Posted on November 1, 2009


For the second race in a row, Kamui Kobayashi has set the place alight with some bold driving and given the lie to the theory that F1 is too tough for rookie drivers. He finished sixth today, ahead of team mate Jarno Trulli. Starting his second Grand Prix in 12th place, he was the second best placed of the cars on a one-stop strategy today, after Kimi Raikkonen, but he finished well ahead of the Ferrari driver. His strategy brought him into contact with Jenson Button again. The pair had had a battle in Brazil, after which Button said Kobayashi More…

Posted on November 1, 2009


Sebastian Vettel won the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix today, his 4th win of the season and the 6th for his team. Team mate Mark Webber finished second, fighting off a late challenge from Jenson Button in the Brawn-Mercedes. It was Vettel’s fourth win of the season, also the fourth 1-2 finish for Red Bull Racing and, encouragingly for them they have won the final three races of the season, which bodes well for 2010. Red Bull became a top team this season and believe that they can stay there for the future. Lewis Hamilton started from pole position and More…

Posted on October 31, 2009


Lewis Hamilton has been in a class of one this weekend and today he looks set to end the season on a real high with a victory at the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. If that happens, it will be his third victory in the second half of the season, to go with three podiums; an outcome few would have predicted when the McLaren was two seconds off the pace in the Barcelona test. Hamilton was asked this evening whether he feels that with the car he now has, he could have competed for the world championship and his answer More…

Posted on October 31, 2009


No-one here in on Yas Island this weekend is left in any doubt about the relationship between Ferrari and Abu Dhabi. The team has Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi investment vehicle, as one of its significant partners and the gigantic Ferrari World theme park dominates the skyline next to the circuit. The TV pictures tell a story of a track virtually owned by Ferrari. All of Ferrari’s top brass are here too; president Luca di Montezemolo is here along with Piero Ferrari, Enzo’s son and John Elkann, the nephew of FIAT patriarch Gianni Agnelli. But on track it has been a More…

Posted on October 31, 2009


Lewis Hamilton took a dominant pole position for the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the McLaren, beating the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel by an enormous 7/10ths of a second. It is Hamilton’s third pole position in the final five races of the season. Mark Webber was third, ahead of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button. Hamilton has been the man to beat this weekend, topping most of the session times. It is in the middle sector with its two long straights that the McLaren was untouchable, setting a sector time some 7/10ths of a second faster than his opponents. More…

Posted on October 31, 2009


I sat down with a few others last night to talk to Fernando Alonso, for the last time as a Renault driver. Fernando has his detractors among the public, especially in Britain, but he is always interesting to talk to and has strong things to say. Last night he was on great form, talking about the season past, the disappointment of not being able to fight for the championship, and his prospects of getting to work with Ferrari towards the end of next month, possibly into December. As he came to the Renault hospitality area in the paddock, four women More…

Posted on October 30, 2009


Today the F1 drivers turned their first laps on the new Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The general feeling seems to be positive, although most drivers feel that there are too many second gear corners in the final part of the lap. It’s a quick lap here, the average speed is 125 mph and half of the track is straights where the cars are doing 190mph. My impression is that the win will be fought out between Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button. They finished second third and fourth today in practice behind Heikki Kovalainen. The general feeling More…

Posted on October 30, 2009


Sir Frank Williams has confirmed that his team will use the Cosworth engine next season and is set to announce his driver line up of Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg on Monday. All three decisions show that Williams is pointing forwards with confidence. This weekend they have announced a strategic tie up here in the Middle East with the Qatar Science and Technology Park, where Williams will establish a Williams Technology Centre. Two F1 related R&D programmes will be carried out there; one into the flywheel energy regeneration system they have been working on for a couple of years now, More…

Posted on October 30, 2009


USF1, one of four new teams coming into the sport next season, has today confirmed what it has been saying privately for some time, that it will have its European base in Motorland, Aragon, in Spain. “MotorLand Aragon is the ideal motorsports complex for US F1’s European operation,” said Peter Windsor, executive vice president and sporting director of US F1. “From the excellent location and weather, to the rich racing heritage and diverse track configurations, MotorLand provides America’s first Formula One team in more than 40 years with the perfect facility to manage the 2010 season and train for 2011 More…

Posted on October 29, 2009


Nico Rosberg sat down with a few of us this afternoon and promptly came out with the statement that this would be his last race with Williams. It comes as no great surprise to anyone, as he has been strongly linked with a seat at Brawn-Mercedes for months and less strongly linked with McLaren Mercedes. Rosberg’s seat at Williams will be taken by Rubens Barrichello and the received wisdom is that the pair are doing a swap. But Rosberg would not be drawn on where he was going next. “It is my last race for Williams,” he said. “It is More…

Posted on October 29, 2009


The last time Jarno Trulli saw Adrian Sutil before today was when he was screaming at him over their first lap collision in Brazil. Trulli felt that the fault was entirely Sutil’s and today in the press conference at Yas Marina Circuit, the war of words spilled out again – that may well have been the reason why they were placed next to each other… There were quite a few incidents between drivers in Brazil and it looks like it will be a lively drivers’ briefing on Friday. Several drivers have indicated that they want to discuss the Kobayashi/Nakajima collision More…

