Monthly Archives: June 2012

Fernando makes it 2 at home

Fernando Alonso has won the European Grand Prix, making it the second time he has won at his native spain and also making him the first repeat winner of the 2012 F1 Season. The race looked to be a bore as usual for Valencia with Sebastian Vettel running away with it at the front until a Safety Car caused by a Senna/Kobayashi crash brought out the Safety Car. With Vettel’s lead reeled in, Grosjean and Alonso behind him got ready to pounce, albeit uselessly as Vettel once again charged away until sensationally, Renault’s reliability dissapeared, leaving Vettel with a broken alternator and out of the race.

Alonso was then leading the race with a fiesty Romain Grosjean behind him until lightening struck twice, sending a highly dissapointed Grosjean out of the race with an identical problem to Vettel’s. The race then began to really hot up with Alonso, Hamilton Raikkonen, Schumacher, Webber, Maldonado and both Force India’s all looking for a podium finish. It seemed that Schumacher was about to beat his best result of the season – 10th – while running in 4th until bad deg on his tyre’s caused him to pit. Mark Webber who had started the race in 19th and repeated his 2011 Chinese Grand Prix glory, was looking good for a high finish until he too had to pit. He came out right behind Schumacher which provided huge action as the two drivers stormed through the field, together.

Meanwhile Jean-Eric Vergne, the inexperienced French driver was driving like a mad man and seemingly dived into the side of Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham while breezing past him. The stewards were not happy, handing him a 10 place grid penalty for Silverstone and charging him €25,000 for the severity of the situation. Similarly, Kamui Kobayashi tested Felipe Massa’s sidepod when he outbraked himself and T-boned the unfortunate Brazilian. Kamui was handed a 5 place grid penalty for Silverstone but no fine.

The race was reaching its conclusion with Alonso a shoo-in for the win with Kimi Raikkonen behind him. Hamilton held provisional 3rd place but had very bad tyre wear and a fiesty Pastor Maldonado behind him. Pastor sensed his oppurtunity at the 12/13 corner but Lewis was having none of it and pushed Pastor off the track. Pastor, again driving dangerously, drove straight back on to the circuit, T-boning Lewis Hamilton, sending Hamilton out of the race on the penultimate lap. However, this did promote Michael Schumacher to 3rd place, and his first F1 podium since 2006. Despite being run tight by Mark Webber, he stayed put and finished in 3rd place.

All the attention however, was on the home-boy Fernando Alonso who had won the race. Stopping his car on track after the race, he was cheered by the crowd and worshipped by the Marshall’s, some of whom bowed down to him as a sign of respect, showing the Spanish fans love for the double World Champion.

But if you asked me to pick a driver of the day, I wouldn’t be able to! True enough, Fernando Alonso has an amazing race with some spectacular overtakes after starting from 11th, but you would also have to consider Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber. Michael Schumacher started in 12th place but still managed to make it up to 3rd place. Similarly, Mark Webber started in 19th and finished in 4th, Which is no mean feat in a track which is as kind to overtaking as Monaco. But I am sure that my top three drivers are Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber.

Post race, Michael Schumacher’s 3rd place was in doubt after it was revealed that he had used his DRS in the Yellow flag zone. This would lead to a time penalty for the seven time World Champion, knocking him off the podium, but the FIA cleared him, after deciding that he had slowed down sufficently to meet rules and regulations. Also, Pastor Maldonado was handed a 20 second time penalty for his reckless collision with Lewis Hamilton, demoting him from 10th, to 12th.

For my thoughts on Pastor Maldonado, click here – http://wp.me/p26kfb-aV

Final Standings:

1. Fernando Alonso
2. Kimi Raikkonen
3. Michael Schumacher
4. Mark Webber
5. Nico Hulkenberg
6. Nico Rosberg
7. Paul Di Resta
8. Jenson Button
9. Sergio Perez
10. Pastor Maldonado
11. Bruno Senna
12. Daniel Ricciardo
13. Vitaly Petrov
14. Heikki Kovalainen
15. Charles Pic
16. Felipe Massa
17. Pedro De La Rosa
18. Narain Karthikeyan

Retired:
Lewis Hamilton – Collision
Romain Grosjean – Engine Failure
Sebastian Vettel – Engine Faulure
Kamui Kobayashi – Collision
Jean-Eric Vergne – Collision

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What is wrong with Pastor Maldonado?

