Posted on July 30, 2009


I posted on Sunday that the F1 drivers made a DVD together with SKY Italia for Felipe Massa’s race engineer Rob Smedley to take to him in hospital. Massa watched it soon after being woken from his chemically induced coma. Here it is. It’s interesting to see the body language of the drivers as they deliver their messages. Check out Webber in particular who doesn’t sugar the pill about being in hospital. Click on the link below: Get well soon, Felipe

Posted on July 29, 2009


Seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher has confirmed he will make a sensational return to Formula 1 as a replacement for Felipe Massa in an amazing turn of events. The German has previously rejected suggestions regarding a return to the sport; however, a sense of loyalty to the team in its time of need has inspired his return. “The most important thing first: thanks God, all news concerning Felipe are positive. I wish him all the best again,” said Schumacher. “I was meeting this afternoon with Stefano Domenicali and Luca di Montezemolo and together we decided that I will prepare myself More…

Posted on July 29, 2009


The FIA has issued a statement reacting to the BMW withdrawal from F1. As you can imagine they feel more than a little vindicated by this, as they have been warning for some time that the sport had become ‘unsustainable’ due to high costs and needed to be protected from manufacturers who come and go when it suits them. Ironically the costs are now set to come down dramatically, so arguably they are not the main driver behind this withdrawal. FIA president Max Mosley had quite a good relationship with some members of the BMW board and always said that More…

Posted on July 29, 2009


BMW today became the second major manufacturer to quit Formula 1 in eight months. I never much liked the way they went about their racing, being too focussed on corporate targets and not enough on racing. But I see no reason why the team, based in Hinwil should not be on the grid next year in a new guise. The timing of the BMW board’s decision was motivated by the imminent need for a signature on the new Concorde Agreement. It has been agreed between all parties and was simply awaiting main board approval from two manufacturers, one of whom More…

Posted on July 28, 2009


While Felipe Massa’s condition continues to improve in hospital, speculation regarding who will stand in for the Brazilian at next month’s European Grand Prix in Valencia is mounting. Word in Italy is that there is still concern about Massa’s sight in his left eye, with some suggestion that the optic nerve may be damaged. However Massa’s doctor Dino Altman, this afternoon said, “Felipe has no damage to his left eye. He opened it a little, it is still swollen, but he can see well. There is no obvious damage.” Only after detailed checks on the optic nerve will it be More…

Posted on July 28, 2009


Nico Rosberg has been doing an excellent job lately in the much improved Williams car. After some muttered comments from the team about ‘inconsistency’ a couple of months ago, he has put together a strong run of form, with four consecutive top six finishes in the run up to Budapest, including a battling drive to fifth from 15th on the grid in Germany. That Germany qualifying result aside, he has also qualified pretty solidly in the top ten all season. “I’m pleased the team is progressing really well and we are right up there performance wise, ” he said to More…

Posted on July 27, 2009


Jenson Button has seen his championship lead diminish badly in the last three races. He has scored six points since Turkey, while Mark Webber has scored 24 and Sebastian Vettel 18. At four points per race, as he lost here in Budapest, he will lose the title lead by Japan. Brawn had a third bad result in a row on a track where everyone thought they should have re-established themselves. Hungary was everyone’s idea of a strong Brawn track and if you throw in the heat, and the updated technical package, it is deeply worrying for them that they could More…

Posted on July 26, 2009


Renault have been banned from next month’s European Grand Prix after Fernando Alonso’s right-front wheel came off during today’s Hungarian Grand Prix. The ban means the Spaniard will now miss his home race on the streets of Valencia. Alonso had been leading the race from pole position when he emerged from his first pit stop without his right-front wheel sufficiently fitted. Alonso tried to recover to the pits, however the wheel freed itself and bounced off into the barriers. The penalty is very severe and probably would not have been given had the Henry Surtees and Felipe Massa incidents not More…

Posted on July 26, 2009


Lewis Hamilton has spoken of his delight at winning a race, the first time he has been on the podium since China last year. It was the 10th win of his career and the first for a KERS car. This is a source of particular joy for engine builder Mercedes, who seem to be building up quite a marketing campaign around the KERS hybrid on their road cars. KERS was certainly a big part of the secret here, with an electric getaway from the start and a great boost when overtaking the Red Bull of Mark Webber. McLaren have pushed More…