Posted on October 28, 2009


This weekend spells the end of one of the most extraordinary F1 seasons in living memory. The season was so packed with dramas, scandals, great sporting moments and unexpected outcomes, it feels like we have had five years packed into one. With the final race inevitably come some departures from the sport; a few people know already that this will be their final weekend in F1, others will have it decided for them over the winter. Each team will be shedding a lot of jobs over the coming months as the teams downsize from their bloated pre-credit crunch staffing levels. More…

Posted on October 19, 2009


Jarno Trulli did another solid job in qualifying this weekend, fourth on the grid, one of a handful of drivers to judge the changeable conditions perfectly. In the race he was a furious early retirement after a collision with Adrian Sutil. And things are not going smoothly behind the scenes either in his negotiations with Toyota for a new contract. Toyota F1 president John Howett is on record as saying that it is looking unlikely that, despite an offer on the table, Trulli will stay with the team and this weekend Trulli explained the background to the situation, “I have More…

Posted on October 18, 2009


A fantastic Brazilian Grand Prix ended with Red Bull’s Mark Webber taking the victory, his second of the season, but Jenson Button won the world championship, ironically finishing the race in fifth place, the result that did it for Lewis Hamilton last season. He becomes the tenth British driver to win the F1 world championship. Robert Kubica finished second with the drive of the day and Lewis Hamilton had a storming drive from the back of the grid to finish third. Brawn won the constructors’ world championship in their first season as an F1 team. The team, formerly Honda, almost More…

Posted on October 16, 2009


Outgoing FIA president Max Mosley has issued two official press statements today on behalf of the FIA, heavily critical of one of the candidates to replace him, Ari Vatanen. With the election exactly one week away, Vatanen is being depicted as a divisive an destabilising figure, who doesn’t really know what he’s doing, whereas Jean Todt is being portrayed as the ‘harmony candidate’ as well as the leader with the right qualities and experience. It is now quite clear that Vatanen feels that next week’s election will not be conducted fairly. The format is a secret ballot and Vatanen has More…

Posted on October 16, 2009


There is a postscript today to the story of Nelson Piquet and the Singapore crash fixing scandal. Nelson’s father has spoken to Gazzetta dello Sport’s Pino Allievi about the background to the story and it makes very interesting reading. He has no sympathy for Renault boss Flavio Briatore, who has been banned from motorsport for life, “He deserved it,” says Piquet. “Admittedly it wasn’t his idea, but to convince a young driver to do something like that is huge. He should stay far away from racing.” Piquet reveals that he was keen to move his son on from Renault at More…

Posted on October 15, 2009


Felipe Massa is playing an interesting game at the moment, with regards to his team mate for next season, Fernando Alonso. First at a lunch for Brazilian journalists yesterday in Sao Paolo, he claimed that Alonso must have known about the Singapore crash plot, even though he was cleared of involvement by the FIA, “Fernando knew, ” he said. “Of course he knew, I’m 100% certain of that. In a team it is impossible not to know the strategy of the other driver.” Many of the drivers say the same thing privately, but have not wanted to say it publicly. More…

Posted on October 6, 2009


Mark Webber’s Japanese Grand Prix looked like a bit of a write-off; he finished last, two laps behind his team mate who won the race in the same car. But it could turn out to have been a very worthwhile afternoon. The Australian crashed on Saturday morning, doing enough damage to his car for it to be scrapped and this meant he had to miss qualifying and start the race from the pit lane. He was back into the pits twice in the first few laps to fix a loose headrest. From then on his race was a test session. More…

Posted on October 6, 2009


Felipe Massa arrived back at Maranello yesterday, some two months after the accident which threatened his career. The Brazilian is anxious to get back into a car and race again as soon as possible, but team boss Stefano Domenicali, who managed to beat most of the F1 paddock back to Europe by at least half a day, said again that the team is “not in a hurry” Massa understandably wants to re-establish himself solidly at the team before Fernando Alonso arrives. The date of Alonso’s release from Renault has not yet been decided, but Ferrari would like it to be More…

Posted on October 5, 2009


Sebastian Vettel’s win at Suzuka hasn’t exactly brought the championship to life, because it is still very much Jenson Button’s to lose, but it has brought it to within a range which is achievable. Kimi Raikkonen turned around a 17 point deficit in 2007 and Vettel now trails by 16. With memories of 2007 still so fresh, a psychological barrier has been crossed. Neither of the remaining races will be straightforward. Lewis Hamilton has two years’ experience of how unpredictable the race in Brazil can be and then we have the great unknown in Abu Dhabi, which looks like a More…

Posted on October 4, 2009


More is beginning to emerge about the comeback plan of Felipe Massa. The Brazilian arrives in Italy tomorrow for two weeks of physical training, evaluation and preparation. Ferrari say that he will go on the simulator in the factory, to test out his reactions and get back into the swing of things. “Our main target is to make sure that everything is okay from the physical point of view,” said team boss Stefano Domenicali. “We asked the FIA to make sure that there is no breach of the sporting and testing regulations. This gave us clearance to do the test. More…

Posted on October 4, 2009


Sebastian Vettel drove a totally dominant race to win the Japanese Grand Prix, ahead of Jarno Trulli and Lewis Hamilton. It was Vettel’s fourth victory and the third of this season. Vettel took the lead from pole position, taking a very assertive line into Turn 1 to stop Hamilton, using the KERS on the McLaren to good effect, from passing. Hamilton was able to jump Trulli for second and from then on he drove an incredible race, fighting throughout to get the position back. He achieved it at the second pit stops. A substantial late accident by Jaime Alguersuari in More…

