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Monday, September 29, 2008

Luca di Montezemolo no fan of Singapore

It was a difficult day for the Prancing Horse, but Luca Cordero di Montezemolo has not lost faith in his team.

“The car is the best one around, Massa is the best and I hope Raikkonen can show his world-champion class in the last few races. Then, we'll see what happens at the end,” the Ferrari head honcho is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

And while many praised Formula One’s first race under the lights, di Montezemolo had harsh words for the event.

“Of course, when you race on a track that would work better as a circus rink or something along those lines, anything can happen, because the real show was put on yesterday by the safety car,” he said. “This is humiliating for the F1 world. During the next few weeks, I would like discuss this with all the other teams.”

Schumacher manager sentenced, fined

Long-time Michael Schumacher manager Willi Weber received a year of probation and a 720,000 Euro fine by a German court, Bild newspaper reports according to F1-Live.com.

Weber was found guilty of improperly moving the money and assets of his now defunct Pole Position Marketing.

The company once dealt in licensing of official Michael Schumacher merchandise. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Alonso wins in Singapore

Fernando Alonso used an opportune safety car period to put himself into position to win the first F1 night race under the lights in downtown Singapore.

“Fantastic. A first podium of the season and first victory as well and I am extremely happy,” said Alonso. “I cannot believe it right now, I think I need a couple of days to realise we won a race this year.”

Just as elated was Nico Rosberg, who took second in conditions which proved hot, but remained dry despite a threat of rain.

“Everything went our way for once which is fantastic for me and for the whole team,” he said.

Lewis Hamilton recovered from the shakeup to take third, while Ferrari suffered a terrible day with Felipe Massa well out of the points and Kimi Raikkonen in the wall in the closing laps.

“We had great pace generally,” Hamilton said. “It was unfortunate that I got stuck behind David Coulthard as he was a good second slower than me but also a good second slower than everyone in front of us. It was so difficult to get close to him and to overtake but he drove a fantastic race and so did these two guys. It is good to be up here though, we got good points.”

For Alonso, it was a great achievement considering most wrote his challenge off after his car failure in Q2 yesterday. It has been a tough season at Renault, but while may are more concerned about his next job, the Spaniard took a moment to savor the result.

“We have had a tough, tough 2008 championship but now we are fighting for fourth place in the Constructors’. This victory is well deserved as the guys worked extremely hard all through the season,” Alonso enthused. “We start far behind, maybe one second behind BMW, now we are the same pace as them or even better and this is thanks to a great job. We will keep on pushing. Three more races to go and next year more.”

Massa was the leader until the safety car came out, summoned when Alonso’s teammate Nelson Piquet put his Renault into the wall, and closed the pitlane just in time for to catch out the one-stoppers.

Ferrari was obviously thrown off its game, and mayhem ensued in the pits when Massa’s lollipop man released the Brazilian early, and he took off down the pitlane with the fuelhose attached.

He was able to stop at the end of the lane while the team removed the impediment, but for all intents and purposes, his race was done. A drive through for “unsafe release” added insult to injury. Massa tooled around in the back for the remainder of the night.

In replays, the light on Ferrari’s new electronic pit signal was green, and it was not the first time this season this fascinating piece of gadgetry seemed to malfunction. One wonders how much of an improvement it is upon the old-fashioned lollipop.

“It's hard to deal with losing in this fashion a race that was within our grasp, with a car that was just the way I wanted it,” said Massa. “We had a good strategy and all the signs were there that we could get a one-two finish. But things can change in a moment and that's what happened today. At the pit stop, one of the guys made a mistake. But we are only human. Each one of us always tries to do our best and these things can happen.”

It was a bitter blow for the Brazilian, Massa had beaten Hamilton off the line and quickly rocketed into the lead. Teammate Raikkonen was not able to do the same, and the McLaren man slipped into second and pursuit.

“I think in the first few laps being behind Felipe but being quite quick compared to him at the beginning I probably used up more of my tyres than I potentially needed to. That was the only opportunity for me to get past him,” Hamilton explained.

Massa’s gap was 4.5 seconds when Piquet found the wall on turn 17.

With the pits closed just when one-stoppers were running on fumes, both Rosberg and Robert Kubica were forced to come in, incurring stop and go penalties. The result was disastrous for the BMW Sauber man.

Rosberg, out in front, was able to minimize the impact on his race by building a gap.

“When I saw the safety car coming out just on the lap where I had to pit, the crew had already told me come in this lap and then the safety car comes out and I was thinking ‘this is not possible, it is every single time exactly the same thing.’” Rosberg said. “I was really annoyed and I thought that was it, that was the end of it. I then realised I was able to pull enough of a gap afterwards to be in a good position after my stop and go, so that was great.”

But the true beneficiary was Alonso, who had pitted before the safety car period.

“We chose to do a very aggressive first stint as we knew starting 15 you cannot overtake anyone here. We thought about a one stop strategy but we had some concerns with the brakes, so we said one stop is not possible, so we tried something very different,” Alonso explained.

Between the penalties and the Massa chaos, once again we were left questioning the logic of a rule designed to limit just this kind of craziness.

The Spaniard began to consolidate his lead while his challengers fell in behind him. Hamilton had his hands full stuck behind David Coulthard and race leader Jarno Trulli, on a one-stop, pitted on lap 33.

By the time of the second round of stops, Alonso and Rosberg were the frontrunners. Hamilton used a bit of Red Bull chaos to get past Coulthard in the pitlane, but it was going to take something big to close the gap.

And that’s when Adrian Sutil, trying to avoid Felipe Massa, nosed into the wall on turn 17. By now Trulli’s challenge was over, and only Rosberg stood between Hamilton and Alonso as the field bunched up behind the safety car.

But on the restart, Alonso again streaked off into the distance, while McLaren took the safe rout, pressuring Rosberg but not attempting an ill-advised pass, and Alonso became the first winner of the Singapore Grand Prix.

“I think I had a little bit of an advantage compared to Nico because of the tyres. I think the prime were a little bit better, so I was with the better tyre in the last stint of the race,” Alonso said. “I was running with low revs when I was alone and then at the restart I put maximum engine and thanks to the tyres as well I was able to pull away from Nico.”

The odds are vastly improved for Hamilton, who stretched his lead in the drivers championship to seven points, and saw the likely end of world champion Kimi Raikkonen’s bid when the Finn clipped the controversial high curb at the turn 10 chicane and went into the wall.

“My situation in the championship was already rather compromised, so this doesn't really make that much difference but I am unhappy because the team has lost precious points in the constructors' classification,” the Finn said.

McLaren now leads the constructors championship, holding a one-point edge on their rivals from Maranello.

With three races to go, Ferrari and Massa could ill-afford this kind of drama. Advantage Hamilton, but it is a slim advantage.

“Seven points to make up in three races? That can be a lot or it can be a little,” said Massa. “We have the potential to do well, as we saw today and we will give it our best shot. We mustn't give up and I'm sure we won't.”

