Lewis Hamilton took victory for McLaren at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps in what turned out to be a real topsy-turvy and incident-filled race, where the changeable conditions came into play but not enough to dictate the race outcome. Mark Webber was on pole position in his Red Bull but he finished a fortuitous 2nd, ahead of the much improved Renault of Robert Kubica.
Ferrari salvaged a 4th place finish for Felipe Massa, who incidentally was on the dry-weather setup compared to Alonso’s wet-weather setup. Adrian Sutil finished 5th for Force India ahead of Nico Rosberg in 6th and Michael Schumacher in 7th. Kamui Kobayashi took the 8h place for BMW Sauber, with Vitaly Petrov and Jaime Algersuari rounding off the top ten.
Red Bull’s failure to convert pole positions into race wins continued here as pole-sitter Mark Webber had a dreadful start and dropped down to sixth by the end of the first lap. Lewis Hamilton took full advantage and sped into the lead, with teammate Jenson Button slotting into second place, after passing the fast-starting Renault of Robert Kubica. As a few spots of rain began to fall, almost all of the lead drivers slid wide at the bus stop chicane and Rubens Barrichello got his braking wrong and ploughed into the back of Fernando Alonso, bringing to an end his 300th Grand Prix. Ferrari took a huge gamble by putting out Alonso on the intermediate tires but it didn’t pay off as the rain eased off and he had to make another stop to get back onto the slicks, effectively ruining his afternoon.
Mark Webber and Red Bull took pole position for the 2010 Belgian Grand Prix in a Qualifying session played out in changing weather conditions as his fastest lap with around five minutes to go in the 3rd qualifying session held good as a bit of rain returned to prevent the others from upping it. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton will start on P2 with Renault’s Robert Kubica in P3.
Sebastian Vettel starts from P4 with Jenson Button on P5 and Felipe Massa P6, ahead of Rubens Barrichello P7, Adrian Sutil P8, Nico Hulkenberg P9 and Fernando Alonso rounding off the top ten. It was cruel on Ferrari as they got their cars round on track in the second-half of Q3 just as the rain started falling, which put paid to their hopes of overtaking the McLarens and at least be close to the Red Bulls.
Mercedes GP had a session to forget with neither driver making it into Q3 and their misery is compounded as Michael Schumacher has to serve a 10-place drop as a result of his brash move on Rubens Barrichello in Hungary. Nico Rosberg has had a gearbox change and he cops a 5-place penalty on the grid.
Mark Webber was untouchable around the principality of Monaco as he aced around the street track and picked up his and Red Bull’s second victory on the trot. It was a perfect race from Webber, as he led from pole-to-finish and took home maximum points. Teammate Sebastian Vettel finished 2nd, making it the second Red Bull 1-2 of the season. Renault’s Robert Kubica finished 3rd, after he was jumped at the start by Vettel. The race finished under the Safety Car, which was brought out as a result of an accident between Lotus’ Jarno Trulli and HRT’s Karun Chandhok.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa finished 4th followed by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton in 5th. Fernando Alonso – who started from the pit-lane after sitting out qualifying – drove a solid race and would have finished 6th but on the last lap, just as the Safety Car pulled in, Michael Schumacher passed him into taking the place. Alonso eventually was classified 7th, ahead of Nico Rosberg in 8th places with the two Force Indias of Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi taking home the last of the points in 9th and 10th respectively.
Update: Michael Schumacher’s overtaking move over Fernando Alonso was deemed illegal and he was penalised by adding 20 seconds to his race time, which drops him to 12th and moves up Alonso to 6th place. Rosberg, Sutil and Liuzzi move up a place with Sebastian Buemi moving upto 10th place to take the last point.
It was a right dramatic start for the Monaco Grand Prix as Williams’ rookie Nico Hulkenberg crashed in the tunnel on the very first lap, bringing out the Safety Car. This, after Webber made a clear start and Vettel got the jump on Kubica. Championship leader Jenson Button had a woeful start as his Mercedes Engine gave way on the second lap and he had to retire. At the restart, Webber maintained his lead as at the back of the grid Alonso made his way up the grid after a quick pit stop to get onto the hard tyres. Almost all the teams ran one-stop strategies as they switched onto the second type of tyre compound and nursed them through the race.
Red Bull and Mark Webber continued where they left off in Barcelona as they yet again clinched pole position, this time for the Grand Prix of Monaco. Mark Webber scored his second consecutive pole position and will hope for a second consecutive victory on the twisty and narrow street circuit where the pole-sitter has won all but one of the last six or so races. Renault’s Robert Kubica was surprise second fastest, ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa will start from P4 as he represents his team’s best chance for points and maybe a podium finish as teammate Fernando Alonso crashed out in final practice and was unable to participate in Qualifying. Alonso will start from the end of the grid and any points would be a bonus. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton sits in P5 followed by the Mercedes’ of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher in P6 and P7. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello occupy the P8 and P9 positions with Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi completing the top ten.
I missed the live telecast of the qualifying session but am catching up on the repeat as I speak so excuse me for the lack of any descriptions.
Read the Qualifying report at: BBC Sport | Grandprix.com | Formula1.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.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa put his car on pole position for the first-ever nighttime F1 Grand Prix at Singapore with a storming drive that left title contender and Championship leader Lewis Hamilton high and dry in second place. Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica were 3rd and fourth fastest. So we have a situation wherein the top four in the Drivers’ Championship occupy the top four starting slots in the Singapore Grand Prix! Awesome! What was NOT awesome was Star Sports’ decision of not to telecast the Qualifying session Live…even though its being held in their own backyard EPL is of more interest apparently! Anyways, there are other means to catch the action and I did just that [Or maybe as it happened last time around, it was only my DTH provider who's not getting the live feed for the Quali!]
