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Friday, September 28, 2012

Jumping on the bandwagon; the Lewis Candidate

I was up at 2.00am this morning when the twitter machine went mad.  Apparently it was going to be confirmed in a few short hours that some guy called Lewis Hamilton from a team called McLaren was going to move to a team called Mercedes.

I noted how the F1 Journo's on the twitter machine credited this story to its author.  Proper order too, though I don't think anyone was too surprised, given that the Great Eddie "EJ" Jordan had broken the story of the move weeks ago and it had been hogging the airtime, webtime, and reams of column inches since.  It seems that we have been moving inexorably to this place.

I also noted how quick others on the twitter machine were to "break" the story to their followers without giving credit where it was due, and that caused me concern and disappointment.  Everyone likes to get a scoop, few of us manage it.  I have exclusives in my line of work which are newsworthy, but I'm not working as a journalist so I keep them to myself.  It is a fact that 99% of any stories relating to F1 will be attributable only to those who operate professionally within F1 (I give 1% to those who might gain access to exclusive information by way of a "chance your arm" style one-off meeting/interview/drinking session).  These guys swim with the piranha club. The rest of us are bottom feeders.

We have opinions on the stories, as do all the journalists, and express them; but essentially this blog, like many others, is about my feelings about the stories of the day, is about my opinion and my reaction.

All I'm saying is that credit should be given where it is due.  Regardless of the freedom which twitter/facebook etc. brings to the masses; the use of other's material and its abuse too, there is an onus on all of us as human beings to provide a source to every story and to give them the credit they deserve.

Lewis is moving to Mercedes and Checo is replacing him at McLaren.

I'm happy for him if he wants to go there.  I think it gives Mercedes a great boost; it will motivate Ross Brawn and will spur Nico Rosberg on to bigger and better things.  I feel that his early promise has been stifled to some extent as a result of the excess of publicity given to Michael and perhaps he needs a new challenge, a breath of fresh air to allow him express himself inside the car in competition with a fellow driver he knows well rather than one he may well be in awe of.

I remember his time with Williams, four years when his driving ability got better every year, culminating in 2 great podiums in the pretty uncompetitive FW30 and a very consistent 2009 where he scored points in 11 out of 16 races completed.

It would be good to see him get his mojo on and take the fight to Lewis.  Good for Lewis and good for the team.  I would hate Mercedes to "Reubens" him into the second drivers position.

As for McLaren: well you can only do what you can do can't you? I think it was time for him to leave the cloistered McLaren circle to which he may have become overcomfortable.  Like all kids, once they've grown up you've got to let them go or they turn on you.  And who's to say he won't return a happier and more rounded driver when he's taken a gap-year or three...?

All team press releases relating to this story are under their page tabs on the right-hand sidebar

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lewis Hamilton takes Pole with Williams second on the grid

1.  Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2.  Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault
3.  Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault
4.  Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
5.  Fernando Alonso Ferrari
6.  Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
7.  Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault
8.  Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault
9.  Michael Schumacher Mercedes
10.Nico Rosberg Mercedes
11.Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
12.Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault
13.Felipe Massa Ferrari
14.Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
15.Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari
16.Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari
17.Bruno Senna Williams-Renault
18.Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
19.Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault
20.Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault
21.Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth
22.Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth
23.Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth
24.Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth

Martin Whitmarsh says it all - satisfied and delighted with Lewis Hamilton's Pole Position.
Jenson starts from 4th on the Grid
Courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Pastor Maldonado showed once again that he has the raw speed but can he convert it into points tomorrow?
A great drive to second on the Grid - A strong drive and good points will be enough to ensure his seat for next season.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT

Bruno Senna languishes in 17th Place after a brush with the wall in Q2 damaged his rear suspension.
He might well ponder the potential consequences of the lowly qualifying position to his long term future at Williams
With the car obviously a contender the Senna car has been accident prone this weekend
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT
Courtesy of Sauber F1

Neither of the Saubers made it into Q3. Kamui couldn't take the car into Q2 saying that he had no confidence in the car around the Marina Bay street circuit.

Both drivers struggled in Free Practice as well as in Qualifying, and, while Sergio put the car into 14th position he too was complaining that the new upgrades were not providing any downforce.

Courtesy of Sauber F1
Massa and Raikkonen were another two drivers who were completely off the pace today. Having come back from the mid season break on a high these drivers, who have performed so immaculately on the high speed tracks of Spa and Monza, are finding life very difficult here on the slow twisty street circuit in Singapore.