The action continues in two weeks time at Fuji for the Japanese Grand Prix. Given the unpredictable nature of the Japanese weather, it should prove interesting. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Massa snatches pole in Singapore

Felipe Massa put in a stunning lap to take pole from Lewis Hamilton and set up a front-row showdown between the title leaders at the Singapore Grand Prix.

“It was just a great feeling,” said Massa. “When you get the best from the car it is one of the most incredible feelings you can have as a racing driver, so when you achieve what you want it is always a great achievement.”

After almost missing the cut in Q2, Hamilton was more than happy to be on the front row.

“I managed to secure a good spot on the front row but obviously not as smooth sailing as some other people,” Hamilton said. “But nevertheless we’ve been very competitive all weekend, so I think I am in a good position for the race tomorrow.”

Kimi Raikkonen was third in the second Ferrari, and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica took fourth.

McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen will be joined in the third row by STR’s Sebastian Vettel after Nick Heidfeld was penalised for blocking Honda's Rubens Barrichello in Q1.

Timo Glock and the Williams pair round out the top 10. For Williams, it marked the first time this season both cars made the shootout.

What had looked like a promising weekend for Renault went south in Q2 when Fernando Alonso slowed to a halt. The obviously crushed double world champion was left in 15th, just one position above his teammate, who again couldn’t get out of Q1.

Still, the Spaniard fared better than Giancarlo Fisichella, who, after crashing in the morning practice, crashed again in Q1 without completing a lap.

Hamilton and Massa are separated by just a point, their teams, bitter rivals, separated by just five, and four races remain in the season. This race, on the other side of the world and the first ever run under lights, is a challenge both are eager to tackle.

“Yeah, tonight it is kind of crazy. It is 11.15 hrs at night right now and I’ve never been driving at this time before but for us it’s the afternoon,” said Hamilton. “As Felipe said we have been walking the track at 3 a.m. in the morning, going to bed at five or six, and waking up late in the day, so it quite unique but driving the circuit is fantastic. I think they have done an amazing job in building the circuit and the facilities. It is really a great place to be.”

Massa, too, spoke of the magnitude of the occasion.

“I am sure it will be a very important race for Formula One. I think the people at home knowing it is the first Formula One night race are already very interested wherever they are,” he said. “If they are in Brazil to wake up to the race, if they are in Europe to make sure after lunch to go home to see the race, if they are here to go to the track. I think it is a very interesting thing and it will be a very important race in the calendar, so I am looking forward to doing a good job tomorrow. If we can win the race it will be an even more fantastic feeling than winning the qualifying.”

The action kicks off 10pm local time Sunday.

The grid:
  1. Massa, Ferrari, 1:44.801
  2. Hamilton, McLaren, 1:45.465
  3. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:45.617
  4. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:45.779
  5. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:45.873
  6. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:46.244
  7. Glock, Toyota, 1:46.328
  8. Rosberg, Williams, 1:46.611
  9. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:45.964 *
  10. Nakajima, Williams, 1:47.547
  11. Trulli, Toyota, 1:45.038
  12. Button, Honda, 1:45.133
  13. Webber, Red Bull, 1:45.212
  14. Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:45.298
  15. Alonso, Renault, 1:44.971
  16. Piquet, Renault, 1:46.037
  17. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:46.389
  18. Barrichello, Honda, 1:46.583
  19. Sutil, Force India, 1:47.940
  20. Fisichella, Force India, no time
* Penalty Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Paul Newman - Jan. 26, 1925 – Sept. 26, 2008

Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, September 26, 2008

Hamilton tops under the lights

Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa continued their tight championship battle, taking the top two times for the day in the first practice session for Formula 1’s debut under the lights in Singapore.

Kimi Raikkonen was third in the second Ferrari.

There was action a plenty on the track, with Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Honda’s Rubens Barrichello both wrapping up early after contact with the barriers, though both would return in the second session.

Jarno Trulli made perhaps the most interesting news of the day, earning a fine for driving the wrong way on the track after a spin.

In the second session, Fernando Alonso pulled a rabbit out of his hat to come out of nowhere and top the charts, edging both Hamilton and Massa.

Things were a little calmer as the drivers adjusted to the green track and the unique conditions, though Toyota’s Timo Glock did lose his front wing in the waning moments of the session.

Reviews of the track so far have been positive, the novelty of night racing yet to wear off for many. The pit lane is providing one of the few question marks, both the entry and exit proving difficult to drivers on the racing line.

Qualifying kicks off at a relatively late 10 pm local time Saturday.

Practice 2 times:

  1. Alonso, Renault, 1:45.654
  2. Hamilton, McLaren, 1:45.752
  3. Massa, Ferrari, 1:45.793
  4. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:45.797
  5. Rosberg, Williams, 1:46.164
  6. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:46.384
  7. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:46.580
  8. Button, Honda, 1:46.901
  9. Nakajima, Williams, 1:47.013
  10. Glock, Toyota, 1:47.046
  11. Webber, Red Bull, 1:47.137
  12. Piquet, Renault, 1:47.145
  13. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:47.300
  14. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:47.487
  15. Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:47.640
  16. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:47.760
  17. Fisichella, Force India, 1:47.965
  18. Barrichello, Honda, 1:48.009
  19. Trulli, Toyota, 1:48.059
  20. Sutil, Force India, 1:48.311

Practice 1 times:

  1. Hamilton, McLaren, 1:45.518
  2. Massa , Ferrari, 1:45.598
  3. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:45.961
  4. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:46.463
  5. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:46.618
  6. Rosberg, Williams, 1:46.710
  7. Alonso, Renault, 1:46.725
  8. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:46.964
  9. Piquet, Renault, 1:47.175
  10. Button, Honda, 1:47.277
  11. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:47.570
  12. Nakajima, Williams, 1:47.662
  13. Glock, Toyota, 1:47.706
  14. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:48.097
  15. Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:48.517
  16. Barrichello, Honda, 1:48.725
  17. Sutil, Force India, 1:48.839
  18. Fisichella, Force India, 1:48.906
  19. Trulli, Toyota, 1:49.064
  20. Webber, Red Bull, 1:53.703
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A virtual lap of Singapore

This time around, it's the Red Bull/Toro Rosso boys giving us a pre-race glimpse of the new Singapore circuit.

Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


FIA rejects Hamilton appeal

Citing Article 125 of the International Sporting Code, the FIA rejected McLaren’s appeal of Lewis Hamilton’s 25 second penalty at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Equating the stewards’ decision to a drive through penalty, the FIA’s five judges said such penalties are ‘not susceptible to appeal.’

It was a heated session, the BBC reporting Hamilton at one point turned on Ferrari counsel Nigel Tozzi QC.

“Are you a racing driver? No!” Hamilton was reported to have said. “I have been a racing driver since I was eight years old and I know pretty much every single manoeuvre in the book, and that's why I'm the best at my job.”

When told by Tozzi he was personalizing the issue and Ferrari knew as much about Formula One as the young Briton, Hamilton is to have responded “With respect, I doubt it.”