There was bad news for Force India fans even before the Qualifying started as Giancarlo Fisichella suffered a crash in free practice after hitting the kerbs on turn 10. A lot of repair-work later, he did emerge for the session but was out again almost immediately. Sebastian Bourdais was the surprise dropout after Q1 alongside Rubens Barrichello, Nelson Piquet and Adrian Sutil. Meanwhile out at the top, after some scrappy runs, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen did a flyer of a lap to be P1 in the first session & Heikki Kovalainen bettered the lap set by teammate Lewis Hamilton to be P2.
Q2 started in terrible fashion for Fernando Alonso as his Renault was crippled with a fuel transmission problem and wasn’t able to post a time. Felipe Massa was the quickest in this session and Raikkonen was running second fastest until Kovalainen placed his McLaren in between them. Hamilton had a scare as he wasn’t able to set a time until just five minutes were left in the session and even then, could manage just 8th fastest…and then dropped to 10th and was in danger of missing the cut for Q3. But as luck would have it, the Red Bulls of David Coulthard and Mark Webber and the Honda of Jenson Button couldn’t squeeze past him and dropped out of the second session along with Alonso and Jarno Trulli.
Hamilton put that disappointment behind him as he went quickest in Q3, only to be pipped by Massa almost immediately! Kimi put in a quick lap but that wasn’t enough to trouble the championship leaders as they yet again exchanged fastest laps. Hamilton went quicker again but Massa was in no mood to be left second-best and his response was a stunner of a lap that was almost five-tenths of a second quicker than Hamilton’s and thus grabbing pole position. Raikkonen and Kubica were 3rd and 4th respectively with Kovalainen 5th, Heidfeld 6th, Vettel 7th, Glock 8th, Rosberg 9th and Nakajima 10th. We are in for an exciting race as the two Championship leaders are at the head of the field with Kimi & Kubica lurking behind in the second row. Gonna be a cracker of a race tomorrow!!!
Sebastian Vettel took his and Scuderia Toro Rosso’s first-ever F1 victory at the Italian Grand Prix which started out in damp conditions and behind the Safety Car. Heikki Kovalainen was second for Mclaren with BMW’s Robert Kubica taking third place. Just when it seemed that it would be a dull race behind the safety car, came the news that it would pull off in the second lap and when it did so and racing resumed, there were no sudden manoeuvres or lunges from any of the drivers as the conditions were still treacherous to make any ill-thought moves. The first few laps were very gingerly done as the drivers tiptoed around the fast Monza circuit on extreme-wet-tyres while trying to watch the track in-front through the spray threw about by the car in front but as the rain relented, the front-runners started making their moves and it was Lewis Hamilton who made the most places as he overtook a bunch of cars and ran as high as second at one time.
Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel scores his maiden F1 victory at the Italian Grand Prix
The pit-stops were strategic as few drivers were on a single-stoppers whilst others were on two-stoppers but ultimately almost every driver stopped twice – those on a single-fuel-stop had to stop again to throw on intermediate tyres as the forecast rain did not appear and the track dried sufficiently to warrant going onto them. The middle-part of the race saw Felipe Massa as the strongest of the drivers as he wove his way around the slower cars in front while Hamilton again demonstrated his wet-weather drive as he overtook few cars again after his second pit-stop; but he didn’t endear himself to his fellow drivers with some needless aggression on those moves! Those who had a disappointing second-stops included the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen & both the Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock who dropped down to 14th, 15th and 16th places at the end of it! Those who took advantage from their sole stops included BMW’s Robert Kubica who was the last of the drivers to stop for fuel thus propelling him to third place. Towards the latter laps, tyre graining on the intermediates affected many, including Lewis Hamilton as he almost lost his seventh place to the Red Bull of Mark Webber and there was a needless shutting-of-the door from Lewis as he and Webber touched wheels. The only retirement of the race was that of Giancarlo Fisichella on the 11th lap, who hit the back of David Coulthard as he overtook him and damaged his nose-wing in the process. It was a bitter end to the Italian’s home grand prix and also scuppered Force India’s best start of the season.
Amidst all of this, Sebastian Vettel drove a near-perfect race as he led from start to finish and became F1′s youngest ever victor, beating Fernando Alonso’s record. Toro Rosso also hauled in their first-ever victory in F1 but it could have been all the more sweeter if Sebastian Bourdais’ car hadn’t stalled at the start of the race. McLaren had something to savour as Heikki Kovalainen took home second place ahead of Robert Kubica. Renault had their best finish of the season with Fernando Alonso taking the fourth place with BMW’s Nick Heidfeld in fifth. Felipe Massa ended where he started on the grid – in sixth – but his title contender Lewis Hamilton made up eight places and took the seventh place. Mark Webber finished eight and took the last available point. Kimi Raikkonen went home with 0 points and just the fastest lap to his name! Surely this signals the end of his Championship defense…especially with Kubica now moving seven points clear of him into third place in the Championship table. F1 now moves onto Singapore for the first-ever night race with Lewis Hamilton holding a 1 point lead over Felipe Massa (pending the Spa penalty appeal, which will be heard on Sep 22).
Image Courtesy: Reuters