Pastor Maldonado, the young Venezuelan in his second season in F1. He made his F1 debut, partnering Rubens Barrichello and had a dismal season as he and Barrichello failed to score points on so many occasions and were regularly battling the backmarkers of Lotus, Virgin and HRT. Not where the fans wanted to see the famous Williams team but that’s racing, One minute you’re on top, the next you’re not.

This season however, Barrichello is gone, Bruno Senna is in and it seems the team have made a remarkable recovery. Pastor Maldonado has so far outshone his teammate at every occasion, very nearly scoring points in Australia before crashing on the penultimate lap while battling Fernando Alonso. It was a similar story for Malaysia, where poor Maldonado suffered an engine failure with just two laps until the chequered flag. But he was just warming up and in Spain, he qualified 2nd, behind Lewis Hamilton, who was then disqualified for having insufficient fuel for a fuel sample, hence promoting Maldonado to pole position.

There was a great buzz in the paddock, William’s first pole position since Nico Hulkenberg’s superb lap in Brazil 2010. But everyone was trying to figure out how many places Maldonado would loose during the race, as nobody expected him to have enough pace to lead and win the race. But they were wrong.

Even though a feisty Fernando Alonso did his best to take a home win, he could not deny Maldonado that 1st win and the Venezuelan crossed the line to take Williams 1st win since Brazil 2004.

It was a great day but also a near tragic day. An hour after the win, Frank Williams was making a victory speech to the team when a fuel rig exploded in the garage, engulfing the garage in flames. Fire engines could not make their way down the packed pit lane and had to take a detour and so engineers from every team bolted to the Williams garage to help extinguish the flames. Luckily, Nobody was badly injured, but over 30 engineers were taken to the track’s medical centre with smoke inhalation, and one Williams engineer was sent to hospital with burns.

One of the hero’s of the day was Maldonado who ran back into the fireball to rescue his cousin who was in crutches and couldn’t make it out himself.

It seemed that Maldonado could do no wrong. He’d won a F1 race and then ran back into a burning garage to rescue his cousin. He showed extraordinary bravery and matureness when he did this, exactly what a good World Champion should have.

But, then in Monaco just 2 weeks later, Maldonado purposely drove into Sergio Perez during FP3. Damage from this crash, caused Sergio Perez to go straight on at the swimming pool chicane and slam into the barriers during Qualifying. Maldonado was handed a 10 place grid penalty for this incident. He claimed he had done no wrong and accidentally clipped Perez, but onboard replays showed that he had left his usual racing line and would have hit the barrier had he not crashed into Perez.

This was a disgraceful thing to do, and what makes it worse is it’s not the first time he has done it. If you remember back to Spa 2011, In Q2 Hamilton was told to push as hard as he could. As a result, on the final corner, Hamilton darted up the inside of Pastor, pushing him wide and ruining his lap time. Hamilton was not penalised for this, as it’s all part of racing, but Pastor caught up with Hamilton after the 1st corner and again swiped into the side of him. Lewis had a broken sidepod and Pastor a punctured rear wheel. In this case, he was given a 5 place grid penalty.

You don’t have to be a genius to realise that this sort of behaviour is extremely dangerous and highly unacceptable. But the question is, does he realise the danger he is putting the other drivers in?

If you go onto YouTube now and type in ‘F1 2011 Game’ You will no doubt find dozens of video’s of crashes in the highly successful video game by Codemasters. In this game, swiping, although not endorsed by Codemasters,  is a common thing by players, as it is an effective way of keeping your lead! Even I sometimes swipe other cars when I play it. Obviously it is more than ok to do this as it is a video game and nobody will get hurt. In real life however, it is extremely dangerous and stupid.

Has Pastor made some sort of mental decision that this is acceptable behaviour? Does he not realise that he is putting the drivers, marshalls and spectators at risk when he acts in such a way.

Personally if Pastor should do such a thing again, I think he should be banned from racing. Even if only for a few races. This might sound harsh but F1 has a following of 600 million spectators per race, so these men are massive role models and should not be seen to crash into people just because they are in a bad mood.

