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Thursday, April 30, 2009

WMSC reveals budget cap

The FIA today confirmed a budget cap among a number of decisions regarding the 2010 season, but at a slightly higher £40 million.

The cap was raised after discussions between Max Mosley and the teams last week. Originally, the FIA was looking at a cap of £30 million.

F1 Grand Prix of China - Race


A number of expenditures are excluded from the cap, however, including:

  • Marketing and hospitality
  • Remuneration for test or race drivers, including any young driver programmes
  • Fines or penalties imposed by the FIA
  • Engine costs (for 2010 only)
  • Any expenditure which the team can demonstrate has no influence on its performance in the Championship
  • Dividends (including any tax thereon) paid from profits relating to participation in the Championship

And, as previously reported, participation is optional, with those teams signing up receiving wider technical freedoms to even the playing field with better funded squads. Specifically, the FIA highlights movable front and rear wings, no rev limits on the engine, unlimited out-of-season track testing and unrestricted wind tunnel testing.

The FIA will set up a commission to monitor compliance.

There were a couple of other interesting nuggets in the WMSC's decisions, including the revelation Bernie Ecclestone's Formula 1 Management has agreed to help support financially new teams entering the sport next season with $10 million, free transport of two chassis, plus 10,000kg of freight, to each race and 20 economy class air tickets for each new team for events non- European events.

Car count has been increased to 26 cars, meaning three new teams are possible. Applications are open to the end of May, and the FIA will publish a list of entrants Friday, June 12.

Also, refueling is out for 2010, as are tire warmers.

You can read the full text here.

The FIA also has a handy Formula One Cost Cap Q&A

On to Barcelona

But hey, it isn't all dry FIA news. There's still a 2009 championship to run:


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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Suspended sentence for McLaren

McLaren have been handed a three race ban by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council for bringing the sport into disrepute, but the ban has been suspended for good behavior.

Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix: Practice


The team was found to have misled race stewards at the Australian Grand Prix, but due to "the open and honest way in which McLaren Team Principal, Mr Martin Whitmarsh, addressed the WMSC" and actions McLaren have taken since, the FIA has chosen to give the team a reprieve.

All in all, a good decision. It shows the FIA have teeth, but doesn't further monkey with what has proven to be an interesting championship. McLaren have made changes, at the cost of a seasoned veteran's job, and have suffered enough for what honestly looks to have been a dumb mistake, rather than a culture of lying. Let's get back to racing.

Read the full FIA statement.

Plus, grandprix.com goes in-depth on those Donington rumors... and it is also being reported movement toward an agreement has been made regarding an increased budget cap for 2010 and beyond, though nothing official has been released.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

F1 roundup 4/28/09

Working Title Films begins shooting a documentary on Ayrton Senna next month, Formula1.com reports. The film will chronicle his life and has the backing of his family, FOM and the Ayrton Senna Institute.

1984 F1 British Grand Prix


Plus:

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Post-Bahrain odds and ends

Another quiet Monday as the circus returns to Europe and we await Wednesday’s McLaren hearing, and a good chance to catch up on the interesting stuff on the Web.

BMW Sauber brings us a letter from Mario Theissen (or F1 Racing’s Ned Flanders), who is looking at the Spanish Grand Prix as a “new beginning” for the team.

F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Previews


Saying “nobody in the team envisaged this start to the season...” after a winter of testing which saw many pundits calling the Hinwil outfit the team to beat, he called the current situation unfamiliar ground for the team. But he expects a development package for Spain to bring “a significant improvement in performance.”

Meanwhile, Formula1.com brings us Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo following Ferrari’s first points of the season.

Citing poorly written rules (finally, someone blames the rule and not the teams which exploited it), and a late start on the new car for the team’s poor start to the season, the Ferrari boss is “very confident” the team will be back on the right track “soon.”

He also talks FOTA (“the unity of FOTA is good”), Michael Schumacher’s role with the team, and budgets.

And Autosport.com gives us a Q&A with Ross Brawn, who discusses things like surprise and optimism.

iSport latest to be linked to F1

GP2's iSport has moved to dispel rumors it is looking to make a jump to F1 should proposed budget caps come into effect.

“For many years I've said if the conditions were right and the numbers made sense, then we'd enter F1," team principal Paul Jackson told Autosport.com. "The budget cap could be the perfect opportunity for us, but until we find out what the magic number is, I don't know if it's do-able or feasible. When it's all in print, we'll look at it, start doing our sums and talking to potential investors. Until then, it's all speculation but there have been a few outrageous stories about us doing it.”

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's Button in Bahrain

Jenson Button made it three for four, winning the Bahrain Grand Prix in easy fashion Sunday and taking a dominating 31 point lead in the championship.

F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Race


Sebastian Vettel was second for Red Bull, and Jarno Trulli a somewhat disappointing third for Toyota in the hot, dry conditions at Sakhir.

Timo Glock took the early lead when the lights went out, with teammate Trulli slotted in second and Button third after a brief threat from Lewis Hamilton. Vettel was the big loser, dropping back to fifth Instead of challenging the leaders, he found himself managing traffic, instead.

Glock and Trulli were showing good pace, but both were lightly fueled, and the German pitted on lap 11, his teammate just two laps latter. Button used the opportunity to get by. From there on, with the exception of his own stops, Button never really relinquished his lead.

Staring from the front row, and mindful of its experience at the Sakhir circuit, Toyota must be coming away feeling this is one that slipped away with just Trulli’s third spot on the podium and Glock’s seventh.

On the other hand, a fourth place for Lewis Hamilton and McLaren looks to be another feather in the cap of improvement. The next challenge for McLaren is in Paris April 29, and the Woking outfit’s season certainly hinges on the outcome.

Rubens Barrichello was fifth in the second Brawn, while Kimi Raikkonen, rearmed with KERS, picked up a sixth for Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso grabbed the final points-paying position, edging Nico Rosberg’s Williams. Once again Rosberg must be wondering where that Friday pace went.

Other notables: Felipe Massa a lowly 14th (beaten by Piquet!), Red Bull’s Mark Webber battling back from a ruined qualifying session to finish 11th, another forgettable race for Heikki Kovalainen, and the BMW Saubers bringing up the rear.

Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima was the only retirement.

Next up, in two weeks, is Spain, as F1 comes home to Europe after what seems like an unprecedented amount of time on the road. Expect to see a lot of aerodynamic upgrades as teams rush to close the gap and press their answers to the double-decker diffusers into service.

Bahrain Grand Prix (57 laps)
  1. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault
  3. Jarno Trulli, Toyota-Toyota
  4. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes
  5. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes
  6. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari-Ferrari
  7. Timo Glock, Toyota-Toyota
  8. Fernando Alonso, Renault-Renault
  9. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota
  10. Nelson Piquet, Renault-Renault
  11. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault
  12. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes
  13. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari
  14. Felipe Massa, Ferrari-Ferrari +1 lap
  15. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
  16. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
  17. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
  18. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber +1 lap
  19. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber +1 lap
  • Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota, 48 laps, oil pressure


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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Toyota locks up front row in Bahrain

Few test at Sakhir as much as Toyota, and in the lead-up to this weekend, the team made a lot of noise about using that to its advantage. Indeed, Timo Glock was fastest in the morning practice.

Now we know there might be something to that theory, as Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock put themselves on the front row for tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix.

F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Qualifying


China winner Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) finds himself in third, and Jenson Button fourth in the best of the Brawns. Both cars are running heavier.

It was a terrible day for Vettel's teammate, Mark Webber, who was blocked in Q1 by Adrian Sutil and failed to make the cut. As a result, Sutil was penalized three spots on the grid, dropping him to 19th. Webber will move up to 18th, but that must be little consolation for the Australian, who lamented, "my race is screwed."

As for the "best of the rest," both Ferraris made the final shootout, as did Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, but both BMW Saubers failed to make it out of Q2.

And Friday's pacesetter, Nico Rosberg, was ninth in the Williams, but that seems a result of a heavier fuel load.

The official weather report is still calling for the possibility of a sandstorm on race day, and who knows what kind of mayhem that will cause? But for the moment, Toyota looks to have put itself into position to be the latest to capitalize on F1's new world order.

The grid and pre-race weights
  1. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 648.5 kg
  2. Timo Glock, Toyota, 643
  3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 659
  4. Jenson Button, Brawn GP, 652.5
  5. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 652.5
  6. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP, 649
  7. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 650.5
  8. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 664.5
  9. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 670.5
  10. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 671.5
  11. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 678.5
  12. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 680.9
  13. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 698.6
  14. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 696.3
  15. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 677.6
  16. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 678.5
  17. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 652
  18. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 656
  19. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 679*
  20. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 667.5
*penalty


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Friday, April 24, 2009

Rosberg quickest in Bahrain practice

Friday practice kicked off the action in Bahrain, with Nico Rosberg once again looking threatening. Could this be the week for Williams?

Rosberg was fourth in the first session, but put the FW31 at the top of the charts in the afternoon.

F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Practice


Lewis Hamilton set pace in the first session for McLaren, a team who must be hoping its resurgence doesn’t fall prey to April 29th’s FIA hearing.

Perhaps in hope of pacifying the governing body, the team wrote the FIA to apologize for its actions in Australia.

McLaren faces five counts of bringing the sport into disrepute.

Nick Heidfeld was second for BMW Sauber and teammate Robert Kubica third in the morning session.

But it was Rosberg again looking quick in the second session, and one expects one of these days practice pace will play out favorably later in the weekend for the German.

Fernando Alonso was second for Renault, and Jarno Trulli third for Toyota, with the Red Bull boys not far behind.

The weather report for the weekend shows no signs of rain, but not to be outdone, Sakhir is offering up the chance of a sandstorm on race day. What tires do you use for that?

First session
  1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:33.647
  2. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:33.907
  3. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:33.938
  4. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, 1:34.227
  5. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes, 1:34.434
  6. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:34.502
  7. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes, 1:34.531
  8. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:34.589
  9. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault, 1:34.827
  10. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:34.827
  11. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota, 1:34.880
  12. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1:34.938
  13. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:34.974
  14. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes, 1:35.021
  15. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:35.036
  16. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes,1:35.042
  17. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:35.333
  18. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:35.348
  19. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1:35.353
  20. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1:35.369

Second session
  1. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, 1:33.339
  2. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:33.530
  3. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:33.616
  4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1:33.661
  5. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault, 1:33.676
  6. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes, 1:33.694
  7. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes, 1:33.763
  8. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:33.764
  9. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes, 1:33.885
  10. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota, 1:33.899
  11. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:33.994
  12. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India- Mercedes, 1:34.025
  13. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1:34.127
  14. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1:34.366
  15. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:34.411
  16. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:34.564
  17. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:34.605
  18. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:34.670
  19. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:34.764
  20. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:34.790

FIA Friday Press Conference - Bahrain

Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Prodrive also in the mix for 2010

Not to be outdone by the latest round of teams considering maybe taking part in F1 in 2010, David Richards says perennial favorite Prodrive are taking a “very serious” look at joining the fray if cost cuts go through.

Torpedoed in its last attempt, when customer cars were shot down by the teams, Richards says the £30m cap gives him a chance for an entry to be “commercially viable” with “the potential to be fully competitive.”


Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix: Race


“The initial signs coming out from the FIA and FOM are very attractive and represent the basis for a real revolution in the sport,” he said in a statement on the prodrive Web site. “They hold the promise to return Formula 1 to its fundamental ethos, where success comes to those with the most ingenious engineering and best organisation not simply those with the biggest budget.”


Assuming the cost cuts go through, Richards says he is ready to “press the go button.”

Other tidbits of note: Richards said he has been in contact with Cosworth and other current engine suppliers, and did not rule out calling the team Aston Martin.

So there are supposedly three openings, with USF1, Prodrive, Lola and possibly ART mentioned in recent weeks. Rumor doubles that number. Should be interesting.

“To be frank I am not aware of all the possible entrants and clearly the final decision will be down to the FIA, World Motor Sport Council,” Richards added. “What I can say is that we have a strong track record in all the motorsport formula we have been involved with, including Formula 1."