Posted on July 26, 2009


Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix today, heading home Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Mark Webber. Although many predicted a strong start for Hamilton after qualifying fourth, few would have guessed that he would drive away from the field in the race, his car handling both the soft and supersoft tyres very consistently. He made a move on Webber into turn one for second place at the start, but ran wide and Webber repassed him. Hamilton came back at him however and grabbed second place again. At the front pole sitter Fernando Alonso led in the Renault, but More…

Posted on July 26, 2009


Today’s Hungarian GP will be an intriguing contest. On the face of it a fight between the two Red Bull drivers for victory, but with potential for Lewis Hamilton and McLaren to cause an upset, particularly at the start. The KERS in Hamilton’s car will give him about 18 metres advantage on the run down to Turn 1. It’s more of a help here than it was in Germany and we saw what devastation the KERS cars inflicted there on the championship contenders. Starting 6th and 7th Heikki Kovalainen and Kimi Raikkonen also have the potential to get involved in More…

Posted on July 25, 2009


Felipe Massa has been operated on this evening and is now in an induced coma in the AEK Hospital in Budapest. An inaccurate report from AP this evening suggested that his condition was life threatening but this is not the case. The operation was successful and he is likely to be woken tomorrow. Medical estimates of how long he will be out of action vary from two months, to longer. It has been suggested by one doctor here that he may miss the rest of the season. More will be known when the medically induced coma ends and the medics More…

Posted on July 25, 2009


Felipe Massa will not race tomorrow in the Hungarian Grand Prix after he suffered a heavy accident having been hit in the head by a spring, from Rubens Barrichello’s car. Massa was travelling at around 175mph on the run down to Turn 4 when a spring from the Brawn’s rear suspension bounced up and hit him on the helmet, ripping one corner of his visor off and cutting Massa’a eye. The Brazilian remained conscious but had to be heavily sedated and was sent off for examination at the Budapest central Hospital. I’ve spoken to someone who has held the spring More…

Posted on July 25, 2009


Fernando Alonso took his first pole position since Monza 2007 today in a chaotic session at the Hungaroring in Budapest. The timing systems failed in the closing laps, which meant that no-one knew who was on pole and what the top ten grid positions were as the drivers assembled in parc ferme. It emerged that it was Fernando Alonso, who was surprised to find that he had taken his 18th career pole. Renault have improved the car a lot in the last couple of races, with a variety of experimental front wings available for Alonso this weekend. The Spaniard only More…

Posted on July 24, 2009


It was a hot and dusty day at the Hungaroring. We’d forgotten what it felt like to be hot at a race track. Today was forecast to be the warmest of the three days, but it’s not going to be chilly at any stage, I don’t think. There is a fresh feeling around the paddock, the political stuff goes on, but it is behind the scenes now and doesn’t seem to be taking up the bandwidth it was in June. Rubens Barrichello, who was in a bad mood last time we saw him in Germany, as he thought he had More…

Posted on July 24, 2009


There was a 2008 retro feel about the leaderboard today after first practice in Budapest as McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheets. It was extremely close, with a second separating the top 19 cars over an 82 second lap. Afterwards it was generally agreed that Red Bull and Brawn remain the teams to beat, albeit that they expect trouble at the start from the KERS cars of McLaren and Ferrari, which are likely to qualify right behind them and pass them at the start. Interestingly it seems that Webber is again the stronger of the two More…

Posted on July 23, 2009


Felipe Massa is one of a number of drivers to react with concern to the debut of 19 year old Jaime Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso. Alguersuari has done very little mileage in an F1 car, and what he has done was in a straight line, but he qualifies for a superlicence because he won last season’s British F3 championship. “For me he’s too young,” said Massa. “He’s never driven a Formula 1 car, or he has driven it in a straight line, or whatever. For me it’s wrong. It’s not good for him. He can burn himself very quickly.” More…

Posted on July 23, 2009


Jenson Button was his usual honest self at his press briefing today in Budapest, facing up to the challenge and giving an insight into the level of research he has done into the track and how it suits the opposition. On Red Bull he said something very interesting, which is that he hopes the updates Brawn has brought here this weekend will “be enough to challenge the Red Bulls,” suggesting that he clearly feels that Brawn has fallen behind them lately. This may seem obvious given the mauling he’s taken in the last two races, but bear in mind that More…

Posted on July 22, 2009


As we get ready to head for Budapest, the Concorde Agreement is due to be signed, which should bring in a new co-operation between the teams, the commercial rights holders and the FIA. I noted some comments yesterday by Mario Theissen, the team principal of BMW Sauber, about the need for the teams to have more say over the venues visited by the Formula 1 circus. I’ve heard these sentiments expressed many times before, but it will be interesting to see what traction they get this time around. Presently there is no race in North America, the largest market for More…