McLaren and Hamilton were confident they had given back any advantage Hamilton may have gained by cutting the chicane. At the end of the day, however, it was irrelevant, as the appeal was deemed inadmissible.

Read the full FIA statement here. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Vettel report

The honors keep rolling in for Sebastian Vettel.

This week the 21-year-old’s school, the Starkenburg-Gymnasium, in Heppenheim, announced it is temporarily changing its name to ‘Sebastian-Vettel-Gymnasium.’

“We are extremely proud of him, even if perhaps we contributed not so much to his success,” F1-Live reports deputy head master Karl-Heinz Diedrich told the German news agency SID.

Meanwhile, GMM reports Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz told the German newspaper Bild his young star is not for sale.

“Sebastian has a contract with us,” Mateschitz told Bild. “He is not for sale. With him, we want to attack the top teams and move to the top.”

That fact may disappoint F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone, who wants the young German in a top team ASAP.

“We will help him to achieve that,” Ecclestone is quoted by Autobild Motorsport, according to GMM. “I have always said that he is good. Now I say he is super.”

Vettel loves the Beatles and races with a saint's icon -- La Gazetta dello Sport profiles F1’s youngest winner.

Appeal looming

Monday marks the date of Lewis Hamilton/McLaren’s appeal of the Briton’s Belgian Grand Prix penalty.

With Hamilton leading the driver’s championship by a single point, the impact on the championship could be notable -- the McLaren man was relegated to third and rival Felipe Massa elevated to a race win due to the 25 second penalty.

However, as news service AFP points out, Article 152 of the FIA’s international sporting code states a drive-through penalty is “not susceptible to appeal.”

Take from that what you will... Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, September 19, 2008

De la Rosa tops final day at Jerez

Pedro de la Rosa put McLaren at the top of the charts as teams put in a final day of preparation for the remaining four races of the season.

Nick Heidfeld was second for BMW Sauber, and Renault’s Lucas di Grassi was third, as the weather cleared in Spain after a rainy afternoon yesterday.

Sebastian Vettel was back with Toro Rosso after logging yesterday’s top time with future employer Red Bull Racing, while current RBR test driver and possible future STR driver Sebastien Buemi (confused?) was back with the parent squad. Today Vettel was good enough for fourth and Buemi fifth.

Timo Glock (Toyota), Alex Wurz (Honda), and Nico Rosberg (Williams) rounded out the field in Spain.

Meanwhile, Ferrari continued its three-day test at Mugello with Felipe Massa behind the wheel in the wet.

The weather on the first two days was much more cooperative, with Luca Badoer kicking things off and Kimi Raikkonen was in action yesterday.


MotorSport’s Gordon Kirby asks, Does Chris Pook have an American F1 revival plan? Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vettel wins, youngest F1 victor

Sebastian Vettel gave Toro Rosso its maiden F1 as the German became the youngest driver to win a Formula One race at Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

A masterful drive in the wet saw the 21-year-old top McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen. Robert Kubica took third for BMW Sauber.

Title challengers Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton finished sixth and seventh, and now just one point separates the Brazilian from drivers championship leader Hamilton.

Testing continues at Jerez

Vettel also topped the third day of testing at the Jerez circuit this week as teams prepare for the final four races of the season. This time the German was driving for future employers Red Bull Racing.

Rain curtailed testing in the afternoon.

Nick Heidfeld was second in the BMW Sauber, and Lucas di Grassi third for Renault.

BMW Sauber has looked strong all week, with Christian Klien topping the charts on day 2 and young Marko Asmer on Tuesday, on a special testing day for non-F1 drivers.

STR tests Sato, Buemi

Toro Rosso has used this week’s sessions at Jerez to test possible replacements for Vettel, and possibly teammate Sebastien Bourdais.

Red Bull property Sebastien Buemi ran Wednesday, and Thursday saw ex-Super Aguri driver Takuma Sato behind the wheel. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Vettel becomes youngest F1 pole winner

Youngest ever Formula One driver to drive a Grand Prix. Youngest to lead a race in Formula One history. Youngest driver to score points in a Grand Prix.

Now you can add youngest to take pole, as Sebastian Vettel took advantage of Monza’s best Spa impersonation to hand STR its maiden pole position in a wet, wet, wet qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix.

“Unbelievable, incredible,” he said. “I was joking with my engineers. We were saying if it is wet, then we have to go for pole position and unbelievable.”

Vettel’s time of 1:37.555 was enough to keep McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen at bay. The Finn was the only thing standing in the way of a Red Bull family affair, as Mark Webber put his RB4 in third and Sebastian Bourdais picked up fourth in the second Toro Rosso.

“Obviously it is still a Red Bull team in Toro Rosso, so obviously congratulations to those guys,” Webber said. “It is all the same family if you like, so congratulations to Sebastian on his first pole.”

It was the second day rain disrupted proceedings at the Italian circuit. A wet morning practice session was led by Timo Glock, and rain was forecasted to continue through the day. Indeed, it became heavy just minutes before qualifying.

It was the McLarens who led Q1, as the Hondas were joined by Kazuki Nakjima, Adrian Sutil, and Piquet in the drop zone.

There were spins and aquaplaning a-plenty, but Vettel showed his pace in Q2. Not so lucky were championship contenders Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica all struggled and were eliminated. Veterans David Coulthard and Giancarlo Fisichella found themselves in unusual company at session’s end.

“In Q2 it was very difficult. I set the time quite early,” Vettel explained. “I was lucky to get a clean lap and I put it all together in this lap and then towards the end of the session there was more and more rain, so the people waiting more and more to go out had a bit of bad luck.”

The young German did not let up in Q3, and after the day’s work was done there was much celebrating for the Faenza squad.

“What can I say? I never dreamt of being on pole. Unbelievable,” Vettel said. “This is our home Grand Prix. There are two Italian teams, the bigger one is Scuderia Ferrari but I think now the people know the small one, Scuderia Toro Rosso, so it is unbelievable.”

Another surprise was Nico Rosberg in fifth for Williams, ahead of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso was seventh, between Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock in the Toyotas, and Nick Heidfeld was the best of the BMW Saubers in 10th.

So the grid is well shaken for Sunday’s race. More rain, the great equalizer, is in the forecast. It should make for some interesting strategies.

Provisional starting grid
  1. Vettel, Toro Rosso
  2. Kovalainen, McLaren
  3. Webber, Red Bull
  4. Bourdais, Toro Rosso
  5. Rosberg, Williams
  6. Massa, Ferrari
  7. Trulli, Toyota
  8. Alonso, Renault
  9. Glock, Toyota
  10. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  11. Kubica, BMW Sauber
  12. Fisichella, Force India
  13. Coulthard, Red Bull
  14. Raikkonen, Ferrari
  15. Hamilton, McLaren
  16. Barrichello, Honda
  17. Piquuet, Renault
  18. Nakajima, Williams
  19. Button, Honda
  20. Sutil, Force India
Pantano wraps up GP2 championship

Jordan driver Giorgio Pantano locked up the GP2 championship, finishing 10th in the penultimate race in front of his home crowd at Monza.