Donington doubts

The British Grand Prix’s post-2009 future hangs in the balance after track owners Wheatcroft & Son Limited sued Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd for £2.47m in back rent and forfeiture of the lease, the BBC reports.

Who’s not surprised the future of the British race is in doubt? Bernie Ecclestone.

“I've been saying it for a long time: we just don't make the effort.”

Ecclestone, who admitted the future of the race seems grim, confirmed he has no desire to help.

“What? To pay the rent?” he said told Autosport.com. “I don't think so. I'm too busy. We've got a promoter and we've got the people there already.”

Good news, bad news for F1 video game

If you dig the video games, are anxiously awaiting the release of Codemasters’ official Formula One 2009, and own the Nintendo Wii and Sony PSP systems: Good news! You can start playing in the Fall.

Own a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or PC? Eh... not so good. Release on these platforms has been delayed until “sometime in 2010,” according to Autoweek.com. Learn more about the game.

FIA Thursday Press Conference - Bahrain

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A virtual lap of Bahrain


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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Two more potential F1 teams?

Seems the new cost caps have all sorts of potential teams looking at joining the recently announced US-based F1 team in entering the sport.

Lola has begun looking at a 2010 entry
. Lola has a long history with F1, and was last involved in the late 1990s.

Sports News - February 11, 2009


“Lola possesses the technical resources, capability and know-how to develop cars capable of competing at the very highest levels of international motor sport, including Formula One,” said Martin Birrane, Executive Chairman of Lola Group. “We are therefore embracing the WMSC’s timely announcements and assessing a relevant programme for F1 with a view to making formal entry in the coming weeks.”


Also open to the idea of an F1 entry, if cost caps are approved, is Nicolas Todt, son of Jean, and co-creator of the GP2 ART Grand Prix team.

“Obviously when you are in this business you always dream of Formula 1, but the gap between Formula 1 and GP2 is too big," Setanta reports he said. “The recent decisions, which are not yet finalised, go in the right direction, and I think that in the future it will be much more doable, to have your own team. So if things go like that and they take that direction, then I will consider that.”


Maybe qualifying will take on a new urgency in the next couple of years...

Updates coming for Force India, Renault

Force India will be introducing a revised floor and diffuser for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Owner Vijay Mallya is hoping it will bring the team a little closer to the performance of fellow Mercedes-powered McLaren and Brawn GP.

“We are planning to introduce a significant aerodynamic upgrade for the Bahrain Grand Prix, including a new floor and an interim diffuser,” Mallya confirmed. “Amongst other items, we also plan to use new auxiliary wings on the front wing and reprofiled sidepods to incorporate the amended rear end.”


Renault’s Nelson Piquet will get the interim diffuser Fernando Alonso benefited from in China, putting him on equal footing with his Spanish teammate this weekend.

“Nelson will have the new diffuser in time for Bahrain,” technical director Bob Bell is quoted by ITV. “It simply wasn't possible to make two in time for China last weekend.”


For his part, Alonso believes he can still mount a challenge for the championship.

“It's still an early stage in the year and already the team has made incredible progress,” the BBC quotes Alonso. “It gives me the belief that we can still fight for the championship.”


Bour-déjà vu, and Windsor on Webber

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

F1 roundup 4/21/09

It’s another relatively quiet day as we await preparations for the Bahrain Grand Prix, so it is a good chance to catch up on some of the interesting goodies around the Internet:

F1 Grand Prix of China - Race



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Monday, April 20, 2009

A brief respite

It’s just a few short days for Red Bull Racing to revel in its rainy China breakthrough, then off to the (hopefully) dry sands of the Middle East for this week’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

2009 F1 Testing in Bahrain


With teams like Toyota hoping to press its testing advantage at the Sakhir circuit to score a win of its own, and the Brawn boys looking to rebound, we should be in for a good one.

Bahrain preview quotes

Meanwhile, the FIA has released the full text of its diffuser decision, and you can take a look at it here.

Outside of F1, the Indy folks have released the news that they are looking at 40 entries for the Indy 500, which means qualification should mean something this year to more than one or two drivers.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vettel wins, Red Bull 1-2 in China

Give Sebastian Vettel some rain and a fast car, and he just might deliver your team’s maiden victory. That was the case for STR last season at Monza, and it was again in China Sunday, as the German and teammate Mark Webber delivered for Dietrich Mateschitz’s squad.

F1 Grand Prix of China - Race


Weather reports earlier in the weekend seemed to indicate the chance of rain had passed, but the race forecast was revised overnight, and come race time the field started behind the safety car.

When the safety car pulled in on lap eight, it was the Red Bulls who took off into the distance. Button got past when the duo came in for their scheduled stops.

Big contact between Robert Kubica and Jarno Trulli brought the safety car back out on lap 18. Following a quick stop, Button continued his pursuit of Vettel.

Some excellent back and forth between Button and Webber in third kept things exciting, and it was soon clear the Briton was not going to be able to challenge Vettel. Button’s final stop saw him drop to third, and that’s how they would finish.

Button’s teammate, Rubens Barrichello, finished fourth.

It was a good race for McLaren, both cars finishing for the first time this season, Heikki Kovalainen in fifth and Lewis Hamilton in sixth. Not so great for Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen finishing tenth, while Felipe Massa’s car quit on the 21st lap, a victim of an electronics issue.

Renault’s Fernando Alonso, who had started from a promising second position, could only finish ninth after a spin.

So, the Brawn stranglehold is broken, and it didn’t take a fancy diffuser to do it. Just rain.

It should be interesting to see what kind of challenge can be mounted in the sands of Bahrain. That chance come in a week’s time.



Results (56 laps)

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault
  2. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault
  3. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes
  4. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes
  5. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes
  6. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes
  7. Timo Glock, Toyota
  8. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari
  9. Fernando Alonso, Renault
  10. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
  11. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari
  12. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  13. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
  14. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes
  15. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota
  16. Nelson Piquet, Renault
  17. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes, Accident
  • Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 43 laps, Transmission
  • Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 20 laps, Electrical
  • Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 18 laps, Accident damage

The Quotes

The Press Conference

In case you missed it, from the BBC: the Chinese Grand Prix as it happened
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Vettel on pole in China

Throughout the diffuser flap, Red Bull was lurking. While other teams complained about unfair advantages, the Adrian Newey-designed RB5 was keeping the Brawn boys in sight, without the benefit of a fancy double-decker diffuser.

