Posted on April 30, 2009


The introduction of the £40 million budget cap poses serious problems for half of the F1 teams and the idea of a two-tier system is an issue for everyone. The reaction I have had today from ringing around the teams is that the independents welcome the move to a budget cap and are pretty happy with the level. They acknowledge that the engines being left out of it for 2010 provides an element of the ‘glide path’ that was being discussed in recent weeks, as does the exclusion of driver salaries and marketing costs. With those added on, for a More…

Posted on April 30, 2009


The details of the Budget cap have been released by the FIA. It will start next season. The level has been set at £40 million with no ‘glide path’ from a higher figure to a lower one. It will present teams with an obligation to lay off a significant number of people quickly, which in itself is an expensive exercise. The FIA has maintained the idea of a two tier championship, with teams able to spend more if they wish to, but the cost controlled teams enjoying greater technical freedom. This will greatly annoy Ferrari and BMW. The FIA statement More…

Posted on April 30, 2009


Good week for: Kimi Raikkonen – the 2007 champion has bought a £20 million dream home on the outskirts of Zurich, where he can shut the door behind him and not give another thought to slow Ferraris, KERS or the media. Ice cream anyone? Honda – Despite seeing the car it paid for winning three out of four races, the company says that ditching the F1 programme will help it stay profitable in 2009. KERS – After lots of wobbles as teams lost confidence in KERS in China, in Bahrain it was proven to be a ‘must have’ for any More…

Posted on April 30, 2009


Yesterday’s news from the FIA world council was the appetiser, but today comes the main dish, the real story; the announcement of the full budget cap plan, which is set to redraw the business model of Formula 1. It will be the first time in the sport’s history that the amount a team can spend is controlled. You could argue that this should have happened years ago, before the manufacturers drove the costs through the roof. The teams have already been informed of the details but are not willing to comment ahead of the official announcement. My understanding is that More…

Posted on April 29, 2009


Today’s verdict by the World Motor Sport Council to issue a three race ban for McLaren, but to suspend it for 12 months has received a fairly balanced reaction. Given the original incident, where Trulli was allowed to pass Hamilton behind the safety car in Melbourne, what happened in the stewards’ room there and in Kuala Lumpur and what has transpired since with McLaren going out of its way to demonstrate that it has accepted mistakes were made and changed the governance of the team, this is a well balanced and light judgement. To go further would have been excessive. More…

Posted on April 29, 2009


The FIA World Motor Sport Council announced at lunchtime today after a brief hearing in Paris that McLaren will not be forced to miss any races this season, nor will it lose any constructors’ championship points. Instead it has decided to suspend the sentence it planned to hand down, namely a three race ban. Interestingly, given that this is the second time in two years that McLaren has faced disrepute charges, the suspension is for a period of one year. It’s hard to imagine that they would do anything like this again – and the team was at pains to More…

Posted on April 29, 2009


There seems to be a division of opinion about what is going on between Brawn GP and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. There are stories that a deal has been done for this year and next, while there are strong suggestions coming out of the team that other parties are interested and Branson should pony up some more serious money if he wishes to go forward. Branson was in the Bahrain paddock at the weekend, holding a press conference to announce that Rubens Barrichello and Niki Lauda had both paid €200,000 to fly into space on the Virgin Galactic spaceship. More…

Posted on April 28, 2009


Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes Benz has today announced a £1.1 billion loss for the first quarter of 2009. Last year in the same period it made a profit of £1 billion. This frightening result is partly as a result of writing off a large sum from its failed investment in Chrysler. But it is also because sales are down 34% and the outlook for the rest of the year is bleak. And the scary bit from the point of view of the company’s involvement in F1 is that it is now committed to slashing costs. “We want to More…

Posted on April 28, 2009


Alex Wurz has reinvented himself as a pioneer of road safety, rather like Michael Schumacher. The difference is that Wurz has set up a company called Test and Training International, to set up road safety training centres and he has been commissioned by the Egyptian government to build a massive new site new Cairo. Wurz was Honda’s test driver until their withdrawal last winter. The position of test driver is unclear at Brawn. Wurz has been coming along to Grands Prix this season, hanging out at Brawn, but not wearing team kit. Wurz’s F1 racing career came to an end More…

Posted on April 28, 2009


Jenson Button took his third win of the season on Sunday in fine style. This was a victory which demanded a great deal of care, because he didn’t have the fastest car out there on the day, not even on the qualifying day, even though the Brawn had appeared to have the legs of the others in Friday practice. He also had to be aggressive on the opening lap, to regain the place lost to Lewis Hamilton at the start. F1 fans around the world are now debating whether Button can capitalise on the superb start he has made to More…