Posted on July 20, 2009


In the midst of all the polemics over the 2010 rules and new teams, little has been heard from Cosworth, who will be supplying the engines for all three new teams. But there are a lot of questions around Cosworth which need answering. Are they up to speed? Will the engines be reliable and competitive, seeing as they have not been in F1 since 2006? Have they got enough people? There have also been suggestions that having a Cosworth contract was an unspoken condition of getting an entry, so how does Cosworth feel about the way the entry process was More…

Posted on July 20, 2009


It is ironic that as one 19 year old is given his big break into Formula 1, news comes through of an 18 year old who died in pursuit of that same dream, while racing in Formula 2. The death of Henry Surtees, the son of 1964 world champion John, has rocked the motor sport community. Surtees died on Sunday following a freak accident at Brands Hatch where he was hit on the head by a loose wheel, which had been knocked off the car of Jack Clarke, stepson of F1 racer Julian Bailey. Clarke  had spun and hit the More…

Posted on July 20, 2009


Toro Rosso has confirmed today that 19 year old Jaime Alguesuari will replace Sebastien Bourdais from this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix onwards. In a frank and open statement by the team, Alguersuari admitted that this would be one of the most difficult debuts ever in F1, while team boss Franz Tost said that he expects ‘nothing’ from the teenager, at least for the first three races. In other words, “There’s no pressure, but there is,” Tost said, ”I am well aware that over the next few months the team and Jaime will face a major challenge, especially because of the testing More…

Posted on July 18, 2009


A few readers have commented this week about the fact that Toro Rosso has one of the worst records in the field for dropping drivers. So far in their short history they have dropped Scott Speed, Tonio Liuzzi and now Sebastien Bourdais. I’ve never quite got my head around Toro Rosso. It was once  Minardi and was bought up by Red Bull  boss Dietrich Mateschitz to fulfil several functions; to help out F1 by keeping another team on the grid, an extra non-manufacturer voice  politically, an extra branding opportunity, but mainly as a place to give young drivers from the More…

Posted on July 17, 2009


Yesterday we got two pieces of ‘news’ which took no-one by surprise; Toro Rosso has dropped Sebastien Bourdais and Jean Todt is officially running to replace Max Mosley as FIA president. Speculation about Bourdais’s position has been rife since last season and has mounted throughout this year. He’s a difficult one to pin down as to why it went wrong. On the one hand he had an excellent pedigree with a strong  run to become F3000 champion, but he had great difficulty getting an F1 team to take him. He went over to America and dominated ChampCar, winning four consecutive More…

Posted on July 16, 2009


On my way back from the airport on Sunday night my taxi driver was talking about Mosley this and Ecclestone that and I asked him if he was interested in other sports. He was. So then I asked him if he could name the regulatory and commercial bosses of any of those sports. He could not. These larger than life characters have actually taken over the limelight from the drivers this season, which is extraordinary but it looks like that is about to end and the focus for the final eight races will be on who is going to win More…

Posted on July 15, 2009


Many people are expecting white smoke today with the signature of the new Concorde Agreement, which will being stability to Formula 1 after months of wrangling. But it will not be today. What is scheduled for today is a meeting of the financial directors of the FOTA teams plus those of Williams, Force India and the three new teams. This meeting in Geneva is set to finalise financial details of the cost reduction mechanism. As for the Concorde Agreement, the various parties are edging closer to signature. Both team representatives and FIA representatives say that there are no negotiating points More…

Posted on July 14, 2009


We await confirmation that Jaime Alguersuari will replace Sebastien Bourdais at Toro Rosso from next race onwards. The 19 year old will become the youngest ever F1 driver, joining the ranks of Sebastian Vettel and Mike Thackwell in that list of teenagers who hit the big time. Apart from having a name which commentators will curse as it hardly trips off the tongue, Alguersuari will be up against it a bit at Budapest, which is quite a technical track on which to make a debut. He has only had one outing in an F1 car so far, at the Portimao More…

Posted on July 13, 2009


One of the great success stories of this season has been the arrival at the front of the grid of the Red Bull team under Christian Horner. The team has been building up steadily over the last few years since Red Bull took over the former Jaguar team. Horner has assembled a talented technical team, bringing in Adrian Newey to head the design department and other less well known but equally important people like Neil Martin, who heads the strategy group. People may well look back on this 2009 season as the year when the double diffuser issue meant that More…

