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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: ,

Fisi scores Force India’s first points

August 31st, 2009 No comments

Giancarlo Fisichella, Belgium, 2009Why can’t they all be like that?

The Belgium Grand Prix was a thrilling race on a fantastic circuit.  There was overtaking and excitement throughout the whole race.

Kimi Raikkonen may have taken the chequered flag on Sunday but it was only thanks to a pile up at Les Combes that he was able to pass Giancarlo Fisichella who had been on form all weekend.

The crash (which took out reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton and current leader Jenson Button) and subsequent safety car allowed Raikkonen to deploy his Ferrari’s KERS to power past the unboosted Force India of Fisichella.

After taking his first win of the season (and his first for 25 races) Raikkonen said:

I knew I needed to get past him. If I hadn’t been able to do that at the restart, they had too much speed and it would have been all over. But I was close enough coming out of the first corner, used KERS and it was pretty easy in that way to get in front. I knew that so long as I didn’t make any mistakes, I should win.

Despite scoring the first pole, points and podium for Force India, Fisichella knew if things had gone differently he could have been standing on the top step:

If you had asked me before coming to Spa, I would have said it would be fantastic to finish in the first eight and score a point for the team but, considering the pace we had all weekend thanks to improvements we’ve been making to the car, it was possible to win this race. My start had been perfect. When the safety car came out, I was over two seconds ahead. Kimi would not have been able to get near me for the rest of the race. But, because we had the restart, he was right behind me and able to use the KERS to overtake. There was nothing I could do. Second place and eight points is a fantastic result. But it could have been so much more.

The fact that Raikkonen was the sixth different driver to win in as many races means Jenson Button has still managed to hang on to a 16 point lead in the Championship.

2009 Belgian Grand Prix Race Results

Pos Driver Team Grid Time Points
1 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 6 23:50.995 10
2 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1 23:51.934 8
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 8 23:54.870 6
4 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 5 24:00.961 5
5 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 3 24:02.271 4
6 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 15 24:23.758 3
7 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 4 24:26.456 2
8 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 10 24:27.203 1
9 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 9 24:27.954 0
10 Timo Glock Toyota 7 24:32.485 0
11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 11 24:33.631 0
12 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 16 24:37.101 0
13 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 18 24:45.236 0
14 Luca Badoer Ferrari 20 25:33.172 0
RET Fernando Alonso Renault 13 retired, 26 laps 0
RET Jarno Trulli Toyota 2 retired, 21 laps 0
RET Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 14 crash, 0 laps 0
RET Romain Grosjean Renault 19 crash, 0 laps 0
RET Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 12 crash, 0 laps 0
RET Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 17 crash, 0 laps 0

Image: Force India

Belgium: Fuel adjusted qualifying times

August 29th, 2009 No comments

Jarno Trulli, Belgium, 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.

From these weights we can see that the fuel-adjusted grid is a lot more mixed up than ususal.  The quickest driver, fuel-adjusted, was actually Jarno Trulli. He is carrying more fuel than Fisichella but importantly he is also carrying more fuel than Heidfeld and Barrichello behind him.  Unless Barrichello can get in front of him, the ‘Trulli train’ could really spoil his day.

But while Fisichella is lighter than some, his fuel-adjusted time is still good.  He is quicker than Barrichello, Raikkonen and both Red Bulls!

Sebastian Vettel looks really out of place down in 8th; his fuel-adjusted time puts him 4th.  Raikkonen is also faster than Kubica alongside him but Heidfeld’s time shows just how much BMW have improved here.

With such a mixed up grid and the unpredictability of Spa it looks like we are in for an exciting race on Sunday!

2009 Belgian GP Q3 (weight-adjusted)2009 Belgian Grand Prix car weights

Image: Toyota

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , ,

Fisichella takes shock pole at Spa

August 29th, 2009 No comments

Giancarlo Fisichella, Belgium, 2009Well no-one predicted that!

In a thrilling qualifying for Sunday’s Belgium Grand Prix that saw several big names not make it through to the top ten, Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella set a time of 1:46.308 to take pole position ahead of Toyota’s Jarno Trulli.

