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Kovalainen gives Webber’s Red Bull wings

June 28th, 2010 No comments

The European Grand Prix produced the most entertaining race yet seen on the relatively new circuit as Sebastian Vettel drove practically unchallenged to his second victory of the season.

On a track where we have come to expect a procession, Sunday’s race provided plenty of dramatic moments. None more so than when Mark Webber’s Red Bull was launched into the air after ploughing into the back of Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus.

It is testament to the safety of modern Formula One that Webber (and Kovalainen) were able to walk away unhurt from such a massive shunt but after the incident many seemed to hold Heikki responsible; they felt he should have moved over to let Mark through.

Webber later wrote on his website:

I understand as well as anyone that F1 isn’t a charity event; you have to fight for every position – but not when you’re five seconds off the pace and you have one of the quickest cars in the pack behind you.  I mean, how long was Heikki going to stay ahead of me? Another 15 seconds? He must be asking himself whether it was worth it.

Webber’s boss, Christian Horner, also held Mark completely blameless, as did David Coulthard. However, I agree with Eddie Jordan and Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne. The only time a car should move over and allow another car to pass is when they are being lapped. It doesn’t matter if a car is 5 or 10 seconds slower, it is up to the attacking driver to pass safely.

Kovalainen was not being lapped, and while there are rules about how you can defend your position there are no rules saying you should pull over whenever a faster car is behind you. It seems like Webber was just caught by surprise at how early the Lotus had to brake for the corner.

As Gascoyne said:

Should a Force India be letting a McLaren past simple because its faster? Where do you draw the line? It is a motor race, isn’t it?

Categories: 2010 Season Tags: ,

Rubens wins in Valencia

August 23rd, 2009 No comments

Rubens Barrichello, Europe, 2009Rubens Barrichello claimed his first victory since China 2004 at the European Grand Prix in Valencia on Sunday.

He may have started from the second row of the grid but, fuel-adjusted, he was quickest in qualifying and he kept that pace throughout the race to leap-frog both McLarens.

Barrichello, who was wearing a special helmet with a message to Felipe Massa, dedicated the victory to his fellow countryman who is recovering in Brazil after his accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix:

I want to thank everyone who has supported me and this victory is dedicated to the whole of Brazil but particularly to my great friend Felipe Massa. I hope he is back racing against me soon.

Lewis Hamilton made a good start from pole position and was leading after the first round of pit stops but a late decision (too late as Lewis was already committed to the pit entrance) to keep him out for another lap meant that the pit crew weren’t ready for his final set of tyres. The delay cost Hamilton a couple of seconds although Martin Whitmarsh would later say that McLaren didn’t have the pace to beat Barrichello anyway:

To have a car arrive and not have the tyres there is an operational error. But had the tyres been ready it wouldn’t have made a difference. It only cost us a couple of seconds.

I thought it was interesting to compare Hamilton’s reaction to his team’s error to Barrichello’s outburst at the German Grand Prix.  While Rubens immediately claimed the team had lost the race for him, Lewis called his pit crew “the best” and said they deserved a pat on the back.

The win moves Barrichello into second place in the Drivers’ Championship, 18 points behind his team mate Jenson Button, while Mark Webber drops back to third.

2009 European Grand Prix Race Results

Pos Driver Team Grid Time Points
1 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 3 35:51.289 10
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1 35:53.647 8
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 6 36:07.283 6
4 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 2 36:11.321 5
5 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 7 36:12.159 4
6 Fernando Alonso Renault 8 36:19.033 3
7 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 5 36:26.202 2
8 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 10 36:27.956 1
9 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 9 36:36.199 0
10 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 12 36:39.224 0
11 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 11 36:40.111 0
12 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 16 36:54.903 0
13 Jarno Trulli Toyota 18 36:55.816 0
14 Timo Glock Toyota 13 37:17.808 0
15 Romain Grosjean Renault 14 37:23.033 0
16 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 19 lapped 0
17 Luca Badoer Ferrari 20 lapped 0
18 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 17 lapped 0
RET Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 15 retired, 41 laps 0
RET Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 4 retired, 23 laps 0

Image: Brawn GP

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , ,

Europe: Fuel adjusted qualifying times

August 22nd, 2009 No comments

Heikki Kovalainen, Europe, 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, adjusted for fuel, Rubens Barrichello was actually quickest round the Valencia circuit. This won’t do him much good from the second row behind two KERS-equipped McLarens, though.  If Rubens can’t overtake Hamilton or Kovalainen in the first lap (and I seriously doubt he can), Barrichello will need to make sure he at least keeps up with them until they make their first stop and then really put the hammer down.

