Sunday, December 16, 2007

Alonso set to rejoin Renault this week

Monday 10th December 2007

Fernando Alonso's return to Renault is expected to be confirmed within the next 48 hours.

According to reports, the Spaniard has agreed a £70m, three-year contract. However, the deal contains an opt-out clause that would enable Alonso to leave the team in twelve months' time.

Alonso's return to Renault, two years after he left Flavio Briatore's outfit, became a likelihood when the team escaped punishment at last week's World Motor Sport Council hearing.

'It is a pleasing outcome for Alonso, who maintains his status as the second-highest earner on the grid behind Ferrari's world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, five weeks after being dismissed by McLaren,' says The Daily Mail.

After months of uncertainty and speculation, all the final pieces for the 2008 driver line-up are falling into place.

Nico Rosberg has committed himself to Williams, leaving Pedro de la Rosa the favourite to partner Lewis Hamilton at McLaren next season.

However, Alonso's return to Renault puts a question mark against the future of Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella. With Renault also keen on promoting Nelson Piquet junior, both drivers could yet leave the team.

'Kovalainen has also been touted as Hamilton's next team-mate. He is the preferred choice of the Hamilton camp and is seen as a good team player who would not cause undue disturbance in the way the temperamental Alonso did,' reports the Mail.

'Kovalainen would appear to be in a two-way fight with McLaren's experienced test driver Pedro de la Rosa. A veteran of 72 grands prix over eight years, he represents the safe option and is popular within the team.

'As a Spaniard, he would also satisfy several of McLaren's sponsors, who stand to lose out from Alonso's departure.'

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Michael suggests a sabbatical for Ralf

Michael Schumacher has suggested that his brother Ralf takes a sabbatical from F1 and re-evaluate his future.

The younger of the Schumachers left Toyota at the end of the 2007 season and is currently without a drive for the new season.

Although linked with teams at both ends of the grid, it seems unlikely that the 32-year-old will find a race seat.

Schumacher did test for Force India at Jerez, but his time in Spain was marred by errors and technical problems.

His sibling and seven-time World Champions believes that Ralf should be careful of joining a team near the back of the gird.

"I don't know all his options, but before he drives like he did yesterday it is better to think about if it makes sense to drive knowing you can only come last," Schumacher told Auto Motor und Sport.

"I think there are more reasonable, safer, wealthier and nicer options for him. I told him personally that there are so many nice things outside of F1. But I don't know all his options. There are other cockpits which are not taken, so he might see other options."

Schumacher recommended that his brother ought to consider taking a break from the sport.

"If he can get a good result then he should. He is able to bring good results and he is motivated to do so.

"But it is different for me. I would not be so motivated to race, and if it doesn't fit then maybe he should stop and have a break. He is young enough to stop, re-evaluate the situation and come back.

"I have to say my experience in coming back in Barcelona showed I did not have trouble coming back. I did not lose a bit, so he can do it too."


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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ferrari announce new Massa contract - Remaining with Ferrari until the end of 2010

In a short statement this morning, the Ferrari squad announced that Felipe Massa will remain with the team until the end of the 2010 season. His existing deal was set to expire at the end of the 2008 season.

The news puts an end to rumours that the Brazilian could move to Toyota next season as a replacement for Ralf Schumacher.

Massa is heading to the season finale and his home event in Brazil this weekend fourth in the championship and aiming to repeat his 2006 Interlagos success.

Kimi Raikkonen is under contract until the end of the 2009 season, as announced last year at Monza.

The following is a statement from Ferrari.

"Ferrari announces that it has extended its agreement with the driver Felipe Massa through to the end of the 2010 racing season.

"Massa has been contracted to the Scuderia since 2001. To date, he has taken part in 34 Grand Prix for the team. He has won five times, had sixteen podium places and finished 25 times in the points. He has secured eight pole positions and the same number of race fastest laps, with a total of 166 points scored."

Source Ferrari

Brazilian GP preview: Williams F1

Williams F1
Brazil takes centre stage this weekend for the much anticipated 2007 FIA World Championship showdown. As three drivers fight for the Drivers’ crown, this weekend’s race promises to be the most compelling of the season. São Paulo’s Interlagos track is the venue, with the Carlos Pace Autodromo celebrating its 25th anniversary in Formula One, having welcomed the sport for the first time in 1973. With the battle for the other Championship positions still on-going, AT&T Williams will be drawing on a wealth of experience attained in Brazil. The team has won one in five of all Brazilian Grand Prix entered, set 34% of all fastest laps and secured one in three pole positions.

Nico Rosberg
Interlagos is a great circuit and I am looking forward to it. It’s a cool track, with a variety of corners and surface undulations. The past two races have been difficult, so I hope to finish the season well and to hold on to my present position in the Drivers’ Championship. São Paulo is also a place where you can have some fun in the evenings, so I would imagine it’s going to be a good weekend. I am going to Rio de Janeiro first for a PR day with Petrobras, so I’ll get to São Paulo early on in the week. It’s fantastic for Formula One to have a three-way battle for the Championship going into the last race of the season, which is not a situation that happens very often. Personally, I hope Lewis manages to win because he deserves it.

Kazuki Nakajima
I’m obviously feeling really excited about my first Formula One race. I’ve never driven at Interlagos before, so I’ve been doing lots of preparation work in the team’s simulator at Grove. I’ve also ramped up my training in the gym to help me cope with the pressures on my neck because it’s an anti-clockwise track. It looks like it’s going to rain over the weekend, so the weather is going to make the whole process quite tricky. I’m trying not to put any pressure on myself though. I’m going to take it at my own pace, work through each session step by and step and, above all, just enjoy it.

Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1
Interlagos is a well laid out track. It has a lot of gradient changes over the lap and two long straights which are crucial for overtaking. The performance of the car in the corners that precede the straights is the most important consideration when it comes to car setup. Lying 750 metres above sea level, São Paulo has the lowest ambient pressures of any circuit that we race at. With pressures around 930mbar, we lose around 8% of our normal downforce. Drag is also reduced by around 8%, but so is engine power, so top speeds remain the same. The grid line up is traditionally tight due to the low fuel penalty and short lap time. Coupled with a long pit lane, the strategy is a close call between a one and a two stop strategy so we will see a mix of both on race day. Bridgestone are bringing the Soft and Super Soft tyres to the race, but we may not get to use them as the forecast is currently predicting rain all weekend. As this is the last race of the 2007 season, we will be pushing hard to claim points in the Constructors’ Championship. We have had two races in a row where we haven’t scored points due to various circumstances, but we are aiming to change that in Brazil.

Alex Wurz has retired and we thank him again for all his hard work in developing the FW29 and contributing to the Constructors’ points for AT&T Williams this year. He is a great guy to work with and we wish him well for the future. As a result of Alex’s retirement, Kazuki will be in the car in Brazil making his Formula One debut. It’s a big weekend for him as part of his next stage of development.

Interlagos Circuit, São Paulo, Brazil
The 71 lap Brazilian Grand Prix will be a true test of durability, heightened by the fact that the race is run in an anti-clockwise direction. The 4.3km circuit consists of 13 medium and slow speed corners, nine left and four right, and has a blend of long, fast straights and gradient changes. With such a varied layout, set-up
compromises are inevitable, and the challenge lies in achieving optimal aerodynamic efficiency around the lap. Interlagos is a notoriously bumpy circuit, so not only is it draining on the drivers, but the cars must have a good mechanical balance for driveability. Combined with the bumps, the track is also particularly abrasive, so harder compound tyres must be selected to ensure their survival. Engines are also under intense pressure in Brazil, with the long straights demanding extensive periods at full throttle and high revs, while the high altitude and thinning air saps approximately 8% of overall power around the lap. Plenty of overtaking opportunities, combined with the area’s unpredictable weather conditions, will only enhance what is always an entertaining spectacle in Brazil.

Massa doubts he'll need to help Kimi in Brazil

Felipe Massa said on Wednesday that his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen is unlikely to emerge with the world championship from next weekend's season finale in Brazil.

He became the first Brazilian since Ayrton Senna to win at home a year ago, but Massa promised to defer to the 27-year-old Finn next Sunday if it will help Ferrari secure the other 2007 title.

Raikkonen winning the title would require both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to strike major trouble at Interlagos, and Massa told a news conference in Sao Paulo on Wednesday: "I don't think that will happen.

"But if the miracle happens I'll be glad to help the team.

"I work for Ferrari, so I'll do what I can to help Kimi, but I'll drive to win the race.

"It would be great to win it for the fans again," he said.

Kazuki Nakajima replaces Wurz in Brazil

The AT&T Williams team today confirmed that Kazuki Nakajima will race for the team in the final Grand Prix of the 2007 season at Interlagos in Brazil in a fortnight’s time.

The 22-year old Japanese driver, this year’s GP2 series Rookie of the Year, is the team’s official test and reserve driver. He has covered over 7,000km in the FW29 in testing and has represented the team at five Grands Prix as a Friday driver. The intention behind Kazuki’s nomination is to build and develop his experience and is not an evaluation exercise for a race seat in 2008. AT&T Williams Team Principal, Frank Williams, said, “You cannot assess a driver’s capability on the basis of one race but this is an ideal opportunity to develop Kazuki’s experience. I am confident he will approach the race in a very workmanlike and focused way.”

For his part, Kazuki Nakajima said, “I am very grateful to the team who have given me this opportunity. I hope I now know the car very well and thankfully have done some Friday driving as recently as Shanghai. This is a chance I intend to grab with both hands and repay the faith the team are showing in me with a strong

Chinese GP race: Hamilton out, Raikkonen wins

The Chinese GP ensures the battle to be continued in Brazil. Hamilton did not finish and Raikkonen wins before Alonso and Massa. Sebastian Vettel finishes fourth, a great finish for Toro Rosso, with also Liuzzi in the points.

