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Monday, August 31, 2009

Force India, Luca and Fisi, Jenson Button and race fixing: It’s the post-Belgium F1 roundup

Force India is warning it’s Spa performance was no one-off, and with Monza being another low-downforce track, another good performance could be in the cards.

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

“Why not?” AUTOSPORT quotes team owner Vijay Mallya. “We know that the car is quick, blindingly quick I would say. The sector times show it and I think the Monza track will suit us.”

It’s beginning to look like Mallya’s hands-on approach is paying off. But don’t think it will alter his approach to the rest of the season.

“It's just too early, I'm just trying to assimilate it all. We will talk about targets later on.”

Meanwhile, Mallya says he has had no contact with Ferrari regarding Giancarlo Fisichella.

Rumors began circulating last weekend Ferrari was interested in securing Fisichella’s services for Monza following another difficult outing for Luca Badoer.

The other variable in the mix? Felipe Massa, who may be well enough to return by the Italian Grand Prix. A decision is pending a medical evaluation in Miami.

“I can't comment,” he said, according to AUTOSPORT. “Ferrari hasn't come to me, Fisichella hasn't come to me. His manager hasn't come to me. This is all speculation.”

AUTOSPORT makes mention of outstanding debts Force India has with Ferrari from its customer engine days, but refuses to speculate what effect that may have on the situation.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali defended his longtime test driver’s last place performance at Spa, his second in the last two races.

“Luca did the best he could and this win also reflects his contribution within the team,” Formula1.com quotes Domenicali. “Now we will take a few days to evaluate his immediate future, also based on what Felipe’s recovery time might be.”

Predictably, the Italians are calling for Badoer’s replacement, and the English media have labeled him “Look How Bad You Are.”

For his part, the under fire Badoer doesn’t think he should be replaced, despite his fastest lap at Spa being nearly a second and a half off the pace of the next slowest car.

“Monza, Mugello and Fiorano are the tracks where I have driven most in my life. It would be absurd and I would be very disappointed, because I am convinced that at Monza I have the feeling needed, Reuters quotes the Italian. “Going to a track that I could drive with my eyes closed, I am sure I could get a good result. If I had to set myself a deadline, maybe I would do it for after Monza. I would be the first to say ‘lads, it's not working out’.”

Red Bull: Jenson will soon feel the pain

After escaping the fiasco which was his Belgian weekend, Jenson Button cannot continue to turn in poor results if he expects to win the championship, so warns Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

“Rubens has taken 10 points out of him in the last two races and Sebastian six points here, and he's not had a good weekend since Istanbul in early June,” AUTOSPORT reports Horner said. “He can't continue to have race weekends like he's had without being punished points wise in the next couple of events. It's still a four-horse race between now and the end of the championship.”

And Horner made it clear Red Bull will not be playing favorites with its drivers.

“It's all left to play for, and I think there's going to be another twist in the championship between now and the end of the year. Sebastian has moved to within 19 points, and although Mark didn't score, both still have a real chance of overhauling over him. With one-and-a-half-points between the drivers it would be wrong at this stage to back one over the other. We'll continue to do what we've done all year and support both of them with equal priority.”

Of Renault and race fixing?

The FIA confirmed it is investigating allegations concerning events at a previous world championship race.

Speculation is it the FIA is looking into 2008’s Singapore Grand Prix, based on a report out of Brazil that Renault ordered Nelson Piquet to purposely crash his car in order to create an ideal situation for teammate Fernando Alonso.

Piquet crashed into the wall, bringing out the safety car. Alonso, who gambled on a short stint, had already pitted when the safety car came out, and jumped to the front of the field. He went on to win the race.

At the time, Piquet said the accident was do to an error. Given the season he was having, that was not far-fetched.

Joe Saward gives his take 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


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Raikkonen holds off Fisi for Belgian win

Kimi Raikkonen got the win, but Giancarlo Fisichella was the hero in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

The Italian led in his Force India at the start, but a first lap accident that claimed Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean and Jaime Alguersuari brought out the safety car.

Raikkonen, in second, used his KERS to give him a boost on the restart to get past. The Finn was able to hold onto the lead for the win, despite the Force India looking to be the faster car.

It was a woeful day for the points leaders. Sebastian Vettel was the lead contender to score points, finishing in third. Rubens Barrichello had a terrible start, only saved by Brawns decision to fuel him long when the safety car appeared. He finished seventh. Mark Webber looked strong until a penalty for unsafe release after his first stop dropped him out of the points.

On a day that started so poorly for Jenson Button, he looks to have escaped again with his lead relatively intact. Button sits on 74 points to Barrichello’s 56. Vettel leapfrogged Webber into third.

In the constructors’, Brawn have 128 to Red Bull’s 104.5. Ferrari is best of the rest with 56 points.

Oh, and Luca Badoer was last for Ferrari, with rumors are still running rampant Fisichella will be in for his countryman at Monza.