Sebastian Vettel made good on that promise Saturday, taking his second career pole and giving the team its first P1.

Formula One - F1


It looked set to be a Red Bull front row, as well, until Fernando Alonso pulled out all the stops to split Vettel and Webber. Granted, it was later revealed the Spaniard is the lightest fueled car in the field, but it was a stunning performance just hours after team boss Flavio Briatore was quoted saying the championship is a mockery.

Renault powered cars locked up the top three spots.

Rubens Barrichello was fourth and Jenson Button fifth in the heavier-fueled Brawn cars. Top 10 regulars Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg are present, as usual.

Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton both made the final shootout this time. Ferrari is still admitting they are not fast enough, while Hamilton has shown spurts of promise this weekend.

And the field's only rookie, Sebastien Buemi, put his Toro Rosso in 10th.

There was a fair share of disappointment, but none likely more so than Robert Kubica, a victim of Q1. Timo Glock will have wanted to done better than a Q2 elimination, as the German also gets a five-spot grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Just three cars will apparently be running with KERS: Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber and the two McLarens.

The word from Formula1.com is the chance of rain during the race is fading, so we should be left with some pure racing as we wait to see if Brawn still has the advantage or if the field is starting to catch up.

The Grid, with Fuel Loads

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 644kg
  2. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 637
  3. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 646.5
  4. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP, 661
  5. Jenson Button, Brawn GP, 659
  6. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 664.5
  7. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 650.5
  8. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 673.5
  9. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 679
  10. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 673
  11. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 679
  12. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 697
  13. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 690
  14. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 682.7
  15. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 690
  16. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 697.9
  17. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 659
  18. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 648
  19. Timo Glock, Toyota, 652*
  20. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 679.5
*gearbox change.

The Press Conference

The Quotes

In case you missed it: Chinese GP qualifying as it happened, from the BBC
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Friday, April 17, 2009

China Practice: "Double-decker" delight

McLaren spring a Shanghai surprise in the first session

Jenson Button put Brawn GP back in a familiar position in the second session Friday after Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren, complete with a new diffuser, edged his fellow Briton in the morning.

Button's 1:35.679 was just enough to top Nico Rosberg in the Williams in the afternoon. Teammate Rubens Barrichello rounded out the top three.

But McLaren was the talk of the morning session, with Hamilton on top and Heikki Kovalainen fourth, bracketing the two Brawn cars.

Hamilton was obviously happy with the progress. The team provided a new front wing and diffuser following Wednesday's decision, and he said the effect was immediate.

“The car instantly felt a bit better. I can definitely feel more stability and downforce from the front. We’ve definitely made a step forward for this race. The car feels much stronger through the corners and I think we’ve got a very positive baseline for the rest of the weekend.”

Formula One - F1


Renault also showed up with an alternate diffuser, but Flavio Briatore let it be known he still isn't happy with the FIA's decision.

“Our drivers (non-"trick" diffuser teams) are, or have been, world champions, and then you have a driver who was almost retired, and another who is a paracarro, fighting for the championship,” the Guardian reports Briatore told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I don't know how we can say we have credibility. It is impossible to recover the ground we have lost on those teams. In three or four races the championship will be decided and I don't know what the interest of the TV viewers will be when Button has 60 points and Nakajima 50. It will be better to listen only on radio and watch something else.”


Of course, he has plenty to be glum about. Friday times aren't necessarily indicative to true performance, but things do look especially dire for BMW, Renault, and Ferrari.

* Paracarro: Curbstone. Or as the Guardian translates, a concrete post.

First session
  1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:37.334, 22 laps
  2. Jenson Button, Brawn, 1:37.450, 18
  3. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn, 1:37.566, 19
  4. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:37.672, 23
  5. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:37.752, 20
  6. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:37.764, 19
  7. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:37.860, 24
  8. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:37.894, 21
  9. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:38.089, 19
  10. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:38.195, 24
  11. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:38.223, 23
  12. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:38.274, 20
  13. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:38.307, 26
  14. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:38.319, 18
  15. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:38.418, 20
  16. Nick Heidfeld, BMW, 1:38.456, 21
  17. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 1:38.460, 19
  18. Robert Kubica, BMW, 1:38.463, 18
  19. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:38.730, 25
  20. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:38.825, 20

Second session
  1. Jenson Button, Brawn, 1:35.679, 35 laps
  2. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:35.704, 36
  3. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn, 1:35.881, 35
  4. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:36.105, 32
  5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:36.167, 22
  6. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:36.217, 42
  7. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:36.377, 32
  8. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:36.548, 40
  9. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:36.674, 34
  10. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:36.800, 34
  11. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:36.829, 30
  12. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:36.847, 34
  13. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:36.941, 28
  14. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:37.054, 33
  15. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:37.219, 34
  16. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:37.273, 36
  17. Robert Kubica, BMW, 1:37.491, 34
  18. Nick Heidfeld, BMW, 1:37.544, 28
  19. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:37.638, 28
  20. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 1:37.750, 31

The quotes

The Friday Press Conference

In case you missed it: From the BBC -- Chinese GP practice as it happened

Non-F1 news


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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pre-Shanghai roundup

No KERS for Ferrari

Ferrari will not use KERS in China after reliability issues cropped up with the system on both cars in the first two aces in the season.

It is a double blow for the struggling team after losing the appeal on diffusers earlier this week. It is believed by some that the unreliable device was helping the reigning constructors' champions keep the "diffuser gang" in sight.

"We are not happy and we must react immediately," Team boss Stefano Domenicali said on Thursday, according to the BBC. "We found a problem with the Kers on Kimi's car in Sepang and we have therefore decided not to run with it in Shanghai."