2007 FORMULA 1™ Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix - Race Result

Pos Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pit Points

1 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 56 Winner 2 2 10
2 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes 56 +9.8 secs 4 2 8
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 56 +12.8 secs 3 2 6
4 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari 56 +53.5 secs 17 1 5
5 Jenson Button Honda 56 +68.6 secs 10 2 4
6 Vitantonio Liuzzi STR-Ferrari 56 +73.6 secs 11 2 3
7 Nick Heidfeld BMW 56 +74.2 secs 8 2 2
8 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 56 +80.7 secs 5 2 1
9 Heikki Kovalainen Renault 56 +81.1 secs 13 1
10 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 56 +84.6 secs 7 3
11 Giancarlo Fisichella Renault 56 +86.6 secs 18 2
12 Alexander Wurz Williams-Toyota 55 +1 Lap 19 2
13 Jarno Trulli Toyota 55 +1 Lap 12 1
14 Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 55 +1 Lap 20 1
15 Rubens Barrichello Honda 55 +1 Lap 16 3
16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 54 +2 Laps 15 3
17 Sakon Yamamoto Spyker-Ferrari 53 +3 Laps 22 4
DNF Robert Kubica BMW 33 +23 Laps 9 1
DNF Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 30 +26 Laps 1 1
DNF Ralf Schumacher Toyota 25 +31 Laps 6 1
DNF Adrian Sutil Spyker-Ferrari 24 +32 Laps 21 2
DNF Anthony Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 11 +45 Laps 14 1

Fastest lap: Felipe Massa 1:37.454

Chinese GP qualifying: Hamilton pole, followed by Raikkonen

Lewis Hamilton once again in pole. Raikkonen follows closely with Massa and Alonso behind him on P3 and P4. Hamilton has the bests position possible to become the youngest F1 worldchampion ever tomorrow. But will the race be dry and the setup good enough? Or will it a wet race tomorrow?

2007 FORMULA 1™ Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix - Qualifying
Pos Driver Team QTime
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.908
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:36.044
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:36.221
4 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.576
5 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:37.619
6 Ralf Schumacher Toyota 1:38.013
7 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:38.153
8 Nick Heidfeld BMW 1:38.455
9 Robert Kubica BMW 1:38.472
10 Jenson Button Honda 1:39.285
Q2 disqualified
11 Vitantonio Liuzzi STR-Ferrari 1:36.862
12 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari 1:36.891
13 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:36.959
14 Heikki Kovalainen Renault 1:36.991
15 Anthony Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:37.247
16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:37.483
Q1 disqualified
17 Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:37.251
18 Giancarlo Fisichella Renault 1:37.290
19 Alexander Wurz Williams-Toyota 1:37.456
20 Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:38.218
21 Adrian Sutil Spyker-Ferrari 1:38.668
22 Sakon Yamamoto Spyker-Ferrari 1:39.336

Monday, October 15, 2007

Japanese GP - Not a good race for Ferrari

Todt: "Our choice would probably have been very different"
Ferrari - Ferrari's team principal Jean Todt and sporting director Stefano Domenicali were at pains to point out that there was little that they could do after an e-mail message went astray prior to the Chinese Grand Prix, necessitating both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa to make an early supplementary pit stop in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix. The extra pit stop seriously comprised the team's chances, resulting in third (Kimi Raikkonen) and sixth (Felipe Massa) places.
The e-mail contained vital information asking all teams to use Bridgestone's extreme wet weather tyre, but Ferrari started both drivers on the normal wet weather tyre, and had to pit to change tyres.

Kimi blames FIA for wrong tyres gaffe
Sep.30 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday blamed the FIA for not informing Ferrari of a last minute rule change.
The Maranello based team had to pull into the pits early in the Japanese grand prix after trying to start the race behind the safety car on intermediate tyres.

Third placed Raikkonen, now a distant 17 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the world championship with two races to go, later told reporters at Fuji Speedway that Charlie Whiting and FIA race control failed to tell Ferrari that it had to start on extreme wet tyres.

"They forgot to tell our team," the Finn claimed. "That forced us to pit behind the safety car."

Although no other team wrongly started the race on intermediates, Renault's Pat Symonds confirmed that Whiting only publicised the rule change just over an hour before the race.

"It's a little bit surprising, I guess," he told the British broadcaster ITV.

Raikkonen's teammate Felipe Massa finished sixth at Fuji, meaning that he can no longer become world champion.

Late email cost Ferrari dear - spokesman

After Kimi Raikkonen's comments following the race, Luca Colajanni confirmed that the Maranello based team was not aware until 1.37pm - seven minutes after the race began behind the safety car - that it had not been allowed to fit intermediate tyres.

"Now there's nothing we can do," he said, after the damaging pit stops had to be organised to change to extreme wet tyres.

Raikkonen's race engineer Chris Dyer reportedly used even harsher language in a post-race television interview.

Apparently, the Australian said FIA race control "f-cked our race" before he was stopped by a Ferrari PR representative.

Japanese GP: Hamilton wins rain dance, Alonso crashes

It was a hectic day today at the Fuji Motor Speedway. After 45 minutes behind the safety car the field was cleared to race. With heavy rains it was a brilliant race to watch. Eventually rookie Lewis Hamilton was strongest while teammate Alonso crashed into the barriers. Raikkonen virtually started with Massa behind the field, but the strong Ferrari's managed to finish in the points, with Massa wheelbanging Kubica in the last corners before the finish.

2007 Japanese Grand Prix - Race Result

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pit Points

1 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 67 2:00:34.579 1 1 10
2 4 Heikki Kovalainen Renault 67 +8.3 secs 11 1 8
3 6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 67 +9.4 secs 3 3 6
4 14 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 67 +20.2 secs 12 1 5
5 3 Giancarlo Fisichella Renault 67 +38.8 secs 10 1 4
6 5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 67 +49.0 secs 4 4 3
7 10 Robert Kubica BMW 67 +49.2 secs 9 2 2
8 20 Adrian Sutil Spyker-Ferrari 67 +60.1 secs 19 1 1
9 18 Vitantonio Liuzzi * STR-Ferrari 67 +80.6 secs 22 2
10 8 Rubens Barrichello Honda 67 +88.3 secs 16 2
11 7 Jenson Button Honda 67 Suspension 6 1
12 21 Sakon Yamamoto Spyker-Ferrari 66 +1 Lap 21 2
13 12 Jarno Trulli Toyota 66 +1 Lap 13 2
14 9 Nick Heidfeld BMW 65 Technical 5 1
15 22 Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 65 Collision 20 4
DNF 11 Ralf Schumacher Toyota 55 Puncture 14 4
DNF 23 Anthony Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 54 Throttle sensor 18 1
DNF 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 49 Electronics 15 2
DNF 19 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari 46 Collision 8 2
DNF 15 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 45 Collision 7 1
DNF 1 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes 41 Accident 2 1
DNF 17 Alexander Wurz Williams-Toyota 19 Collision 17 1

Fastest lap: Lewis Hamilton 1:28.193 (Lap 27)

*Note - Liuzzi finished eighth, but had 25 seconds added to his race time for passing under yellow flags.

Japanese GP: Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton take the pole. Followed by teammate Fernando Alonso and the two Ferrari's of Raikkonen and Massa.

Qualifying goes ahead at murky Mt. Fuji Sep.29 (GMM)
A murky Fuji Speedway hosted qualifying on Saturday, but only after plenty of uncertainty about whether the conditions would allow it.

Morning practice had been called off because the medical helicopter could not fly in the low cloud, and the weather had not substantially improved at 2pm.

The cars did exit the pits as scheduled, but only after stewards had busily devised contingency plans -- including the possibility of Sunday morning qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton narrowly captured pole from his McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso, and said he wouldn't mind if Japan stays wet for the race.

"I hope it is, but I'm not bothered either way," said the Briton.

2007 FORMULA 1™ Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix

Pos Driver Team QTime
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.368
2 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.438
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:25.516
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:25.765
5 Nick Heidfeld BMW 1:26.505
6 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:26.728
7 Jenson Button Honda 1:26.913
8 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:26.914
9 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari 1:26.973
10 Robert Kubica BMW 1:27.225
Q2 disqualified
11 Giancarlo Fisichella Renault 1:26.033
12 Heikki Kovalainen Renault 1:26.232
13 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:26.247
14 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:26.253
15 Vitantonio Liuzzi STR-Ferrari 1:26.948
16 Ralf Schumacher Toyota No time
Q1 disqualified
17 Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:27.323
18 Alexander Wurz Williams-Toyota 1:27.454
19 Anthony Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:27.564
20 Adrian Sutil Spyker-Ferrari 1:28.628
21 Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:28.792
22 Sakon Yamamoto Spyker-Ferrari 1:29.668

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ferrari dedicate win to whistle-blower

Ferrari president Luca Montezemolo dedicated his team's Belgian Grand Prix win to the photocopy shop worker who sparked the spy saga.

The furore that led to McLaren being fined £50million and stripped of all their Constructors' points for this year was instigated by a tip-off to Ferrari. A 780-page technical dossier belonging to the Italian team was taken to the shop by Trudy Coughlan, wife of suspended McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, to be formatted onto computer disk. With suspicions aroused, the worker contacted the Maranello team, and from that moment a scandal that has overshadowed Formula One was born.

Montezemolo, thrilled by Kimi Raikkonen's triumph, said: "It's a perfect victory, for which I want to thank Raikkonen, (Felipe) Massa, (team boss Jean) Todt and all these guys. "I want to dedicate it to our fans who believe in the fairness of the sport and to this English gentleman, who in the month of June, wanted to inform us that someone linked to an opponent team entered into his shop and asked him to copy dozens of pages containing technical information about our car.

"Without him it would never have been possible to shine the light onto one of the worst pages in the history of motorsport."

Raikkonen: We are still in the hunt

Kimi Raikkonen's splendid victory at Spa has put him back into the title race, and the Finn reckons he can trump Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. With just three Grand Prix to go, the Ferrari driver is now 13 points adrift of Championship leader Hamilton, and he is optimistic that he has a chance.

