Red Bull continued their vice-like grip on the pole positions for this season as Mark Webber edged out teammate Sebastian Vettel to grab the pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. The Red Bulls were fastest throughout the three practice sessions and that continued into the Qualifying sessions. Vettel and Webber traded quickest laps throughout the session and whenever Vettel posted a quick time, Webber usurped it during his run.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton grabbed 3rd spot on the grid with a late surge, unseating Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso into 4th place. Jenson Button and the rejuvenated Michael Schumacher will take up the 5th and 6th places on the grid. Renault’s Robert Kubica, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi rounded off the top ten positions. Force India’s Adrian Sutil was unlucky as he was holding onto P10 at the fag end of Q2 but Kobayashi usurped him at the last minute.
Q1 saw the usual back-of-the-grid runners getting dropped off, with Hispania’s Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna starting at the back. They were joined by the two Virin’s of Lucas Di Grassi and Timo Glock and the two Lotuses of Jarno Trulli & Heikki Kovalainen and somewhat surprisingly, the Williams of Rubens Barrichello.
Force India F1 Team today unveiled their car for the 2010 F1 season – the VJM03 Challenger. The launch was a low-key affair that took place on the internet, as many of the teams decided to shun glitzy launches in keeping with the cost cutting measures adopted by the sport.
Force India VJM03 Side View
Force India VJM03 Top View
Force India VJM03 Front View
The livery is not that much different from last year’s car and sports the predominant saffron, green and white hues from the tricolor. There’re no less than four UB Group’s beverage brands on the car – Whyte & Mackay, Royal Challenge, Signature and Kingfisher. Medion Mobile, Bridgestone, Geetanjali Gems and Reebok are the other brands adorning the car.
The car will be taken out on its first laps at this week’s test at Jerez, with drivers Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi sharing the duties in the 4-day test.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is the 2008 Formula One World Champion as the title was decided AFTER the Chequered Flag had waved down on Felipe Massa’s dramatic victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso finished second and Kimi Raikkonen third and that ensured the Constructors’ Championship was won by Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and Lewis Hamilton finished fifth – just enough to make him Champion. Dramas dominated at the fag end of the race as Sebastian Vettel managed to overtake Hamilton with two laps to go thus dropping him to sixth place and thus ensuring Massa would become the Champion but Timo Glock’s Toyota – who was in fourth place ahead of Vettel and Hamilton - slowed down just before the finish line thus giving back fifth position to Hamilton, and thus making him the Champion.
Brazilian Grand Prix Podium Finishers - Fernando Alonso 2nd, Felipe Massa the winner & Kimi Raikkonen 3rd
There was a big surprise in store even before the red lights could go off as the rain started belting down on Interlagos before the formation lap and as a result, the race start was delayed by ten minutes. All the teams then strapped on intermediate tyres as the rain quickly stopped but the track was still wet. The start was pretty much hectic and everyone kept their places but the ones to lose out were David Coulthard, in his last Grand Prix who was tucked into a spin by Nico Rosberg; Heikki Kovalainen who was overtook by Fernando Alonso & Nelson Piquet, who spun out of his home grand prix. Felipe Massa kept his lead but teammate Kimi Raikkonen was unable to pass second placed Jarno Trulli in the opening laps. Hamilton did what he had to do – stay out of trouble & keep within fifth place – and was scarcely troubled.
Teams’ strategies were compromised as they had to make an extra pit stop to replace the intermediates with dry-weather tyres and temporary advantage-gainers were the Force India of Giancarlo Fisichella, who ran as high as fifth before dropping down the order. Trulli also fell steadily down the order and it was Sebastian Vettel who initially troubled Massa at the head of the order. Fernando Alonso kept his good start intact and steadily ran in third place and towards the closing stages, had to fend off a charging Kimi Raikkonen.
But there was some more surprises in store as it started to rain with just five laps to go and all the drivers had to make a splash-and-dash pit stops for fitting on intermediate tyres. And amidst all of that, the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel – with a Ferrari engine in the back – pulled off a stunning overtaking manoeuvre over Lewis Hamilton and thus put him in sixth place, which meant if it finished that way, Felipe Massa would become Champion. It was a nail-biting finale and as the Chequered Flag waved down on Felipe Massa, Vettel led Hamilton onto the finish line but crucially ahead of them, the Toyota of Timo Glock slowed down and let these two pass, which meant Vettel had finished fourth and Hamilton fifth, handing the WDC title back to Hamilton! It couldn’t have been scripted better than that!
Felipe Massa will start on pole position for his home grand prix – the season ending Brazilian Grand Prix as Championship leader Lewis Hamilton could only manage 4th fastest. The surprise package of the session was the Toyota of Jarno Trulli who was second fastest, pushing Kimi Raikkonen to third place on the grid. Heikki Kovalainen would start on the third row with Fernando Alonso alongside him in sixth. Sebastian Vettel, Nick Heidfeld, Sebastien Bourdais and Timo Glock complete the top 10.