F1 2009 - Rd2 Malaysian GP - Practice


One of the memorable images from Malaysia was of Kimi Raikkonen jumping out of a smoking cockpit following a KERS failure.

On the flip side, BMW Sauber will run KERS in Robert Kubica's car this weekend after the team managed to strip enough weight from the car for it to pass scrutineering.

The Thursday Press Conference

Dennis does what we thought he already did

McLaren announced in an official statement Ron Dennis is turning the keys to the F1 team over to Martin Whitmarsh.

Dennis will now focus on McLaren’s road car business as Executive Chairman of McLaren Automotive, which will be spun off later this year and plans a line of sports cars.

"I admit I'm not always easy to get on with," he said in the official team statement. "I admit I've always fought hard for McLaren in Formula One. I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no-one asked me to do it. It was my decision."

The official statement

Whitmarsh Q&A

In timely fashion, Autosport has an interview with Martin Whitmarsh, where he admits he offered his resignation following the Melbourne follies.

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A virtual lap of Shanghai

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Diffusers legal

The FIA International Court of Appeal has declared the Brawn, Toyota and Williams diffusers to be legal, denying the protest of the BMW Sauber, Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault teams.

Press Release
International Court of Appeal - Decision
15/04/2009

The FIA International Court of Appeal has decided to deny the appeals submitted against decisions numbered 16 to 24 taken by the Panel of the Stewards on 26 March at the 2009 Grand Prix of Australia and counting towards the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Based on the arguments heard and evidence before it, the Court has concluded that the Stewards were correct to find that the cars in question comply with the applicable regulations.

Full reasons for this decision will be provided in due course.

F1 Mar 2009


Following the ruling, the Brawn GP team released a statement saying it was obviously pleased with the decision:

“We respect the right of our competitors to query any design or concept used on our cars through the channels available to them. The FIA Technical Department, the Stewards at the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix and now five judges at the International Court of Appeal have confirmed our belief that our cars have always strictly complied with the 2009 Technical Regulations. The decision of the International Court of Appeal brings this matter to its conclusion and we look forward to continuing on the track the challenge of what has been a very exciting start to the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.”

Toyota made a similar statement:

Chairman and Team Principal Tadashi Yamashina said: "I was confident the Court of Appeal would reach this verdict and I am satisfied with it. It is important to stress we studied the technical regulations in precise detail, consulting the FIA in our process, and never doubted our car complied with them. This has been a challenging period for Formula 1 and I am pleased this issue is now in the past and we can focus on an exciting season on the track."

Ferrari and the rest of the protest crew were understandably disappointed, stressing the added cost of adapting their cars to make them competitive (development that certainly was not already taking place, right?)

“We are waiting to hear the reasons the ICA rejected the appeal,” said Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali, on the team Web site. “Unfortunately this decision forces us to intervene on fundamental areas of the car’s design in order to be able to compete on an equal footing with some of the teams from a point of view of the technical regulations, and that will take time and money. We will now double our efforts to get the team back to the highest level of competitivity.”

BMW Sauber's Dr. Mario Theissen echoed the cost complaint, but also pointed out the decision basically threw out all gains in the reduction of downforce and cornering speeds the new regulation were aimed at attaining.

"We will accept the decision of the International Court of Appeal. This ruling means we now have clarity regarding the application of the regulations. However, it does not achieve the reduction in downforce and cornering speed intended by the Overtaking Working Group when the new regulations were drawn up. At the same time, this decision means that seven teams will have to invest heavily in carrying out the necessary modifications to their cars."

In the end, this was a good decision for Formula 1, from the standpoint that more points were not thrown out, the field has been shaken up, and a poorly written reg was exposed for what it was. This sport is about innovation, and exploiting those advantages available to you.

Additionally, race stewards twice ruled the cars legal, and the FIA would have been hard pressed to go back on that.

Complaints about added development costs are moot, because that added investment does not begin today, the day of the ruling. It began weeks ago. If we do not see the fruits of the labors in China, we surely will by Bahrain.

The argument here never seemed to be about the letter of the rule, but the "spirit." Not necessarily the building blocks of a defensible position. The bits and pieces coming out of the often heated hearing yesterday, especially those of a personal nature, seem to expose the weakness in the protesting teams' case.

So now, it is done. Let's go racing. 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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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Anticipating a verdict

It is a case of anticipation for the F1 world as it waits for the FIA’s International Court of Appeal to render its verdict on diffusers.

The hearing lasted over eight hours. A decision is expected Wednesday afternoon.

Representatives for Ferrari, Renault, BMW Sauber and Red Bull have no doubt the Williams, Toyota and Brawn diffusers are illegal.

F1 Mar 2009


“Anyone with a command of English will tell you it is a hole, so do not let someone attempting to be clever with words defeat the express purpose of the rules," Autosport reports Ferrari's legal representative, Nigel Tozzi, was quoted by the Press Association.


Tozzi was referring to Article 3.12.5 of F1's technical regulations, which states:

“Fully enclosed holes are permitted in the surfaces lying on the reference and step planes provided no part of the car is visible through them when viewed from directly below.”

Key to the "diffuser gang" argument is the claim that breaks in the floor of their car are not holes, but rather, gaps between the step and reference planes of the car - thus exempt from the rule.

Renault’s argument went a step further, saying a similar Renault design was deemed illegal by the FIA last year.

Ross Brawn, described by Tozzi as “a person of supreme arrogance,” countered that the sport’s history is full of cars that could be considered outside the regulations, including several Ferraris.

Max Mosley and Charlie Whiting also received their share of criticism.

Brawn remains optimistic of a favorable ruling.

“I would just be surprised if the appeal court can make judgments on technicalities - it's quite a complex technical matter,” he told BBC Sport. “You can't be 100% confident but I hope common sense prevails on their side.”
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Monday, April 13, 2009

Waiting on diffusers, and a Ferrari shuffle

A day off for Easter and now, quiet anticipation for the FIA’s upcoming ruling on the legality of the Brawn, Toyota and Williams diffusers.

But not all is completely silent, as Ferrari has shaken up its team in response to its woeful start to the 2009 season.