Belgian Grand Prix (44 laps)
  1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
  2. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes
  3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault
  4. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
  5. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  6. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes
  7. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes
  8. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota
  9. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault
  10. Timo Glock, Toyota
  11. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes
  12. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari
  13. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota
  14. Luca Badoer, Ferrari
  • Fernando Alonso, Renault, 26 laps completed, Wheel
  • Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 21 laps completed, Brakes
  • Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes, Accident
  • Romain Grosjean, Renault, Accident
  • Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Accident
  • Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, Accident


Giedo van der Garde jumped from third to first at the start and held on to win race 2 for iSport in GP2 action in Belgium. Roldan Rodriguez was second and Diego Nunes third. 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, August 29, 2009

Shock pole for Fisichella

Giancarlo Fisichella put his Force India on pole for the Belgian Grand Prix Saturday in a topsy-turvy session at Spa.


F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Qualifying

Toyota's Jarno Trulli starts next to him in an all-Italian-veteran front row. Nick Heidfeld, who had BMW fans buzzing after his top of the sheets performance in morning practice, starts third in the BMW Sauber.

If you are looking for the usual suspects – the title contenders – Rubens Barrichello heads that list in fourth in the Brawn. Teammate and points leader Jenson Button is a woeful 14th, the Briton complaining about the rear end stepping out.

The Red Bulls, led by Sebastian Vettel, are eighth and ninth.

In between, from fifth through seventh, Robert Kubica in the second BMW Sauber, Kimi Raikonen's Ferrari, and Timo Glock in the second Toyota. Nico Rosberg rounded out the top ten.

While Q1 provided some drama for Lewis Hamilton and Button, those cut weren't surprising: The Toro Rossos, Kazuki Nakajima, Romain Grosjean and the struggling Luca Badoer.

It was Q2 which held the surprises, with a trio of stars getting the ax -- Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

But it is clearly something special for one of F1's most like veterans to give Force India its maiden pole at one of the sport's most historic tracks.

"It feels just great, like a dream. I am so happy for myself, for the team, for the mechanics, the engineers, who have done a fantastic job," said Fisichella, who gave journalists another opportunity to say he was very 'appy.

And who can blame him? He spent much of his time earlier in the weekend dodging rumors he was going to suit up for Ferrari. Then in practice, he hit a rabbit. His engineer told him it was a lucky one. Not sure the rabbit agrees, but Fisi seemed to make out alright.

Grid and pre-race weights
  1. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 648kg
  2. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 656.5
  3. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 655
  4. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP, 644.5
  5. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 649
  6. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 655
  7. Timo Glock, Toyota, 648.5
  8. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 662.5
  9. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 658
  10. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 670
  11. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 678.5
  12. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 693.5
  13. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 684.4
  14. Jenson Button, Brawn GP, 694.2
  15. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 697
  16. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 685
  17. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, 704.5
  18. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 706.1
  19. Romain Grosjean, Renault, 704.7
  20. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 691.5

Missed it? It was crazy! Check out Belgian GP qualifying as it happened

Post-qualifying press conference - Belgium

Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes

Saturday weather update - no more rain expected

GP2 notes
  • Alvaro Parent won today's GP2 race for Ocean Racing Technology.
  • A Trident mechanic is in an induced coma after he was struck in the head with a wheel gun in the pitlane.
  • Coloni Motorsport is missing the Spa weekend after its cars were impounded over a legal dispute.
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, August 28, 2009

Hamilton leads first day at Spa

Lewis Hamilton continued McLaren’s renaissance, taking top spot in Friday practice for the Belgian Grand Prix.

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Practice

The Briton topped Toyota’s Timo Glock in the second session. Kimi Raikkonen was third in the Ferrari.

Rain more or less scuppered the first session, with Jarno Trulli leading things on a dry track before the rain started to fall. Jenson Button was second for Brawn GP and Fernando Alonso third for Renault.

But it was not a day for the title contenders. In the trend-setting (dry) afternoon session, Mark Webber managed a fourth, but teammate Sebastian Vettel was tenth, and Button and Rubens Barrichello were 17th and 18th. Both teams will be looking for drastic improvements tomorrow.

Of course, how much of Vettel’s performance was due to engine conservation (he skipped the first session) is up for debate.

Times remain close, which should make for an interesting session tomorrow, and at Spa, weather is sure to play a factor.

First session
  1. Jarno Trulli, Toyota 1:49.675
  2. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes 1:50.283
  3. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:50.368
  4. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:51.045
  5. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:51.529
  6. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes 1:52.321
  7. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:52.930
  8. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes 1:53.383
  9. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber 1:53.650
  10. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:55.068
  11. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes 2:03.972
  12. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota 2:04.505
  13. Romain Grosjean, Renault, 2:05.513
  14. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber 2:05.614
  15. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota 2:05.705
  16. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes 2:05.839
  17. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault 2:06.181
  18. Timo Glock, Toyota, 2:06.331
  19. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault No time
  20. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes No time