BMW showed a marked improvement with Heidfeld and Kubica qualifying 3rd and 5th respectively with Rubens Barrichello between them in 4th.

The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will start from 8th and 9th ahead of Nico Rosberg who rounds out the top ten.  Just over a second separated Rosberg’s time from Fisichella’s.

Just as surprising as a Force India on pole was the failure of Championship leader Jenson Button to make it through to Q3; he will start from 14th tomorrow, a long way behind his team mate and the two Red Bull challengers.

Button has not made it onto the podium in the last four races and if Barrichello wins on Sunday with Button scoring no points he could see his lead reduced to just 8 points:

I’m a little bit worried because something is seriously not right.  It’s strange to be four or five tenths off Rubens – our cars are different but not that different.

Fisichella’s pole is his first since Malaysia 2006 and the first ever for the Force India team.

It’s unbelievable – I didn’t expect to be on pole position. Especially after yesterday. I was sixth and was quite surprised. There was a lot of understeering. The measurement on the downforce was not good.

This morning it was much better straightaway, and it was even better in qualifying than I expected. It’s amazing. I’m so happy about that. I need to thank the team. They did a fantastic job.

We will see how light Fisichella is running when the fuel loads are revealed but he was fourth fastest in Q2 so it looks like the Force India has real pace.

2009 Formula One Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 01:46.308
2 Jarno Trulli Toyota 01:46.395
3 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 01:46.500
4 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 01:46.513
5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 01:46.586
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 01:46.633
7 Timo Glock Toyota 01:46.677
8 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 01:46.761
9 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 01:46.788
10 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 01:47.362
11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 01:45.119
12 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 01:45.122
13 Fernando Alonso Renault 01:45.136
14 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 01:45.251
15 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 01:45.259
16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 01:45.951
17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 01:46.032
18 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 01:46.307
19 Romain Grosjean Renault 01:46.359
20 Luca Badoer Ferrari 01:46.957

Image: Force India

Prediction game: Round 12 – Belgium

August 27th, 2009 7 comments

Nico Rosberg, Belgium, 2008Eau Rouge.

Probably the best corner on the best circuit on the Formula One calendar. 300km/h, flat out, sweeping left, right, left up the crest into a blind summit.

In the 80’s and 90’s only the most fearless drivers could take Eau Rouge flat out and there was some hope that the reduction in downforce this year would again make it a real challenge to keep the pedal to the floor. The reality is that the increase in mechanical grip from the slick tyres has more than made up for the decrease in aerodynamic grip.

But one thing that cannot be counted on at Spa is a dry race.  Toyota’s chassis chief Pascal Vasselon:

Where Eau Rouge regains its magic is in the rain; to watch a Formula 1 car through there on a wet track is just unbelievable.

The cooler temperatures and fast sweeping nature of the circuit should suit the Red Bulls more than the hot twisty Valencia circuit.  Rubens Barrichello dominated there but Spa will test whether Brawn have solved their problems getting heat into the tyres as Ross Brawn explains:

Although we believe we now have a better understanding of our recent tyre issues, the lower track temperatures at Spa will be the proving ground for this.

Similarly, while the McLarens were strong in Valencia, they are unlikely to be as competitive at Spa but team boss Martin Whitmarsh still thinks points are likely:

Despite making some major improvements to the MP4-24, we go to Spa knowing that the circuit’s high-speed configuration is unlikely to play to our strengths of our car. Having said that, our new technical package makes us confident that we’ll be a strong contender for points as we look to improve on our fourth position in the constructors’ championship. We’ve enjoyed a tremendous record here, winning ten times, and both Lewis and Heikki love this place so I’m looking forward to another exciting race.

To make your predictions in round 12 of the F1 Buzz prediction game (and be in with a chance to win some nice prizes), just leave a comment on this post with your driver predictions for the race in the following format:

Pole:
First:
Second:
Third:
Fastest lap:

Remember, the deadline for entries is start of qualifying on Saturday, that’s 12:00 GMT.

Good luck!

Image: Williams

Categories: Prediction Game Tags:
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