Formula One - Season 2009 runup - Ferrari presents F60


Team manager Luca Baldisserri has been moved to the factory to be closer to the development of the car, the team has creating what it calls a “working party” to fast-track development of the F60. The group will be led by technical director Aldo Costa.

Chris Dyer will take over Baldisserri’s trackside role.

Saying Shanghai must be a turning point, the Scuderia have a host of changes slated for the F60.

“There will be several new aerodynamic features at Shanghai, which have been tested by Marc Gené last week at the Vairano straight. The front wing will be modified next to the front rims and the deviators,” the team said on its Web site.


The team also said it will be represented by Rory Byrne and chief designer Nikolas Tombazis at tomorrow’s hearing. 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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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bernie: Return to North America up to the teams

Bernie Ecclestone says the future of the sport in Canada and the United States depends on whether the teams will OK more than 17 races per season.

Quoting from an interview in Motor Sport magazine, ITV-F1.com reports the F1 boss is more than willing to add dates, but not at the expense of his new races in the Middle East and Asia.

The teams are on record as frustrated with the lack of races in North America, particularly those associated with manufacturers that depend on the market to sell cars.

"The trouble is that the teams don’t want to do more than 17 races," Ecclestone told the magazine. "If they don’t want any more than that then we cannot put on a race in America or get Montreal back."


The United States Grand Prix


While Ecclestone has been in talks with Montreal, he said he thinks a return to the United States is further off, with only Indianapolis in a position to hold a race.

Ecclestone prefers a location like New York.

"It is the one place where someone could make a business out of it."

The question Bernie seems happy to ignore, however, is whether there anyone willing to put together something in New York for what is basically a niche sport in the States?

Malaysia to review start time

Following the rain and darkness-shortened race last weekend, officials in Malaysia are looking at alternatives to a "twilight" race.

Ecclestone had pushed for a later start time to accommodate European TV audiences, and has no regrets about doing it.

"I just have regrets about the rain," he said, according to the BBC. "I don't see anything wrong with the start time, we just didn't know about the rain."


Interesting, as everybody else just sort of assumed it would rain…

New Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, however, appears to favor the idea of a night race, and Mokhzani Mahathir, chairman of the Sepang International Circuit, seems more open to the idea of installing lights than he was a few months ago.

Byrne thinks diffusers are illegal

Ferrari design guru Rory Byrne believes the Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams diffusers have violated a 15-year protocol in interpretation of the regulations.

An Autosport.com story points out Article 3.12.5 of F1's technical regulations states:

"Fully enclosed holes are permitted in the surfaces lying on the reference and step planes provided no part of the car is visible through them when viewed from directly below."

Key to the "diffuser gang" argument, the story reports, is the claim that breaks in the floor of their car are not holes, but gaps between the step and reference planes of the car - so thus exempt from the rule.

Byrne disagrees.

"It's a rule set at least 14-15 years ago, and that for many years everyone interpreted in the same way," he said. "If you look at the Brawn car from underneath, you can see the suspension."
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Hamilton apologized to Whiting

Charlie Whiting said Lewis Hamilton personally apologized to him for his role in the Melbourne affair.

Whiting said he had been uncomfortable with Hamilton’s answers in Australia, and by Sunday in Malaysia he had no doubt the McLaren driver had been “telling lies.”

British Formula One Grand Prix: Practice


The FIA race director told Autosport.com a visit by a remorseful Hamilton during the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend pretty much summed it up.

“He came to me and wanted to talk to me privately, and just said he wanted to apologize for everything he'd done, and he wouldn't do it again, that sort of thing,” Whiting said.

US entry considering Cosworth power?

Cosworth is among the list of engine suppliers Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor are considering for their U.S.-based F1 team, slated to enter competition in 2010.

“The Cosworth engine is certainly an attractive proposition. It is homologated, those guys were doing a great job with Red Bull Racing when Red Bull suddenly switched to Renault,” Windsor told Autosport.com. “Apart from anything else, Cosworth is now owned by an American, Kevin Kalkhoven, and that is a nice little link for us as well.”


Windsor stopped short of saying Cosworth was the team’s preferred choice.

Don’t quit your day job

14-time Middle East rally champ, FIA official and Max Mosley ally Mohammad Bin Sulayem got a chance to get behind the wheel of the R28 this week as Renault took its road show to Dubai. The result was not something to write home about.



Rivals protesting Audi Le Mans car

F1 isn’t the only sport seeing protests. The Automobile Club de l'Ouest is about to make a ruling on the eligibility of Audi’s Sebring-winning R15 TDI prototype.

Peugeot, Aston Martin Racing and Oreca are seeking clarification on two key points of the design -- a flap below the car's raised nose, and an opening on the rear engine cover. 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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Thursday, April 9, 2009

McLaren ban in the cards?

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone warns McLaren may be facing a ban for one or more races over the Melbourne affair.

Throwing around phrases such as “stealing a point and a place” and “fraud,” Ecclestone was quoted in the Daily Express saying, “There are many options open if the charge sticks and it would be a terrible thing if any team were banned from races. But it could happen. It is not so long ago that McLaren were in front of the Council and it is never good for anyone if you are back in court quickly for something similar.”


Sports News - January 17, 2009


Ecclestone was of course referring to McLaren’s $100m fine by the Council and exclusion from the constructors’ world championship in 2007 over “spygate.”

McLaren will appear before the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council on April 29.

Multi-race bans, of course, are not unprecedented. As recently as 2005, BAR-Honda was barred from taking part in the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix for a technical infraction.

Plus:
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ferrari in crisis mode?

Ferrari held a two-and-a-half hour debrief in Maranello Tuesday to address its performance over the first two races of the season.

Attended by no less than Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, the goal was to get the Scuderia back on track after getting off to its worst start in 17 years.

F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Race


“I met some very angry people and I'm using an euphemism here; angry with themselves, but very determined to react,” Montezemolo said on the team’s Web site. “I brought a cowl with me to make them all understand that we have to be very awe during this season and I said that I don't want to see us on ‘Candid Camera’ after every race. Seriously, I know that the pride of this group is very strong and it will allow us to get out of this situation.”