Posted on April 27, 2009


Bahrain was a good weekend for the McLaren team. Although fourth place will not feel like win for them after the slow start to the season, the team is heading in the right direction and was only a few tenths off the pace here. The circuit somewhat flattered their car, with its long straights and lack of high speed corners, but all teams agree that McLaren have clearly made a big step forward. As team principal Martin Whitmarsh explains below they have done this by making constant small steps at every race, whereas teams like Ferrari and BMW have put More…

Posted on April 26, 2009


I’m absolutely buzzing. Sitting here in the press room in Bahrain, tapping out my stories and I get a text from the Palladium in London to tell me that the ITV F1 coverage of the Brazilian Grand Prix has won the BAFTA for best sports programme. It is the third year in a row that the team I was part of has won this most prestigious award. We won for the show which covered Jenson Button’s 2006 Hungarian GP win, for the 2007 Canadian GP show where Lewis Hamilton won his first race and now the ultimate TV moment in More…

Posted on April 26, 2009


I always like to look at the fastest race laps, it tells you a lot about the relative pace of the cars and as this is the first ‘normal’ race on a ‘normal’ track it is quite instructive. The fastest car in qualifying and race was the Toyota. They should have won their first victory today, but they made the wrong tyre choice at the first stop and it left both drivers vulnerable. McLaren will be hugely encouraged by their performance here. From being over 2 seconds off the pace of Brawn when I first saw this car on the More…

Posted on April 26, 2009


Jenson Button and the Brawn team took their third win in four races this afternoon at the Bahrain Grand Prix, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, but the result could have gone either way. The two cars were very evenly matched. What made the difference was that Button was able to run in clear air and Vettel wasn’t. The key moment of the race was the end of the first lap, where Button was able to pass Lewis Hamilton under braking into turn one. This allowed him to run in clear air ahead of Hamilton, while Vettel was held up by the More…

Posted on April 26, 2009


Well…..not literally but we have just witnessed a new world record on the start finish line here in Bahrain, as the record for holding your breath under water was just broken by escapologist David Merlini. Not something you see every day.. The new record stands at 21 minutes and 29 seconds. A tank of water was placed on the start finish line and Bernie Ecclestone led a delegation of team principals as well as the drivers, standing around waiting for the new record to be set. The event was was staged by watchmaker Jacques Lemans, which has a deal with More…

Posted on April 26, 2009


Luca di Montezemolo arrived in Bahrain this morning to give encouragement to his Ferrari team, which has endured its worst start to a season for over 25 years. He talked of the team making the mistake of thinking it is the best and being caught out and called for a fresh attitude He also talked to representatives of other teams and manufacturers about the current state of F1. This is a huge week for the sport, It is essentially being restructured with new rules for 2010 due to be ratified on Wednesday at the FIA World Council meeting which has More…

Posted on April 26, 2009


Spare a thought for Mark Webber. He is sitting in a car capable of winning this weekend and yet he starts the race from 18th on the grid because another driver, Adrian Sutil, blocked him on his hot lap in the first qualifying session. Not his fault and yet he loses out massively and the feeling here in Bahrain is that this is turning into a real problem, which could easily affect the world championship. Last night the stewards penalised Sutil, who had weaved in front of Webber while warming his tyres for his own hot lap. He was dropped More…

Posted on April 25, 2009


The fuel weights the cars will carry at the start of the race are now public. Based on these the top performer in qualifying is Jarno Trulli, who decimated his team mate (half a second!) and was 2/10ths faster than Sebastian Vettel. The Brawn again shows that it is a better race car than a qualifying car, while Lewis Hamilton’s performance – on the same fuel as Button and only a tenth slower – shows that the McLaren is developing very quickly and will be racing the front runners when we get into the European season. I think they will More…

Posted on April 25, 2009


Today’s qualifying session again showed that the Brawn cars do not have it all their own way when it comes to single lap pace in qualifying, but their performance in practice, where they seem to have focussed on long runs, indicates that they certainly have the speed to go for the race win tomorrow. But they face a number of complications which may take the race away from them. Their lack of speed hurt them today and meant that they could not afford to carry much more fuel than their opposition for fear of falling down the grid behind Alonso’s More…

Posted on April 25, 2009


It is well documented that Ferrari has suffered its worst start to the season since the 1980s. If they fail to score a point tomorrow it will be their worst start ever. While both Renault and McLaren have been able to bring a version of the double diffuser to their car already, Ferrari is still waiting for its edition to come out in Spain. Against the backdrop of a significant step forward for McLaren, all eyes were on Ferrari in qualifying today to see whether they could get both cars into the top ten shoot out. As it turned out More…

Posted on April 25, 2009


It should be a very close qualifying session this afternoon, with a few different names up the front compared to recent races. McLaren look more competitive here than at any stage this season and while this will not be enough of a step for them to challenge for the win on Sunday, I fancy that one of the cars could be in the top five or six. Judging from free practice, McLaren has a car capable of getting into the top ten shootout and from there we could see them and/or others doing what Fernando Alonso did in China and More…