"We haven't given up and are still in the hunt," said the Finn following the Belgian Grand Prix. "We reduced the gap again. We lost a bit in the last race but anything can happen. There are still three races to go, everyone is so close and we will fight hard and sometimes things can go wrong for all of us. "We will keep pushing and see what happens. If we do it will be amazing but we will keep pushing and we don't give up."

He continued: "We knew that we were going to be much stronger here than in Monza. We know the reasons why we cannot challenge them in circuits like Monza, Monaco and Montreal. "We are trying to fix the problems for next year and then we can be pretty strong. Here is more to do with aero and our car is stronger in those areas." The F1 circus now relocates to Asia for the title run with the next stop being Fuji, Japan in a fortnight. Raikkonen is not sure of what to expect at the track, but hinted that a strong performance in qualifying would be vital.

"I don't even know how the circuit looks so it's difficult to say," he said. "What I heard is it might be not the best place for us but wee will see. The last three races can be either way, it will be close. In qualifying we have a hard time against McLaren and in the race we can be stronger. "We need to improve in qualifying and we can always be quicker in the race. We keep working and try to improve."

Belgian GP: Kimi Strolls To Easy Win

Kimi Raikkonen kept his title hopes alive with victory at the Belgian GP, spearheading Ferrari's second one-two in the last three races. Pending an unlikely appeal by McLaren after the team were stripped of all Constructors' points in Thursday's World Motor Sport Council hearing, Ferrari have clinched the Constructors' Championship. Raikkonen's 13th win of his career and fourth this season for the Maranello marque means he now trails leader Lewis Hamilton by 13 points, with runner-up Felipe Massa 20 points adrift. Hamilton could only manage fourth place as he and third-placed McLaren rival Fernando Alonso were easily beaten by the Ferraris. Nick Heidfeld finished in 5th place with Nico Rosberg 6th, Mark Webber 7th and the one-stopping Heiki Kovalainen in 8th.

Race Report: For once the threat of a mid-race rain shower was not a likelihood at Spa as the cars toured round in bright sunshine on the parade lap, with an ambient temperature of 21C and the track at 33C. As the red lights went out Raikkonen and Massa starting from P1 and P2 led easily down the short sprint to La Source hairpin. Behind them, the McLarens followed two abreast with Alonso taking the inside line and Hamilton seeking a way round the outside. However as they came round the turn, Alonso allowed his car to sweep out abnormally wide, right to the edge of the race track. It was exactly the move that Felipe Massa had put on Alonso at the Spanish GP and for which Alonso was still smarting at the European GP when he reminded Felipe Massa in no uncertain terms. Thankfully, a watchful Hamilton saw it coming.

The difference netween the Spanish GP and the Belgium GP was that Hamilton had tarmac run-off outside him and he was able to take to that as the two cars duelled dangerously down the hill towards Eau Rouge. Hamilton lost so little speed from his off-track excursion that the onboard camera showed no sign of Alonso's McLaren as they ran down to the 5g compression corner. Neither looked like they wanted to give way, though, and Alonso had the line for the corner. Hamilton was able to drop back behind his team-mate and still keep his momentum up the hill without a challenge from Nico Rosberg starting from P5. It was a breathtaking moment but they both survived. Further back Nick Heidfeld had a poor start running very wide at La Source, allowing Kovalainen and Webber through. The only casualty on the opening lap was Giancarlo Fisichella who after an engine change started his race from the pitlane. Fisi went off track trying too hard on the opening lap and broke his suspension.

The race order as they came over the line on Lap 1 was: Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso, Hamilton, Rosberg, Kovalainen, Webber, Heidfeld, Ralf Schumacher, Coulthard, Trulli and Button in P.12. Kovalainen was fuelled heavy for one pit-stop and on Lap 3 Webber managed to overtake him on the outside going into Les Combes with a clinical passing move. On Lap 4 Heidfeld managed to get past the Finn and undo some of the self-inflicted damage of the opening lap.
At the front of the race Kimi Raikkonen was stretching his lead from Massa with a succession of Fastest Laps.
Lap 5: Raikkonen 1:48.515
Lap 6: Raikkonen 1:48.500.

The lapping of the front runners was falling into a pattern that would last the rest of the race. Raikkonen was faster than Massa - both the Ferraris were quicker than the two McLarens. Hamilton had the slight edge in Sectors 1 and 3, while Alonso had a clear advantage in Sector 2, at times he would pick up 0.5 or 0.6 seconds a lap through Sector 2. What Hamilton gained in two sectors wasn't as much as he lost in the long middle sector and Alonso edged out the gap. Further back down the field a great start by Adrian Sutil in the revamped Spyker had got him ahead of Jenson Button's Honda and on Lap 7 he was in twelfth place battling it out with David Coulthard for P11.

By Lap 11 Raikkonen led by 4.3 seconds, with Massa a symmeytrical 4.3 seconds ahead of Alonso who had 2.6 seconds on Hamilton - the front four in a race of their own. Though the Ferrari pitcrew had come out into their box on Lap 4 and the pitwall were engaged in a stream of communication between the telemetry crew at the back of the grid, there was little indication of problems from either of the cars' lap times.
The first round of pit-stops commenced at the end of Lap 14 with Rosberg and Webber in, followed a lap later by Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. Hamilton set a Personal Best lap time as Alonso was in the pits, but was in himself at the end of Lap 16 along with Felipe Massa.

The stops didn't reshuffle the order at all, though Nick Heidfeld stayed out till the end of Lap 18 and it enabled him to jump Nico Rosberg. Both Mclarens had taken on more fuel than the Ferraris and were now running almost a second slower than the Ferraris at times. The order at the end of Lap 21 was Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso, Hamilton, Kovalainen (not stopped), Heidfeld, Rosberg, Webber, Coulthard (not stopped) and a very frustrated Robert Kubica in P10. The Pole had got up to P9 by Lap 5, but his first pit-stop put him behind David Coulthard with more race fuel on board than the Scot and he could not find a way past. Ultimately it would cost him a points finish. When Coulthard eventually pitted on Lap 26 he was through to P8, Kovalainen having taken his one and only pit-stop on Lap 22. Kubica set off after Mark Webber's seventh place, but he was already fifteen seconds back. Coulthard would retire his Red Bull on Lap 31, hydraulics, as ever, proving to be the Red Bull's downfall.

On Lap 27 Raikkonen had a five second lead over Massa, who was almost 15 seconds ahead of Alonso. Fernando was still losing out to Hamilton in Sectors 1 and 3, but more than making up in Sector 2. Alonso was 3.6 ahead of Hamilton. The two Ferraris of Raikkonen and Massa pitted for the second time on Laps 31 and 32 without incident while Alonso came in on Lap 33. With all the front-runners opting for the soft tyres in their final stint, the early laps after the pit-stops were particularly quick. Massa set the Fastest lap on Lap 34 with a 1:48.036 and Fernando Alonso put in some impressive times on his fresh tyres. He set the fastest time of anyone in Sector 2 on his outlap and Lap 35 was his Personal Best of 1:48.419. If Hamilton was thinking of jumping him in the final pit-stops then he would have to find a lot more speed. For some reason Hamilton had been fuelled much longer than Alonso and didn't come in till the end of Lap 36. Before his stop he was positioned between the two Ferraris and had a fast-closing Felipe Massa on his tail when he finally dived into the pitlane.

The gaps on lap 38 were: Raikkonen, 3.1 seconds clear of Massa, who had 14 seconds on Alonso who had his largest gap of the race on Hamilton, 6.4 seconds. Heidfeld was 5th, Rosberg 6th, Webber 7th, Kovalainen 8th and Robert Kubica right on his tail in 9th. With his new tyres Hamilton started to reduce the gap to Alonso by large amounts now and on lap 42 Alonso was just 4.5 seconds clear of the Brit. It wasn't to last, though - pushing too hard in the middle sector Hamilton ran wide at the Pouhon corner on Lap 43 and lost three seconds thanks to a trip across the run-off tarmac. That settled the positions as they were, with Robert Kubica finding no way past Heiki Kovalainen on the final lap. Kimi Raikkonen took a dominant win for Ferrari, his third win at this drivers' circuit ahead of a fast-finishing Felipe Massa, Alonso and Hamilton.

Apart from the heart-in-the-mouth moment on the opening lap between Alonso and Hamilton it had been an uneventful race, the Ferraris proving that over longer runs they were far superior to McLaren who could almost match them in qualifying. With Massa losing a further two points to Raikkonen in the drivers' challenge, only a retirement from the Finn now will stop Felipe from playing a supporting role from now on.

01 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:20:39.066
02 F. Massa Ferrari + 4.695
03 F. Alonso McLaren + 14.343
04 L. Hamilton McLaren + 23.615
05 N. Heidfeld BMW + 51.879
06 N. Rosberg Williams + 1:16.876
07 M. Webber Red Bull + 1:20.639
08 H. Kovalainen Renault + 1:25.106
09 R. Kubica BMW + 1:25.661
10 R. Schumacher Toyota + 1:28.574
11 J. Trulli Toyota + 1:43.653
12 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 laps
13 R. Barrichello Honda + 1 laps
14 A. Sutil Spyker F1 + 1 laps
15 T. Sato Super Aguri + 1 laps
16 A. Davidson Super Aguri + 1 laps
17 S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 + 1 laps
Did not finish
18 J. Button Honda + 8 laps
19 A. Wurz Williams + 10 laps
20 D. Coulthard Red Bull + 15 laps
21 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso + 36 laps
22 G. Fisichella Renault + 43 laps

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Qualifying Report: An all-red front row at Spa

Saturday 15th September 2007

Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid for only the second time this season at Spa in Saturday's qualifying. Kimi Raikkonen won the closely fought battle between himself, his team-mate Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. At the end of Q3 the trio were separated by less than a tenth of a second, offering the promise of a fantastic race on Sunday afternoon. Lewis Hamilton, who is believed to be heavily fueled, qualifying fourth ahead of Robert Kubica. Kubica, however, will drop down the order as his engine was changed prior to qualifying.