Posted on October 4, 2009


Timo Glock will miss the Japanese Grand Prix today following his heavy accident in qualifying. The Toyota driver suffered a 5cm cut in the back of his left leg. Doctors on Sunday morning advised him against racing. This is a blow for Toyota, who ran Kamui Kobayashi on Friday in the practice session as Glock was reported to be suffering from flu. Toyota applied for Kobayashi to be given dispensation to race, but this was rejected because a driver must compete on the second day of a GP meeting. Everyone in the F1 paddock has been trying to work out More…

Posted on October 3, 2009


Jenson Button has been moved back five places on the grid for not observing the yellow flags warning him of debris on the circuit. Not ideal, but he is quite calm about it because his team mate Rubens Barrichello got the same penalty for the same offence. No-one has the slightest idea of exactly where on the grid he will start; estimates vary from 9th to 12th, depending on how you calculate it. So little changes between them and Button can watch his team mate closely in the race. Even without the penalties it was another less than perfect qualifying More…

Posted on October 3, 2009


Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka on a day when qualifying was stopped three times for accidents. Jarno Trulli took a very strong second place for Toyota and Lewis Hamilton a rather surprising third for McLaren, given that the team wasn’t expecting to go well here. The Brawn drivers were fifth and seventh and it looks like they have fuelled the cars heavily anticipating that they will be given a penalty and moved back down the grid after a stewards’ enquiry. Jenson Button did not slow down at the end of Q2, when yellow More…

Posted on October 3, 2009


Jarno Trulli set the fastest time in the final practice session before qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. The veteran Italian was down the time sheets until his final run, which looked like a low fuel qualifying simulation. No many drivers did one of those; Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean certainly did. It was a frantic session, because yesterday was largely lost to rain. The teams and drivers had to get a lot of set up work done in just one hour for both qualifying and the race. Sebastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso led the way for much More…

Posted on October 3, 2009


Toyota’s John Howett has been doing a bit of firefighting in the last couple of days after his team principal Tadashi Yamashina was quoted as saying that the company’s future in F1 was ‘unclear’. Toyota has been dogged by rumours that it may pull out at the end of the season. Earlier this year there was a political dimension to this; it suited some people to cast doubt on Toyota’s commitment. Generally there is no doubt that the sudden withdrawals of Honda last Christmas and BMW this summer have dented confidence within F1 circles in the manufacturers’ assurances of participation. More…

Posted on October 3, 2009


Ari Vatanen has hit back against Max Mosley’s claims that he will ‘lose and lose badly’ in the FIA presidential elections later this month. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper he said that he now has over half the votes and believes that the tide is turning in his favour, “It happens in smaller elections too and this is a Barack Obama thing happening: we believe we have more than half of the votes already and there is a tendency the tide has turned,” Vatanen said. “The [Todt] camp has been very faithful to tactics [Mosley has] employed over the years. More…

Posted on October 2, 2009


Lewis Hamilton had his first taste of Suzuka today, a track which he admits he has always dreamed of racing on. A lot of this has to do with his great admiration for Ayrton Senna. Hamilton has a yellow crash helmet styled after Senna’s and is well aware that many of the most iconic moments in the Brazilian’s career happened here, like the championship -deciding collisions with Alain Prost in 1989 and 1990. Hamilton is unusual among drivers in having a pretty good knowledge of and interest in, F1 history. Even though it was a bit of a washout today, More…

Posted on October 2, 2009


Michael Schumacher has posted a short quote on his website saying that Ferrari’s move to hire Fernando Alonso has his full backing and, what’s more, he was in on it from the start. “Fernando with Ferrari, that’s something I like a lot. I was involved from the very beginning in this decision, and I always liked the idea. I am sure Fernando will feel well with us, and I can only say: Welcome, Fernando!” Much has been made of the apparent strain in relations between the two following their intense battle for the 2006 world championship. Alonso was very angry More…

Posted on October 2, 2009


The Guardian newspaper is reporting that FIA president Max Mosley has sent a stern letter to Prince Feisal, of the Jordanian Royal family, warning that the candidate he supports in the FIA election later this month ‘will lose and lose badly’. Prince Feisal has been nominated by Vatanen as one of his vice presidents on the sporting side. The gloves are now well and truly off in the fight to be elected Mosley’s successor. The support of Prince Feisal was quite a decisive win for Ari Vatanen and could change the dynamic of the Middle East quite considerably. Mosley is More…

Posted on October 2, 2009


Felipe Massa has hit out on Brazilian TV, claiming that he was ‘robbed’ of last year’s drivers world title because Renault cheated. “All of what happened was robbery – but regarding the race nothing has happened, the result remains the same. This is not right. The robbery changed the outcome of a championship and I lost (the title),” Massa says that the result of the race should be annulled, which would mean that Lewis Hamilton would lose the six points he gained for his third place finish and Massa would be world champion. Massa compares the situation to the Italian More…