Posted on April 24, 2009


Flavio Briatore has spoken in support of his driver Nelson Piquet, who has endured another disappointing start to the season in the Renault. At the last race in Shanghai, Piquet was half a second slower in qualifying than his team mate, Fernando Alonso. But Alonso had the only example of Renault’s new double diffuser. Here this weekend the team has new parts on both cars, including modifications to the front wing and front suspension. The pressure is really on Piquet in qualifying tomorrow. Judging from today’s running the Renault is capable of getting both drivers into the top ten, with More…

Posted on April 24, 2009


McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has written to the FIA ahead of next Wednesday’s world council meeting, essentially pleading guilty to all five charges of bringing the sport into disrepute over the issue of lying to the stewards in Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur, according to the Times. “Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal, has written to Max Mosley, the president of the FIA, informing him that his team accept that they are in breach of Article 151c of the Formula One sporting regulations, which covers bringing the sport into disrepute. The letter also contains a full apology from Whitmarsh for More…

Posted on April 24, 2009


Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that the British Grand Prix will disappear from the F1 calendar if Donington does not manage to put the race on next season. Yesterday Simon Gillett’s Donington Ventures group, the promoter of the event at the Midlands circuit, suffered a major blow when legal proceedings were launched by the circuit’s owners, Wheatcroft and Son for £2.5 million in unpaid rent. The Wheatcrofts are also seeking forfeiture of the 150 year lease. Ecclestone said that he had spoken to Gillett during the day and attacked the British Government for not investing in one of its largest annual More…

Posted on April 23, 2009


Today has been a very interesting one here in the Bahrain paddock. There is plenty going on, as usual, with many teams bringing new parts to the cars, news coming through of lawsuits at Donington, making the 2010 British Grand Prix an ever more diminishing possibility and discussions of what might happen at McLaren’s FIA hearing next week. A lot of people feel that Shanghai was a bit of a one-off and that the picture at top will be a little more predictable this weekend, with Brawn dominant, Toyota stronger than in China, especially in qualifying where they may have More…

Posted on April 23, 2009


I’ve just received the item below in my inbox. It relates to a law suit which veteran Donington circuit owner Tom Wheatcroft has filed against the Donington Ventures company of Simon Gillett, who has a contract to stage the British Grand Prix from 2010 onwards. “Wheatcroft & Son Limited, the owners of Donington Park motor racing circuit, have issued legal proceedings against Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd, the operators of the circuit, seeking £2.47m in rent arrears and forfeiture of the circuit lease. Lawyers at Browne Jacobson LLP, acting on behalf of their client Wheatcroft & Son Limited, issued the proceedings More…

Posted on April 23, 2009


Williams’ Nico Rosberg has given his vote of support to his old friend and adversary Lewis Hamilton as the April 29th FIA hearing into McLaren and Hamilton lying to the stewards comes into view. People are openly talking here in the Bahrain paddock about the possibility that McLaren may face a similar punishment to the one Honda received for it’s fuel tank irregularity, namely a two race ban. This could include Spain and Monaco, if it were to come into immediate effect. Rosberg said that he didn’t know the details of the case but, as one of Hamilton’s oldest friends More…

Posted on April 23, 2009


More details have emerged today of the new F1 game, produced by Codemasters, which will replace the long standing Sony product. According to Autosport, “F1 2009 will come out in the autumn for the Nintendo Wii and Sony PSP, while a higher-spec F1 2010, with HD graphics and a more sophisticated gaming mode will be launched next year for the Xbox 360, Sony Playstation 3 and Windows.” The game will be fully up to date, with all the latest tracks, latest drivers and the technical features of 2009 cars, like KERS and slick tyres. Presumably it will feature a lot More…

Posted on April 23, 2009


All of a sudden we have a rush of people heading for the revolving doors into F1. Hot on the heels of the news that Lola is lining up an F1 entry, comes Dave Richards, former head of BAR Honda and before that Benetton. Richards has unfinished business in F1. His time at the BAR Honda team was cut short after their most successful season in 2004. He has long been an advocate of cut price F1 and planned an entry with Prodrive which did not materialise because his plan was based on customer McLaren Mercedes cars and the rules More…

Posted on April 22, 2009


Mike Gascoyne seems to have plenty of admirers among readers of this site and seems to have won many more over with his performance on BBC F1 last weekend in Shanghai. Gazza likes doing media work, but he was really in China to see if he could win over any of the F1 teams, who might like to employ him. He’s been out of work since Force India let him go at the end of last year. Gazza believes that his ability as a technical co-ordinator with specialist knowledge in the field of aerodynamics might appeal to some teams who More…

Posted on April 22, 2009


Fernando Alonso interests me greatly, as regular readers will know, particularly his pronouncements and predictions. He rarely wastes his breath on hype or pr. He’s focussed on what is possible and regularly achieves it, as he showed at the end of last season when he took sensational wins in Singapore and Japan. To see today that he still believes Renault can develop quickly enough for him to have a crack at the title is very interesting. “It’s still an early stage in the year and already the team has made incredible progress, which gives me the belief that we can More…