Second session
  1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes 1:47.201s
  2. Timo Glock, Toyota 1:47.217s
  3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 1:47.285s
  4. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault 1:47.329s
  5. Romain Grosjean, Renault 1:47.333s
  6. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes 1:47.506s
  7. Jarno Trulli, Toyota 1:47.559s
  8. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber 1:47.578s
  9. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:47.579s
  10. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault 1:47.602s
  11. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:47.702s
  12. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes 1:47.743s
  13. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes 1:47.790s
  14. Fernando Alonso, Renault 1:47.862s
  15. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota 1:47.961s
  16. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber 1:48.017s
  17. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes 1:48.125s
  18. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes 1:48.130s
  19. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota 1:48.360s
  20. Luca Badoer, Ferrari 1:49.211s

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


Virtual lap -- Spa

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday pre-Spa quick hit

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Previews

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Loeb makes pitch to US F1

French newspaper L’Equipe reports agents for rally star Sebastien have been in contact with Team US F1 about taking part in races next season that don’t clash with his WRC schedule, according to ITV-F1.

Sebastien Loeb Test the Red Bull F1 Car at Silverstone

“After the Abu Dhabi episode, a team asked me whether I really wanted to do some F1 racing. In turn I wanted to know if I was likely to be of interest to anyone, just out of curiosity. One of my people therefore made contact with this new team. I do not know what the reply was.”

Loeb points out he is looking to extend his current deal with the Citroen WRC team, but has an interest in seeing how he would perform in F1.

Team US F1’s Peter Windsor confirmed contact with Loeb’s people.

“Loeb has an incredible rallying pedigree and would surely do great things in F1. We’re looking more at American drivers but we’re going to consider his profile anyway.”

Brawn finds backers

Brawn GP has secured three sponsors to guarantee the team’s future for the next three years and replace departing Virgin and funding from Honda, AUTOSPORT reports.

In doing so, the team confirmed Virgin is leaving later in the season and moving to Manor after the two sides were unable to reach a deal.

Brawn’s Nick Fry said the team will remain mum on who the backers are until the 2010 launch, but the site mentions Emirates, Monster, Bwin and Telmex as possibilities.

Ross Brawn credits the new Concorde Agreement for getting the deals signed.

“That was a log jam because sponsors wanted to know what the situation was, and things are freeing up. Everyone up the pit lane will find that things are now much better because we know what the commercial basis is for the future. We know we are going to be racing for the next three years at least in this championship - and I hope beyond, I hope we don't get into discussions about alternative championships again.”

India: F1 not a sport

The Indian Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport has denied a $36.5m payment from the Indian Grand Prix promoter to Formula One Administration, claiming F1 is not a sport, grandprix.com reports.

It’s all wrapped up in political and financial mumbo jumbo, but after a series of questions regarding the transfer of funds in January, the decision was kicked up to the ministry, which denied the request, saying the money could be better spent on sports with more relevance to the general population.

The inaugural race is scheduled for 2011.

Grandprix.com has the details.


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, August 23, 2009

Barrichello’s back!

Rubens Barrichello finally got his wish, leading Brawn GP to victory over Lewis Hamilton and McLaren in Valencia.

F1 Grand Prix of Europe - Race

The 37-year-old made good on a day where his teammate could only manage seventh and Red Bull saw Sebastian Vettel suffer another engine failure, giving Brawn a health boost in the constructors standings.

It was Hamilton leading from pole at the start ahead of teammate Heikki Kovalainen. Barrichello slotted into third, while Jenson Button clashed with Vettel for fourth.

The result wasn’t good for Button, who soon fell back into eighth.

Hamilton stopped early, as predicted, and handed over the lead to Kovalainen. The heavier-fueled Brawn was able to overtake the Finn in the first round of stops, and was soon in pursuit of Hamilton.

It was Hamilton’s second stop that proved most costly, though McLaren denies it was the reason for losing the race. Stopping on lap 36, the team did not have his front tires ready. When Barrichello pitted four laps later, the delay allowed him to get past the Briton.

Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen was able to get past Kovalainen, and with Vettel out on lap 24, the Ferrari driver was solid in third.

And that’s how it ended. Crucially, Red Bull came away empty handed, with Mark Webber finishing just out of the points.

As for the newcomers, Romain Grosjean wound up 15th in his Renault debut after damaging his nose at the start, but considering Nelson Piquet’s performance this season, the team didn’t lose much. Jaime Alguersuari finished 16th, and Luca Badoer’s return to the big show after a decade was unimpressive even before he got a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line exiting the pitlane. He finished 17th.

Button maintains a sizable lead in the driver’s championship, with Barrichello once again moving ahead of the Red Bull duo. Brawn, too, benefits, extending its lead to almost 30 points in the constructor’s championship. After another poor weekend for Toyota, it looks like Ferrari and McLaren are battling to see who will be best of the rest.

After almost a month off, this time there is a much shorter break between races. The circus is back in action next weekend at Spa.