Sunday's sprint race remains, but Pantano's lead is now insurmountable for challenger Bruno Senna.

“I really wanted to get this title as it was my last chance to show what I am really capable of, and in this way find a way back into F1,” F1-Live reports the Racing Engineering driver said.
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, September 12, 2008

Ferrari sticks with Raikkonen, Massa

Ferrari put an end to the speculation, formally announcing Kimi Raikkonen has extended his contract with the team through 2010, matching teammate Felipe Massa’s deal.

Rumors had been running wild concerning both Raikkonen’s future in Formula One and who might replace him at the Scuderia. Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica had both been mentioned as possibilities.

BMW Sauber and Honda have also been mentioned as destinations for the double world champion. Much of what remains of this year's silly season hinges on where the Spaniard decides to go for 2009.

But 2008 is what counts for the moment, and Raikkonen celebrated his new deal in style by topping the charts in Friday's second practice session in front of the home crowd at Monza.

A deluge prematurely ended the morning session, and in limited running it was Force India’s Adrian Sutil topping the sheets. Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella rounded out the top three.

That left a damp track for the afternoon session as teams tried to make up for lost time. Raikkonen’s lap of 1:23.861 was enough for him to best the BMW Saubers of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld.

Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix takes place Saturday at 2pm local time.

Second session

  1. Räikkönen, Ferrari, 1:23.861
  2. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:23.931
  3. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:23.947
  4. Hamilton, McLaren, 1:23.983
  5. Rosberg, Williams, 1:24.110
  6. Massa, Ferrari, 1:24.247
  7. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:24.365
  8. Webber, Red Bull, 1:24.521
  9. Sutil, Force India, 1:24.669
  10. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:24.773
  11. Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:25.100
  12. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:25.192
  13. Fisichella, Force India, 1:25.204
  14. Barrichello, Honda, 1:25.296
  15. Button, Honda, 1:25.309
  16. Nakajima, Williams, 1:25.330
  17. Glock, Toyota, 1:25.397
  18. Alonso, Renault, 1:25.481
  19. Trulli, Toyota, 1:25.753
  20. Piquet, Renault, 1:26.195

First session

  1. Sutil, Force India, 1:32.842
  2. Barrichello, Honda, 1:33.428
  3. Fisichella, Force India, 1:33.695
  4. Glock, Toyota, 1:36.800
  5. Rosberg, Williams, 1:36.900
  6. Alonso, Renault, 1:36.965
  7. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:37.142
  8. Trulli, Toyota, 1:37.214
  9. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:37.392
  10. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:37.754
  11. Piquet, Renault, 1:38.057
  12. Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:38.303
  13. Button, Honda, 1:39.062
  14. Massa, Ferrari, 1:40.233
  15. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, No Time
  16. Nakajima, Williams, No Time
  17. Kubica, BMW Sauber, No Time
  18. Kovalainen, McLaren, No Time
  19. Webber, Red Bull, No Time
  20. Hamilton, McLaren, No Time


Looks like we aren’t the only ones scratching our heads over what to do if you cut a corner in the wake of the Lewis Hamilton penalty, as Autosport.com’s Jonathon Noble reports the FIA clarifies chicane-cutting position for the drivers... Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Harsh penalty, but the rules are clear

Lewis Hamilton has no doubt he did nothing wrong last weekend at Spa. If he’s looking for support, he’ll have to rely on the press and the fans, however, because he’s not going to find much from his fellow drivers.

Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso), Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Nico Rosberg (Williams) and Jarno Trulli (Toyota) all had their say when asked from the floor at Thursday's Italian Grand Prix press conference about the penalty, and while most agreed it was harsh, the general consensus was Hamilton did gain an advantage.

Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Felipe, Lewis has just remarked at his McLaren press conference that despite what happened and the penalty in Spa, that he's coming here on a high, he feels like he's coming here as a race winner. I'm just wondering if, from your perspective, do you feel the same thing, that you're coming here as a race winner, even though the win was effectively handed to you by the stewards?

Felipe Massa: To be honest, I've given my ideas on this many times about what happened. What's happened is that he took an advantage by cutting the chicane. You can ask other drivers how many overtaking manoeuvres you see there: no overtaking. Going from the last corner to the first corner is such a small straight, so he took an advantage, that's clear, that's my opinion, so it doesn't change.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Could I ask the other four drivers what they thought about that incident and Kimi, and as a follow-up, do you think you and other drivers might be afraid to fight for a position now that you might get a penalty?

Giancarlo Fisichella: I have just seen pictures, so it is difficult for me to say whether what happened was right or not. For sure, maybe, he took a small advantage, that's why he had the possibility, as Felipe said, to overtake him again in braking for turn one. But obviously, a 25s penalty was quite a strong penalty. As for the second question: when we get in the car and we're fighting to overtake a car, we don't think about that. We just try to do our best. Obviously we know if we cut a chicane or we take an advantage we need to back off and give the position back.

Sebastien Bourdais: Yes, I think the rules are very clear. Maybe the penalty was a bit hard, but I think he's made the same mistake twice: he's done it in Magny-Cours and he's done it again in Spa. I don't really understand why there's been such a mess around it. There's a rule book and everybody has to obey the same thing. The penalty is really rough but in the end it's up to you to give the position back or not. Pretty straightforward.

Nico Rosberg: Yeah, I definitely agree, because he did get an advantage, because he wouldn't have been that close behind Kimi had he not cut the chicane. But then again, I also think the penalty was a bit harsh as that did not have such a big effect on the actual race result in the end.

Jarno Trulli: Well, I agree completely with my colleagues. The penalty was quite big but I'm not a steward and I cannot decide what kind of penalty should be given. But on the other hand, it was very clear that he got an advantage out of it, so that's where it is. The rules are very clear. If you cut the chicane and you get an advantage, you just have to drop back and give back the position and in Lewis's case he shouldn't have attacked straight away at the next corner; that was it. On the other hand, with this new chicane, there is a lot of run-off, it gives you more chance to attack because in the case of a mistake, you wouldn't end up in a wall or in the gravel. If it was the case of Lewis in Spa, he wouldn't have gone much further than that. We have more chances to overtake.

Sebastien Bourdais: I think it was very clear and I agree as well. You have to be responsible for what you decide to do, and in this particular case, if you do gain an advantage like I said, you just give it back and make sure that you don't expose yourself to penalties. I think it's the easiest way to handle it. In my previous experience, my previous life in the States, it was actually a common thing. The stewards would not take action if you gave the position back, so I think it's only fair.

Nico Rosberg: I agree and I don't think it's going to stop us from trying to attack, definitely.

Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) To any one of you: although it says in the rules you give a place back, does it say in the rules how much advantage you are supposed to give back? Because Lewis was effectively second both crossing the line - the time sheets prove that - and also going into the La Source hairpin. Just for clarification because we don't know the rules like you guys do.