Montezemolo said while the team believes some of the performance shortfall is “the result of the technical rules' interpretation, considered to be incorrect by many teams,” he also believes the team must develop the aerodynamics of the car. He has no doubt the Prancing Horse will turn things around.

“We've got faith in the Team, who, let's not forget, have won three of the last four World Champion titles,” he said. “Our meetings are held in the locker room, just like we did it with Todt and Brawn during difficult moments, the Team remains united and I believe in them.”


For his part, Ross Brawn has no down the competition will soon be closing the gap.

“They're both very strong and fantastic engineering companies, so I'm sure they will sort it out, but I think they're just paying the price for winning the championship last year,” ITV-F1 reports he said at Sepang.

The longtime Ferrari man chalks up the difference in performance to different priorities in 2008.

“I think it's a reflection on what's gone on over the last year or two with such a big change in regulations. McLaren and Ferrari had a championship to fight over and I can understand that it was very difficult for them to say ‘we'll stop pushing this year and put all our effort into next year.’ For us it was a very easy decision. It wasn't a clever decision, it was a very easy one. We didn't have a good car so why waste time on it?”
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

McLaren receives a special invitation

As expected, Mclaren have been “invited” to appear before an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council to explain its actions following the Australian Grand Prix.

The hearing is slated for April 29.

F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Previews


McLaren responded by saying it “welcomed” the opportunity to “work with the FIA in the best interests of Formula 1,” also confirming it had parted company with sporting director Dave Ryan, a veteran who had been with the team since 1974.

“This afternoon McLaren and its former sporting director, Dave Ryan, have formally parted company. As a result, he is no longer an employee of any of the constituent companies of the McLaren Group,” the team said on its Web site.

Ryan was suspended last weekend after it was revealed he and driver Lewis Hamilton had given “misleading” evidence to Australian Grand Prix stewards involving Hamilton’s actions regarding Jarno Trulli during the safety car period.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes Hamilton was influenced by Ryan to give false information.

“I believe that whilst they were at the stewards, Davey – who had been party to what had happened at Spa (where Hamilton was stripped of his win) – was highly sensitive and in the heat of the moment his judgment was to not give a true account. I think Lewis was then led by that.” -- ITV-F1


Did Schumi make Kimi’s tire call?

A post race report by the BBC, later echoed in the German and Italian press, reports Michael Schumacher was the man behind the decision to put Kimi Raikkonen on wets, a decision that proved to be premature and threw away any chance the Finn had to score points in Sunday’s rain-shortened race.

This just a day after Schumacher was thrown under the bus by practiced finger pointer Niki Lauda, who blamed the seven-times world champion for not alerting the team to the miscalculation that led to Felipe Massa missing the cut in Q1.

No surprise, these charges have been trashed by manager Willi Weber as “idiotic.” 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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Monday, April 6, 2009

Malaysian post-race roundup: What next?

Two races behind us, and the first “normal” break between races sees Brawn GP opening up a solid lead and teams scrambling to catch up.

Diffusers

The first big question looks to be answered April 14, when the FIA Court of Appeal will hear the case on diffusers. For his part, Ross Brawn says he’s had enough of the complaints.


F1 Mar 2009


Flavio Briatore believes the diffuser is the difference, and is holding out hope for a favorable ruling. Mario Theissen is inclined to agree with him.

But given the argument seems not to be about the letter of the rules, but rather the “spirit” of the rules, it is my uneducated belief the appeal will be tossed out on its ear. If so, we will be sure to see new diffusers rapidly appearing on rival cars.

The real question is, what if the diffusers are ruled to be illegal? We’ve heard all sorts of comments coming out of the Brawn camp that the diffuser is not the key to the car’s speed. Is this the truth, or just posturing?

Ferrari woes

Meanwhile, off to its worst start in 17 years, Ferrari knows it needs to right the ship now.

That means eliminating team errors and making the car faster, says boss Stefano Domenicali.

“So what we have to do now on one side is to work very hard to try to anticipate as much as we can, all of the development on the car. Then on the other side, on the track, we want to make sure that people with certain responsibilities are taking the right decisions in the right way, because of course this is something that we cannot accept for the future.”

McLaren

The other team off to a horrible start is McLaren, and in the wake of the Australian Grand Prix debacle, it is now very likely the team will face further disciplinary action.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who considered resigning from the job he just took over, has vowed the team will learn from its mistakes.

He has the support of Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug (for the moment, anyway).

“This is currently not a positive value – the newspapers are full of our stories, it’s certainly not creating the right image, and if it would not be bearable we need to sit down in Stuttgart and take our decision. But for now, I have all the faith I can put behind Martin.”

“World engine” on Mosley’s wish list?

Max Mosley aims to have one engine capable of supporting multiple racing series by 2013, Autoweek reports.

“We're looking at the moment at a 'world engine' for 2013," Mosley announced over the weekend at the WRC Rally de Portugal. "That's to say an engine that would work in turbocharged form for F1 and then all the way down to naturally aspirated form for the lesser categories and in a turbocharged or naturally aspirated form for the World Rally Championship.”

Interestingly, Mosley believes there is plenty of room left for development by manufacturers, once again banging the kinetic-energy recovery drum.

“The obvious area is [kinetic-energy recovery], that's very much a peripheral area, also energy recovery from the exhaust and cooling systems," he said. "Our basic objective is that the money spent in motorsport on research and development should be relevant and useful to the car industry, rather than a highly specialized area which has no relevance to anything else.”

Two races into the season, and I am convinced KERS is dangerous and adds little value to the show. To hear the teams tell it, it has also been a huge expense. One hopes there are benefits down the road for the average consumer, because in a world where Mosley continues to tout cost cutting and slashing of team payroll, it seems like a mixed message.

Besides, F1’s lure was that manufacturers had the opportunity to develop technology all over the car that would eventually benefit the average consumer. Focusing on kinetic energy recovers strikes me to be a bit specialized.

Autoweek points out the timing to introduce the new engine coincides with the next term of the FIA presidency, a fifth term which Mosley, in the past, has denied interest in. 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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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Button wins rain-shortened Malaysian GP

Jenson Button emerged out of a confused and excitement-filled turn of events to win the red-flagged Malaysian Grand Prix and make it two out of two for Brawn GP.