European Grand Prix results (57 laps)
  1. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes
  2. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes
  3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
  4. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes
  5. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota
  6. Fernando Alonso, Renault
  7. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes
  8. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
  9. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault
  10. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes
  11. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  12. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes
  13. Jarno Trulli, Toyota
  14. Timo Glock, Toyota
  15. Romain Grosjean, Renault
  16. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
  17. Luca Badoer, Ferrari +1 lap
  18. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota +3 laps
  • Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari +15 laps (Brakes)
  • Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault +33 laps (Engine)


Vitaly Petrov took his third win in three years in in race one, while Nico Hülkenberg won his fourth of the season in race two at Valencia.

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, August 22, 2009

McLaren front row in Valencia

McLaren has gone a step toward proving Hungary wasn't a fluke as Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen locked up the front row for the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

F1 Grand Prix of Europe - Qualifying

Brawn, meanwhile, look to be back on form with Rubens Barrichello qualifying third and Jenson Button fifth. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel took fourth.

The newcomers once again had vastly different results. Renault's Romain Grosjean starts a respectable 14th, while his teammate starts eighth, but Ferrari's Luca Badoer is dead last on a day Kimi Raikkonen managed a sixth.

Force India's Adrian Sutil, impressive this weekend and fastest in an abbreviated final practice session, starts 12th.

The grid and pre-race weights
  1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 653kg
  2. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 655
  3. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP, 662.5
  4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 654
  5. Jenson Button, Brawn GP, 661.5
  6. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 661.5
  7. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 665
  8. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 656.5
  9. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 664.5
  10. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 657.5
  11. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 677
  12. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 672.5
  13. Timo Glock, Toyota, 694.7
  14. Romain Grosjean, Renault, 677.7
  15. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 688.5
  16. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 692.5
  17. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 702
  18. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 707.3
  19. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, 678.5
  20. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 690.5

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, August 21, 2009

Brawn back in Valencia?

After several races on the ropes, it looks like Brawn might be back on the game as Rubens Barrichello topped the first practice session and was third behind teammate Jenson Button in the second in Valencia.

In the morning, Barrichello held off the McLarens of Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton. Button was fourth, while the Red Bulls were led by Sebastian Vettel, fresh from signing a contract extension through 2012, in fifth.

F1 Grand Prix of Europe - Practice

In the afternoon, local hero Fernando Alonso was the leader ahead of the Brawn boys. The Williams duo, led by Nico Rosberg, were fourth and fifth. The Red Bulls found it harder going in the second session, Vettel leading the pair in ninth.

Sixth in both sessions was Adrian Sutil as the Force India continues to progress.

The newcomers, Romain Grosjean and Luca Badoer, had mixed results. Grosjean looks to be easily on the pace of the man he replaced, while Badoer found himself well down in the field as each becomes acclimated with their "new" environs.

As always, it was only practice, and a clearer picture will emerge tomorrow.

First session
  1. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes 1:42.460
  2. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes 1:42.636
  3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes 1:42.654
  4. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes 1:43.074
  5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault 1:43.088
  6. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes 1:43.209
  7. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota 1:43.225
  8. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault 1:43.243
  9. Fernando Alonso, Renault 1:43.345
  10. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 1:43.384
  11. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:43.389
  12. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber 1:43.419
  13. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:43.637
  14. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota 1:43.746
  15. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber 1:44.040
  16. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes 1:44.126
  17. Romain Grosjean, Renault 1:44.356
  18. Jarno Trulli, Toyota 1:44.638
  19. Timo Glock, Toyota 1:44.732
  20. Luca Badoer, Ferrari 1:45.840

Second session
  1. Fernando Alonso, Renault 1:39.404
  2. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes 1:40.178
  3. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes 1:40.209
  4. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota 1:40.385
  5. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota 1:40.503
  6. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes 1:40.596
  7. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber 1:40.643
  8. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes 1:40.681
  9. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault 1:40.723
  10. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes 1:40.738
  11. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 1:40.739
  12. Jarno Trulli, Toyota 1:40.770
  13. Romain Grosjean, Renault 1:40.787
  14. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault 1:40.956
  15. Timo Glock, Toyota 1:40.985
  16. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:41.156
  17. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber 1:41.350
  18. Luca Badoer, Ferrari 1:42.017
  19. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:42.089
  20. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes 1:43.214
Missed it? Check out the BBC's coverage:
European GP practice as it happened

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, August 20, 2009

YouTube on board with US F1

YouTube CEO Chad Hurley has been officially revealed as a “primary investor” with the new Ken Anderson/Peter Windsor run Team US F1.

DLD Conference 2009

The North Carolina-based squad is slated to make its debut in 2010, and hopes to have its Cosworth-powered car on track by November.

Hurley founded YouTube along with Steve Chen and Jawed Karim in 2005 and sold it to Google a year later for US$1.65 billion.

"I am thrilled to be a part of America's first Formula One team in more than 40 years," Hurley is quoted by the Associated Press from a statement. "Getting in on the ground floor of a project of this size and scope is a tremendous opportunity, and I look forward to helping shape the US F1 vision and corporate strategy for years to come."

See also Anderson's and Windsor’s take on the partnership.

Quali changes (again)

Qualifying will once again change in 2010 to accommodate the expanded, 26 car field.