01 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:45.994
02 F. Massa Ferrari 1:46.011
03 F. Alonso McLaren 1:46.091
04 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:46.406
05 R. Kubica BMW 1:47.334
06 N. Rosberg Williams 1:47.334
07 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:47.409
08 M. Webber Red Bull 1:47.524
09 J. Trulli Toyota 1:47.798
10 H. Kovalainen Renault 1:48.505
11 G. Fisichella Renault 1:46.603
12 R. Schumacher Toyota 1:46.618
13 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:46.800
14 J. Button Honda 1:46.955
15 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:47.115
16 A. Wurz Williams 1:47.394
17 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:47.581
18 R. Barrichello Honda 1:47.954
19 T. Sato Super Aguri 1:47.980
20 A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:48.044
21 A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:48.199
22 S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 1:49.577

Prac Three: Ferrari back at the front
Saturday 15th September 2007

Having lost out to McLaren on Friday afternoon, Ferrari returned to the front of the pack in the final practice ahead of Saturday's Belgian qualifying. In chilly conditions and under overcast skies, Kimi Raikkonen was the man to beat. The Finn lapped the revised Spa-Francorchamps circuit in a time of 1:46.137, beating his team-mate Felipe Massa by a quarter of a second. Friday's fastest man, Fernando Alonso, was third quickest on Saturday morning. The McLaren driver, however, spent a good part of the session stuck in his garage while the team worked on his car.
His team-mate Lewis Hamilton was fourth quickest, finishing ahead of the Renault of Heikki Kovalainen, who was the only non-Ferrari or McLaren driver to get within a second of Raikkonen's P1 time. Jarno Trulli once again impressed for Toyota, setting the sixth best time, some 1.081s off the pace. Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld completed the top eight.

However, there were problems for Heidfeld's BMW team-mate, Robert Kubica. The Polish driver failed to complete a time after his engine failed on his second lap out.
If Kubica's car does require an engine change then it will lead to a 10-place grid penalty after this afternoon's qualifying. The morning's only accident belonged to Sakon Yamamoto, who lost control of his Spyker, breaking off the front wing as he slid into the tyre barriers.

01 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:46.137 16 laps
02 F. Massa Ferrari 1:46.388 16 laps
03 F. Alonso McLaren 1:46.507 9 laps
04 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:46.782 13 laps
05 H. Kovalainen Renault 1:47.065 13 laps
06 J. Trulli Toyota 1:47.218 10 laps
07 N. Rosberg Williams 1:47.251 16 laps
08 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:47.359 15 laps
09 R. Schumacher Toyota 1:47.454 18 laps
10 M. Webber Red Bull 1:47.527 15 laps
11 G. Fisichella Renault 1:47.564 15 laps
12 J. Button Honda 1:47.767 17 laps
13 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:47.806 9 laps
14 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:47.838 19 laps
15 A. Wurz Williams 1:47.902 16 laps
16 T. Sato Super Aguri 1:48.129 16 laps
17 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:48.163 20 laps
18 A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:48.348 18 laps
19 R. Barrichello Honda 1:48.528 16 laps
20 A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:48.955 16 laps
21 S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 1:49.179 14 laps
22 R. Kubica BMW no time 2 laps

Prac Two: McLaren duo set the pace
Friday 14th September 2007

McLaren grabbed a small victory over Ferrari on Friday at Spa, when Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton beat the Ferrari drivers on the track. Alonso set the pace in Practice Two for the Belgian Grand Prix, posting a 1:46.654 to edge out his team-mate by 0.111 seconds. The Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen were next in line, however, Massa, the better of two, was over a quarter of a second off the pace, while Raikkonen finished half a second short of Alonso's P1 time. It was a good afternoon session for the Toyotas with Jarno Trulli the only driver aside from the Ferraris to get within a second of McLarens. The Italian finished the day 0.837s off the pace while his team-mate Ralf Schumacher was behind him on the timesheets. Giancarlo Fisichella and Mark Webber completed the top eight.

However, Webber's team-mate David Coulthard suffered problems when his Red Bull broke down at the Fagnes chicane. However, theScot was able to get back on track later in the session after repairs were made. One driver, though, who took an early shower was Adrian Sutil. The Spyker driver crashed exit of the Les Combes corner, damaging his car.

01 F. Alonso McLaren 1:46.654 29 laps
02 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:46.765 29 laps
03 F. Massa Ferrari 1:46.953 27 laps
04 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:47.166 26 laps
05 J. Trulli Toyota 1:47.491 33 laps
06 R. Schumacher Toyota 1:47.946 34 laps
07 G. Fisichella Renault 1:48.086 30 laps
08 M. Webber Red Bull 1:48.271 29 laps
09 R. Kubica BMW 1:48.279 37 laps
10 H. Kovalainen Renault 1:48.567 38 laps
11 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:48.606 36 laps
12 N. Rosberg Williams 1:48.840 32 laps
13 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:48.883 17 laps
14 J. Button Honda 1:48.919 29 laps
15 R. Barrichello Honda 1:49.364 31 laps
16 A. Wurz Williams 1:49.393 28 laps
17 S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 1:49.697 32 laps
18 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:49.720 34 laps
19 T. Sato Super Aguri 1:50.168 23 laps
20 A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:50.399 24 laps
21 A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:50.542 24 laps
22 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:50.865 9 laps

Prac One: Kimi tops the charts for Ferrari
Friday 14th September 2007

After all the goings on off the track yesterday, it was back to business at Spa on Friday where Kimi Raikkonen set the pace ahead of the McLaren drivers. The Belgian Grand Prix is making its return to the F1 calendar after being dropped last season due to poor facilities. However, after an upgrade to the facilities and the track, one of the best-loved circuits made its comeback on Friday morning.

Raikkonen was the fastest man in Practice One, clocking a 1:47.339 during his 15 laps, putting him over half a second up on McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton. Fernando Alonso was far off his team-mate's pace, posting a 1:47.994. The BMW of Nick Heidfeld and the Williams of Nico Rosberg were once again mixing it up near the top of the field. They finished fourth and fifth fastest ahead of Robert Kubica and Alex Wurz. Jarno Trulli completed the top eight for Toyota, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen and Jenson Button. There were problems at the back of the pack for Tonio Liuzzi, Sakon Yamamoto and Felipe Massa.

While both Liuzzi and Yamamoto both managed to set times before stopping out on track, Massa went off at the Rivages corner after just two laps. The Brazilian went off the track at the exit of Les Combes, which resulted in him hitting the barriers nose-first at Rivages.

01 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:47.339 16 laps
02 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:47.881 19 laps
03 F. Alonso McLaren 1:47.994 17 laps
04 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:48.052 20 laps
05 N. Rosberg Williams 1:48.372 18 laps
06 R. Kubica BMW 1:48.605 20 laps
07 A. Wurz Williams 1:48.920 20 laps
08 J. Trulli Toyota 1:48.994 19 laps
09 H. Kovalainen Renault 1:49.138 22 laps
10 J. Button Honda 1:49.330 22 laps
11 G. Fisichella Renault 1:49.380 25 laps
12 R. Schumacher Toyota 1:49.548 21 laps
13 M. Webber Red Bull 1:49.894 23 laps
14 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:49.931 19 laps
15 R. Barrichello Honda 1:50.264 22 laps
16 S. Vettel Toro Rosso 1:50.482 27 laps
17 T. Sato Super Aguri 1:50.640 16 laps
18 A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:50.648 20 laps
19 A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:50.768 22 laps
20 V. Liuzzi Toro Rosso 1:51.628 12 laps
21 S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 1:52.379 21 laps
22 F. Massa Ferrari no time 2 laps

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A lap of Spa with Hamilton

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton describes a lap of Spa-Francorchamps, home to the Belgian Grand Prix..

"You start out at the pit straight which leads down into the hairpin at Turn One. This is a nice, tight corner, a bit like in Bahrain, but it is quite easy to crash here at the start of the race because it's a low grip corner and you just have to make sure that you steer clear of everyone and hope no one rams you from behind!

"Then you carry the speed down the hill as you go flat through Eau Rouge. That is the most exciting corner ever, because if you can imagine the feeling going over a small bridge in a road car where your insides just become weightless, well that is how that corner feels. This is followed by the long straight up into Turn Five which is very good for overtaking.

"Actually Turns Five and Six going into Turn Seven are a nice couple of corners; they are quite tight and again there is low grip so its just about carrying in the speed.

"Turn Eight is an extremely long downhill corner, where you are sort of clipping the two apex's. It is fairly straightforward but because as it goes downhill it is off camber and you have to be careful not to run too much speed because otherwise you'll slide off. Pouhon, Turn 10, is another exciting part of the circuit.

"As you come into there it is hard to see how much exit you have and how much road is left. This makes it difficult to judge the speed to carry through there, I would say that we would be doing 290, 280 km/h through there, and also there is a lot of G Force.

"If you run too wide and clip the kerb then you'll have to lift, otherwise you'll be off, which makes it quite tricky, On the other hand if you can get it right and stay on the power and carry the speed all the way through the exit of the corner you can gain loads of time and it sets you up for the next corner.

"Moving through Turns 14 onto Turn 15, it is important to get the exit of Turn 14 right as Turn 15 is flat and you need to carry the speed from this corner all the way down the straight. This straight may look easy but it is not. It is very bumpy and the car is bottoming out.

"Turn 17 is quite tight; it is pretty cool corner as you just have to try and be as smooth as possible. It's very important to keep the car straight for braking for Turn 18 and getting the car into the apex, this is the worst part of the track for low grip.

"The surface here is new so it will get better as the weekend progresses and more rubber is laid down. It is a fairly straightforward part of the track though and you just need to make sure that you get a nice exit from Turn 19 and right down to the pit straight."

2007 Belgium Grand Prix - Spa-Francorchamps, September 16

Aside from being the home to one of the greatest circuits on the Formula One calendar, Spa is recognised throughout the world for its water. The Romans were the first people to discover its natural springs deep in the Ardennes countryside, and people still visit the town today in search of hydrotherapy. The biggest industry in the town is the famous bottled water company, Spa.