Button survived multiple pit stops for tire changes as the variable weather conditions deteriorated, and was leading when race director Charlie Whiting first deployed the safety car and then call a halt to the proceedings.

F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Race


Drivers remained formed up on the grid but it quickly became apparent even if the weather cleared, due to the race’s late start time, it would be too dark to continue.

Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) and Timo Glock (Toyota) joined Button on the podium. The race had passed the 50 percent completion point, but not yet reached 75 percent, so according to regulations, half points were awarded.

Button’s race didn’t look as promising at the start, as the Briton was slow off the line and Williams’ Nico Rosberg shot off into the distance. After the first lap, Button was in pursuit, harassing the second-place Toyota of Jarno Trulli.

Button used the pit stops to get by both drivers, and was leading when the sky opened up.

Trulli, Rubens Barrichello, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Rosberg were the remaining points scorers.

Shut out was Ferrari, the bold gamble of putting Kimi Raikkonen on wets on his first stop proving premature. For McLaren, a lone point for Lewis Hamilton, while teammate Heikki Kovalainen was one of the races two retirements.

Now there are a couple of weeks to regroup before the circus heads to Shanghai. In between, the diffuser hearing April 14. It probably isn’t exaggeration to say the course of the 2009 season hinges on this ruling.

But for now, it is about Brawn and Button, as the team has a hefty lead on its competitors in the Constructors championship, while Button leads the Drivers standings.

Results (31 Laps)
  1. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes
  2. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  3. Timo Glock, Toyota
  4. Jarno Trulli, Toyota
  5. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes
  6. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault
  7. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes
  8. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota
  9. Felipe Massa, Ferrari
  10. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari
  11. Fernando Alonso, Renault
  12. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota
  13. Nelson Piquet, Renault
  14. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
  15. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault
  16. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari
  17. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes
  18. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes
  • Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, Retired, 1 lap
  • Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes, Spin, 0 laps

The quotes

The Press Conference

From the BBC: The Malaysian Grand Prix 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

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Button on pole in Malaysia

Jenson Button made it two in a row for Brawn GP, fending off a strong challenge by Toyota's Jarno Trulli to take the number one spot on the grid for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Qualifying


Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull and Rubens Barrichello fourth for Brawn GP, but both will receive penalties (Vettel 10 places for his Australia infraction, Barrichello five for Friday's gearbox change), promoting Timo Glock (Toyota) and Nico Rosberg (Williams) into the second row.

Once again, it was a tough day for the old guard. The best Kimi Raikkonen could do was ninth, and teammate Felipe Massa and the Scuderia were caught flat-footed in Q1, the Brazilian missing the cut. Ferrari played off Massa's result as poor planning, but could they be masking a bigger issue with the car?

Meanwhile, McLaren saw both cars eliminated in Q2.

The notorious weather played fair for quali, will it continue to do so in the Malaysian twilight as Brawn GP and Button try to get out of the gate with two wins on the season? The team will want to maximize its take prior to the International Court of Appeal hearing on diffusers April 14.

The Grid
  1. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes
  2. Jarno Trulli, Toyota
  3. Timo Glock, Toyota
  4. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota
  5. Mark Webber, RedBull-Renault
  6. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
  7. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
  8. Fernando Alonso, Renault
  9. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes
  10. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  11. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota
  12. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes
  13. Sebastian Vettel, RedBull-Renault
  14. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes
  15. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari
  16. Felipe Massa, Ferrari
  17. Nelson Piquet, Renault
  18. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes
  19. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes
  20. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Notes
BMW Sauber has lodged an official protest of the Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams diffusers. It is believed this is so the Malaysian results will be included in the April 14 hearing.

The quotes

The Press Conference

The Fuel Loads

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Ferrari back on the pace in Malaysia?

Under skies which looked like they could open up at any minute, Friday practice saw more of a mix of teams topping the charts compared to a week before in Melbourne.

Friday's first session saw Nico Rosberg once again looking quick in the Williams, followed by teammate Kaz Nakajima and the Brawn boys. But the second session saw the diffuser gang facing a stronger challenge, with the Ferraris finishing at the top of the sheets

F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Practice


Reliability may be a question mark for the Prancing Horse, however. It was obvious the team was pushing its KERS pretty hard, Raikkonen having to jump out of a smoking cockpit at one point, and radio chatter discussing further problems with it at the end.

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are also lurking in the background, so if the weather plays fair, it should be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Second session
  1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1: 35.707, 40 laps
  2. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:35.832, 38
  3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:35.954, 40
  4. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:36.015, 39
  5. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:36.026, 36
  6. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn, 1:36.161, 37
  7. Jenson Button, Brawn, 1:36.254, 31
  8. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:36.290, 35
  9. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:36.397, 40
  10. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:36.401, 35
  11. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:36.515, 30
  12. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:36.516, 34
  13. Sebastiaen Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:36.628, 32
  14. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:36.639, 29
  15. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:36.640, 20
  16. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:36.875, 36
  17. Robert Kubica, BMW, 1:37.267, 38
  18. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:37.278, 30
  19. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 1:37.432, 27
  20. Nick Heidfeld, BMW, 1:37.930, 37

First session
  1. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:36.260, 27 laps
  2. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:36.305, 25
  3. Jenson Button, Brawn, 1:36.430, 20
  4. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn, 1:36.487, 22
  5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:36.561, 21
  6. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:36.646, 18
  7. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:36.699, 16
  8. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:36.703, 23
  9. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:36.747, 25
  10. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:36.980, 27
  11. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:36.982, 27
  12. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 1:37.025, 20
  13. Robert Kubica, BMW, 1:37.039, 18
  14. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:37.199, 20
  15. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:37.241, 18
  16. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:37.395, 12
  17. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:37.634, 22
  18. Nick Heidfeld, BMW, 1:37.640, 17
  19. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:38.022, 19
  20. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:38.483, 7

The quotes


From the BBC: As it happened

Friday notes

Friday's press conference
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