Eight cars each will be eliminated in Q1 and Q2, leaving it a ten car shootout for the final ten minutes of qualifying.

But the big change is with no refueling in races, all cars in the final session will run with light fuel loads, so the grid will be determined more by speed than strategy.

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 Valencia

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grosjean confirmed

Renault has made it official, confirming Romain Grosjean will replace Nelson Piquet in Valencia and for the rest of the season.

F1 Mar 2009

The 23-year old has been involved with the team since joining Renault’s Driver Development programme at the age of 18. He won the 2007 Formula 3 Euro Series and 2008 GP2 Asia Series, and most recently he was running GP2 with Barwa Addax, winning two races, and serving as the Renault's third driver.

The official Renault statement

Plus, Renault's take on the FIA's decision to lift its race ban

Massa's return

Rumors are swirling Felipe Massa will be behind the wheel before the end of the season, perhaps as early as Monza,

Grandprix.com, citing Italy's Corriere dello Sport, reports Massa hopes to see the FIA doctors in Paris in early September.

The full story. 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, August 17, 2009

Renault wins appeal, in for Valencia

Renault will race in the European Grand Prix after winning an appeal of its one race suspension.

F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Race

Race stewards had banned the team from the race as a result of Fernando Alonso’s improperly attached right front wheel coming off after his first pitstop in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

AUTOSPORT reports the team claimed no conscious wrongdoing in the incident, however, saying the only people who knew about the problem were the mechanics on that wheel, and there wasn’t time to warn the pitwall.

An FIA statement reveals Renault admitted it breached the regulations by releasing the car without ensuring it was safe to do so, but asked the court to reconsider the severity of the breach.

The FIA Court of Appeal upheld the appeal and instead issued a fine a reprimand.

The full FIA statement.

As always, the FIA will issue its complete decision in a few days. 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, August 14, 2009

F1 odds and ends for 8/14/09

Montreal may really be nearing a deal to secure the return of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Bernie Ecclestone has made noise about the race’s return to the calendar, and now Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay says chances of the race being staged in June 2010 are looking “very good.”

Canadian Formula One Grand Prix: Practice

"There are still certain commitments which have been made that have to be refined," ITV-F1 reports he told The Canadian Press. "Right now, we're trying to finalise this agreement in the best interests of Montreal."

The FIA’s official calendar will be revealed in September.

Meanwhile, the other track which recently staged a North American grand prix may be looking at adding a sports car race to its schedule.

Grand-Am has scheduled a test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
for early September, Autoweek reports.

The series may be interested in adding a race at IMS for the 2011 schedule. Currently the track’s road course, built for F1, is only being used for MotoGP.

“We are very excited to have this opportunity to see the performance of our sports cars at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Autoweek quotes Grand-Am president Roger Edmonds. “I look forward to the overall reaction from our participants, fans and media and determining the future possibility of our series competing at this iconic facility.”

Montagny in for IndyCar one-off

Franck Montagny is slated to run for Andretti Green Racing at this year’s IndyCar event at Sears Point.

The ex-F1er, who had a cup of tea with Super Aguri in 2006, will drive a fifth car for the team in what may be an audition to replace Danica Patrick should she leave at the end of the season.


Interested in all that FIA presidency stuff? The FIA has a special page for you.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Schumacher ends comeback

Claims neck pain, Badoer in for Massa

Michael Schumacher has scrapped plans to sub for the injured Felipe Massa due to a neck injury suffered earlier this year.

Schumacher made the announcement in a statement released on his Web site.

"Yesterday evening, I had to inform Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and Team Principal Stefano Domenicali that unfortunately I'm not able to step in for Felipe... Unfortunately we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in the neck which occurred after the private F1-day in Mugello, even if medically or therapeutically we tried everything possible.”

Schumacher said the results of medical examinations over the past two weeks showed his neck was not yet able to stand the forces caused by an F1 car.

Ferrari F1 Launch

In the wake of that announcement, Ferrari said test driver Luca Badoer would take his place in a brief statement from di Montezemolo on the team Web site.

"I am very unhappy that a problem means that Michael cannot return to racing... I wish to thank him for the strong attachment he displayed for the team in these circumstances. In agreement with Stefano Domenicali, we have therefore decided to give Luca Badoer the chance to race for the Scuderia after he has put in so many years of hard work as a test driver."

The 38-year-old Badoer has been with Ferrari since 1998. He last raced in a Minardi a decade ago.

Grosjean in for Piquet

AUTOSPORT reports Romain Grosjean has already been to Enstone for a fitting and performed straight-line testing, and is set to race in the European Grand Prix should Renault win its appeal of its one-race ban.

Renault has made no official statement pending the results of the appeal, slated for Monday, but Nelson Piquet made it quite clear he has been informed he is no longer with the team.

Were the ban upheld, Grosjean would likely continue his GP2 campaign, where he currently lies second to Nico Hulkenberg.