Sebastien Bourdais: The rules are available for everybody to read I think and they are very clear. You gain an advantage, you gain an advantage. It doesn't matter how big it is, if you end up being in a position to pass at the next corner then you gain an advantage, because at that place, as everybody said, you are never going to be in a position to pass, if you exit the chicane normally behind the guy, because it stretches out, it's normal. It's very simple, I think.
-- Formula1.com

Interesting... Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

FIA likely to hear appeal this month

The International Court of Appeal will likely hear McLaren’s appeal of Lewis Hamilton’s penalty later this month, the FIA said Wednesday, prior to the Singapore Grand Prix, according to F1-Live.

Hamilton defended his actions in an interview with German newspaper Bild.

“If I had done something wrong, I would be the first to admit it," F1-Live reports he said. “As a sportsman, this is something that is very important for me. I do not feel guilty so there is nothing that I have to digest. It would be another matter if I had let my team down, but I did not. I feel like I deserve ten points instead of six.”
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


A take on the state of affairs in American racing

MotorSport weighs in on America’s sad decline in international motor sport. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

McLaren appeal now official

McLaren has pressed ahead with its appeal of the penalty on Lewis Hamilton at last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

There had been some question over whether the team would challenge the decision or avoid the distraction over the remainder of the season.

“Following our decision to register our intention to appeal the penalty handed out to Lewis Hamilton by the FIA Stewards at the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, we hereby confirm that we have now lodged notice of appeal. Lewis describes the incident as follows,” said team CEO Martin Whitmarsh.

Ferrari not playing favorites

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says the team are not yet ready to back Felipe Massa over Kimi Raikkonen in the driver’s championship.

Massa is second to Lewis Hamilton, trailing the Briton by just two points following his inherited win at Spa, while Raikkonen is 17 points adrift.

“We will take the decision in the interests of the team,” Domenicali said. “In my view, the situation that we have now is something that we need to think about in no hurry because it's something that is part of our approach to the races. When and if we feel that it's the right time, we are going to do it.”

Dixon wins IndyCar title

Helio Castroneves won in a photo finish at Chicagoland Sunday, but Scott Dixon held off the Brazilian’s late season push to win his second IndyCar title.

Castroneves put in a stunning worst to first drive after being penalized in qualifying and sent to the back of the field.

The margin of victory was 0.0033 seconds. Initially Dixon was declared the winner, and was in Victory Circle before race officials determined Castroneves had won the race.

Dixon in the fourth straight Indy 500 winner to go on to win the championship. The New Zealander last won the IndyCar title in 2003.


Over at SpeedTV.com, Nick Heidfeld explains that final lap at Spa. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


A virtual lap of Monza

Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Hamilton v. Raikkonen: A fair argument

Once again, TimesOnline's Edward Gorman has written a compelling, and balanced, argument concerning A very tricky issue. A must read from someone who was there. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Monday, September 8, 2008

Hamilton penalty: Fair or foul?

Was Lewis Hamilton’s penalty fair? Is this a case of Ferrari bias? The blogs are abuzz:

For my part, I can't argue with the penalty.

  1. Pushing Hamilton wide is the same thing Hamilton would have done to Raikkonen in reverse
  2. Yes, he did give the position back, but he remained in the tow and immediately re-passed, really leaving Raikkonen no chance to defend the position. Had he waited a few more turns I think it would have been arguable, but as it was he retook him too fast
  3. There were not enough laps in the race for the stewards to assess a penalty

Admittedly, I predicted there would be no change in the race results after the conclusion, so I was surprised at the decision. But from the moment the incident took place I felt Hamilton had still gained an advantage with the maneuver.

Ed Gorman, of TimesOnline’s Formula One Blog, had much the same reaction at the moment of the incident as I:

“All I would say is that when I first saw the "Battle of the Bus Stop", I had a moment of anxiety about the speed with which Lewis went back on the offensive after conceding the place.”

I can only preface this by saying I am anything but a fan of Ferrari, but Hamilton on the top step of that podium, I felt was a hollow victory, exploiting the spirit of the rule. Especially in that Hamilton, at that point, had the better car and would have gotten Raikkonen anyway.

The only argument I can see with the decision is Ferrari were only hit with a monetary fine following the Valencia pitlane incident. But, then I would argue, Massa should not have been penalized for a team decision, while Hamilton was penalized for his own actions.

What disappoints me most is this reopens all that “McLaren is the red-headed step-child” bull. But at least it injects a little controversy into the championship, and speaking as a journalist, how can that be bad? Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hamilton’s victory overturned, Massa wins Belgium

A largely uneventful Belgian Grand Prix turned into one of the most exciting races in recent memory over the final laps with Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen battling for the win as rain began to fall at Spa-Francorchamps.

But that was nothing compared to the excitement post-race as the stewards determined Hamilton gained an advantage in his battle with the Finn by cutting the Bus Stop chicane, despite the Briton lifting and then repassing Raikkonen.

Almost two and a half hours after the champagne was sprayed, Hamilton was handed a 25 second penalty, demoting him to third place and vastly changing the landscape of the drivers championship.

“The stewards, having received a report from the race director and having met with the drivers and team managers involved, have...determine a breach of the regulations has been committed by the competitor and impose the penalty referred to," ITV reports the FIA statement read.

Handed the victory, Felipe Massa now finds himself just two point adrift in the title race. BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld inherited second.

“I have often said that the race is not over until the official results are published and that was the case today, Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali said. “As usual, Ferrari will not comment on the stewards' decision. This result is obviously very important for our Championship hopes.”

McLaren intend to appeal the decision, claiming the data support its position.

Toyota’s Timo Glock was also given a 25 second penalty for passing under the yellow. The penalty demotes the German to ninth and promotes Red Bull’s Mark Webber to the final points paying position.

It was a wild and wacky finish for a race which ran almost without incident most of the way. Rain had greeted the morning, leaving parts of the circuit damp, but the sun was shining as the teams took to the grid.

Hamilton led when the lights went out, with Raikkonen in second after going wheel-to-wheel with teammate Massa, the rest of the field tangled up at a chaotic first corner.

Hamilton quickly built up a gap, but it all went down the tubes after a lap 2 spin at La Source. Raikkonen took advantage of the mistake and moved into the lead.

“I got a good start. I got away and I was feeling comfortable. The difficulty was that bits of the track were still wet, at the last corner and turn one, so I was having to make sure I got the braking right,” Hamilton explained. “It was still a bit unknown and I went into turn one and I think on the last downshift it just locked the rears. It was a pretty pathetic spin but there was nothing I could do about it.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s teammate, Heikki Kovalainen, had been steadily trying to make up ground after being caught up in the melee at the first corner. Unfortunately for the McLaren man, he clipped Mark Webber’s Red Bull on lap 10 and was handed a drive through penalty, which he would serve on lap 15.

Hamilton was first to pit on lap 11, followed by Raikkonen one lap later. A series of fast laps prior by Raikkonen had built a sizable lead on Hamilton, and they paid off, the Finn maintaining the race lead after the first round of pit stops.

