The 2010 F1 Season finally vroomed off at the Sakhir circuit for the season-opening Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix and the first pole position for what seems like a glorious F1 season was grabbed by Sebastian Vettel for the Red Bull racing team as he ran around the circuit in 1 Min 54.101s. Felipe Massa lines up in P2 with teammate Fernando Alonso in P3.
The top 10 lines up as follows:
- Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull
- Felipe Massa – Ferrari
- Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
- Lewis Hamilton – McLaren
- Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
- Mark Webber – Red Bull
- Michael Schumacher – Mercedes
- Jenson Button – McLaren
- Robert Kubica – Renault
- Adrian Sutil – Force India
Q1 was a see-saw affair (I’ll admit that I was late into catching the telecast ) The Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were the early pace-setters and were briefly P1 for a while before the Red Bulls of Mark Webber & Sebastian Vettel quickly established them at the top of the timesheets. But Fernando Alonso had the last say as he ended Q1 on P1, with Adrian Sutil of Force India a very credible P3. The ones to face the axe at the end of the first qualifying session included the Toro Rosso of Jaime Algersuari, the two Virgin cars of Timo Glock & Lucas di Grassi, the two Lotuses of Heikki Kovalainen & Jarno Trulli and the two Hispanias of Bruno Senna & Karun Chandhok.
Kimi Raikkonen won the Belgian Grand Prix for a fourth time as he scored his and Ferrari’s first victory of the season at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit – one he rates as his favourite. Force India had a memorable outing as well as Giancarlo Fisichella lost the lead of the race to a KERS-equipped Ferrari but nevertheless hounded him throughout the 44 laps and eventually finished 2nd – his and Force India’s first-ever podium finish and first-ever points – all 8 of them! Well done Fisico!
Third place went to the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel as he made up a place in the drivers’ championship, with one of his title contender finishing low down in the points, one outside of the points and one did not finish at all! BMW also had a great race as Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld finished 4th and 5th with the McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen in 6th and the Brawn of Rubens Barrichello in 7th. The Williams of Nico Rosberg took the final point in 8th position.
I missed the most exciting part of the race – the start, as I was thinking it was a 6:20 PM start instead of a 5:20 one and hence was busy with other chores! And what do you think happened on the laps I missed? Well, nothing much except that Championship leader Jenson Button alongwith Lewis Hamilton, Jaime Algersuari and Romain Grosjean were all involved in an opening lap melee and crashed out of the race! And the Safety Car was out and on the restart, Kimi Raikkonen used his KERS to good effect and jumped pole sitter Giancarlo Fisichella to wrest the lead of the race.
Giancarlo Fisichella scored Force India’s first-ever Pole position of their F1 career as he drove a superlative lap to take P1 at the Qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. It sure was a long time in coming and despite the steady improvements the team has been bringing into each of the last few races, no one expected a pole position for the team! Getting into Q2 and score points were their targets and they sure did better on the first one, can tomorrow’s race see them achieve their second target! I sure hope they do…
Toyota’s Jarno Trulli will start second on the grid as the Toyotas finally came good. So did the BMW’s who have Nick Heidfeld starting on P3. Rubens Barrichello will start fourth on the grid with Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen behind him. Timo Glock, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber & Nico Rosberg make up the top ten on the grid.
Q1 was a very good session for Force India as Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil were 1-2 atop the timesheets as the chequered flag fell and even though it was just the first session, it bode well for the team. A good way to impress the bosses at Ferrari since Fisichella’s being rumoured to fill-in for Felipe Massa for the last five races of the season! Luca Badoer again propped up the rear of the grid and to add insult to injury, he span out on his last flying lap and that was that! The ones to be relegated were Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Algersuari, Kazuki Nakajima, Romain Grosjean and Luca Badoer. Fernando Alonso escaped relegation by the skin of his teeth as he made a mistake on his flying lap and just scraped through another run just as the flag fell and so did Hamilton, who was teetering on 15th and must be thanking the heavens that no one went any faster!
Red Bull’s Mark Webber scored his first ever Grand Prix victory at the Nurburgring in the German Grand Prix in a race that was expected to be weather-effected but was dry throughout. Sebastian Vettel finished in 2nd place to hand Red Bull their second consecutive 1-2 finish. Felipe Massa scored Ferrari’s first podium place of this season in 3rd place.
Williams’ Nico Rosberg unobtrusively drove to the 4th place finish as Championship leader Jenson Button finished in 5th place ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello with the Renault of Fernando Alonso and McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen finishing in 7th and 8th place respectively. The race’s only two retirements were Sebastian Bourdais and Kimi Raikkonen – with hydraulic and mechanical failure.
The start was a crucial affair as the Brawn of Rubens Barrichello managed to come alongside pole-sitter Webber and that prompted a right-side lunge from Webber which was deemed to be ‘un-sportsman like behaviour’ by the FIA stewards and promptly handed him a drive-through penalty. By the end of the first lap, there were a couple of incidents – Webber & Barrichello’s moment & then Lewis Hamilton, using his KERS, streaked alongside the leaders at the start but ran wide at the first corner and as the rest of the field trooped past him, picked up a right rear puncture which effectively ruined his race. Both the Ferraris made a good start and were in the midst of it all but a mechanical failure put paid to Kimi Raikkonen’s race and he retired on lap 36.
But not before he sort-of ruined Adrian Sutil’s race (yet again!) Sutil was running in fourth place and as he emerged from his first pit-stop, Kimi tried to overtake on the outside and there was contact which saw the Force India’s front wing clipped off. Another pit-stop effectively ended Sutil and Force India’s quest for their maiden points. Last year at the Monaco Grand Prix, it was Kimi again who ended Sutil’s 5th place run as he lost control exiting the tunnel and careened into the Force India’s back. Heartbreak for Sutil!
With the threatening rain never materialising, it was a race of strategy and the Brawn GP team switched into a three-stop strategy in the latter part of the race as a tyre-graining problem affected their race somewhat. Red Bull however had the truer race pace and despite Webber’s penalty, they stuck to their strategy and emerged the biggest winners with a second consecutive 1-2. Fernando Alonso picked up the pace at the end of the race and clocked the fastest lap of the race.
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…
Race Reports: Formula1.com | BBC Sport | Grandprix.com
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!
Image Courtesy: Getty Images/Telegraph.co.uk