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Saturday, August 8, 2009

You snooze, you lose BMW Sauber

With BMW’s announcement it is leaving the sport and unable to put together a deal to save the team prior to last Wednesday’s signing of the Concorde Agreement, the FIA have announced it is reopening the selection process for a replacement team, AUTOSPORT reports.

F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Qualifying

Max Mosley reportedly sent a letter to the seven teams on the “reserve list” that were not selected in July that a space on the grid is available.

Thus, if Peter Sauber is able to reach an agreement to save the team, he would then be invited to apply for its former spot with the other hopefuls.

Epsilon Euskadi has already signalled its intention to pursue any opportunities that might arise. AUTOSPORT also suggests Dave Richards and Prodrive may still have an interest.

Settlements all around, then

Toro Rosso have reached a settlement with Sebastien Bourdais to avoid going to court. Grandprix.com reports the team will pay him his salary plus damages to the tune of $2.1m.

And FIA president Max Mosley has settled with a lawsuit with German newspaper publisher Axel Springer AG over reporting over the sex flap, USA Today reports. The price? $290,000 to two charities and an interview in its Bild newspaper.

Weber: Schumi no pain in the neck

Michael Schumacher's manager, Willi Weber, says concerns about the seven time world champion’s neck are overblown.

"It is pure speculation that Michael will not race in Valencia," Sky reports Weber told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "We are preparing for the fact that he will be there."

Why not? After all, Weber was right about the other thing...oh... right.

Gil de Ferran to retire

Gil de Ferran has announced he will retire from driving after the 2009 season to focus on the growth of de Ferran Motorsports.

The IndyCar vet wants to field two cars in ALMS and IRL next year.

"For us to meet the challenge, I should be 100% focused on expanding the team," de Ferran is quoted by USA Today. "My life always has been about challenges, and the biggest is the success of my team. I still enjoy driving the car, but at the end of the day the magic is the team, and it's been more and more difficult to manage both well. I set very high standards, and I'm a true believer the first ingredient to achieve high performance is focus. We have some very lofty goals and big dreams. If I keep splitting my focus, it's likely I won't do anything well."

The former Honda team boss has 12 victories in his Champ Car and IndyCar career.


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Friday, August 7, 2009

Team US F1 update

Sports Illustrated has a lengthy interview with Team US F1's Peter Windsor on where the team is at in its development as it prepares for its 2010 debut.

F1 Mar 2009

The highlights:


"We haven't gone out proactively and done what race teams normally do. We are lucky. We are a team that bears the name of a country and that country is the United States of America. It's got a great racing and Formula One heritage and beyond that, it has a huge economy. To be able to take that name onto the world stage, it gives us a great advantage in terms of marketing and presence in Formula One."

Interestingly, a post appeared on TechCrunch yesterday which once again ties YouTube to the team, and now possibly Best Buy.


"We're in the original Joe Gibbs building and when we moved in, it was still a NASCAR-type building. We've knocked down a whole lot of walls and we're just installing machinery right now. We've had a team of engineers and designers working on the car and luckily, we're in an era when they can just crank out their work from two or three offices working with very sophisticated CFD (Computational Flow Dynamics) coding, that's what Formula One design and engineering is about these days. We haven't lost any time at all, to be honest. We'll start manufacturing the car in the next couple months. We don't have to have the car built until early January. In reality, we've got a nice time frame and have it ready. In general, the design is completed, but you never say it's completely done."


Danica Patrick, Kyle Busch and Scott Speed have ruled themselves out, while Jonathan Summerton, Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay head the list. Alex Wurz has talked to the team, as have a couple of pay drivers on the GP2 level.

"We've been offered well over three-quarters of our racing budget by two drivers already, neither of whom have raced in Formula One but both have won races in GP2. Both of them have massive sponsorship they can bring us from their home country. Ken and I have got to be very strong, look one another in the eye and say, 'No, we're not gong to accept that money, we're not going to hire those guys because we're going to remain true to our convictions.' This team is about helping young Americans as much as it is about anything else. But it is tempting when you see all this money dangled in front of you to take it and decide the first year we'll run two guys who aren't Americans."


Rumors continue to persist that Canada will be back on the schedule for 2010, the latest report appearing in the Globe and Mail.

Earlier this week Bernie Ecclestone was quoted as saying the race would be back, but so far, Montreal officials have revealed little.

"There are discussions ongoing with the city, Quebec and Ottawa, and we're not going to discuss the framework publicly, other than to say it respects the offer that was previously put forward," Darren Becker, spokesman for Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, is quoted. "We want the return of the Grand Prix to Montreal, but not at any price."


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Thursday, August 6, 2009

BMW Sauber misses the signing party

FOTA put pen to paper on the new Concorde Agreement Wednesday, but without BMW Sauber's signature as the future of the team remains up in the air.

"The Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) today welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations leading to the signing of the 2009 Concorde Agreement," FOTA said in a statement. "FOTA will support any initiative which would allow BMW-Sauber AG to reapply for full participation within the new Concorde Agreement."

Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix: Race

Peter Sauber launched a rescue bid in hopes of being able to sign the Concorde Agreement Wednesday, but BMW's asking price was prohibitive.