Posted on April 21, 2009


Good week for: Concrete bollards These largely overlooked and unheralded pieces of roadside furniture were given a welcome boost by Renault boss Flavio Briatore, who compared them with the F1 world championship leader Sebastian Vettel Peerless in the dry in qualifying, masterful in the wet on Sunday, the 21 year old is now soaking up the hype once reserved for Lewis Hamilton. Bernie Ecclestone is building him up as ‘better than Lewis’. Sebastien Buemi As the most junior of F1′s three Sebastiens, the Swiss risks being lost in the crowd, but he’s winning plaudits for his driving this year. Lucky More…

Posted on April 20, 2009


Almost a week after the diffuser appeal was thrown out by the International Court of Appeal in Paris, the FIA has issued a full explanation of how the decision was arrived at. It’s a lengthy document, very technical and it gives all the reasons why the judges found the way they did. There were multiple grounds submitted for appeal, all of which were thrown out, from procedural error by the Melbourne stewards to going against the spirit of the overtaking working group to unecessary expense involved in copying the device. At the core of it was a judgement on whether More…

Posted on April 20, 2009


A lot of people are confused by the performance of Lewis Hamilton in the Chinese Grand Prix. Rain is a great leveller in Formula 1. Talented drivers who do not have the car to compete in normal conditions can shine on a wet track and we have seen plenty of that over the years. Wet races in the last couple of years seem to have been dominated either by Sebastien Vettel or by Hamilton. Hamilton delivered his masterpiece at Silverstone last July, but in Shanghai this weekend he had a very different kind of race, which showed that having the More…

Posted on April 19, 2009


Form is temporary, class is permanent. That is the great adage of the sporting world. So what are we to make of what’s happening at the moment in F1? Is this the start of a change of order, with great names like McLaren, Renault and Ferrari in decline and new teams like Red Bull and Brawn the new top dogs? Anyone who says that would be guilty of serious short term thinking or buying hype. Those three teams deserve great respect for their record of success spanning many years, they are not to be written off so easily. You look More…

Posted on April 19, 2009


Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali started the weekend by sending an email to his team asking them to react to the poor start to the season “with pride”. The team came away from Shanghai empty handed again and now only they and Force India are left without a point. It could have been worse, if Adrian Sutil had held on to his sixth place, but the German driver crashed heavily five laps from the end. However Domenicali was able to draw some pride from the way the early part of the race unfolded. In his post race briefing he was More…

Posted on April 19, 2009


Renault boss Flavio Briatore said this weekend that the current pecking order undermines F1’s credibility. But today was a great race with great performances at the front from Sebastien Vettel and Mark Webber, who scored a Red Bull one two. Jenson Button and team mate Rubens Barrichello were struggling to get the wet tyres to work as well as Red Bull and managed third and fourth places. Meanwhile the grandee teams whom Briatore believes should be at the front, Ferrari, McLaren and Renault had another difficult day. Ferrari got no points again for the third race, Renault turned P2 on More…

Posted on April 18, 2009


Ross Brawn’s team has been in the eye of the storm lately, what with the protests over the double diffuser and the criticisms of people like Flavio Briatore. Brawn is a thick skinned individual, but he will have felt the personal attacks of Ferrari’s lawyer in the appeal court hearing last week. Of course he’s been around long enough to know that you take the heat when you are the team to beat, he’s been in that situation at Benetton and Ferrari and controversy has been in the air in those times too. He’s a big man, he can take More…

Posted on April 18, 2009


The fuel weights have been released showing that Sebastien Vettel was 17 kilos lighter than the Brawn of Rubens Barrichello in qualifying this afternoon, this is worth about 6 laps. Based on these figures I reckon that Vettel will stop around lap 12 or 13, the classic first stint for a three stopper, and he could well be looking at running the soft tyres in that short first stint to get them out of the way. The Red Bull is not able to match the way the Brawn looks after the soft tyre on a long run and this looks More…

Posted on April 18, 2009


A very exciting qualifying session today, with some stellar performances. Despite losing time with problems with driveshafts in morning practice Red Bull came up trumps in qualifying, Sebastien Vettel took his second career pole position, the first for Red Bull, ahead of Renault’s Fernando Alonso. Vettel’s Red Bull team mate Mark Webber made it a clear sweep of Renault engined cars in the top three. The other Renault of Nelson Piquet was 17th and, although he didn’t have the new parts on his car you wonder how much longer Renault will persist with him after another indifferent start to a More…