Posted on October 1, 2009


There was quite a bit of relief on all sides today that we were finally able to talk to Fernando Alonso about being a Ferrari driver and get proper answers out of him, instead of ‘Wait and see”. To listen to him and Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali today, we were told that they had agreed a deal during the summer for Alonso to come to the team in 2011, but then when Renault got themselves embroiled in the Singapore carsh fixing scandal, the opportunity opened up to make the move a year early. Alonso said, “Something wonderful changed,” which hardly More…

Posted on October 1, 2009


Today has been a very interesting day in the Suzuka paddock. It was one of those days when there is a real buzz in the air and some paddock theatre going on. With the announcement last night of Kimi Raikkonen’s removal from Ferrari and Fernando Alonso’s arrival, it was clear that their respective press briefings and the one of Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali were going to be interesting. Kimi looked rather crestfallen today, as you would expect, but he was very dignified in the way he carried himself publicly. He did not criticise the team and they did not criticise More…

Posted on October 1, 2009


The Alonso to Ferrari move has energised the driver market and it looks like we are going to have some very strong line-ups for next year. Whoever wins the next couple of world championships will really have deserved them because the competition is going to be intense. I’ve been thinking through the rationale behind some of the likely next driver moves I posted about this week. Raikkonen to McLaren This one struck me as odd, as regular readers will know, because firstly I didn’t see why the team would need another ‘ace’, second I wonder if they could handle the More…

Posted on September 30, 2009


Fernando Alonso has spoken on the Ferrari website about his move to the Scuderia, while Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has spoken of the reasons why they dropped Kimi Raikkonen and hired Alonso. The Spaniard was not quoted in the Ferrari press release which was careful to dispense with Kimi Raikkonen’s services in a respectful way. “I’m very happy and very proud to become a Ferrari driver,” Alonso said. “Driving a single-seater from the Prancing Horse is everybody’s dream in this sport and today I have the opportunity to make this dream come true. Above all I want to thank More…

Posted on September 30, 2009


Well, it’s finally been confirmed; Fernando Alonso is joining Ferrari next season for three years initial term. The team has also confirmed that Felipe Massa will be racing for them again. Formula 1 has it’s dream scenario, which harks back to the Prost vs Senna days – Hamilton in a McLaren vs Alonso in a Ferrari, two drivers on the same level with some history between them. F1, like any sport, works at its absolute best when it has a really great rivalry and we now have that. Except that it’s even better than that because Kimi Raikkonen is also More…

Posted on September 30, 2009


Toyota’s F1 team principal Tadashi Yamashima has issued a stark warning today that the involvement of the world’s biggest car maker in F1 could come to an end soon. He described the situation as ‘unclear’, but warned that it depended on how the car business was doing. “We will participate for now,” he said. “We have to consider a variety of things in relation to our core business. Our participation is unclear, depending on our financial results.” It is quite a downbeat message on the eve of the company’s home race in Suzuka, especially coming off the back of a More…

Posted on September 28, 2009


This weekend has seen a PR blitz by Jean Todt as the campaign to be elected FIA president enters the final stages. The election is less than a month away and Todt has made his first visit to the F1 paddock since announcing his candidacy. Outgoing FIA president Max Mosley has already publicly endorsed him and this week belittled his rival Ari Vatanen. Also this week Bernie Ecclestone came out strongly in support of Todt. This is no surprise; it was Ecclestone who persuaded Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo to hire Todt back in 1993 when he was at Peugeot. More…

Posted on September 27, 2009


Lewis Hamilton won the Singapore Grand Prix with a faultless drive from pole position to redeem himself after his last lap crash in Monza. But his task was made easier by key errors made by his two main rivals, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel. Both made mistakes in pit stops which brought them drive through penalties; Rosberg had done the hard work at the start, passing Vettel off the line to take second place, but then he got into trouble when he made a slip after his pit stop and crossed the white line on the pit exit. Vettel was More…

Posted on September 26, 2009


Lewis Hamilton did the best job of the cars at the front of the field today, with a lap which was two tenths of a second faster than the man in second place, Sebastian Vettel, despite carrying an extra fuel weight penalty of over three tenths, so he was net half a second faster. Of course we never got to see what Vettel would have done on his second run because Barrichello hit the wall and the session was stopped prematurely. With all the intricate detail recently about how Renault fixed the result of last year’s race, the subject of More…

Posted on September 26, 2009


Lewis Hamilton took a widely predicted pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix today, but he was given a helping hand by Rubens Barrichello who crashed with 26 seconds remaining, when Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg were both on potentially better laps. They ended up second and third respectively. It was an anti climactic ending to a session which was brought alive by the unexpected performance of Rosberg and the Red Bulls. Hamilton felt that he had a couple of tenths over the others in any case. “I came in today with a positive approach, ” said Hamilton. “My mechanics More…

Posted on September 26, 2009


McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the third practice session at Singapore, pushing Sebastian Vettel down to second place. Nico Rosberg was third. It looks like being a very competitive qualifying session this evening, with McLaren, Red Bull and Williams all looking strong, while BMW seem to have made a big step with their heavily revised car. There is some work to be done at Brawn. Yesterday the car seemed to be working well but they made some changes in the third practice and Jenson Button radioed his engineer at the end of the session to say that More…