“That spin really did put us on the back foot. It was a relatively big mistake from me,” Hamilton said. “If it had stayed dry, we probably could have won if I had stayed ahead. It could have been quite critical.”

Nelson Piquet, who had gambled and started on intermediates, was the first retirement of the race when he spun and found the tire barrier, ending his race on lap 14, another poor result for the Brazilian.

Countryman Rubens Barrichello became the second retirement of the race on lap 18 when he pulled his Honda into the garage. It was a difficult weekend for the Brackley squad, who must be hoping at this point the extra time to work on their 2009 challenger will reap benefits.

Meanwhile, Raikkonen continued to set fast laps, as it looked like Ferrari’s domination of the storied circuit was set to continue. Hamilton chased the flying Finn, with Massa in third.

Both Raikkonen and Hamilton were in on lap 25 for their final stops, the Ferrari maintaining its lead. But now Hamilton was the one setting fast laps, and began closing the gap. Adding to the drama, rain was now on the way.

“On the soft tyres, I could run at a good pace, while the final set, the harder ones, was not quite there - definitely not as good in performance terms as those I'd used in the past couple of days - and the balance of the car was not as good as earlier,” Raikkonen said.

Fernando Alonso was the first to report drops of rain on lap 37. By lap 44 it was pouring, as Hamilton and Raikkonen went wheel-to-wheel, swapping the lead back and forth before Hamilton made his pass.

“I mean to be honest he pushed me wide. I was a little bit ahead and I was on the outside of turn one,” Hamilton said. “He could have been fair as I had no room. He pushed me to the point where I would either have been on the kerb and crashed into him or have to go on the escape route, so I went on the escape route.

“I understood I had to let him past, so I did,” he continued. “I got in his tow and he was ducking and diving left and right and I did the same and managed to get back to the inside of him.”

And then it was all over for Raikkonen as he lost the back end and went into the tire wall in the slippery conditions.

Massa moved into second and cautiously made his way around the wet track to consolidate his eight points. It was a move that paid dividends and the Ferrari man brought the car home safely in dire conditions and was in a position to receive maximum benefit with Hamilton’s demotion.

“To be honest, I was slower than I was supposed to be,” Massa said before his promotion to race winner. “I saw many people going off, especially Kimi, and then Lewis was a little bit in front, so I said I don't want to risk the right points. I was quite comfortable going very slow through the corners especially.”

Heidfeld took the checkered flag in third after gambling on a change to wets when the clouds opened up. While others gingerly made their way on the final lap, the German picked them off one by one to nail a podium finish.

“It was pretty much a hero or zero decision,” said an obviously ecstatic Heidfeld. “When it started to drizzle, the first lap it was just a little bit but the second lap it became more and then I just thought I will take a gamble. I knew there were not many laps to go and took the decision to go on inters.”

“The team asked me again what I wanted to do and I think it was the perfect call,” he continued. “When I went out I asked how many laps to go and they said this one and then another one and I couldn't see anybody in front of me and thought maybe it was the wrong decision. But they had to go so slow I managed to overtake a couple of cars on the last lap.”

Fernando Alonso was fourth, making the best of what Renault had to offer.

“It's a good result for the team, especially for our position in the championship because our objective was to score some important points,” the Spaniard commented. “We missed out on a podium today, but we have shown that we can be the third strongest team in the championship.”

Sebastian Vettel was fifth in the Toro Rosso, despite being outshone by teammate Sebastian Bourdais for much of the race. The Frenchman wound up seventh after being as high as third in the lottery which was the final lap.

Robert Kubica was sixth for BMW Sauber, with Toyota’s Timo Glock rounding out the top eight prior to his penalty.

Now it’s a quick turn around as the teams head for another storied circuit, Monza, for next week’s Italian Grand Prix. Both championship races are turning into nail-biters, with Hamilton maintaining a slim lead on Massa in the drivers table; Ferrari with a small edge on McLaren and BMW Sauber still within a shout in the constructors race.

Who said Formula One is boring?

Revised Belgian Grand Prix result
  1. Massa, Ferrari
  2. Heidfeld, BMW
  3. Hamilton, McLaren*
  4. Alonso, Renault
  5. Vettel, Toro Rosso
  6. Kubica, BMW
  7. Bourdais, Toro Rosso
  8. Webber, Red Bull
  9. Glock, Toyota*
  10. Kovalainen, McLaren
  11. Coulthard, Red Bull
  12. Rosberg, Williams
  13. Sutil, Force India
  14. Nakajima, Williams
  15. Button, Honda
  16. Trulli, Toyota
  17. Fisichella, Force India
  18. Raikkonen, Ferrari
  19. Barrichello, Honda
  20. Piquet, Renault
*25-second time penalty Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


USGP on short list for return?

Autosport.com’s Jonathan Noble reports this morning the chances of a USGP getting back on the calendar have gone up after Bernie Ecclestone held a meeting this weekend with the teams in Belgium.

A number of the teams, including Honda and BMW Sauber, apparently pressed an American race was vital, the US being a large market for both automakers. Frank Williams also supports an American date because it is important for sponsors.

Whether that race would be at Indianapolis is a question, however. The site of the last eight US dates has made statements earlier this year it wants to get the race back.

But SpeedTV’s Peter Windsor caught up to Ecclestone on the grid during the network’s pre-race coverage, who said he was talking to “two or three” locations.

It is believed some of the teams favor a race on one of the coasts.

The other question would be when? Autosport's sources suggest 2010, but in the Windsor interview a typically tight-lipped Ecclestone made that sound a bit optimistic. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hamilton on pole in Belgium

Lewis Hamilton edged Felipe Massa in the closing seconds to take pole at Spa, as McLaren and Ferrari were again the cream of the field.

“Today has been a great day for me. I was so happy with all three laps I did throughout qualifying,” Hamilton said. “It is always satisfying when you can go out, do one lap and come back in and watch everyone else going around trying to get their laps done. Today the team made no mistakes and I made no mistakes. I had four great laps but especially at the end.”

Massa felt he left it all out on the track.

“To be honest, I did a great lap, I did almost a perfect lap but it was not enough,” he said. “Sometimes you do a great lap and you are still missing something. On the qualifying these guys showed definitely a better performance than us and we need to understand why. I think yesterday we had a great car.”

Heikki Kovalainen took third and Kimi Raikkonen fourth, setting the tables for an epic battle on one of the sport’s remaining grand locations.

Best of the rest was Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber. The embattled German, fastest in the morning practice, out-qualifying teammate Robert Kubica, who starts in eighth.

“I'm happy with the qualifying result, and for me the weekend has gone well so far,” Heidfeld said. “It wasn't bad on Friday, this morning I was quickest and fifth was the best possible result in qualifying. For me it is very important to know the work we have done has paid off.”

Renault's Fernando Alonso, fastest in Friday’s free practice was sixth, with Mark Webber’s Red Bull in seventh.

The Toro Rossos round out the top 10. Sebastien Bourdais, in desperate need of good showings in the remaining races to stake a claim to his seat next season, was the class of Q1. The Frenchman, fastest in the session, bested highly-rated teammate Sebastian Vettel.