Posted on April 17, 2009


This weekend I will again be doing a live update service during qualifying and the race using twitter, which you can follow here on jamesallenonf1.com or on twitter itself. It is basically a feed of my thoughts and observations as the action unfolds; reading the race, seeing the trends, looking at how the strategies are unfolding and so on. At present if you follow the updates here on the JA on F1 site you will have to refresh the page (will have that fixed soon). If you go to twitter.com and ask to follow jamesallenonf1 you will get the updates More…

Posted on April 17, 2009


Jenson Button was fastest today in Friday second practice, his time a good six tenths inside last year’s pole time. He finished second here in 2004 behind team mate Rubens Barrichello, who was in a Ferrari at the time. Both men love this track and are strong here so it should be the best battle between them to date. He has been attacked this weekend by his former boss Flavio Briatore as a ‘kerbstone’ -an odd use of a word, but I think what Flavio meant is one of those big old heavy milestones or bollards at the side of More…

Posted on April 17, 2009


A furious Flavio Briatore continues to rage about the unfairness of Formula 1. After some savage comments in Melbourne about the integrity of Ross Brawn, his former technical director, the Renault boss has now laid into the FIA and the drivers currently at the front of the field. He claims that a pecking order of Brawn, WIlliams and Toyota shows that F1 has lost all its credibility, “The drivers in our teams are all world champions and instead there’s a driver who’s a semi-pensioner and another, a decent bloke, but he’s a kerbstone, fighting for the world championship. (A reference More…

Posted on April 16, 2009


Ron Dennis announced today that he is stepping down as CEO and chairman of McLaren Group and has walked away from all racing activities, a decision he says is unconnected with the team’s current disciplinary problems and which he reached alone. He will head McLaren Automotive, making road cars, a business which later this year will be spun off from the McLaren Group. He has said he wants to double the company’s value in the next five years. The new chairman of McLaren is Richard Lapthorne, the current chairman of Cable and Wireless Plc. Dennis and Whitmarsh will both report More…

Posted on April 16, 2009


In the wake of the appeal court decision to confirm the findings of FIA’s Charlie Whiting and the stewards in Melbourne and Sepang that the double decker diffusers are legal, Ferrari team principal  Stafano Domenicali has sent an email to every member of staff at the Gestione Sportiva, Ferrari’s race team. The message urges them to react to this latest set back in their toughest start to a season since 1992 “with pride”. “This decision confirms the legality of solutions which we believe  violate the spirit and the principles of the plans to reduce downforce. I know that we can More…

Posted on April 16, 2009


Williams driver Nico Rosberg is one of the main people to benefit from the appeal court decision into the legality of the diffusers. He believes that it will mean that the status quo in F1 will be maintained for a few more races, with Brawn, Toyota, Red Bull and Williams the top four teams. He has a car which appears to be consistently strong at all tracks, something you couldn’t say about last year’s car. Rosberg has his tail up at the moment because he has been the pace-setter in practice, strong in qualifying and the races. His performance in More…

Posted on April 16, 2009


Mike Gascoyne is back in an F1 paddock for the first time since he was dropped by Force India at the end of last season. Gascoyne is working for the BBC this weekend in place of his former boss Eddie Jordan. Gascoyne has had a stop start career in recent years, sitting out after being dropped by Toyota at the start of 2006 until being picked up by Spyker in 2007 shortly before it was sold to Vijay Mallya and became Force India. He bought a large yacht in 2006 and did some fairly ambitious single-handed sailing voyages, but you More…

Posted on April 15, 2009


According to Autosport website there is something cooking at McLaren, with the suggestion that former team principal Ron Dennis is to make some kind of an announcement about his future plans today (Thursday). There are  suggestions he could step back completely from his involvement with the Formula 1 team. He already relinquished the team principal role to Martin Whitmarsh on March 1st, but has stayed involved with at least a finger or two on the tiller and was present at the Australian Grand Prix, where the team was found to have ‘deliberately misled’ the stewards after the race. If it More…

Posted on April 15, 2009


The International Appeal Court has ruled that the diffusers used by Brawn, Toyota and Williams are legal. So now we have clarity and we move on. But bad feelings remain. The hearing yesterday certainly got nasty, it seems, as it dragged out into yesterday evening.

Posted on April 14, 2009


The Italian media is suggesting that Luca Baldisseri has been made the fall guy for the poor start to the season, particularly as far as the poor strategy decisions of the first two races. Corriere della Sera says that when Stefano Domenicali said on the Sunday night after Malaysia that ‘everyone has to take their share of responsibilty’ it was ‘Baldo’ he was thinking of. Corriere also says that Baldo ‘mentioned in his blog’ that morale was low. This got me looking for said blog. I’ve not turned it up yet, but if any of you can find it, please More…

Posted on April 14, 2009


Today in Paris the International Court of Appeal has been hearing the two sides of the debate into the legality of the so-called double decker diffusers, as used by Brawn, Toyota and Williams. It all got quite passionate as the lawyers for Ferrari and Renault in particular stated their cases. Andrew Ford for Renault said that the FIA had already established that a design which incorporated holes to improve the efficiency was illegal in F1, “It is not that Renault missed the boat, as Brawn have pointed out, it is because the FIA said it was illegal. It was at More…