Posted on September 25, 2009


Things are moving quickly now in the one key move in the driver market which will unlock the others. Today Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali said “In the last couple of days the situation has changed, so we will keep you updated as soon as we can say something. At the moment nothing to add on that.” What did he mean? Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was in Madrid on Thursday and took part in a question and answer session with the readers of Marca, the leading daily sports paper. He was collecting one of their awards. He allowed himself to More…

Posted on September 25, 2009


New Renault managing director Jean-Francois Caubet has said that Renault has suffered immense damage to its brand and considered an F1 pullout. It has decided to commit itself to the sport, but must put in place a management structure that will keep the team true to Renault’s values. This weekend has been utterly humiliating for the team so far, with the high profile rejection by two sponsors, ING and Mutua Madrilena. To be cast off like that by two blue chip international companies gives Renault a pariah status that is hard to comprehend for one of the world’s leading car More…

Posted on September 24, 2009


There was a very serious development this evening in the Renault cheating story. Two of Renault’s key sponsors have today pulled out of their relationships with the team with immediate effect. Title sponsor ING, which was due to end its $65 million a year deal at the end of this season and Spanish insurance company Mutua Madrilena is also calling time on its $5 million a year deal with the team. However both companies will continue their relationship with lead driver Fernando Aloso until the end of the 2009 season. The statement from ING reads as follows; “ING announced today More…

Posted on September 24, 2009


Bernie Ecclestone has said in the last few days that he thinks that the penalty meted out to Flavio Briatore by the FIA World Motor Sport Council was too harsh. Ecclestone is a member of the WMSC himself and has a personal interest because Briatore is a close friend and business associate with whom Ecclestone spends his evenings at race meetings. Now, it seems their relationship is broken. Speaking at an LG press conference in Singapore today he said, “He’s not talking to me, I don’t know. He thinks I should have defended him, which I couldn’t.” But beyond that, More…

Posted on September 24, 2009


In the light of the Renault penalties over Singapore, Williams driver Nico Rosberg regrets that Fernando Alonso’s victory cannot be struck from the records, giving him his first race win. Rosberg finished second to Alonso, but as we no know, the victory was achieved as a direct result of the team cheating. Had Piquet come clean at the time, or even up to a month after the event, Rosberg might have had his win. But under FIA rules the deadline for changing the result of last year’s Singapore Grand Prix was the end of November. By then Piquet had been More…

Posted on September 14, 2009


The saga over Fernando Alonso’s move to Ferrari looked on Friday like it was finally being cleared up. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said that Fernando Alonso will join Ferrari one day, but hinted strongly that it will be 2011, rather than 2010. But the signals continue to suggest that this situation is fluid. My understanding of the much rumoured agreement with Alonso has always been that it was for 2011, with a clause for 2010 if there was a vacancy. I wrote about this last Christmas. Both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen have firm contracts for 2010 and it More…

Posted on September 13, 2009


Rubens Barrichello was magnificent this weekend at the Italian Grand Prix. But whatever happens from now on, whether he is able to beat Jenson Button to the world championship or not, the whole season has been a win for him. He didn’t have a drive in January and yet his stunning performances in the second half of the season, including two wins, have more than done enough to cement his place in F1 next year, for an unprecedented 18th season! As Ross Brawn said to me recently, he sees no reason why he wouldn’t retain Barrichello for next year. Of More…

Posted on September 13, 2009


Rubens Barrichello took his second victory in three races at the Italian Grand Prix, heading home team mate Jenson Button. It was a beautifully judged performance all weekend from the 37 year old, to put his team mate in the shade. Whereas Button hit the ground running at the start of the season, since Turkey it has been all Barrichello. Today was Barrichello’s third win at Monza and the first time that he has headed Button in a Brawn 1-2 finish. It moved him to 14 points behind Button in the championship and with the Red Bull pair of Mark More…

Posted on September 12, 2009


Who will win the Italian Grand Prix? This has been one of the most open race weekends of the year with four or five cars capable of pole and of the win as well. Who could win it? Well Hamilton, obviously, he’s on a two stop strategy so will have to drive flat out all three stints, but the McLaren has been quick all weekend. Sutil is a longer shot, not least because he will lose his second place to Raikkonen and Kovalainen at the start due to their KERS systems. Raikkonen has more fuel than the other two stoppers More…

Posted on September 12, 2009


It’s been great fun and we had over 300 people contributing ideas as to how close Giancarlo Fisichella would get to Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying for his Ferrari debut at Monza. Thanks to everyone who took part and I’m sure we will do this again soon. The prize is a signed copy of my biography of Michael Schumacher, The Edge of Greatness. I’m very proud to say that we had lots of really good estimates with over 30 comments being within five hundredths of a second – it’s even more competitive than the F1 grid itself! It shows that we More…

Posted on September 12, 2009


Ferrari debutant Giancarlo Fisichella qualified 14th for the Italian Grand Prix and believes that the crash he suffered in the morning practice was largely to blame for him not making it through to the pole position shootout. In a tight field, Fisi was 0.475s slower than team mate Kimi Raikkonen, and with such a tightly bunched and competitive field, that was enough to put him out of contention. Fisichella looked tentative on the brakes, in particular. He said that he has more or less learned when and how to deploy KERS, but looking at him driving the car, it seems More…