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Lewis makes it 7 of 7

Lewis Hamilton has won the Canadian Grand Prix, making him the 7th Grand Prix winner in as many races. The Brit started in 2nd place behind reigning World Champion, Sebastian Vettel, but great pace secured him the win, despite him making an extra pit stop.

At lights out, The drivers sprinted down to the 1st corner and arrived at the 2nd corner in exactly the same order as they started, except for Paul Di Resta who leapfrogged Romain Grosjean. Vettel began to pull away from Hamilton ensuring that the 2008 World Champion would not have a DRS advantage on the back straight.

Nico Rosberg has a squabble with Mark Webber over 4th place but the Aussie triumphed when he pushed Rosberg wide into Turn 3. Just after that, Felipe Massa stormed passed Rosberg to move up to 5th. A gap began to build between all the top 5 runners but Massa in 5th showed remarkable pace to begin reeling in Mark Webber. He was showing extraordinary potential to grab his 1st podium since 2010 until he spun in Turn 1 and dropped down to 13th.

Vettel set a new fastest lap to add half a second to his lead over Hamilton until Hamilton set a new fastest lap and shortly had the gap down to 1.8s. Over the next few laps Vettel would pull away only for Hamilton to reel him back in, while Fernando Alonso hung in the background and watched the battle for 1st.

Felipe Massa was the first to pit, after wrecking his tyre’s when he spun. The Brazilian changed to the Yellow marked soft tyres, which were the hard tyre’s for this weekend’s Grand Prix. Di Resta and Schumacher follow him in. Di Resta emerged in 15th in clear air, but Schumacher came out in 17th, behind the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen who held Jenson Button up for half the Monaco Grand Prix.

Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso were the top three before Vettel pitted. Hamilton led the race for a lap, before handing the lead over to Fernando Alonso when he pitted. Alonso continued for two more laps before pitting and when he rejoined the track, the top three had swapped positions, Alonso 1st, Hamilton 2nd and Vettel 3rd. But, Lewis Hamilton made short work of Alonso’s Ferrari and passed him on the back straight with the aid of DRS.

Karthikeyan spun his HRT in Turn 1 and pulled the car over just before his team-mate De La Rosa pulled into the garage with a brakes issue, to retire the car. Up front, Hamilton continued to stretch out his lead to Alonso and was soon up to a 4 second gap while Vettel stuck to Alonso’s gearbox.

Mark Webber started to set fastest laps and was doing well until he arrived at the back of the Perez/Raikkonen fight for 5th place. He was held up here for 10 laps while he waited for both of them to make their first stop. Rosberg caught Webber in an instant and was ready to pass him before darting off into the pit lane. Webber had a bit of breathing space until he lost it in Turn 3 and nearly spun the car. He dropped away from the Perez/Raikkonen battle and back into Grosjean’s clutches.

Nico Rosberg made a very risky but successful pass on Raikkonen into the last corner while his team-mate was again blighted by bad luck. This weeks bad luck for Schumi is a broken DRS flap which is supposed to fail with the flap down, but instead has left the rear wing wide open. This is of course illegal and it gave him great speed on the straight but cost him badly in the corners. He was shown the black and orange flag and so returned to the pits where his team attempted to man handle the wing down, albeit unsuccessfully and they rolled him back into the pits to retire the car.

With 20 laps to go, Hamilton complained that his rear tyre’s are degrading badly. After asking the team if they are sure that Vettel and Alonso are pitting, he pitted to change tyres. Alonso and Vettel however, do not pit and Hamilton was left with a lot of work to do if he wanted to win the race.

Hamilton however, put in his usual strong performance to reel Alonso and Vettel in by 1.5 seconds a lap to catch them after 12 laps. He made short work of Vettel and went straight on to pass Alonso and regain the lead of the race. Vettel pitted while Grosjean passed Alonso who’s tyre’s had ‘hit the cliff’. Perez was next up to pass Alonso. Vettel was the last to pass Alonso, demoting Alonso from 1st to 5th in 5 laps!

And so, Exactly 5  years today since Lewis Hamilton’s first F1 win, which was also at Montreal, he cruised to his third Canadian win, followed by Grosjean and then Perez. Hamilton’s team-mate however, didn’t have the same success and finished in a dismal 16th after qualifying 10th.