Posted on April 14, 2009


Ferrari F1 team boss Stefano Domenicali said after Malaysia that its worst start to a championship since 1992 was ‘not acceptable’ and now we have the repercussions. The senior management has been restructured and the key move features Luca Baldisserri, who took over the track operations and strategic part of Ross Brawn’s role, when Ross left the team at the end of 2006. He loses that responsibility to Chris Dyer, formerly Michael Schumacher’s race engineer. Baldisseri meanwhile moves to a factory-based role in a new ‘working party’, headed by technical chief Aldo Costa, which has been established to improve the More…

Posted on April 13, 2009


It’s been a fairly quiet Easter as far as happenings in F1 are concerned. I guess Malaysia was such a momentous weekend, with the McLaren/stewards affair and the crazy race, it’s hardly surprising that the sport needed to take a breather. But tomorrow (Tuesday 14th) things will get intense again as the international appeal court makes its decision regarding the legality of the diffusers of Brawn, Williams and Toyota. This decision could well decide the outcome of the world championship, certainly that is the view of former world champions Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, who are on the wrong side More…

Posted on April 11, 2009


Here is something new, something I’ve been working on for a short while. I hope you like it. I’ve joined forces with Darren Heath, in my view the number one photographer in F1. He and I started in F1 around the same time, 20 years ago and have been mates ever since. This is an audio slideshow of the Malaysian GP, with Darren’s photos and my words. Enjoy and Happy Easter! [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWOTDQLSgdM]

Posted on April 10, 2009


I’m grateful to one of my readers, doctorvee, for posting a very interesting comment here on the JA on F1 site. He highlights an interview which McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh gave to the BBC at the end of the Australian Grand Prix. “…there’s some debate about whether it’s a 3rd place at the moment given that Trulli fell off and re-passed under the Safety Car… [Ted Kravitz asks him to expand on this.] …At the end, under the Safety Car, Trulli fell off onto the grass and Lewis had no choice but to go past him. He was not on More…

Posted on April 9, 2009


I have no wish to start scaremongering, but looking at Bernie Ecclestone’s comments in the Express that he wouldn’t rule out a ban of a few races for McLaren, makes me look through the F1 calendar at the races ahead with some nervousness. The recent precedent was BAR, which received a ban over its fuel tank irregularities in May 2005. In that instance BAR was found guilty of ‘fraudulent conduct’ and the word ‘fraud’ was used again this week by Ecclestone in the McLaren case, “It is about stealing a point and a place but those are worth money so More…

Posted on April 8, 2009


I don’t know about you, but I need some light relief after all the heavy duty stuff about McLaren. Here’s a review of the week’s winners and losers.   Good Week for: Nick Heidfeld – Gambled on only one pit stop in Malaysia and got a podium. Though short, he now stands above his highly-rated team mate in points table Timo Glock – The gambler of Interlagos does it again, but this time it has no effect on the outcome of the championship. Glock shows he’s a canny racer. Brawn GP – We now know just how fast this car More…

Posted on April 7, 2009


The familiar ping of the incoming email alert on my Mac. The sender: FIA press, the subject: Extraordinary meeting of the FIA world council. We’ve been expecting this since Friday, now the date is set – April 29th, the Wednesday after Bahrain and the rap sheet has been published. “Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has been invited to appear before an extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Wednesday, 29 April, 2009, to answer charges that, in breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, it – on 29 March, 2009, told the stewards of the More…

Posted on April 7, 2009


The papers are full of the ‘rift’ between Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren team over the Melbourne ‘lie-gate’ scandal. They talk of the relationship being ‘on a knife-edge’. So will it happen? Will Lewis leave the team that has nurtured him since he left primary school? And if that were to happen, which team would he move to? We have been here before with Lewis. He and his father Anthony were very unhappy about the politics swirling around the team during the 2007 championship, when McLaren were embroiled in the spy scandal surrounding Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan. Many things More…

Posted on April 6, 2009


As the teams return to the UK and the dust begins to settle on an explosive weekend, we start to contemplate the next stage in the saga over Lewis Hamilton and McLaren ‘deliberately misleading’ the stewards. The feeling on Saturday was that Hamilton’s frank and astonishing ‘mea culpa’, held in the FIA press conference room, was enough to satisfy the FIA. McLaren, however, still have a lot more explaining to do. “We recognise Lewis’s efforts to set the record straight today,” an FIA spokesman told Reuters. “It would appear that he was put in an impossible position. We are now More…