Posted on July 12, 2009


If Silverstone weekend was all theatre and drama, regarding the rebel teams battle with the FIA, this weekend has been much calmer and more subdued. Possibly because of the cold, wet weather. But behind the scenes in the warm and dry motorhomes there has been a great deal of activity. Yesterday I heard that the eight FOTA teams had aligned themselves with CVC, the money men behind F1 and that the position now is that if they cannot find the agreement needed with the FIA  to get the new Concorde Agreement signed this week, then they will breakaway. FOTA had More…

Posted on July 12, 2009


Mark Webber took the first win of his long career today in commanding style, surviving a drive through penalty for ramming Rubens Barrichello at the start to take the chequered flag and give Red Bull its third win of the season. Webber’s Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel was second and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa third. We thought that Silverstone may have been a turning point of the season, with the almost brand new Red Bull car which dominated the weekend. Today we got confirmation that it was – and it is not just because of the high speed corners that More…

Posted on July 11, 2009


A lot of the teams this evening are talking about tomorrow’s race being one of those wet/dry, chaotic races with loads of pit stops as the conditions change. I’m sure that Mark Webber would like a nice uncomplicated race, in the dry, so that he could convert his well-earned pole position and car advantage into a first GP victory. Meanwhile plenty of drivers with nothing to lose, like Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen and Adrian Sutil will be going for it, taking risks and strategy gambles in the hope of nicking an unexpected win. Sutil did an amazing job today, not More…

Posted on July 11, 2009


Sebastian Vettel was not his usual chirpy self this evening. I caught up with him at 4-30pm local time with some other media colleagues and fired a few questions at him. I’ve heard from other teams’ engineers that the data shows he’s been a little tentative this weekend. No-one would blame him for being tentative in the insane, changeable conditions we had this afternoon, but generally it seems that the occasion may have got to to him a little bit. This is totally understandable. He has inherited the mantle of Germany’s sporting hero from Michael Schumacher and the country doesn’t More…

Posted on July 11, 2009


Mark Webber drove a nerveless final lap in qualifying today to take the first pole of his 128 race career. This was one of the most sensational qualifying sessions in recent memory, with intermittent rain falling throughout the second and third sessions, making tyre choice and timing of runs absolutely critical. The most extreme part of the session was qualifying 2, where there was a window of about three minutes to be on the slick tyre as the track began to dry out, before it started to rain again. Webber, Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel all got through safely but More…

Posted on July 11, 2009


Bernie Ecclestone has come out with the strongest indication yet that his old friend and colleague Max Mosley is in the final months of his FIA presidency and will stand down. Speaking to his favourite journalist, Ed Gorman in the Times, the same paper to which he gave the fateful ‘Hitler got things done’ interview, Ecclestone says that Mosley will follow through on his promise when his current term is up in October, “I have no doubt in my mind, as long as I’ve known Max, he’s always done what he said he would do. He’s an honourable person. I’ve always More…

Posted on July 10, 2009


Former world rally champion Ari Vatanen has confirmed that he will run for the FIA presidency in October. Whether he will run against the incumbent, Max Mosley is unclear at the moment. After a week of intense negotiations it seems that the Formula One Teams Association is making it a condition of signing the new Concorde Agreement that Mosley stands by his promise at the recent FIA world council meeting to stand down at the end of his term in October. If the teams sign the new Concorde Agreement and a legally binding document to work together to reduce costs More…

Posted on July 10, 2009


The politics which have dominated Formula 1 appear to be more under control now and as a result the talk here in the paddock is all about drivers movements for next season. Normally this subject is top of the agenda at this time of year, but teams and journalists have been too tied up dealing with possible breakaways. One move which seems to be on the cards is Nico Rosberg to BMW in place of Nick Heidfeld. The 24 year old is in his fourth season with Williams and clearly feels it is time to move on. He said yesterday More…

Posted on July 10, 2009


The Force India team had an embarrassing moment this morning when a legal dispute spilled over into the paddock as German police officials tried to impound their motorhome and other assets. It relates to a dispute with a supplier over the motorhome. It happened at breakfast time and guests of team sponsor Medion were forced to go to the Williams motorhome for a coffee. The team were able to compete in both practice sessions and it has indicated that the situation has been resolved and there will be no more disruptions this weekend. Giancarlo Fisichella had a strong first practice, More…