Brazilain Grand Prix Grid - Toyota's Jarno Trulli in P2, Ferrari's Felipe Massa on Pole and Kimi Raikkonen in P3
BMW’s Robert Kubica had a dismal qualifying session as he failed to make it to Q3. Others who failed to make the top ten shootout included the two Red Bulls of David Coulthard and Mark Webber, Nelson Piquet and Rubens Barrichello. Q1 accounted for the two Force Indias of Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil, both the Williams’ of Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima and Honda’s Jenson Button.
Star Sports again gave prominence to EPL and hence the deferred telecast of the Qualifying session is only at 1 AM in the night
It was a copybook victory for Lewis Hamilton at the Chinese Grand Prix as he led from start to finish in a blemish-free and slightly drab race. Felipe Massa finished second and kept his title hopes alive, albeit very diminished & teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished 3rd. There were none of the starting shenanigans as in Fuji and the top three cars ran around in the same order until Raikkonen allowed Massa to pass for 2nd place with a few laps to go. The 2008 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship will be decided at Interlagos in the last round of the season.
Chinese Grand Prix Podium - Hamilton, the winner, Massa 2nd and Kimi 3rd
I was dozing off for most of the race (courtesy a really early start of the day for me) but I guess it wasn’t as exciting as Fuji anyway! Alonso and Kovalainen’s starting moves and few midfield battles were all that were for us to cheer about. And for Kimi fans, the ungainly sight of him slowing down to allow Massa to pass for second place was disappointing. Kimi has only the last race left to claim the most fastest laps record. Go Kimi Go! The title challenge is however a relatively easy one for Hamilton as he holds a seven point advantage over Massa and just needs to finish 5th to be crowned the sport’s youngest champion. One must bear in mind that last year too, he had the same seven point advantage over Kimi and lost the title! So anything can happen…
Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix with nearest rival Felipe Massa in P3. Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest while Heikki Kovalainen was fifth with the on-form man Fernando Alonso in P4. Red Bull’s Mark Webber was sixth fastest but will drop down ten places because of an engine change. Nick Heidfeld, Sebastian Vettel, Jarno Trulli and Sebastien Bourdais take the last of the top ten places on the grid. The front row of the grid is exactly same as the Japanese Grand Prix where Raikkonen had pulled off the starting line much quicker than Hamilton. If that happens again and with Massa and Alonso just behind Lewis, it can quickly turn into an ugly scrap for the race lead into the first corner.
Chinese Grand Prix Grid - Lewis Hamilton on Pole, with Kimi Raikkonen alongside and Felipe Massa on P3
Q1′s early leaders were Nelson Piquet, Timo Glock & Sebastian Vettel but when the big four came rolling, it was Lewis Hamilton who was P1 ahead of his teammate and the two Ferraris. Both the McLarens paced in the mid 1 Min 35s times and at the end of the session, the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel and the Renault of Fernando Alonso were in between the McLarens and the Ferraris. BMW’s Robert Kubica made it into Q2 by the skin of his teeth as he could manage only 14th fastest at the tail end of the session. Those who dropped out of the session were the Red Bull of David Coulthard, Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima, Honda’s Jenson Button and the two Force India’s of Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Q2 started off amidst complaints from Coulthard about the BMW of Nick Heidfeld impeding his run but that’s something the Stewards will look into later on. Kimi Raikkonen was the early pace setter but was almost immediately pegged back by Heikki Kovalainen, who in turn was immediately pegged back by Massa. Hamilton could manage just fifth fastest initially but then put on soft tyres and did a blinder of a lap – the only driver to drop to 1 Min 34.9s – and was P1 for that session. Robert Kubica was again in trouble and could manage only 11th fastest which ultimately dropped down to 12th. Joining him in being relegated from the second session were Nelson Piquet, Rubens Barrichello, Timo Glock and Nico Rosberg. They will however move up a place on the grid owing to Mark Webber’s 10-place penalty for an Engine change (and may also move up two places if the stewards decide to punish Nick Heidfeld for impeding David Coulthard).
Q3, as usual, was a straight shootout for the pole position amongst the top two teams and as in Q2, Raikkonen was the early leader and surprisingly, Mark Webber was second fastest. Massa and Hamilton both couldn’t pip that but Heikki Kovalainen did and put his McLaren on provisional pole in the initial runs. When the final runs were made, it was Kimi first, then Hamilton eclipsed that effortlessly but Massa couldn’t and neither could Kovalainen. Crucially, Massa was slower than Kimi which meant he was in P3 and immediately behind Lewis. Fernando Alonso put his Renault in between Massa and Kovalainen and if the front-runners trip over themselves at the start of the race, it can be yet another win for the double world champion! All is set for an exciting race tomorrow!!!
Two in a Row!! Fernando Alonso notched up a second successive victory as he won an exciting Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji speedway as Championship leaders Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa fell away at the start of the race. BMW’s Robert Kubica held onto second place in front of a spirited Kimi Raikkonen who kept off a belligerent Nelson Piquet at bay. Jarno Trulli finished fifth at Toyota’s home grand prix ahead of the Toro Rossos of Sebastian Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel. Felipe Massa came in eighth to collect just the one point for his efforts. Lewis Hamilton meanwhile finished twelfth and out of the points.