“A qualifying session when I can get out of the car and say that I drove well and that the team, as usual did a good job,” Bourdais enthused. “It was nice to see my name at the top of a time sheet in Q1. It’s been a long time!”

Rain has played its part already this weekend, but it was dry for the start of Q1, though windy and cool as the STRs set their surprising pace. Not so surprising were the Force Indias, Hondas and Kazuki Nakajima in the Williams, who were eliminated at the end of the session.

“We have to be pleased with what we achieved in qualifying today,” said Rubens Barrichello, explaining Honda’s plight. “Particularly given that we have been pretty much at the bottom of the timesheets so far this weekend. It was a good lap and a good effort from the team. It’s just a shame that the car is not able to be more competitive here.”

Conditions steadily improved over the course of the day’s activities, and the times came tumbling down. Unable to keep pace were the Toyotas, which along with Nico Rosberg, Nelson Piquet and David Coulthard, were eliminated when Q2 concluded.

“We knew we would be struggling a bit today given these low temperatures and it was a difficult qualifying for us,” explained Jarno Trulli. “It was very hard to get the temperature into the tyres in order to make them work properly so it is then not easy to judge the car balance.”

The final shootout quickly revealed it was again a Ferrari/McLaren battle, and while Spa has been a Ferrari track in recent years, the Silver Arrows appear to be up for the challenge.

“I think coming from Valencia we knew we had some work to do. I have come here feeling better than ever and more and more comfortable in the car,” said Hamilton. “The preparation has been fantastic. As you can see I am stoked and I am struggling not to smile. Tomorrow is going to be a challenging day for all of us but with the pace and the package we have we are going to be hard to beat.”

For the rest it may come down to the ever tricky Ardennes weather. Action kicks off 2pm local time Sunday.

The grid:
  1. Hamilton, McLaren, 1:47.338
  2. Massa, Ferrari, 1:47.678
  3. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:47.815
  4. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:47.992
  5. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:48.315
  6. Alonso, Renault, 1:48.504
  7. Webber, Red Bull, 1:48.736
  8. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:48.763
  9. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:48.951
  10. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:50.319
  11. Trulli, Toyota, 1:46.949
  12. Piquet, Renault, 1:46.965
  13. Glock, Toyota, 1:46.995
  14. Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:47.018
  15. Rosberg, Williams,1:47.429
  16. Barrichello, Honda, 1:48.153
  17. Button, Honda, 1:48.211
  18. Sutil, Force India, 1:48.226
  19. Nakajima, Williams, 1:48.268
  20. Fisichella, Force India, 1:48.447
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Friday, September 5, 2008

Alonso tops charts at Spa

Fernando Alonso set quickest time in Friday’s free practice at Spa, breaking up the Ferrari/McLaren stranglehold at the top of the charts.

Alonso’s time of 1:48.454 was set in the afternoon in typically damp conditions at the Belgian circuit, as rain hit just 20 minutes into the session.

"We always expect some of our sessions in Spa to be disrupted by the weather and today was no exception,"said Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds. "We tried to change our plans in real time during the session to maximize what we could learn, but, as always, there are still questions to be answered. Overall, though, we've had a successful day."

Felipe Massa was second in front of the two McLarens, while Kimi Raikkonen spun out, knocking off his rear wing and ending his session a half an hour early.

"It was an unusual day because of the changing weather," Massa said. "Overall, I am happy with the work we did over the three hours. The car is working well and responds positively to the set up changes we have made... I think we are moving in the right direction."

Massa led a Ferrari one-two in the morning, again edging the McLarens and Alonso in fifth in a rain-threatened session.

BMW-Sauber and Toyota would seem to have their work cut out for them, both teams mired in the midfield in both sessions. Meanwhile, Honda continue to find themselves anchoring the bottom of the charts.

"The track's level of grip was, as expected, low and this meant it wasn't too easy to drive the car," Nick Heidfeld explained. "We have made some small changes during the course of the day, but, due to the inconsistent weather conditions, it was extremely difficult to make judgements."

"The conditions today were variable, especially in the afternoon session," Kubica added. "Therefore today it was not only the testing that was difficult, but also evaluating the results of our programme."

Practice 1 results:

  1. Massa, Ferrari, 1:47.284
  2. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:47.623
  3. Hamilton, McLaren, 1:47.878
  4. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:47.932
  5. Alonso, Renault, 1:48.104
  6. Webber, Red Bull, 1:48.428
  7. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:48.557
  8. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:48.958
  9. Glock, Toyota, 1:48.997
  10. Piquet, Renault, 1:49.068
  11. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:49.139
  12. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:49.185
  13. Rosberg, Williams, 1:49.611
  14. Trulli, Toyota, 1:49.625
  15. Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:49.849
  16. Fisichella, Force India, 1:49.986
  17. Sutil, Force India, 1:50.117
  18. Nakajima, Williams, 1:50.125
  19. Button, Honda, 1:50.464
  20. Barrichello, Honda, 1:50.905

Practice 2 results:

  1. Alonso, Renault, 1:48.454
  2. Massa, Ferrari, 1:48.504
  3. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:48.740
  4. Hamilton, McLaren, 1:48.805
  5. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:49.328
  6. Rosberg, Williams, 1:49.405
  7. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:49.427
  8. Sutil, Force India, 1:49.585
  9. Trulli, Toyota, 1:49.715
  10. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:49.725
  11. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:49.875
  12. Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:49.922
  13. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:49.948
  14. Glock, Toyota, 1:50.281
  15. Nakajima, Williams, 1:50.364
  16. Fisichella, Force India, 1:50.740
  17. Button, Honda, 1:50.925
  18. Barrichello, Honda, 1:51.238
  19. Piquet, Renault, 1:51.334
  20. Webber, Red Bull, 1:51.640
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Thursday, September 4, 2008

A view on the U.S. market

If you are a fan of F1 and living in America, this article on F1 Fanatic: F1 in America: the ballpark experiment, is a must read.

A lot can be made about how "America isn't interested in F1," but that is bull. A lot of us are interested, just disenfranchised. It is a crowded sports market here. If F1 is going to make a footprint, it will have to work at it. Obviously, it is a lot easier to go to countries where the government pays loads of cash to host a race. The government does all the work and F1 just comes in and does its bit for the weekend.

If Bernie covets America (which he said he did until it was contract negotiation time), if the automakers want it, if the sponsors want it, someone is going to have to step up and make it happen.

Thanks for the great article, Gerard. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Take a virtual lap of Spa!

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Ant to give up on F1 for IndyCar?

While Takuma Sato is testing this month for STR, former Super Aguri teammate Anthony Davidson looks to be headed to IndyCar’s Panther Racing to extend his racing career.

The Briton was a guest of the team at the Detroit race last weekend, and was scheduled to test this week before an injury postponed the test, according to the IndyCar Web site.

Davidson, of course, has a long relationship with Honda, the official engine supplier for the series.