The mention of water is never far from people’s lips at the circuit, which is eight kilometres from the town. One of the most fearsome corners on the lap is Pouhon, which translates into English as ‘water well’ and the Ardennes has a micro-climate all of its own, hence rain tyres are never far from the cars.

The bright lights of Liege and Brussels are a 40-minute and two-hour drive respectively, so there is something for everyone at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Belgian GP timetable

The Belgian GP marks the 14th round of the 2007 season. Check out the full schedule for the race weekend.

All times are local (Belgium is GMT+2)

Thursday 13 September
15h00: FIA press conference

Friday 14 September
10h00 - 11h30: First free practice
14h00 - 15h30: Second free practice
16h00: FIA press conference

Saturday 15 September
11h00 - 12h00: Third free practice
14h00 - 15h00: Qualifying
15h00: FIA post qualifying press conference

Sunday 16 September
14h00 - 16h00: Belgian GP
16h00: FIA post race press conference

Belgian GP Info
No of Laps: 44
Race Distance: 308.176 km
Lap Record: Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) 1:45.108

Todt: Ferrari can bounce back at Spa

Jean Todt is confident Ferrari will be able to fight McLaren in at least three of the season's remaining four grands prix.

Ferrari suffered a huge blow to their title chances at Monza on Sunday, where McLaren duo Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton comfortable outpaced Ferrari to claim the 1-2 at the Scuderia's home race.

The Italian team now trails McLaren by 23 points in the Constructors' Championship, while Ferrari's best-placed driver, Kimi Raikkonen, is 18 points behind Hamilton in the Drivers' standings.

The Scuderia, though, aren't giving up on winning the titles as team boss Todt believes they can win at least three of the final four races.

"We have not been competitive this year on circuits where we need a lot of mechanical grip, and where there is a lot of importance on the kerbs," he told Autosport.

"The worst circuits for us this year have been Monte Carlo, Canada, Budapest in qualifying, and Monza.

"There is a question mark about Fuji because we have not been there, but we feel that otherwise Spa, Shanghai and Brazil, there is no evidence that we could not be competitive."

Todt also made it clear that even though Raikkonen is five points ahead of his team-mate Felipe Massa in the standings, both drivers are still free to race each other.

"At the moment, they will race," the Frenchman said when asked if Massa would now have to support Raikkonen's title bid.

Italian GP: Alonso closes in on Hamilton

Fernando Alonso has moved ever closer to McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the top of the Drivers' Championship with a pole-to-flag victory in the Italian GP.

With Hamilton securing second place courtesy of a mighty overtaking move on Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren's 1-2 was the perfect riposte to the political moves against the team this week.

Raikkonen finished third with the BMW pair of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica finishing in fourth and fifth places.

With Felipe Massa an early casualty due to an unspecified problem at the rear of his Ferrari, the team comprehensively failed to deliver the 1-2 that Ferrari president had asked them to deliver in the last six races.

Grand Prix Report: The ambient temperature was at 28C and the track at 30C as the drivers drove at full-speed to form up on the Monza grid. In previous GPs, teams have saved fuel by crawling very slowly to their starting positions, but now, mid-season, the rules have been changed to compel drivers to use all the revs. This has been done in the interests of safety to prevent accidents between cars of widely varying speeds on the track.

Monza has one of the longest drags to the first corner and as the cars concertina into the braking zone one errant braking manoeuvre can have severe consequences. Starting from fifth on the grid Kimi Raikkonen showed he was keen to get past P4 Nick Heidfeld by opting for the softer tyres.

As the red lights went out Fernando Alonso was quickly away, but Lewis Hamilton, starting from the dirty side of the grid, moved left to block Felipe Massa, leaving just a car's width of tarmac between himself and the outside of the track. It was enough for Massa to squeeze effortlessly though and he was up into an easy P2 even before the end of the pitlane.

Behind him, Kimi Raikkonen, starting from a good metre and a half outside his starting box, was able to get the jump on Heidfeld and even looked to be threatening Hamilton's third place down the outside.

Coming into the braking zone of Turn 1, Hamilton's extraordinary deftness on the brakes completely caught out Felipe Massa. Massa looked to follow the line of Fernando Alonso through the corner when suddenly he had a silver McLaren Mercedes braking extremely late on his outside and which was now in front of him.

Such was Hamilton's edge that he was able to turn in in front of Massa whose front tyre speared into the back tyre of the McLaren pushing him over the kerbs.

The monitor immediately announced that Car 2 was under investigation for cutting the chicane, though TV replays clearly showed Hamilton was steering to take it properly but had been pushed across it by Massa's misjudgement. Curiously, despite a lot of other cars cutting the first and second chicane in the race, there were no further announcements of stewards' investigations of chicane incidents.

Massa wasn't finished with Hamilton yet, though, and harried him all the way round to the second chicane, the Curva della Roggia and on to the first Lesmo, which presented a lessening threat with each turn. Hamilton made his car very wide and Massa couldn't find a way through.

As the cars crossed the line at the end of the opening lap the order was: Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Raikkonen, Heidfeld, Kubica, Kovalainen, Rosberg, Button, Webber, Barrichello and Alex Wurz in 12th place.

David Coulthard, starting from P20 after gearbox problems in his Red Bull on Saturday, made up a lot of places on the opening lap, but at the start of Lap 2 he lost his front wing through the Curva Grande and his car hurtled towards the barrier at speed.

This necessitated the deployment of the Safety Car so that the barrier could be repaired and the car removed. It was perfect for Kimi Raikkonen, who had been fuelled heavier than two McLarens and could now complete the race with one pit-stop, the optimum strategy.

However as the race re-started on Lap 6, the home team favourites were about to suffer a hammer blow. Third place Felipe Massa suddenly headed down the pitlane on Lap 9 and was refuelled and sent on his way in last place, clearly an unscheduled stop. He lapped off the pace and then returned to the pits on lap 11 complaining that "something wasn't right at the rear of the car." He drove straight into the garage and retirement.

Ferrari had given the cause of Kimi Raikkonen's Saturday practice accident as driver error, but with Massa's obvious mechanical glitch, and the fact that far less competent F1 and GP2 drivers don't go off where Raikkonen did, it seems to indicate that both Kimi and Felipe had failures on their cars.

At the front Alonso and Hamilton began to edge out a gap, swapping Fastest Laps between them until Alonso had lowered it to 1:22.871 on Lap 15. On Lap 17, the gap between the two Mclaren drivers was still just 1.1 seconds with Raikkonen 10.1 seconds in arrears.

Hamilton pitted at the end of Lap 18 and Alonso at the end of Lap 20 but maintained their positions. On Lap 21, Nico Rosberg finally got the better of Jenson Button after the Williams and Honda drivers had engaged in a titanic struggle in the first stint. Rosberg got alongside Button going through the first chicane and the pair ran side by side into the second with Rosberg finally coming out in front before the first Lesmo.

Robert Kubica's afternoon looked to be falling apart when his car came off the front jack during his Lap 23 pit-stop and the mechanics couldn't get the wheels on.

To the collective joy of the tifosi Kimi Raikkonen had contined in the lead until he pitted on Lap 25. With eleven seconds of fuel going into the car it was clear that he was going to run until the finish. The big question now was could the McLarens build a big enough lead before they both had to stop again?

On Lap 26 Alonso had a 15.2 second lead over Raikkonen and 2.3 over Hamilton. The pace of the McLarens made it look as though they would just about do it.

Lap 27:
Alonso 1:23.762
Hamilton 1:23.663
Raikkonen 1:24.849

Lap 28:
Alonso 1:23.435
Hamilton 1:23.620
Raikkonen 1:24.670

The positions on Lap 29 were: Alonso (stopped), Hamilton (stopped), Raikkonen (stopped), Heidfeld (stopped), Rosberg, Button, Webber, Barrichello, Trulli, Kovalainen (stopped), Kubica (stopped).

The McLaren gap to Raikkonen was growing by big chunks each lap, but towards the end of the second stint they hit traffic which Kimi wouldn't reach before they pitted. Hamilton had a gap of 24.8 seconds to Raikkonen before he came in for the second time on Lap 40. Though he was stopped for just six seconds, it was too long.

As the silver car emerged at the end of the pitlane, Raikkonen was already through to Turn 1 to roars of approval from the tifosi. He would not get the drop on Alonso, but he had successfully put himself in second place, and with overtaking notoriously hard at Monza he could well strike a blow for Ferrari.

Hamilton had other ideas though. Now on the supersoft tyres Lewis set about whittling the gap to 50 metres by the end of Lap 42. He seemed too far back to overtake but all of a sudden, steaming into the braking zone of Turn 1, he launched his McLaren up the inside of Raikkonen.

It was a move combining immense bravery and impeccable judgement, because he only just got his car stopped in time and turned in with a go-kart slide under locked brakes. Raikkonen had spotted the danger too late and as he moved instinctively to cover the inside line found Hamilton's car already there and the Finn also had to lock his brakes to get through the turn. Certainly one of the overtaking moves of the season, and given the circumstances and where it was, probably of the year.

Alonso came in for his pit-stop and resumed in the lead. By now the gap to Hamilton was too much for the Brit to close up and Raikkonen let his engine revs drop as he protected both his engine and his painful neck which had not recovered from the knock on Saturday.

On Lap 45 the order was Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Heidfeld, Rosberg, Kubica, Kovalainen, Button, Webber and Barrichello.

Robert Kubica, out of position since his pit-stop delay, had managed to overhaul Kovalainen and eased his way past Rosberg on Lap 48 to take P5. From there it was a cruise to the line for all concerned. The Italian TV director choosing to stay with Raikkonen's onboard camera for a few laps while he was lapping two seconds off the pace and slower than the Super Aguris.

It had been a great race for Fernando Alonso who had looked the class of the field all weekend. Lewis Hamilton, despite his successes in Canada and the USA, didn't look so at ease in the latest low-downforce set-up, but still performed impressively to keep Massa at bay and overhaul Raikkonen. But it was Raikkonen who had surprised everybody by running the McLarens so close in a race where he was severely hamstrung by an injury not of his own making and deserves the most plaudits for his drive.