Final Standings:

1. Lewis Hamilton
2. Romain Grosjean
3. Sergio Perez
4. Sebastian Vettel
5. Fernando Alonso
6. Nico Rosberg
7. Mark Webber
8. Kimi Raikkonen
9. Kamui Kobayashi
10. Felipe Massa
11. Paul Di Resta
12. Nico Hulkenberg
13. Pastor Maldonado
14. Daniel Ricciardo
15. Jean-Eric Vergne
16. Jenson Button
17. Bruno Senna
18. Heikki Kovalainen
19. Vitaly Petrov
20. Charles Pic

Retired:

Timo Glock: Mechanical Failure
Michael Schumacher: Rear-Wing Failure
Pedro De La Rosa: Brakes Failure
Narain Karthikeyan: Mechanical Failure

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Michael Schumacher – A Master In Trouble?

As an issue of F1 Racing magazine put it “Mercedes’ 3 year gamble… And this is year 3”.

In 2010, the “Silver Arrows” re-joined F1 after a long 55 year wait, and also making a return was the most successful F1 driver ever, Michael Schumacher. It was a gamble. Would the seven time world champion make it to the top? Unfortunately, No. Not yet. In the first two years of his return, his team mate, Nico Rosberg outshone him in nearly every race. However, Mercedes didn’t have a car ready to match the Red Bull’s and Ferrari’s and McLaren’s who led the battle to win races. In 2012 however, Mercedes hard work has paid off and they have developed into one of the fastest teams on the grid.

The Red Baron, now turned The Silver Baron would now be under even more pressure. With a potentially race winning car at his disposal, could he finally claim a win, or even a podium?

In the season opening Grand Prix, The Australian Grand Prix, Schumacher qualified fourth, ahead of his team mate. He was doing quite well in the Grand Prix, indeed running 3rd, before a gearbox failure forced him to retire the car.

In Malaysia, he qualified 3rd before a feisty Romain Grosjean spun him at the start of the Grand Prix, sending him to the back of the field. He had a good recovery but could only make it up to 10th to grab the final point on offer.

In China, Schumacher’s team mate, Nico Rosberg took his first ever pole position with his team mate alongside him on the front row. Both Mercedes’ were doing quite well, Rosberg 1st and Schumacher 2nd and both pulling away from the pack until a pit stop error on lap 8 sent Schumacher out of the race with a loose wheel nut.

At the next race in Bahrain, Schumacher was caught out by the fast developing track in Q1 and qualified 18th. After a penalty for changing his gearbox, he started in 22nd. However, he proved his skill and after storming through the grid, he finished in 10th place, in a repeat of the stunning performance he had in Malaysia.

In Spain, Schumacher had just pitted and on fresh tires when Bruno Senna, who was running on badly worn Pirelli’s caught him out in the braking zone and they both crashed out of the race. Schumacher was deemed responsible for the collision and given and 5 place grid penalty for the next race in Monaco.

In Monaco, Schumacher put in a stunning lap to grab his first pole position of his return. However, after his penalty from Spain was put in place, he started in 6th place. At the start of the Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean careered into his path, damaging his car and causing him to retire later in the race.

The point I’m trying to make is that Schumacher isn’t driving particularly badly, but he has been extremely unlucky. In Australia, China and Monaco, his retirements weren’t his fault, but a gearbox failure, pit error and damage respectively. Similarly, He cannot be blamed for his bad performance in Malaysia, but rather Romain Grosjean who spun him out. In Bahrain, he didn’t have a bad car but suffered rotten luck and was caught out by a fast developing track.

The only bad performance you can blame on him was the Spanish Grand Prix. In this case, it was an error of judgement, similar to Mark Webber’s terrifying flip in Valencia. Bruno Senna was on badly worn tyres and had just collided with Romain Grosjean while Grosjean tried to go around him. Senna was trying to not put up too much of a fight and was letting the frontrunners through without too much of a fight, but Schumacher misjudged Senna’s braking distance and hit the back of his Williams.

So overall, Schumacher hasn’t been bad. He has been strong when the car was strong and suffered when the car wasn’t. The main factor of poor Schumi’s bad results is awful luck. Hopefully though, he can pull through and win a race before the season ends, like his team mate did in China. And judging by his team mates pace, this shouldn’t be an impossible goal.

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