Posted on September 12, 2009


Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Italian Grand Prix with a last minute lap to take it away from the Force India of Adrian Sutil. The German briefly went fastest, but had made a mistake at the Lesmo bends, which arguably cost him the pole, as he ended up two tenths of a second behind the world champion. Three of the top four cars are equipped with KERS, underlining its potency around Monza. Sutil will doubtless be swallowed up at the start by Kimi Raikkonen, who starts third and fourth place Heikki Kovalainen. Ross Brawn confirmed that both of More…

Posted on September 11, 2009


The stakes were raised significantly today in the case of Renault and the crash which won the team the Singapore Grand Prix. Renault issued legal proceedings against the Piquets, father and son for defamation and blackmail, team boss Flavio Briatore spoke about the damage the bad press is causing to the image of Renault and FIA president Max Mosley said that the FIA considers this allegation to be more serious than cheating and that the team could be thrown out of F1 if found guilty on September 21st. In what is rapidly turning into the biggest in a series of More…

Posted on September 11, 2009


Adrian Sutil kept up Force India’s excellent form from Spa with fastest time in free practice for the Italian Grand Prix. The German was on the pace throughout the day and set the fastest time at the end of the second session using the soft Bridgestone tyres. The Force India took a big step forward at Valencia but has really come into its own on the low downforce circuits. Meanwhile his former team mate, Giancarlo Fisichella, found himself in the Luca Badoer slot, 20th position on his first day as a Ferrari driver, albeit with far more prospect of eventual More…

Posted on August 30, 2009


Ferrari super-sub Luca Badoer crawled in last today for the second race in a row at the Belgian Grand Prix, 102 seconds behind his team mate and the winner of the race, Kimi Raikkonen. But afterwards he spoke of his plans for the next race at Monza, where he believes he will put in a truly competitive showing. It was a day when the importance of having both cars scoring points was underlined again. Ferrari was able to open up a 12 point lead over McLaren in their intense fight for third place in the championship. This battle is set More…

Posted on August 30, 2009


Kimi Raikkonen won the Belgian Grand Prix today, for the fourth time in his career, beating pole sitter Giancarlo Fisichella into second place. The pair were never more than 1.1 seconds apart at any stage in a thrilling race, which turned on the restart on lap 5 after a safety car for first lap carnage. Fisichella led through La Source but Raikkonen was able to pass him on the straight after Eau Rouge using his KERS power boost button to take a lead he would never lose. They both pitted together at each of their stops, but if Fisichella had More…

Posted on August 29, 2009


Today was nothing short of extraordinary, with Giancarlo Fisichella taking the pole for Force India ahead of Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld and tomorrow should be a really exciting Grand Prix. A lot is likely to change from the top ten we have on the grid and any one of three or four drivers could win the race. The pace of Fisi and the BMWs in particular caught out the Red Bull team who were competitive in Q2, especially with Sebastian Vettel and so went for the slightly higher fuel load in Q3, as part of their standard tactic of More…

Posted on August 29, 2009


Today was a completely extraordinary qualifying session with many of the biggest names in F1 failing to make the cut for the top ten shootout and Giancarlo Fisichella giving Force India, F1′s lowest budget team, it’s first pole position. Fisi acknowledged that perhaps the rabbit he hit in the morning session, which broke his front wing, may have brought him luck! Jarno Trulli was second with BMW’s Nick Heidfeld third. Of the the main title rivals, Rubens Barrichello is the best placed in fourth place, while his team mate and title leader Jenson Button was only 14th. It was a More…

Posted on August 29, 2009


Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says in today’s Times that the team would like to run a third car next season for seven times world champion Michael Schumacher, provided he is able to fully recover from his neck injury. “Going back to Michael, it is correct to say that, if everything is fine, why not see him in one of our cars?” said Domenicali. “It is true that we are pushing [for three cars]. We feel that it is for the benefit of Formula One and it is better to make sure that the biggest teams have three cars because More…

Posted on August 28, 2009


Jenson Button lost his cool yesterday with the man from the Times, Ed Gorman, when he suggested that in the eyes of some, Button didn’t actually want to win the world championship. “I don’t think people are saying that seriously. Who could possibly say that?” said an incredulous Button. Button has made heavy going of shutting out this world title lately, especially in Valencia where he failed to turn a winning car into a winning result. He made a mistake in qualifying and then got boxed in at the start, dropping from 5th to 9th on the opening lap. This More…

Posted on August 28, 2009


Giancarlo Fisichella was at the centre of attention yesterday afternoon in the Spa paddock, being photographed and interviewed left right and centre. This is because the odds are shortening all the time on him driving a Ferrari in the Italian Grand Prix next month and for the remaining races until Felipe Massa comes back. Exactly when that might be will become clearer this weekend as Massa will get a definitive opinion from racing medical guru Steve Olvey in Florida. By Monday the Ferrari team will know if Massa will race again this season. Then they can assess Luca Badoer’s performance More…

Posted on August 27, 2009


This afternoon I sat down, along with various press colleagues, with Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg and all three gave very interesting insights into their thought processes at this important time in the driver market. It’s quite possible that all three drivers will move teams for next year. Widespread rumour since last Christmas has Alonso going to Ferrari (either next year or 2011), Kubica has a choice of Williams, Renault and Toyota, Rosberg will probably either stay put or move to McLaren Mercedes. This stage of the season is all about trying to unpick the lock, to figure More…