Posted on April 5, 2009


It’s a shame that Jenson Button has yet to see the chequered flag at full racing speed at the end of a full race. Both his wins have been terrific, but this one today was really special and you have to pay tribute to the masterful way that the Brawn team, Button and his engineer Andrew Shovlin managed the changing conditions. Others, like Glock and Heidfeld made greater gains by gambling on wet tyres, and Heidfeld gambled several times with the result that he made only one pit stop compared to Button’s four. But then Glock and Heidfeld had nothing More…

Posted on April 5, 2009


Interested to see that Ross Brawn has started responding to the criticism levelled at him by Flavio Briatore that he has misused his position as chair of the technical working group by not declaring his hand on the diffuser issue whenthe rules for 2009 were being discussed. Brawn raised the subject early last year, he says and proposed that the rules be tightened up. “In March 2008 that was offered. If I’m frank I didn’t say ‘look we are going to do this diffuser if you don’t accept this rule’ because I’m not going to tell people what we’re doing, More…

Posted on April 5, 2009


Two races in and still no points on the board for Ferrari. Of course they can point to the effort put in to win last year’s title and to the row over the two step diffusers which Brawn, Toyota and Williams have, but the fact of the matter is that both of these races have offered opportunities for Ferrari and McLaren to score points but they haven’t taken those chances. In two normal dry races, maybe the diffuser three would have had an advantage, but these last two races have given the non diffuser teams opportunities, in Melbourne the two More…

Posted on April 4, 2009


After a dominant performance in qualifying in Melbourne, Brawn GP has been made to work a lot harder here in Sepang by the Toyota team and I think Toyota can win this race tomorrow. It looks as though the Brawn is about 2/10ths faster around here than the Toyota, but thats close enough for Trulli and Glock to put real pressure on Button, so he will have to keep the car on the limit, which could be interesting in this heat. Reliability is still not assured for Brawn, look at Barrichello’s gearbox, for example and they have not done much More…

Posted on April 4, 2009


This is going to be close! In Practice 3 this morning, Rosberg was fastest by a tenth, from Webber, Massa and Trulli, the three of whom were separated by a few hundredths. Then Trulli, Glock, and Vettel were all within six hundredths of each other. The question mark hangs over Brawn. There is no doubt that their margin over the rest is not what it was in Melbourne, certainly as far as single lap performance is concerned. Jenson Button’s long runs yesterday were competitive, but he has been struggling with understeer in fast corners and today he’s losing time in More…

Posted on April 4, 2009


In all the excitement of the McLaren and Hamilton apologies, we are forgetting that the cars have been running and that today they will go out and qualify for the Grand Prix. So what is the state of play here in Sepang. Well yesterday the Brawns were not dominant, even though every one expects them to be later today and tomorrow. The feeling is that they have between three tenths and half a second on the field, depending on which tyre they are on and set up. Yesterday Jenson Button wasn’t too happy with the balance of his car in More…

Posted on April 3, 2009


Things are moving so fast here in Sepang it makes your head spin. Lewis Hamilton has just made an appearance in the media centre and given what has to be the most frank and open admission of guilt and sincere apology we have seen in this sport. He sat alone on the stage and spoke for a little over ten minutes , his voice cracking at times, his body language full of anguish and regret. “I went into the meeting wanting to tell the story and I was misled. I was instructed and misled by my team manager to withhold More…

Posted on April 3, 2009


In an intensely feverish atmosphere here in Sepang, as the situation around McLaren and Lewis Hamilton ramps up and threatens to spiral out of McLaren’s control, a bit of light relief has been offered by Sebastien Vettel. The German driver says in the Red Bull press release reviewing today’s track action, ” It’s very hot and no matter how much you prepare, the first outing is a bad surprise. Fortunately I’ve got a bag with dry ice in it, which I put next to my balls, so at least they stay nice and cool.” Two questions, Seb. 1. What happens More…

Posted on April 3, 2009


A sensational press conference has just concluded here in Sepang, where new McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted that his sporting director Davey Ryan deliberately set out to lie to the stewards in Melbourne and that he told Lewis to follow his lead. Whitmarsh suspended Ryan this morning and the New Zealander is on his way back to England as we speak. Speaking to a packed media centre, Whitmarsh said that this matter did not go any higher in the McLaren organisation and that he was not consulted before Ryan and Hamilton went to the stewards, “We knew what had More…

Posted on April 3, 2009


Here’s a snapshot of the reaction from some of my international colleagues in the media. First to Germany, where, true to form, leading tabloid Bild have making mischief with Photoshop again. Last week Hamilton was morphed onto a snail’s body, today he’s got Pinocchio’s nose and is described as the ‘lying world champion’ Ouch! Next on to Spain, where El Pais simply has the headline, “Lying for a podium.” They feel that this has been a damaging moment for the world champion, but do not feel that the matter requires any further punishment. That said, many in Spain are rubbing More…