Vettel is a little out of position with 7.5 kg less fuel than Button behind him.  Similarly, Webber has more fuel on board than Alonso but while the Aussie may find his way past Alonso, his chances of a podium look pretty slim.

McLaren are well and truly back.  It will be interesting to see if Barrichello can match them in the race.

2009 European GP Q3 (weight-adjusted)

2009 European Grand Prix car weights

Image: McLaren

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , ,

Silver Arrows lock out front row in Valencia

August 22nd, 2009 No comments

Lewis Hamilton, Europe, 2009Lewis Hamilton scored his first pole position since China last year in qualifying for Sunday’s European Grand Prix in Valencia.Team mate Heikki Kovalainen will line up alongside him to make it an all-McLaren front row.

Hamilton had looked good all weekend and despite limited running time in practice managed to secure pole on his first flying lap in Q3. Kovalainen also showed good pace and looked like he could have been fast enough to take pole away from Hamilton but an error on his final lap meant he had to settle for second; Lewis didn’t even bother finishing his final lap and pulled straight in to Parc Ferme.

Hamilton said:

We stand in the best position going into tomorrow for a podium, but it all depends on strategy and the start and how the rest of the race goes.

Rubens Barrichello will start from third next to Sebastian Vettel, who suffered an engine failure in practice, while Championship Leader Jenson Button will start from fifth ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Of the new faces on the grid, Romain Grosjean, who replaced Nelson Piquet Jr at Renault, made it as far as Q2 and 14th while Luca Badoer seemed faster in the pit lane than on the track. The Ferrari test driver was fined four times for speeding in the pit lane but qualified last, nearly two seconds behind rookie Jaime Alguersuari.

With both the KERS equipped McLarens on the front row this looks like the start of a return to form for the Woking squad and a McLaren 1-2 finish on Sunday is a real possibility.

2009 Formula One European Grand Prix Qualifying Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 01:39.498
2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 01:39.532
3 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 01:39.563
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 01:39.789
5 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 01:39.821
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 01:40.144
7 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 01:40.185
8 Fernando Alonso Renault 01:40.236
9 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 01:40.239
10 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 01:40.512
11 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 01:38.826
12 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 01:38.846
13 Timo Glock Toyota 01:38.991
14 Romain Grosjean Renault 01:39.040
15 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 01:39.514
16 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 01:39.531
17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 01:39.795
18 Jarno Trulli Toyota 01:39.807
19 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 01:39.925
20 Luca Badoer Ferrari 01:41.413

Image: McLaren

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: ,

Prediction game: Round 11 – Europe

August 19th, 2009 7 comments

Mark Webber, Valencia, 2008Formula One returns from a four week break for the European Grand Prix at Valencia this weekend and there will be a couple of new faces on the grid.  Unfortunately, Michael Schumacher’s won’t be one of them.

Michael had planned to take over from Felipe Massa until the Brazilian was fit to race again but later had to announce that, due to an earlier motorcycling accident, his neck wouldn’t be up to the G-forces of Formula One. Instead, Ferrari’s test driver, Luca Badoer, will drive the other Red Car in Valencia — ten years after his last Formula One Grand Prix.  Needless to say, expectations aren’t too high, even from Badoer himself:

It will effectively be a test session for me, but I will be trying my best to secure a good result.

After successfully converting their one-race ban into a $50,000 fine for sending Fernando Alonso out on three wheels in Hungary, Renault have announced that Romain Grosjean will replace Nelson Piquet Jr for the rest of the season. Grosjean has won two races in GP2 this year but has also been involved in a number of incidents — I was sitting in the grandstand at Tabac in Monaco this year when he launched his car halfway over the barrier a few metres away. It will be interesting to see if he does any better with the R29 than Piquet.

McLaren will be looking to take a second straight victory in Valencia, something which looks perfectly possible now that they seem to have sorted out their aerodynamic problems. McLaren boss, Martin Whitmarsh, believes their KERS now gives them a formidible advantage:

Now there is no doubt that KERS is an advantage. We have potentially a small lap time advantage, we have an overtake or defend advantage and certainly, if we can get near the front of the grid, then we have a launch advantage.

But while McLaren may be challenging for the win, the real competition is between Red Bull and Brawn GP. Will the work Brawn have put in at the factory be enough to recover from their recent poor performances or will Red Bull continue their charge?

To make your predictions in round 11 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: Red Bull Racing

Categories: Prediction Game Tags:
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