Posted on August 27, 2009


Just arrived at Spa after a 6-55am BA flight from Heathrow. Ross Brawn and some of his senior engineers were on it as well as some of the photographers. Then the 90 minute drive from Brussels to Spa, which is about half an hour south of the city of Liege. Amazingly it’s a beautiful day here. I’ve been coming to Spa for the Grand Prix for 20 years and I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve seen a hot sunny day here. Let’s hope it lasts. The forecast is for it to stay sunny or partly More…

Posted on August 24, 2009


Stefano Domenicali has had a few character building weekends since he took over as boss of Gestione Sportiva, otherwise known as the Ferrari Formula 1 team. But this past weekend with the requirement to make something of 38 year old Luca Badoer, who had not raced for 10 years, must rank high on his list of challenges. It was an unconvincing performance by Badoer to say the least and afterwards Domenicali left the door ajar for a rethink on the plan that Badoer will drive until Massa returns. He also acknowledged that Ferrari needs a young driver programme and said More…

Posted on August 23, 2009


McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh said after the race that the slow second pit stop of Lewis Hamilton did not cause him to lose the race, he believes that he was going to lose it anyway. Hamilton approached the pits on lap 37, while leading the race. At that stage Rubens Barrichello had closed up to be just 3.6 seconds behind him. He had four to five more laps of fuel in the car at the time and the general rule is that you need about one second lead for each extra lap your opponent is doing. It’s probably true that More…

Posted on August 23, 2009


Rubens Barrichello won the European Grand Prix at Valencia, putting to an end a five year winless streak. A year ago it was being suggested that his career might be over, but he triumphed in style at Valencia with a determined, consistent performance. It was the 100th win for a Brazilian driver in F1 and it brought him to second place, 18 points behind Jenson Button, who was seventh today, in the world championship. When he drove down the pit lane to parc ferme most of the teams came out of their garages to applaud him, a sight rarely seen More…

Posted on August 22, 2009


I went to dinner at Bridegstone this evening with some of my colleagues from the UK and Irish media. We got talking about the race ahead and it struck me that Heikki Kovalainen is in an awkward position tomorrow in the race, so I thought I’d come back here to the press office and share it with you. The way I see it, Heikki has been under some pressure from the McLaren management lately, with team boss Martin Whitmarsh saying on Friday during practice that, “He’s done some great qualifying, but we know and he knows that he has got More…

Posted on August 22, 2009


Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position of the season and the 14th of his career at Valencia today, beating his McLaren Mercedes team mate Heikki Kovalainen into second place. Rubens Barrichello was third for Brawn GP. Sebastian Vettel was fourth with Jenson Button fifth. The other title contender, Mark Webber was down in 9th place. Hamilton tacked the session with great confidence, doing only one run and saving a set of tyres in the second part of qualifying. He said afterwards that it has been a long time since he had the car to do this. But he was More…

Posted on August 21, 2009


I went from the Kimi Raikkonen press briefing this afternoon to the Fernando Alonso one and there was an interesting little cameo which came to light. There were some quotes yesterday from Luca Badoer saying that he had no help from Kimi Raikkonen, but Badoer said sportingly that this was “Kimi’s character.” This was interesting when taken in conjunction with the quotes from Felipe Massa to the effect that he had not had any kind of get well message from Raikkonen. Perhaps mindful of this, when he was asked whether he had helped Badoer, who struggled today, Raikkonen said “No More…

Posted on August 21, 2009


The Red Bull team has a lot of work to do if it is to challenge for the win here this weekend, according to Mark Webber. The Aussie who lies second in the world championship, 18.5 points behind Jenson Button, says that the team expected Valencia to suit their car less well than other tracks coming up, like Spa, but nevertheless he is concerned by the difference in lap times with the Brawns in particular, “We’ve got a bit of work to do tonight,” he said. “We are not at our normal level at the moment. Seems to be [that More…

Posted on August 21, 2009


Another day, another confident, proactive statement from Jean Todt. This one is a peach. Not 24 hours after his rival for the FIA presidency Ari Vatanen released his manifesto, Todt releases a statement saying how delighted he is with the response from the key FIA players around the world to his manifesto. He lists a series of tributes, saying how they are behind Todt all the way. There are some big names and clubs there. It’s a very strong message to Vatanen, who has been visiting the F1 paddock in recent weeks, that Todt has put the spade work in More…

Posted on August 21, 2009


Sebastian Vettel will be a Red Bull driver for at least another two seasons, with an option to stay for 2012 as well. The 22 year old German has developed in the last 12 months into one of the sport’s leading drivers and with Red Bull producing a race winning car this year the combination has become very strong. His decision to stay is no great surprise but it is timely as the driver market is starting to really kick in now and this announcement needed to be made to stop any speculation about Vettel’s future. Mark Webber was recently More…

Posted on August 21, 2009


McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said this morning in Valencia that he is not in discussions with any drivers regarding the seat currently occupied by Heikki Kovalainen. He also talked openly about Fernando Alonso’s expected move to Ferrari and its effect on the driver market. The Finn admitted yesterday that his performances have been disappointing this season, particularly in races and that he has had talks with the team about how he can get more from himself and the car. He has put extra hours in on the simulator ahead of this weekend. Meanwhile Nico Rosberg openly discussed the possibility More…