Posted on April 3, 2009


The fallout from McLaren’s Melbourne radio fiasco has begun with sporting director Davey Ryan suspended from duty and sent home from Malaysia. He is taking the rap for the heavy punishment the team and its driver Lewis Hamilton have received for misleading the stewards on an overtaking issue behind the safety car in Melbourne. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “In my 20-odd years working for McLaren, I doubt if I’ve met a more dedicated individual than Davey. He’s been an integral part of McLaren since 1974 and has played a crucial role in the team’s many world championship successes since More…

Posted on April 3, 2009


There is some very strong criticism of Lewis Hamilton and McLaren in the media today, a wave of hysteria in the wake of Lewis Hamilton’s punishment for ‘deliberately misleading’ the stewards. It has been written in some quarters that Hamilton could be banned for some races by the World Motor Sport Council, which is due to meet in June. An emergency meeting could be called sooner. An FIA spokesman has hinted that there could well be further repercussions for McLaren and Hamilton, “Given the seriousness of this matter, we cannot rule out further action at this stage.” This situation reminds More…

Posted on April 2, 2009


I posted last night that Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren team faced a tough day in front of the stewards and it has proved to be worse than we ever imagined. When I left the track this evening, in the dark, sitting outside the McLaren team office was a thoroughly dejected looking team principal, Martin Whitmarsh with his communications staff, picking through the wreckage of their day. Whitmarsh faced the media this afternoon and said that the team did not lie to the FIA stewards The stewards have released material this evening that appears to prove that they did lie. More…

Posted on April 2, 2009


There was a lot of energy in the paddock this afternoon as McLaren went into crisis management mode, with head of communications Matt Bishop (ex F1 racing editor) and Steve Cooper (ex F1 racing journo). Scrums of TV crews and hardened journos waited around outside the teams offices in groups waiting for Hamilton or his boss Martin Whitmarsh to speak. The chat was all about what punishment they would be given. Many questioned how Hamilton could have told reporters straight after he got out of the car that the team had told him to let Trulli past, but then gone More…

Posted on April 2, 2009


New McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has just come out into the Sepang paddock to speak to the media after the news that Lewis Hamilton and the team have been thrown out of the results of the Australian Grand Prix for ‘deliberately misleading’ the stewards over the incident with Jarno Trulli, involving overtaking behind the safety car. “Lewis was instructed to give the place back to Trulli, “said Whitmarsh. “The team thought, having not seen the incident, that it was the safest thing to do. That instruction was given to Lewis and he didn’t agree. Before that discussion was finished, More…

Posted on April 2, 2009


I’m grateful to Robbie for sending me the link to YouTube where there is an extract of Toyota team radio, which gives a vivid picture of what it he experienced when Lewis Hamilton passed him in the final stages of that Australian GP. Trulli slows down to let him repass, but he doesn’t pass. Hamilton is in front of the stewards, two of whom were Melbourne stewards, as I write this. Some bits I pulled out from the Trulli recording which I find interesting – Trulli says that if he has a KERS car behind him he is ‘in trouble’ More…

Posted on April 1, 2009


A story has just appeared on the Auto Motor und Sport website in Germany, which could have explosive consequences for Lewis Hamilton and McLaren this weekend. It is written by Michael Schmidt, who is one of the most respected journalists in F1. The gist of the article is that Lewis Hamilton may have some explaining to do to the stewards, for what he said to them in Melbourne, which led to him deposing Jarno Trulli for third place. The story is headlined “Did Hamilton tell the truth?”. “Possibly the exclusion of Jarno Trulli in the season opener in Melbourne must More…

Posted on April 1, 2009


Twitter seems to be overloaded at the moment, so this is just a brief post to say that it’s just started hammering down with rain here in Kuala Lumpur. That doesn’t mean it’s going to rain on Sunday afternoon, although there is a 60% chance, apparently, as afternoon turns to evening. It does mean that the weather has broken. I’ve been here since the early hours of Tuesday and it’s been sunny and dry the whole time, Now I’m sitting in the open sided lobby of the hotel (the only place you can get a wireless signal) and we have More…

Posted on April 1, 2009


The Brawn team moves on to Sepang this weekend with a maximum points haul in the championship so far and the chance to double that advantage. With its huge downforce, excellent balance and thumpingly powerful engine, the Brawn Mercedes car should be even more superior to the opposition on the fast flowing sweeps of Sepang. But there are still a few areas the team needs to work on. Because there were only seven days of testing before the start of the season, they had to focus on reliability and race performance work. There was no time to look at maximising More…

Posted on April 1, 2009


Just had an email from Toyota saying that they will not be pursuing their appeal against the penalty given to Jarno Trulli on Sunday, which cost him third place finish. “Following the decision by Australian Grand Prix stewards to impose a 25-second time penalty on Jarno Trulli, Toyota Motorsport filed notification of its intent to appeal. This action was taken to preserve any right it may have to utilise the appeal procedure and to give it time to consider in appropriate detail all the facts relating to the incident. Having considered recent judgments of the International Court of Appeal and More…



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