"Following the announcement by BMW that it will be pulling out of Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season, I tried to launch a takeover and rescue of the team," Sauber said to AUTOSPORT. "However, the negotiations with BMW have failed because the demands were simply far too high for me. Consequently, I have been unable to sign the Concorde Agreement, which guarantees payments worth millions and would have secured the future of the team."

Sauber is still concentrating his efforts on saving the team, but called the failure to reach a deal the bitterest moment of his 40-year motorsport career.

BMW said it is still looking for a buyer, and will work with Sauber and other parties.

"Since the announcement on 29 July of our strategic realignment, we have done everything in our power to reach a rapid agreement on the sale of the team based at Hinwil,” ITV-F1 quotes Mario Theissen. “Regrettably, despite every effort, this has proved unsuccessful. The tight timeframe we faced simply did not allow us and the interested parties and investors enough time to find a solution for such a complex transaction."

Doubts over Schumacher's neck

Persistent rumors about neck strength continue to plague Michael Schumacher, and those concerns have been confirmed by his spokeswoman, Sabine Kehm.

"It is not sure yet the neck will hold and the comeback can be started," Kehm is quoted by the BBC.

The Ferrari champion injured his neck in a motorbike accident in the spring. He will await a routine medical exam before moving forward in his training.


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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ferrari slams Williams, more on Michael, and other F1 news

Ferrari used its official Web site to hit back at Williams after the team blocked Ferrari’s request to have Michael Schumacher test in an F60 prior to the European Grand Prix.

Italian Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying

“Guess who opposed the test with the F60? A team that hasn't won anything for years and yet didn't pass over the opportunity to demonstrate once more a lack of spirit of fair play.”

Lost in the flap is that Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso owner Dietrich Mateschitz has also come out in opposition to the test. AUTOSPORT reports.

“We asked for a test permission for Alguersuari before the Hungarian GP and it was turned down. So why should we approve an exemption for a seven-time-champion after this?”

Red Bull motorsport coordinator Helmut Marko concurred.

“To let him do an extra test is not in the spirit of the regulations. If he indeed did his run last week on GP2 rubber it will make a huge difference. We have the same opinion as stated in the rules, therefore we cannot agree with Michael getting a test exemption. And we are not the only ones to have this opinion.”

Ferrari also pointed out it supported giving Alguersuari a run ahead of his debut last week in Hungary.

Meanwhile, Bernie Ecclestone believes Schumacher will give a driving lesson at Valencia.

Count the F1 supremo among those surprised by the return of the seven-time world champion, as he related during a press conference. Reuters reports.

“I think I was just as surprised as Willi Weber - his manager - he didn't know he was coming back (either). I think it was (Ferrari president) Luca di Montezemolo that convinced him.”

But the Ferrari chairman is being much more conservative in his estimate of what he is expecting from Schumacher, according to quotes from Germany’s Die Welt newspaper and picked up by ITV-F1.

“We are not expecting miracles from him, and neither do the fans. Of course, I won’t deny that I hope this is a positive morale boost for the entire team. The engineers can’t wait to work with him. They were all hoping that Schumacher would come back. It’s a win-win situation.”

Di Montezemolo was surprised to have convinced Schumacher to return, and chalked it up to the German’s loyalty.

“Personally, I was a bit skeptical about managing to convince him... He has seen that his team, a team with which he spent 10 successful years, had an emergency and urgently needed help. You don’t give up on your old friends when they are in trouble. And someone like Schumacher certainly wouldn’t do that.”

Schumacher says he has lost three kilos so far in his preparation for his return, and admits to concerns about his neck on his official Web site.

“I'm currently in the midst of my preparations for the upcoming race. I already lost three kilograms even if it is also important to me to build up muscles. So all in all, the practice works pretty well. I only have to admit that my neck pinches a bit. We have to get a grip on that as health has priority - that's the clear arrangement made with Ferrari and, by the way, with my wife, too.”

Serbian firm complains about F1 selection process

Grandprix.com reports a Serbian engineering company is complaining to the EU over the process used to select three new entries for the 2010 season.

Belgrade’s AMCO Corporation has issued a press release under Stefan Grand Prix saying its “rights for fair and equal competition are violated.”

Full story at grandprix.com.

Doornbos leaves Newman Haas Lanigan

Ex-F1er Robert Doornbos has left the Newman Haas Lanigan IndyCar team, Autoweek reports.

Doornbos is 15th in the championship but first amongst rookies.

The Dutch driver says he had an option in his contract to leave after 12 races, which he exercised, and that he would like to remain in IndyCar. Rumors have him moving to HVM Racing.

Brawn faces driving ban

Ross Brawn may be banned from driving after a speeding charge in May, ITV-F1 reports.

The F1 boss was clocked doing 100mph in a 70mph zone near his home in the UK.


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Monday, August 3, 2009

Piquet says he’s been fired

Nelson Piquet released a statement on his official Web site saying he was told by Renault his services were no longer needed, and took an opportunity to lash out at the team.