The BMWs picked up their regular 4th and 5th places, Rosberg emphasised his class by taking 6th, Kovalainen kept Renault in their well-established position behind the top three teams, while Jenson Button showed Honda that there is light at the end of the tunnel. But not the wind tunnel.


Race Result
01 F. Alonso McLaren 1:18:37.806
02 L. Hamilton McLaren + 6.062
03 K. Räikkönen Ferrari + 27.325
04 N. Heidfeld BMW + 56.562
05 R. Kubica BMW + 1:00.558
06 N. Rosberg Williams + 1:05.810
07 H. Kovalainen Renault + 1:06.751
08 J. Button Honda + 1:12.168
09 M. Webber Red Bull + 1:15.879
10 R. Barrichello Honda + 1:16.958
11 J. Trulli Toyota + 1:17.736
12 G. Fisichella Renault + 1 laps
13 A. Wurz Williams + 1 laps
14 A. Davidson Super Aguri + 1 laps
15 R. Schumacher Toyota + 1 laps
16 T. Sato Super Aguri + 1 laps
17 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 laps
18 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 laps
19 A. Sutil Spyker F1 + 1 laps
20 S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 + 1 laps
Did not finish
21 F. Massa Ferrari + 43 laps
22 D. Coulthard Red Bull + 52 laps

Monza qualifying Report: Alonso breaks tifosi hearts

Fernando Alonso dominated Saturday's qualifying to grab a comfortable pole position for tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix.

Leading the way in the final qualifying segment, the McLaren driver actually backed off during his final flying lap after his team-mate Lewis Hamilton failed to beat the 1:21.997 Alonso had set on his previous flyer.

The McLaren rookie finished 0.037s adrift of his team-mate, however, the deficit could have been more as Alonso was even faster on in the first sector of the lap he aborted.

Felipe Massa saved face for Ferrari, claiming third place on the grid. The Brazilian, though, faces a tough task tomorrow to win the race as he was half a second off the pace of the McLarens. Nick Heidfeld finished fourth for BMW with Kimi Raikkonen fifth and Robert Kubica sixth.

Qualifying Report: Bright autumnal sunshine shone down on Monza as the drivers tried to concentrate on the real first job of the weekend - qualifying - as opposed to filling out forms and sending their e.mail inboxes to Max Mosley and the FIA.

The ambient temperature was at 27C with the track at 32C as Sebastien Vettel took his Toro Rosso to the first provisional pole of 1:24.186. With a new B-spec car having now passed the crash test the Spyker team were hoping to get close to the Toro Rossos, but it wasn't to be. Sakon Yamomoto spun his car under braking for Turn 1 and immediately knocked off the front wing, but neither Spyker was about to dislodge a Toro Ross.

Kimi Raikkonen, having escaped mercifully unscathed (both driver and engine) from a high-speed shunt in morning practice, was out early in Ferrari chassis No.262 to make sure all the bits had been put back in the right place. He needn't have worried. The Ferrari crossed the line in 1:22.673 to take P1.

Lewis Hamilton wrenched this off him for McLaren using a set of hard tyres, but it was World Champion Fernando Alonso who looked in the best form having been fastest in morning practice by four tenths. He duly took P1 with a 1:21.718.

Going into the final three minutes the danger positions were:
16. Button

Very little separated the bottom 12 positions as the drivers took to the track for their second runs.

Yamamoto was again held up (as he had been in Hungary) by what looked like a Renault and gestured out of the cockpit several times for the benefit of his onboard camera. Expect to see a grid deduction for somebody if the race stewards were watching. F1 fans are looking for consistency in their decisions and this was a flagrant example of a driver not being informed who was behind.

Jenson Button looked to be clear of trouble when he jumped to P12 (Rubens Barrichello was already in a dizzying position in the Top 10) . David Coulthard wouldn't set a final hot lap because his car jammed between gears going into Turn 1, spinning the Red Bull around to the amusement of the tifosi in the grandstands.

Liuzzi improved to 17th position which wasn't good enough, while Ralf Schumacher also jumped to 17th in his Toyota and that again wasn't good enough. However Ant Davidson pulled off another brilliant lap similar to his Turkish heroics when he leapt to P14.

So out went:
17. Sato
18. Schumacher
20. Coulthard

It was a good result for Sebastien Vettel, outcompeting his Italian team-mate at a track he knows supremely well. It was another poor result for Ralf Schumacher and though Jarno Trulli only qualified in 15th place in Q1, he would go on to pick up pace in Q2 to make the result look more disastrous for Ralf.

Qualifying 2

The drivers were quite casual about coming out for the second qualifying session and there were twelve minutes left on the clock before Jarno Trulli emerged from the pitlane to set the first provisional pole at 1:23.381.

Ferrari, perhaps realising that they were never going to be battling for out-and-out pole today decided to run their drivers much earlier in the session. As Felipe Massa lined up to start his hot lap the provisional pole time began to tumble. Mark Webber, Rubens Barrichello and Heiki Kovalainen all held it briefly before Massa set the benchmark at 1:21.943.

Lewis Hamilton in his first (and only) run for McLaren took it down to 1:21.746, however it was the consistently superior Fernando Alonso who showed what might happen in Q3 when he lowered the P1 time to 1:23.356.

McLaren, Ferrari and BMW all looked safe with one run, but the rest would have to battle it out again.

Going into the final set of hot laps the positions were:
8. Kovalainen
12. Button

Rubens Barrichello couldn't improve from his P9 and with the track quickening with the extra rubber laid down he immediately looked under threat - especially when Jarno Trulli stuck his Toyota up into P8.

Anthony Davidson performed more heroics to take a temporary P11 for Super Aguri and this was immediately taken off him by Alex Wurz - neither good enough. Kovalainen snatched P9, sending Barrichello down to a very wobbly P10, which then became P11 when Mark Webber's Red Bull slotted into P10.

But would the Aussie keep his Q3 slot with Fisichella still to complete his final flying lap? No, but it was Jenson Button flashing up to P8 on the grid that did it. Fisichella had nowhere to go when Rubens Barrichello went off into the gravel and he had to avoid the Honda as it rejoined the track after the second Lesmo turn.

Though Fisichella maintained it was the difference between qualifying for Q3, he'd only managed 13th fastest time so far and has been slower than Kovalainen in qualifying recently, so he was probably denied P11, but no more. So out went:
11. Webber
12. Barrichello
13. Wurz
14. Davidson
15. Fisichella
16. Vettel

Fisichella was the big loser of the session with Button a rare visitor to Q3 and Trulli a staggering number of positions in front of his team-mate now.

Qualifying 3

The battle for the end of the pitlane was won by Lewis Hamilton ahead of his friend Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. Fernando Alonso was nowhere to be seen and tagged onto the rest of the drivers when the light at the end of the pitlane turned green.

The fuel-burning process played out and then it was time for the show to begin with 7.45 left on the stopwatch.

Though Hamilton had been ahead of Massa on the circuit, it was Felipe who left the pitlane first for his hot lap followed by Lewis and then Kimi and Fernando Alonso last of the top four runners. Massa moved the provisional pole time down to 1:22.817 then Hamilton lowered it to 1:22.360. Raikkonen's 1:23.183 was only good enough for P3 and seemed to indicate that he was on a longer fuel load than his team-mate.

When Alonso reset pole time at 1:21.997 - almost four tenths faster than Hamilton - it looked like he was on a different strategy to his team-mate, too. Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were a few tenths back from Raikkonen, but he looked to be the only driver vulnerable to the BMWs' pace.

The gaps between the first four drivers all looked unbridge-able, Alonso was too fast for Hamilton, Hamilton was too fast for Massa and Massa looked too fast for Raikkonen.

Into the second round of pole attempts and it was anti-climax all the way. Massa couldn't beat Hamilton's time, Raikkonen couldn't beat Massa's time, Hamilton couldn't beat Alonso's time, and though Alonso was on course to smash his own time, once Lewis was across the line and still in P2 the Spaniard was able to get his foot off the gas and save fuel.

It was left to Nick Heidfeld's BMW to spoil the party and the front row symmetry by grabbing P4 in the dying seconds, demoting Kim Raikkonen to P5.

Though the McLaren pair were considerably quicker than their Ferrari rivals (begging the question: why didn't they put more fuel in?) there is a logic in running lighter than necessary. The McLarens have a clear advantage over the rest of the field providing they can stay out in front. In the last few races they haven't been particularly quick off the grid compared to Ferrari and BMW, and it's a very long run down to the frantic Turn 1 traffic jam. There is no better place to lose your no claims bonus than on the first lap of the Italian GP.

By running lighter McLaren can ensure their speed advantage and with P1 and P2 secured they can burn off into the distance. If they can do this, and Heidfeld can keep ahead of Raikkonen, then the battles will be Alonso vs Hamilton and Heidfeld vs Raikkonen. None of the top six has ever won at Monza, so tomorrow is going to be a new experience for someone. But because Monza is such a strategy battle, half of it has already been decided by what's in the fuel tanks of the first four cars.


01 F. Alonso McLaren 1:21.997
02 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:22.034
03 F. Massa Ferrari 1:22.549
04 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:23.174
05 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:23.183
06 R. Kubica BMW 1:23.446
07 H. Kovalainen Renault 1:24.102
08 N. Rosberg Williams 1:24.382
09 J. Trulli Toyota 1:24.555
10 J. Button Honda 1:25.165
11 M. Webber Red Bull 1:23.166
12 R. Barrichello Honda 1:23.176
13 A. Wurz Williams 1:23.209
14 A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:23.274
15 G. Fisichella Renault 1:23.325
16 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:23.351
17 T. Sato Super Aguri 1:23.749
18 R. Schumacher Toyota 1:23.787
19 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:23.886
20 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:24.019
21 A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:24.699
22 S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 1:25.084

Monday, August 27, 2007

Massa hails `amazing` Turkish victory

Felipe Massa hailed his "amazing" Turkish GP victory, which saw the Ferrari driver's title campaign get back on track. The Brazilian, who clinched the victory at the Istanbul Park last season, won this year's race from pole to flag while his family watched on from the Ferrari garage. It was an emotional win for Massa, who reduced the gap from himself to Championship leader Lewis Hamilton to just 15 points after the McLaren driver suffered a tyre blow-out.