Robert Kubica, Fernando Alonso & Kimi Raikkonen - 2008 Japanese Grand Prix Podium
The race was effectively turned on its head at the start itself as Lewis ill-advised lunge into the first corner – as he was out-gunned by both Kimi and Kovalainen at the start – proved to be his undoing and causing a melee which saw the running order change dramatically. The Ferraris were pushed down, David Coulthard spun off into the wall, Kazuki Nakajima damaging his wing in the process and after the dust settled on the first and second corners, it was BMW’s Robert Kubica who emerged as the race leader in front of Renault’s Fernando Alonso! Kovalainen moved into third place in front of Kimi as Hamilton and Massa duelled further down the order and as Hamilton took advantage of a Massa mistake, the latter came back vehemently and touched and spun off Lewis who dropped down to 18th and last. Both of them had to serve a drive-through penalty which compromised their races though not their Championship fight. In other incidents of note, Toyota’s Timo Glock had to retire with a suspension damage & Force India’s Adrian Sutil was running as high as tenth but a rear-tyre puncture saw his race undone. McLaren had an off-day as Kovalainen’s race fell apart in the sixteenth lap & he was forced to retire with a mechanical problem.
Renault gambled on a short first pit-stop for Alonso and that worked out very well as he came ahead of Kubica and eked out a big enough lead over Kubica and when their second round of pit-stops came, it was Alonso who was still ahead. From thereon it was a matter of holding onto the lead and he did just that to notch up his 21st career victory and his second consecutive one this season. Down the order, Massa had a sort of mini-revival as he overtook a couple of cars to claw his way back into eighth position and thus salvage just one point. Hamilton finished out of the points but still maintains his lead in the Championship battle, now cut to just 6 points. Kovalainen’s non-finish meant that Ferrari leap back into the lead of the Constructors’ Championship over McLaren. Renault took home the biggest haul of points having finished first and fourth and consolidate their fourth position in the Constructors’ table. After them, Toro Rosso had the best race with Bourdais finishing 6th in front of teammate Vettel in 7th.
There remain just two more races in the season and time is running out for Felipe Massa to overhaul Lewis’ advantage in the championship. The next races are at Shanghai and at the Interlagos and assuming Massa is the favourite to clinch his home Grand Prix, Lewis just has to finish close to the top in each of the races to emerge Champion. But as last year showed, a couple of non-finishes could mar proceedings heavily. Hamilton must now keep his nerve and ensure a good enough result in China next week. Robert Kubica has cemented his third place position in the standings and still has a mathematical chance of winning it. Kimi, however is ruled out and thus ends his defense of the crown. The fact that he finished a race after four DNF’s and that too on the podium augurs well for his motivation levels.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix with title contender Felipe Massa down in P5. However, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen is in P2 and will look to stay close to Lewis at the start of the race. Heikki Kovalainen is in a perfect supporting role for McLaren in P3 with Renault’s Fernando Alonso in P4 and Massa P5. BMW’s Robert Kubica starts in P6 with Toyota’s Jarno Trulli in P7. Timo Glock, Sebastian Vettel and Sebastian Bourdais complete the top ten.
Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton & Kimi Raikkonen - P3, P1 and P2 respectively at the Japanese Grand Prix Saturday Qualifying
Q1 was startling in two aspects – Firstly, we had the fastest car in the Toyota of Timo Glock, who pulled off a 1m 17s right at the tail end of the session. Secondly, there was a BMW in the relegation zone at the end of it all! Nick Heidfeld’s bad qualifying form caught up with him at last, having eluded him for the past few races. Whilst many thought Glock’s performance was a bit of a show-putting by the Toyota team, Heidfeld’s showing was maybe due to a technical glitch or something. The dying moments of Q1 saw Singapore GP winner Fernando Alonso haul himself back into contention having dropped down to 16th. The ones who did not make it were Heidfeld alongwith the two Honda’s of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello and the two Force India’s of Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Parity was somewhat restored in Q2 as Ferrari’s Felipe Massa comfortably topped the timesheets with the two McLaren’s of Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton behind him. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen could only manage 7th fastest though. Once again, the two Toro Rossos made into the top 10 whereas the two Red Bulls did not. Those who were relegated: David Coulthard, Nelson Piquet, Kazuki Nakajima, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg.
Q3 was a straight shootout between the top two teams and the initial pace-setter was the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. Massa was following closely but kinda dropped out on his second run. Hamilton’s second run was quickest of them all and he snatched pole position from Kimi Raikkonen. Quick runs from Alonso and Trulli had pushed down Kovalainen but with his last run, the Finn managed the third-fastest time. The race will be an intriguing one as Kimi would hope to keep in Lewis from streaking away into the distance and Heikki doing the same with Kimi. Massa, however, will have to play catch-up and with Alonso in front of him, won’t be an easy task. He has to have a perfect start and if he can get ahead of Alonso, Heikki and Kimi, he and Lewis can duel out in the front as Kimi keeps the field at bay. Gonna be a cracker of a race, for sure!