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Another Red Bull 1-2 in Abu Dhabi

November 2nd, 2009 No comments

Sebastian Vettel, Abu, Dhabi, 2009Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber secured Red Bull’s fourth 1-2 finish of the season in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

After qualifying it looked like Lewis Hamilton would easily drive away from the two Red Bulls in the race but despite setting six consecutive fastest laps and opening a gap of two seconds on Vettel, a brake problem forced Hamilton to retire after 20 laps.

The billion dollar Yas Marina circuit looked spectacular as twilight faded into night and while there are some interesting sections to the track, including a pit exit tunnel, for the most part the race was pretty uneventful.

The most excitment came in the closing laps as Mark Webber came under attack from Jenson Button and only just managed to hold him off with some great defensive driving.

It’s hard to see how an old airfield in Northamptonshire can compete with a city that sits on one-tenth of the world’s oil reserves and whose citizens (not including foreign workers) are worth about $17 million each. But Sunday’s race showed that while money can buy spectacular, it can’t buy history and it can’t neccessarily buy good racing.

2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Results

Pos Driver Team Grid Time Points
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2 34:03.414 10
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 3 34:21.271 8
3 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 5 34:21.881 6
4 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 4 34:26.149 5
5 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 8 34:29.667 4
6 Kamui Kobayashi Toyota 12 34:32.757 3
7 Jarno Trulli Toyota 6 34:37.780 2
8 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 10 34:44.708 1
9 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 9 34:49.355 0
10 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 7 34:51.594 0
11 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 18 34:56.212 0
12 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 11 34:57.731 0
13 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 13 35:03.253 0
14 Fernando Alonso Renault 15 35:13.014 0
15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 16 35:37.814 0
16 Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 20 lapped 0
17 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 17 lapped 0
18 Romain Grosjean Renault 19 lapped 0
RET Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1 retired, 20 laps 0
RET Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 14 retired, 18 laps 0

Image: Red Bull

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: ,

Abu Dhabi: Fuel adjusted qualifying times

October 31st, 2009 No comments

Lewis Hamilton, Abu, Dhabi, 2009The FIA now publishes the weights of each car after qualifying on Saturday. Those cars that make it through to the final qualifying session must use the fuel they qualified with while the rest of the field may refuel before the race.

Below is a graph showing the actual top ten qualifying times as well as those times adjusted for the weight of fuel each car is carrying. The graph assumes a standard lap time cost of 0.3 seconds per 10kg of fuel.

Looking at these weights we can see that while everyone is roughly in position, Lewis Hamilton really is a lot faster than anyone else. It’s hard not to imagine Hamilton driving off into the distance on Sunday leaving everyone else behind.

Trulli looks quite fast so a podium for him isn’t totally out of the question but it is more likely a McLaren and two Red Bulls will take the final podium positions of 2009.

2009 Abu Dhabi GP Q3 (weight-adjusted)

2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Car Weights

Image: McLaren

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , ,

Hamilton takes last minute pole in Abu Dhabi

October 31st, 2009 No comments

Heikki Kovalainen, Abu Dhabi, 2009The McLarens have looked strong all weekend in Abu Dhabi but while Heikki Kovalainen stopped in Q2 with drive problems it all came together for Lewis Hamilton as he took a stunning pole position for Sunday’s season-ending Grand Prix.

Lewis looked completely at home on the new circuit and as twilight faded quickly to darkness he was nearly a second faster than the two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber behind him.

Speaking after qualifying, Lewis said:

The car is the best it has been all year. It was a smooth lap, and it just kept getting better and better.

Rubens Barrichello beat his team mate, and new World Champion, Jenson Button to fourth place on the grid.

Jarno Trulli got his Toyota up into sixth place ahead of the two BMWs with Rosberg and Buemi rounding out the top 10.

Ferrari had a disappointing session with Fisichella dropping out in Q1 in last place and Raikkonen only making it to P11.

2009 Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 01:40.948
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 01:41.615
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 01:41.726
4 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 01:41.786
5 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 01:41.892
6 Jarno Trulli Toyota 01:41.897
7 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 01:41.992
8 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 01:42.343
9 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 01:42.583
10 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 01:42.713
11 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 01:40.726
12 Kamui Kobayashi Toyota 01:40.777
13 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 01:40.983
14 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 01:41.148
15 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 01:41.689
16 Fernando Alonso Renault 01:41.667
17 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 01:41.701
18 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 01:41.863
19 Romain Grosjean Renault 01:41.950
20 Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 01:42.184

Image: McLaren

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: ,

Webber wins in Brazil. Nobody notices.