"It is amazing. Really fantastic," said Massa.
"I love the track, love the place. Here was where my career made a switch, where I started winning races and fighting with the front-runners.
"It is a special place for me. Having the second win is special, it is difficult to find the right words.
"It was an emotional podium, the team likes to take this feeling from the people. I am proud to win in front of him (his father) and my mother."

However, it wasn't all smooth sailing for the Ferrari driver, who came under attack from his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and was seen throwing aside a piece of his broken helmet. "I had a crack on the cooling system on the helmet and I had a big turbulence and my head was going up and down and I lost concentration and I took it away. I cracked it completely and took it off and it was better," he said.
Meanwhile team-mate Raikkonen was left to lament an error in Saturday's qualifying that saw him claim third place on the grid. Although he immediately moved up to second place at the start, the Finn found himself unable to pass Massa throughout the 58-lap race.

"I had a very good car but at this stage in F1 is difficult to get past," he said.
"The race was really decided yesterday. I tried to do something at the pitstops but when two teammates are fighting usually whoever is first is going to stay there.

"The car was good but there was nothing I could do."

Ferrari's 1-2 means the team is now just 11 points behind McLaren in the race for the Constructors' Championship title.

Source: Planet-F1

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Todt: Ferrari needs to get its act together

Jean Todt has called on Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa to be podium perfect for the remainder of the season if the team are to have any chance of title glory. Raikkonen came home second in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, slipping to 20 points behind race winner and Championship leader Lewis Hamilton. Team-mate Felipe Massa, meanwhile, is a further point down after finishing 13th, making up just one place from his grid position after a fuel problem in qualifying. Ferrari at least closed the gap on McLaren to 19 points in the Constructors' title race after their rivals had all team points docked following a controversial qualifying session. But time and races are running out for Ferrari, and with just six grands prix remaining the Maranello marque face coming away empty-handed for a third successive season.

"A second and 13th place are a meagre reward for this weekend," said Todt.
"There is a slight bitter taste at seeing how competitive we were in the race with Kimi, as it showed again that starting from the front is vital
"Of course, Felipe was even more heavily penalised because of the negative outcome of qualifying, given that he was constantly stuck in traffic. But we knew this track would not suit us that well. "Now we need to try to get both our drivers on the podium all the time to try to make up the gaps in both championships for the remaining third of the season. "We have all we need - the team, the car and drivers - but we have not always been able to put them all together to the best effect.

"If we don't manage it, the Championships will not be won."

Raikkonen is at least confident there will be an improvement after Formula One's traditional summer holiday, with the Turkish Grand Prix three weeks away. "I fought to the very end to try to win, but I never had a real chance to pass Hamilton," said the Finn. "Qualifying did not help. Clearly on some tracks we suffer a lot in qualifying and we have to understand why. "But in the coming races the situation should definitely be better, starting in Istanbul."

Massa, who suffered what he described as "a horrible race," will not be throwing in the towel despite the problems that continue to blight his chances and those of Raikkonen. "It's been a weekend to forget, but I have not lost confidence," insisted Massa. "We know we have a good car and we must return to winning as soon as possible, starting in Turkey. We must not give up."

Source: Planet-F1

Kimi knocks `boring race`

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen called the Hungarian Grand Prix "boring" after he finished second behind Lewis Hamilton. Unlike last season, the Budapest event failed to offer much excitement and Raikkonen pointed out what millions of F1 fans already know.
He explained: "It was a kind of boring race, just driving behind and waiting for something to happen. The Finnish star made a splendid start and went into the first corner on the tail of the McLaren, but in a race bereft of action, Raikkonen was unable to overtake Hamilton. He thus had to settle for the second step on the podium despite setting the fastest lap of the race. "Nothing really happened so we finished where we started," he added.

The 27-year-old won this race two seasons ago with McLaren and he complained that his Ferrari did not suit the Hungaroring. "Our car is maybe not exactly suited for this circuit," said Raikkonen, who is now 20 points adrift of Championship leader Hamilton.

Source: Planet-F1

**go kimi go**

An `emotional` victory for Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton admitted the third win of his rookie season in Hungary was "quite emotional". Hamilton, who had controversially started from pole following a five-place grid penalty for Fernando Alonso, now holds a seven-point lead over his McLaren team-mate in the drivers' title race. Alonso, who was forced to start from sixth after being accused by stewards of illegally impeding Hamilton in yesterday's qualifying session, came fourth behind the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld. "It's been an eventful weekend and quite emotional for all the team," the 22-year-old Englishman said. "It's good to be back at the top after an eventful race the last time out (European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring).

"With all the drama that has gone on over the weekend, it would have been easy to lose focus. "It's been a downer on the team, but the team have still done a great job, and I know how to win races. "It's probably one of the hardest I've had. I had to push that bit extra with Kimi behind. "It was good to get the points, for me and the morale of the team, to show we can beat anyone." Hamilton is also confident that McLaren have taken a step foward with the MP4-22. "We made a really good step forward with a great package but we still weren't sure whether we'd be ahead of the Ferraris. You could see in the race they had great pace."

Source: Planet-F1

Dennis struggling to cope with McLaren tension

An emotionally-drained Ron Dennis has admitted that his McLaren outfit is being stretched to breaking point by the "tremendous amount of tension" existing between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Looking tense and tired at the end of an "exhausting weekend", Dennis confirmed that the team would conduct an internal investigation into the qualifying debacle at Hungary that resulted in Alonso being demoted five grid-slots and McLaren denied collecting any points towards the Constructors' Championship. It was apparent, however, that Dennis believed that his two title-chasing drivers, rather than the team itself, were at fault on Saturday.
"What happened yesterday was really unacceptable and neither driver was blameless," he confirmed to ITV. "We could have been more aggressive in handling matters, but that isn't my style. "There is a tremendous amount of tension within the team. Both our drivers are phenomenally competitive and looking for every advantage within a system that does not offer any advantage. "We will not deviate away from equality. It is the foundation of the company. We will not, under any circumstances, offer either driver any advantage."

Already suffering relentless scrutiny from the Stepneygate crisis, McLaren and its chief executive have suffered a traumatic few weeks and it was palpably obvious from Dennis' overwrought demeanour that Hamilton's victory in Budapest had brought scarce consolation. "I am so drained that I cannot feel any emotion," he reflected. Hamilton is believed to have apologised for launching a foul-mouthed tirade against his boss on the team's pit-to-car radio at the end of qualifying, an outburst which prompted an aggrieved Dennis to throw his headset down in disgust.

Source: Planet-F1

Alonso stripped of pole!

Lewis Hamilton will start on pole for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix after McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso was penalised by a loss of five grid positions following a qualifying infringement. McLaren will also be docked all constructors' points from the race after the stewards refused to accept the team's explanations into the controversy that has overshadowed the event. The stewards signed off on the official qualifying classification at 9.30pm GMT, and with Alonso on pole it indicated that the reigning double world champion had been exonerated. However, it was later explained by an FIA official that regardless of such a release, the stewards could still issue grid sanctions. At 10.35pm, and following an investigation that had started at 3.30pm with team principal Ron Dennis being summoned, the panel finally delivered their verdict.

In a statement, the stewards said:
'During the final minutes of qualifying, the car driven by Fernando Alonso remained in its pit stop position at the completion of his pit stop notwithstanding the fact that his team-mate Lewis Hamilton was waiting immediately behind him to commence his own pit stop. The delay prevented Hamilton from being able to complete his final flying lap of qualifying. The team principal, together with the team manager and both drivers, were called before the Stewards and asked to explain their actions.
Reference was made to video and audio evidence. The facts and the explanation given by the team are as follows:
At the commencement of the third period of the qualifying practice it had been agreed within the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team ("the team") that Fernando Alonso would leave the pit exit ahead of Lewis Hamilton in order to benefit from the possibility for purposes of fuel burn allowance of being able to complete an additional lap. In the event, the car driven by Lewis Hamilton arrived at the pit exit before that of Fernando Alonso and when the pit lane opened he left in front of Alonso. The team required Hamilton by radio communication to allow Alonso to pass in order that he might endeavour to complete his extra lap. Because of the proximity of the Ferrari driven by Kimi Raikkonen, however, Hamilton declined to allow Alonso to pass despite repeated requests from the team to do so. Reference to the radio communications passing between the team and its two drivers shows that the team told Hamilton at 14:56:44 to "box this lap" and required him to do a "hard in-lap" but advised him some 32 seconds later to "slow the pace a little, just lose a couple of seconds before the end of the lap because Fernando is pitting in front of you". At 14:57:34, just 18 seconds later, Alonso was told that when he pitted "we are going to hold you for 20 seconds". At 14:57:46 Alonso's car arrived at his pit stop position, his tyres were changed and the jacks removed just 6 seconds later. The car then remained in position from 14:57:52 to 14:58:12 when the signal known as the "lollipop" was raised indicating that the driver was free to leave. By this time Hamilton's car had arrived and stopped immediately behind that of Alonso. Alonso, instead of leaving his pit in order that his team-mate Hamilton could complete his pit stop, remained in position for a further 10 seconds. He then left the pit lane in sufficient time to reach the Control Line before the end of qualifying, completed a flying lap in which he set the fastest time and secured pole position.