Posted on July 10, 2009


McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed today that the team will reduce development of this year’s car after the next race in Budapest and throw most of its efforts into ensuring that it has a race winning car in 2010. Speaking to Radio 5 Live today, Whitmarsh said, “This race and Hungary we will have a big push from the team and let’s hope it puts us in the hunt. Then inevitably we have to put effort into making sure we have a very fast car next year. There’s a lot of effort as the car will be radically different More…

Posted on July 9, 2009


Last night it looked as though World War Three had broken out again between the F1 teams and the governing body, but having got to the Nurburgring and heard both sides, it seems to me that, bizarrely, a lasting solution is close. Despite the fire and brimstone of various statements over the last 48 hours, in fact the two sides are close to signing a new Concorde Agreement which would return stability to the sport. This document would also be signed by venture capital firm CVC, who are majority shareholders in the commercial rights holder, with Bernie Ecclestone. CVC and More…

Posted on July 9, 2009


Geoff Willis, the technical director of Red Bull Racing has left the team, with barely half of the season gone. The exact reasons for his departure are not known as yet but Sebastian Vettel confirmed it in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live’s Holly Samos this afternoon. Vettel added that the team would not be destabilised by the departure. “Geoff did a lot of work and thanks to him we are where we are now. It’s always very difficult if someone leaves but we have a very good harmony in the team and it shouldn’t affect our performance at More…

Posted on July 8, 2009


It took Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier several high profile bouts to settle their differences and it seems that we are in for a rematch of Max Mosley’s FIA vs Luca di Montezemolo’s FOTA; a heavyweight showdown, just when we all thought things had been sorted out. There may not be a catchy title to this bout, such as the “Thriller in Manilla”, but you certainly wouldn’t call this weekend’s scrap, set for the Nurburgring, “A mere trifle in the Eiffel”. This is serious and FOTA have responded to being informed that its eight teams are not entered in next More…

Posted on July 7, 2009


The belt tightening in F1 continues. Today Toyota confirmed that it is withdrawing from a deal to host the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway, as it deals with mounting losses. Earlier this year the company said that it expected to lose over $1 billion in 2009. The race will now be held at Suzuka, which, ironically is owned by Honda, who withdrew from F1 last year. The actual cost of hosting the race is relatively modest compared to the running costs of the F1 team. The event sanctioning fee will be in the $20 million per season range, around More…

Posted on July 6, 2009


Bernie Ecclestone’s interview in the Times last weekend has brought a furious response from politicians and virtual silence from the F1 community. Most people in F1 don’t really want to get drawn into it, as they argue he shouldn’t have allowed himself to be in the first place. What most people don’t understand is why he did the interview. He didn’t appear to have a key message to sell, such as “I know the breakaway threat looked bad, but F1 is now in the best shape it’s ever been in, ” or something of that kind. There are suggestions that More…

Posted on July 3, 2009


There are a few interesting threads around today. The Times has an extraordinary interview with F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone where he explores the theme of ‘dictators’. Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo recently implied that FIA president Max Mosley was a dictator and Bernie sets out here to defend the breed as people who ‘get things done’. “Politicians are too worried about elections, ” he says. “We did a terrible thing when we supported the idea of getting rid of Saddam Hussein, he was the only one who could control that country. Warming to his theme, Bernie tackles the sensitive More…

Posted on July 2, 2009


Here we go again; summer’s here, the temperatures are sky high, there’s a long three week gap between races and Max Mosley and FOTA have gone quiet. If a vacuum is created something will come along to fill it and in this case it is the Spanish sports paper AS claiming that Ferrari is set to announce its deal with Fernando Alonso at the Italian Grand Prix in September. According to AS, Monza is where important Ferrari announcements are made (true up to a point) and the traditional end of season Ferrari celebration has been booked in for November at More…

Posted on July 1, 2009


You’ve probably not heard of Liam Fairhurst but he was a mad keen F1 fan and he died this week. But there’s more to it than that. Liam was only 14 and he had been battling against cancer for four years. He thought he’d beaten it, but it turned out he hadn’t. Liam was remarkable because when he was being treated the first time he made friends with another child who subsequently died. Upset by the loss of his friend, Liam was determined to raise money for Clic Sargent, the children’s cancer charity, of which Eddie Jordan and I are More…

Posted on July 1, 2009


Mark Webber has come out with some perky quotes today about the second half of the season and his chances of having a run at championship leader Jenson Button. Mark is 28.5 points behind Button (wish we could get rid of the half point thing, but without another rained off race we won’t be able to) and only 3.5 points behind his team mate Sebastian Vettel with a maximum of 90 points still available from the nine remaining races. Webber needs to score an average of just over three points per race more than Button to beat him to the More…



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