F1 Grand Prix of Turkey - Qualifying

“I have received notice from the Renault F1 team of its intention to stop me from driving for them in the current F1 season. I feel a sense of relief for the end of the worst period of my career, and the possibility that I can now move on and put my career back on the right track and try to recover my reputation of a fast, winning driver. I am a team player and there are dozens of people I have worked with in my career who would vouch for my character and talent, except unfortunately the person that has had the most influence on my career in Formula 1.”

It was widely rumored Piquet would be out after Hungary, and angry words in the press aimed at team boss Flavio Briatore surely did little to help his cause.

Piquet, whose spins and off track excursions have become fodder for pundits, was regularly outperformed by his teammate Fernando Alonso during his season and a half at the wheel.

The Brazilian claims much of that was due to unequal treatment. Piquet claims Briatore tried to motivate him in his rookie season by threatening to fire him, while no attention was paid to his side of the garage.

“For the 2009 season Briatore, again acting both as my manager and team boss of Renault F1, promised me everything would be different, that I would get the attention I deserved but had never received, and that I would get ‘at least equal treatment’ inside the team. He made me sign a performance-based contract, requiring me to score 40% of Fernando Alonso's points by mid-way through the season. Despite driving with Fernando, two-time world champion and a really excellent driver, I was confident that, if I had the same conditions, I would easily attain the 40% of points required by the contract.”

Instead, Piquet claims he was shorted in testing miles in comparison to the Spaniard, scheduled at the worst times, and with a heavier car in poorer weather conditions. He claims throughout 2009 he didn’t receive the same upgrades his teammate did, costing him vital tenths which would have allowed him to outperform Alonso.

“I always believed that having a manager was being a part of a team and having a partner. A manager is supposed to encourage you, support you, and provide you with opportunities. In my case it was the opposite. Flavio Briatore was my executioner.”

The full statement

Plus, the exclusive Ferrari.com interview with Felipe Massa


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Williams opposes Schumi test

Williams is blocking Ferrari’s request to have Michael Schumacher test the F60 prior to the European Grand Prix weekend, according to AUTOSPORT, saying the test is against the regulations.

Italian F1 Grand Prix : Practice

AUTOSPORT quotes Frank Williams:

“While we welcome Michael Schumacher back to Formula 1, the fact is that any form of in-season circuit testing is strictly prohibited; a regulation clearly laid out by the FIA and adhered to by all of the teams. It was for this reason that Alguersuari, who drove an F1 car for the very first time in Hungary, did not have the opportunity to familiarise himself with the Toro Rosso before he made his race debut. Williams sees no distinction between Alguersuari's situation and Schumacher's and feels that any deviation from the rule would create a precedent for the future. In a similar situation, Williams would unhesitatingly use its current test driver. For the sake of consistency and fairness, therefore, we oppose Ferrari's proposal to test ahead of the European Grand Prix.”

Ferrari need unanimous support from the teams for Schumacher to be able to test in this year’s car.


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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Moonlighting during the break

Formula One may be on its mandated summer break, but that doesn’t keep its drivers from getting behind a wheel.

Two of the sport’s drivers were in action this weekend, with differing results.

Kimi Raikkonen's WRC debut came to an abrupt end in stage 19 of the Rally Finland when the Ferrari driver rolled his Abarth Grande Punto.

Nesta Oil Rally  of Finland - Day One

Raikkonen and co-driver Kaj Lindstrom were unhurt, but the damage was enough to keep them from continuing.

The Finn had impressed up to that point, and continues to weigh rallying as a future career choice.

Spectator Sebastian Vettel was also in attendance.

Meanwhile, Toro Rosso rookie Jaime Alguersuari, fresh off his F1 debut, was back in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series this weekend, taking his first win at Portimao.

Massa heads home Monday, will give first interview

Felipe Massa, fresh off a visit from Michael Schumacher, will leave the hospital and return home to Brazil Monday.

Ferrari.com reports Massa gave an exclusive first interview to the site, which will be released Monday, as well, clarifying quotes attributed to Massa in the media today were actually made by his brother Edoardo.


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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Concorde Agreement signed

What looked impossible just a few weeks ago has become reality with the signing of a new Concorde Agreement.

F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Race

The new agreement, which runs through 2012, determines how the sport will be run and how the money is split.

This should put to rest months of conflict between the FIA and FOTA.

According to the governing body, an agreement has also been reached on cost cutting.

All the current teams, sans BMW Sauber, signed the new agreement. This includes new teams US F1, Campos and Manor.

The FIA statement on the new Concorde Agreement.

Meanwhile, AUTOSPORT reports Peter Sauber is working with Mario Theissen on a rescue package for the BMW Sauber team.

Sauber said at a press conference he would do whatever is possible, but the biggest stumbling block is time. He said he is working his contacts in his capacity as an advisor to BMW, but does not wish to be back on the pitwall.

Sauber would like to see a Brawn GP-like solution, but said, like Honda last year, it is in BMW's hands. Sources say BMW Sauber has until Wednesday to sign the Concorde Agreement if the team is going to move forward.


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