Posted on August 20, 2009


Romain Grosjean is the first Frenchman for over 20 years to drive for Renault. It’s a great honour for him and one he’s waited patiently for. I went along to hear what he had to say this afternoon and he seemed very excited about his opportunity, but according to people who have observed him closely, he has some demons which he needs to overcome if he is to make the most of this chance and establish himself as a Renault driver for 2010. Apparently the huge accident he suffered in GP2 at Monaco this year (see below) really rang his More…

Posted on August 20, 2009


Robert Kubica had a wry grin on his face this afternoon when a few of us caught up with him at his press briefing. The Pole has had a couple of weeks to digest the news that his BMW team will not be in F1 next year and this means upheaval and change for him. He knows that it’s a case of what might have been, but he also has to look forwards. Astonishingly the way he heard about the news was first from an internet site which ran a speculative piece before the announcement and then soon after he More…

Posted on August 18, 2009


Michael Schumacher will attend this weekend’s European Grand Prix at Valencia as part of the Ferrari team. The 40 year old was hoping to race but failed a medical check on his neck. He will be there to support the team and particularly Luca Badoer, with whom Schumacher has had a long friendship. Badoer is substituting for the injured Felipe Massa until further notice. Badoer drove the F60 car at Ferrari’s Fiorano test track this week as part of a promotional filming event. He wasn’t allowed to do more than 100 kilometres in a day and had to use extra More…

Posted on August 18, 2009


Following their success in the FIA appeal court yesterday, the Renault team today confirmed that Romain Grosjean will replace Nelson Piquet from this weekend onwards. Interestingly the statement from Renault makes no bones about the fact that the ex Piquet, now Grosjean seat is occupied by the ‘second driver’. Not all teams like to talk about number one and number two drivers, but Renault clearly feel that with Fernando Alonso in the other car there is no point pretending otherwise. Piquet complained of second class treatment from the team when he lashed out at team principal Flavio Briatore after his 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 June 23, 2009


I have posted before about Jenson Button and his openness this season. Despite his reputation as a bit of a playboy, he is very serious about his racing and always has been. Now he’s at the sharp end and very focussed, he analyses situations very clearly and is good enough to share them with us in the media, on and off the record. After the British Grand Prix he did his usual media debrief and I have picked out a few comments which enhance our understanding of his situation and how the season is unfolding for him. Silverstone wasn’t a More…

Posted on June 21, 2009


Sebastian Vettel put in a peerless performance today to win the British Grand Prix, his second victory of the season and the third of his brief career. He turns 22 next week. Red Bull Racing have made a big improvement to their car, but there is no doubt that the circuit and the conditions played to their strengths and Brawn’s weaknesses. The Brawn drivers were struggling, relatively speaking, Button had a tougher time than Barrichello, but it was interesting that none of the other cars was fast enough to beat the Brawn to the podium. The question then is, will More…

Posted on June 21, 2009


FIA president Max Mosley said today that he was ready to start negotiations with FOTA to try to get F1 back on track after the teams opted to start a breakaway series. “We are talking to people all the time,” he told BBC’s F1 programme. “It will all be back to normal, it’s just a question of when. We are very close. What divides us and the teams is minimal and really is something we could sit down and iron out very quickly.” Mosley was very active with the media in the run up to the race. He was clarifying More…

Posted on June 21, 2009


There is a fantastic atmosphere here at Silverstone today, with over 100,000 people looking forward to a great day’s racing. We had 85,000 here on Friday, which is more than most Grands Prix get on raceday. Bernie Ecclestone’s comments yesterday that we will be back at Silverstone next year if Donington isn’t ready have been well received by the F1 fraternity and the public and it has given some reassurance in a weekend of instability. The weather is not as warm as predicted, it’s currently only 15 degrees, which is not going to help Jenson Button very much. He needs More…

Posted on June 20, 2009


A bit of light relief from Silverstone this evening. I was passing the Force India motorhome when I spied a crowd inside all cheering. On closer inspection I found team boss Vijay Mallya with three darts in his hands taking on Bobby George, twice runner up in the Darts World Championships. The pair were warming up because tonight Force India are hosting a darts evening for the media and guests. I would imagine that this is an evening on which Radio 5 Live commentator David Croft will come into his own as the ‘seven sausage a day’ Croft is an More…

Posted on June 20, 2009


The fuel weights have been published for the British Grand Prix and Sebastian Vettel is in even better shape than he looked after qualifying. The Red Bull has taken a huge step forward this weekend and Vettel took the pole with four laps more fuel in the car than Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn. Vettel will stop on lap 23. For once the luck was with him too, because his Red Bull team mate Mark Webber had set the fastest time after the first runs in qualifying, but hit traffic on his decisive lap in the form of Kimi Raikkonen, so the More…

Posted on June 20, 2009


Sebastian Vettel took his third pole position of the 2009 season today with a stunning lap on his final qualifying run at Silverstone. He and Red Bull team mate Mark Webber had been trading fastest laps all weekend, indicating that the Red Bull is now clearly the fastest car in F1. What is impressive about the latest round of developments on this car is that it is now clearly faster in the high speed corners, but also in the low speed corners, like the complex here in Silverstone. Brawn did a good job in Turkey of improving their car in More…



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