Because of the delay caused by Alonso, Hamilton was unable to complete his pit stop in time sufficient to enable him also to complete a flying lap. The team were asked to explain why, having indicated to Hamilton that he must stop at his pit on the next lap, they then informed Alonso whilst he was still on the track that when he also pitted on the next lap he would be held for 20 seconds. The team stated that they frequently give estimates as to duration of pit stop to their drivers before they pit and that the reason the car was in fact held for 20 seconds was that it was being counted down prior to release at a beneficial time regard being given to other cars on the track. Alonso was asked why he waited for some 10 seconds before leaving the pits after being given the signal to leave. His response was that he was enquiring as to whether the correct set of tyres had been fitted to his car. When asked why this conversation did not take place during the 20-second period when his car sat stationary all work on it having been completed, it was stated that it was not possible to communicate by radio because of the countdown being given to him. Reference to the circuit map shows that at the time Alonso was told he would be held for 20 seconds there were but 4 cars on the circuit, his own and those of Fisichella, Hamilton and Raikkonen. All but Raikkonen entered the pits such that there can have been no necessity to keep Alonso in the pits for 20 seconds waiting for a convenient gap in traffic in which to leave. The explanation given by Alonso as to why at the expiration of the 20 second period he remained in his pit stop position for a further 10 seconds is not accepted.

The Stewards find that he unnecessarily impeded another driver, Hamilton, and as a result he will be penalised by a loss of 5 grid positions. The explanation given by the team as to why they kept Alonso stationary for 20 seconds after completion of his tyre change and therefore delayed Hamilton's own pit stop is not accepted. The actions of the team in the final minutes of qualifying are considered prejudicial to the interests of the competition and to the interests of motor sport generally. The penalty to be applied is that such points (if any) in the 2007 Formula 1 constructors' championship as accrue to the team as a result of their participation in the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix wilt be withdrawn. The team is reminded of its right of appeal.'

Source: Planet-F1

**Make 2 different pitstop for two 'hungry' drivers**

Alonso blames McLaren for Lewis hold-up

Fernando Alonso insists it was McLaren's fault that Lewis Hamilton wasn't able to launch a counter-attack for pole position in Saturday's Hungarian qualifying. "The team held me back in this," the Spaniard said in the post-race press conference. We tried to have some space with the Ferrari (Raikkonen) in front of us." He added: "I am always monitoring the pitstop by the radio. They do the calculations, they find the gaps and I just drive the car. I am always ready to go, as soon as they put on the tyres." However, that's not how it looked.

Nearing the end of the third and final qualifying segment, Alonso remained stationary in the McLaren pitbox for several seconds while Hamilton queued up behind him - and Alonso did so despite having already been waved out by the team. The hold-up meant that while Alonso was able to get across the line before the chequered flag fell and start a flying lap, Hamilton was not. And as a result, the McLaren rookie lost out on pole position. As for his thoughts on the incident, Hamilton said: "There's not really much to say. You saw what happened."

Asked by how much he missed across the line to start his flying lap, the Brit added: "By about as much as I was held up." Hamilton, though, wasn't the only one keeping his thoughts to himself. His team boss Ron Dennis told ITV: "It is a matter to be discussed within the team, and we will do so later."

Source: Planet-F1

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A controversial Pole for Fernando Alonso - Hungarian GP - Qualifying

A hollow Pole Position for Fernando Alonso

Ron Dennis was not smiling at the end of the qualifying session despite the fact that Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton locked out the front row ahead of tomorrow’s 70-lap Hungarian Grand Prix. As if there was not enough controversy at McLaren Mercedes at the moment, the final second of qualifying would bring yet more.

Lewis Hamilton held the provisional pole position following his first run in qualifying, but heading to the pits to take his second and final set of tyres, he found team-mate Alonso sitting there in the pit box, tyres changed but not moving.

We do not know if Alonso was instructed to wait in the pits, or took his own decision to wait. The end result however was that Alonso was able to get back out and start his final flying lap, while Hamilton was unable to make it around in time... A strange situation as Alonso would complete the final flying lap and claim the Pole Position from Hamilton. The championship leader would deflect all questions regarding the issue after climbing from his car.

While talks will go on behind closed doors at McLaren, Nick Heidfeld is probably the happiest driver today in Hungary as he qualified his BMW Sauber a fine third fastest. Team-mate Robert Kubica will be relatively content with seventh, given his struggle this morning in final practice.

Kimi Raikkonen salvaged fourth position for Ferrari.
The fact is that the Italian team struggled in qualifying as the Finn was nearly two-tenths off the pace of Heidfeld’s F1.07. For Massa, the session was a disaster. He struggled with massive understeer on his F2007 and qualified just 14th with a time nearly a second slower than his practice pace.

Nico Rosberg had a strong session as he qualified his Williams Toyota in fifth position. The German seems especially well hooked-up at this circuit. Ralf Schumacher did a similarly solid job for Toyota as he qualified sixth fastest with team-mate Jarno Trulli ninth fastest. Giancarlo Fisichella set the eighth fastest time in his Renault but it remains to be seen if the Renault driver will retain his grid position after badly blocking Sakon Yamamoto early in the session.

Mark Webber qualified tenth in his Red Bull Renault just ahead of team-mate David Coulthard. Heikki Kovalainen qualified 12th in the second Renault ahead of Alex Wurz and Massa. Anthony Davidson continued to show the way to team-mate Takuma Sato and they set the 15th and 19th best times respectively, while Tonio Liuzzi did a good job to make it into the second round of qualifying in his Toro Rosso.

It was a bit of a disaster for the Honda team as expected. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were both eliminated after the first qualifying session as they qualified 17th and 18th ahead of Takuma Sato.

Sebastian Vettel had two scruffy qualifying runs in his Toro Rosso and was therefore just 20th. In fairness to Vettel, he has had no testing at all in the car ahead of his debut with the team. At the back, Adrian Sutil set the 21st time while Sakon Yamamoto may well have been closer to his Spyker team-mate were it not for some poor driving from Giancarlo Fisichella who baulked the Japanese racer on his final run.

We’re all set for a McLaren fight for supremacy tomorrow. Alonso holds the advantage for now, but Hamilton will certainly feel aggrieved over the going on this afternoon within his own team.

Source: F1-Live

Friday, August 3, 2007

Handling an issue for Kimi Raikkonen - Hungarian GP - Ferrari - Practice

A difficult start to the race weekend for Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa ended the first day of practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix with the sixth and seventh fastest times respectively, just over six tenths off Fernando Alonso's pace. Raikkonen in particular was less than thrilled with the handling of his F2007 and was unable to get to grips with the super-soft and soft Bridgestone Potenza available this weekend.

Kimi Raikkonen
“I am not very happy with the handling of my car in these two sessions and obviously we have a lot to do in order to improve. But this is only Friday and there is no point in making a drama out of it as far as qualifying and the race are concerned. I wasn’t able to get a really clear picture of the performance of the two types of tyre, especially on the first lap, firstly because of traffic and secondly because of that quick short shower.”

Felipe Massa
“Overall, I am happy with the day. In the final series of laps I could have done a good time but there was a yellow flag and I had to slow. It’s hard to say at this stage of the weekend if we are faster or slower than our closest rivals, but we are definitely competitive. We worked a lot on the set-up and towards the end of the day we found some good solutions.
There is still a slight unknown as far as tyre performance is concerned, especially on the softer ones over a long run, while the harder ones however are more consistent.”

Luca Baldisserri
“The way these three hours of free practice went revealed a slight difficulty on our part when it came to finding the right balance for the car, especially on Kimi’s. We picked up a lot of data and we will have to analyse it very carefully to improve the situation for qualifying and the race. On top of this comes uncertainty over the weather and the influence that could have in terms of set-up, especially for qualifying which is so important. Therefore, it is easy to see why it is really difficult to make predictions for the rest of the weekend. The handling of the two types of tyre we have available is rather unusual so far: we have a big difference in terms of consistency of performance, while on the first lap the results are very similar.”

Source Ferrari

Source: F1-Live

Alonso sets the Friday pace - Hungarian GP - Second practice

A strong start from Alonso and McLaren Mercedes

Fernando Alonso set the Friday practice pace ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix for McLaren Mercedes as he lapped the 4.384 KM circuit in 1:20.919s, three-tenths ahead of Heikki Kovalainen who was impressive in his Renault and Lewis Hamilton who spun off late in the final minutes.

The 90-minute practice session started in sunny conditions but the clouds moved in and there were actually a few spot an hour into the session. This didn’t really create much of an issue, but the track temperate did drop off, and as a result, few were able to improve in the final 30 minutes.

The McLaren MP4-22 was expected to be well suited to this tight and twisty circuit and it was no surprise to see Alonso at the head of the timesheets. Hamilton looked to make it a McLaren one-two, but spun his McLaren off track and beached the car in the gravel with four minutes remaining.

Kovalainen and Renault will be happy to end the day second fastest, just 0.364s slower than Alonso and a fraction ahead of Hamilton. Team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was eighth fastest in the second Renault, but there was an awful lot of activity amongst the mechanics at the back end of his car late in the session, suggesting a problem.

Nico Rosberg was a solid fourth fastest in his Williams Toyota and should he repeat the position when it really does count, it would be a big boost for the team. Team-mate Alex Wurz was 12th fastest with what was probably a more representative time at a second off the ultimate pace.

Nick Heidfeld set the fifth best time in his BMW Sauber with Robert Kubica back in the tenths position. Kubica in particular spent a lot of time running on the worn soft tyre while most of his rivals worked mostly on the harder option.

Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were sixth and seventh fastest for Ferrari. The team struggled massively at Monaco earlier in the season compared to rivals McLaren and this circuit is similar, minus the Armco and the harbour…

Jarno Trulli set the ninth best time in his Toyota with team-mate Ralf Schumacher 11th ahead of Wurz and the Red Bull Renault duo of Mark Webber and David Coulthard. Anthony Davidson was one of the few to improve in the final 30 minutes as he posted the 15th best lap in his Super Aguri ahead of fellow Honda-powered runners Jenson Button, Takuma Sato and Rubens Barrichello.

Tonio Liuzzi and Sebastian Vettel were 19th and 20th for Toro Rosso Ferrari ahead of Adrian Sutil who had a few grassy moments in his Spyker Ferrari and Sakon Yamamoto.

Source: F1-Live