a faster car as it is to see overtaking. If it was only about speed then why bother racing at all? Why not just have each car set a lap time on its own and then rank them accordingly?

I think team orders are wrong but it is not the use of them in this case that I find as distasteful as the obvious lying by Ferrari after the event.

Categories: 2010 Season Tags: ,
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