If he did wind up at Panther, he would be part of an all British lineup. The team announced today it had signed countryman Dan Wheldon, who was bumped out of a ride at Newman/Haas/Lanigan yesterday by Dario Franchitti.

Sutil says he needs to work on qualifying

Force India’s Adrian Sutil feels he needs to focus on improving his qualifying performance if he is to get results this season.

“I had a little bit of a bad luck weekend in Valencia, especially in qualifying,” Sutil told SPEEDtv.com. “In the race my pace was very fast, but I couldn’t show it. So I want to make a good race weekend in Spa, and be able to show all my potential. Especially in qualifying, I need to work on that, get everything clear in my mind, and put the hammer down.”

A year and a half seems a little long to come around to that idea. Time may be running short for the German. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rumor has Coulthard out before season’s end

Whispers around the paddock have Red Bull’s retiring David Coulthard making way for Sebastian Vettel before season’s end, SpeedTV.com reports.

Vettel is set to move from STR to the parent squad next season. With the Faenza-based outfit testing Sato and Buemi this month, and Senna also in the fold, some are suggesting it would allow both teams to work with their new drivers this season.

At first glance, it would seem far-fetched, however, RBR is desperately trying to nail down at least fifth in the championship, even more likely it wants to take a crack at fourth.

If the team thinks Vettel will score more points than Coulthard over the stretch run, sentimentality aside, making a change now makes sense. With two drivers consistently scoring points, Renault, dependent mainly on Fernando Alonso, are within reach. Toyota would still be a long shot, but possible.

Obviously, STR would be hard pressed to give up Vettel, who has been consistently scoring points. Once again, it becomes a matter of what the relationship is between the two teams. And, best guess, Toro Rosso will be well compensated.

Franchitti back to IndyCar

Good news for Ashley Judd fans, Dario Franchitti’s NASCAR experiment is over. The 2007 IndyCar champion and Indy 500 winner will return to the series in 2009, driving for Chip Ganassi.

“Part of the reason that I signed with Ganassi last year was because of how many options that Chip has at his disposal for a driver. You can do almost any form of racing that you want,” Franchitti said. “With unification and the new schedule having more road and street courses it made me think about this more and more. I have really enjoyed this last season in stockcars and have not completely closed that chapter of my professional career but the opportunity that arose was just something I could not pass up.”

Franchitti’s seat comes at the expense of Dan Wheldon's. Wheldon’s place in the team had been in question since it was revealed earlier in the year Ganassi had tried to sign away Andretti Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan.

“I have enjoyed these last three seasons with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, but will be moving on to pursue a very exciting opportunity for 2009,” Autoweek.com reports Wheldon said in a statement. “I will be announcing my plans for next season in the near future. In the meantime, I want to focus my efforts on winning the last race of the season. I wish the team well for 2009 and beyond.”

Franchitti, who left Andretti Green Racing after winning the 2007 IRL championship, made 10 starts for Ganassi’s NASCAR team this season before it was shut down for lack of sponsorship.

“It is going to be very exciting to have Dario in one of our IndyCars next year,” Ganassi said. “I have always admired his competitive spirit when he raced against us and have really grown to see more of what he is about this season while he raced in NASCAR. When there was a possibility of an opening on our IndyCar team, the only person I thought about was Dario. This is going to be a great move for Dario and for our team.”

His teammate will be 2008 points leader Scott Dixon, who ran out of fuel on the last lap of the last race of the 2007 at Chicagoland Speedway, handing Franchitti the championship.

Senna says he’s yet to sign F1 deal

GP2 title challenger Bruno Senna claims despite the rumors, he does not have a contract in his pocket to drive F1 next season.

Believed to be a favorite of Gerhard Berger, the nephew of the late Ayrton Senna is thought to be under consideration for a Toro Rosso seat, although the team is also testing Takuma Sato and Sebastien Buemi.

“I have of course been listening recently to all the whispering, according to which I've supposedly already signed up for Formula 1 next year, with Toro Rosso, or as test driver for BMW-Sauber,” ITV reports he wrote in his column for German Web site Motorsport Magazin. “All I can say to that is there's no truth in it; up to now nothing has been signed. At the moment we are holding serious talks with different people from different teams, but nothing is decided yet.”

Acknowledging he is still waiting to see how the 2009 F1 lineup shakes out, Senna wrote that he would rather race than test next season.

“We have to think about every single aspect of the decision, looking not just at the 2009 season, but also the bigger picture,” he said. “What holds true is that fundamentally I would rather be in a cockpit than have a year as a test driver with no race practice.”
Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


Monday, September 1, 2008

Justin Wilson claims first Indycar win

Former Minardi and Jaguar driver Justin Wilson opened up his IndyCar account, winning last weekend’s Detroit Indy Grand Prix.

It has been a hard season for the IndyCar series’ ex-Champ Car drivers since the merger, even for one of the established operations such as Newman/Haas/Lanigan.

“This is the most important win of my career,” F1-Live reports Wilson said. “A lot of things have happened with the team this year and a lot of things are still going on. It's been a long, difficult year and it's just great to repay the team with a win near the end of the season.”

Helio Castroneves dominated much of the race, but Wilson’s late surge saw the Penske driver defending to the point of blocking, for which he was penalized, putting Wilson into the lead.

Wilson then put in several hot laps to take the checkered flag.

Mallya on learning the ‘hard way’

Vijay Mallya came into F1 with high expectations for his Force India squad, but the sport has proven to be more of a challenge than expected, the billionaire now admits.

“One realises how tough Formula 1 really is,” F1SA quotes Mallya. “And it reinforces the challenge that I have before me for 2009 to be really competitive.

Yet to score a point, Force India has weathered a lot of disappointment this year. Including the latest rumor team principal Colin Kolles and chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne are at odds.

But the team is better funded than in the past, and Mallya believes this year’s experience will pay dividends next season.

“I now know precisely what I'm up against, so I can plan better," Mallya said. "Maybe I learned the hard way, but it's good to learn. 2009 will be much more competitive for the Force India team.”

Spa to face changes?

A Spa Francorchamps official is denying reports in the Belgian media the historic circuit would be shortened, cutting out some of the tracks famous corners.

“Spa has always been an unique circuit and that is not going to change,” F1-Live reports spokesman Luc Willems told the Dutch language f1today.nl. “Our circuit is as it is and is not going to change.”

According to reports, a proposal was made to and approved by Bernie Ecclestone.

It’s Donington or nothing

If Donington Park cannot be ready in time for the 2010 British Grand Prix, the race won’t run.

That’s the word from Bernie Ecclestone, who said Silverstone is not a fallback option.

“We've been playing around for six or seven years," Fox reports he said. "If Silverstone couldn't do it before then why could they do it now? We scaled back so much for them and agreed things we shouldn't have, to keep things at Silverstone. If there is no Donington there is no British GP.”

There is a lot to be done to the Donington Park track if it is to be brought up to F1 standards in time for 2010. 100 million pounds have been promised to upgrade the track, but there are more questions than answers surrounding the new home of the British Grand Prix. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


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