October 18th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, Brazil, 2009Mark Webber picked up the second win of his long Formula One career at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday. Unfortunately for Mark, Jenson Button drove a fantastic race from 14th on the grid to finish 5th and in so doing clinched the 2009 Drivers’ Championship, stealing Webber’s glory somewhat.

Brawn GP also picked up the points they needed to win the Constructors’ Championship.

For the fifth time in a row the Interlagos circuit played host to the Championship decider. And what a race it was.

After a washed out qualifying that saw both Button and Vettel dropped in the first session, determined drives from Button, Vettel and Hamilton gave us one of the most thrilling races of the season.

After dispatching Romain Grosjean and Kazuki Nakajima, Button became stuck behind Toyota’s Kamui Kobayashi who was filling in for Timo Glock. The young Japanese driver in his first Formula One race put in a gutsy performance. He seems to come from the Takuma Sato school of driving; not afraid to throw his car around the track with willful abandon. Jenson described him as “absolutely crazy.” I agree! Let’s hope he gets a drive next year.

Lewis Hamilton made the most of his KERS powered McLaren by switching to a one-stop strategy when the safety car came out on the first lap. He started from 17th on the grid but drove an aggressive race, passing Alguersuari and Grosjean on a single lap before making Barrichello’s day even worse by passing him on lap 62 to finish 3rd. Hamilton’s podium moves McLaren to 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship, one point ahead of Ferrari.

Speaking of Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen proved how cool he was when a trailing fuel hose from the back of Kovalainen’s McLaren briefly turned him into a human torch. This seemed to have little effect on the Finn and he went on to finish 6th.

The new Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi looks spectacular but it’s hard to imagine it producing a more thrilling race than Brazil. Interlagos had it all: unpredictable weather, loads of overtaking, spectacular crashes, even very nearly a trackside punchup between Adrian Sutil and Jarno Trulli.

This is what Formula One should be.

2009 Brazilian Grand Prix Race Results

Pos Driver Team Grid Time Points
1 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 2 32:23.081 10
2 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 8 32:30.707 8
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 17 32:42.025 6
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 15 32:42.733 5
5 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 14 32:52.086 4
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 5 32:56.421 3
7 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6 32:59.072 2
8 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1 33:08.535 1
9 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 16 33:11.481 0
10 Kamui Kobayashi Toyota 11 33:26.081 0
11 Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 19 33:33.746 0
12 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 20 33:34.469 0
13 Romain Grosjean Renault 13 lapped 0
14 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 12 lapped 0
RET Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 9 crash, 30 laps 0
RET Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 7 retired, 27 laps 0
RET Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 18 retired, 21 laps 0
RET Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 3 crash, 0 laps 0
RET Jarno Trulli Toyota 4 crash, 0 laps 0
RET Fernando Alonso Renault 10 crash, 0 laps 0

Image: Brawn GP

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , ,

If he was racing for medals Jenson would be Champion now

October 6th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, Turkey, 2009At the beginning of the year the FIA tried to change the scoring system so that the driver who won the most races would be crowned Champion – the so called ‘medals’ system.

There was much debate at the time as to whether this would enhance or detract from the Championship. I was (and still am) of the opinion that  it would not increase the spectacle and may even harm it.  In the end it was the teams who rejected the plan as it was introduced too close to the start of the 2009 season to be allowed by the FIA’s own regulations.

However, I decided to leave the wins in the Drivers Championship standings in the sidebar so we could see what effect the rule change may have had.

It is clear that under the medals scheme Jenson Button would be Champion now.  In fact, he would have been Champion after Singapore and he hasn’t won a race since Turkey back in June!

In a previous article I posted a quote from Jenson Button where he argues against medals:

I think the public will struggle to understand why a driver with 60 points can become champion instead of the one who has 100. I understand the logic behind it and I find it interesting. For sure it’s an incentive to always go for the win, but it seems risky too – after nine races, we could find ourselves with a driver that has already won the title and can stand still eating ice cream, while the guy in second in the standings is just 18 points behind.

As it turns out Jenson could have been eating ice cream after only 7 races — although he couldn’t have known that in Turkey.

Thankfully, the FIA are going to leave the scoring system unchanged for 2010. Anyway, it still looks like the driver who won the most races is going to win the Championship so that should keep Bernie happy.

For the last couple of years the points based system has provided exceptionally close run Championships and this year looks like it will be no different.

Image: Brawn GP

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: ,
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