Kimi said afterwards that his 12th place was not an accurate reflection of the car's performance: we don’t seem to have the speed to challenge the leaders here but the car is definitely quicker than that. We’ll see what we can do in the race.

Felipe Massa did not help his precarious position for next year with a dismal performance relative to his teammate:
It was a very difficult qualifying. I really struggled to put together a good lap, suffering particularly in the final sector, where the rear tyres were sliding and, as a result, were degrading. It’s a problem I’ve had since yesterday and we did not manage to fix it. Let’s hope we can do something for the race, otherwise it will be really hard.
Alonso in 5th was quite disappointed with his result:
Today, pole position was absolutely out of our grasp: Hamilton was on another planet... We must settle for this fifth place but that doesn’t mean we are not hoping to improve on it tomorrow: our target is the podium. The result pretty much matches what we expected after yesterday, given that right from the afternoon we were not particularly brilliant. The only surprise this evening was Maldonaldo and it was really unexpected to see him on the front row. Here, the performance difference between the two compounds is probably the highest of the whole championship; between one and a half and two seconds, which could be an important factor tomorrow also. It’s true the Softs can last longer but it’s also true that, with such a significant difference, the Supersofts could also be an interesting option. I expect a lot of pit stops, specifically because of the tyre degradation.
The two Red Bull drivers were disappointed with their results of 3rd and 7th but at least the race is on for Vettel while tyre strategies may be crucial if Alonso is correct with regards to their degradation.

It was also disappointing from Marussia's perspective.  Having outpaced both Caterhams across all of the Free Practice sessions they failed to convert that into a real result in qualifying, Still, at only 2 tenths behind the Heikki in Qualifying pace the team have shown a very marked improvement.  One to watch over a race distance.
Heikki wonders what has gone wrong - outqualified by Petrov
and nearly caught by the Marussias
Courtesy of Caterham F1 
HRT are down the back, but De La Rosa was outqualified by Karthikeyan
Button starts in 4th place on the grid.

Schumacher and Rosberg sat out Q3 in order that they might have more tyres available for tomorrow.
Courtesy of Mercedes F1

Friday, September 21, 2012

Singapore GP: Free Practice 2

The session was dry giving the drivers full opportunity to test both dry tyre compounds ahead of qualifying and the race.  It's still uncertain as to whether the race will be wet or not, but this period provided for some good trading of places at the top of the time-table.

All the teams went out on the Soft compound tyre with steady time being set until Bruno Senna caught a little of the wall after turn 20 and ended up stalling on the track mid-way around turn 21.  the session was red-flagged while the marshals got the car off track via a mobile crane.

It is obvious that there are still lessons that Singapore could learn from Monte Carlo, with no-place available to remove the car without halting the session.

Things began to heat up as the cars went out once the pitlane reopened with the top four favourites for this race trading times before Massa came out on the supersofts and claimed the fastest time.

Lewis Hamilton sports a new helmet design in Singapore
Courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
This was immediately topped by Lewis Hamilton who went nearly a second faster on his new supersofts 1m49secs.  Webber then cracked into the 1m 48secs with a stunning lap on supersoft tyres before all of the front runners came out to try their hand at the red branded Pirelli's.

Alonso came out and beat Webber's time, followed by Button and then by Vettel before, with about 24 minutes remaining, the Ferrari Team stated they were going to concentrate on longer runs for the rest of the session.  Webber was called into the pits due to an issue with his car and then the fun stopped and the serious business of trying to find the best set-up for the weekend began, with a number of the teams checking out the longevity of the supersofts.

It is noteworthy that Timo Glock, in the Marussia, has outpaced the two Caterhams in both Free Practice Sessions today.
Caterham will hope for an improved performance tomorrow
Courtesy of Caterham F1

The final result of Free Practice 2, which did include some fun-to-watch fastest lap-time runs is as follows:


Singapore GP: Free Practice 1

The darkening sky - Evening turns to night. The lights
come on, but rain continues to threaten Free Practice
Kobayashi tastes a drying Singapore circuit on the
Intermediate Pirelli Tyre - Courtesy of Sauber F1

Nothing really happens in Free Practice other than familiarising the drivers with the circuit conditions and testing one or two parts.

That makes times pretty meaningless but still we like to see who's on top of the time sheets.  the results are in:

Vettel, Hamilton, Button, Alonso, and Maldonado make up the top five places.
Sebastian and Lewis traded top of the table once or twice before settling back into the rhythm of the practice session.

Mercedes tested their new exhaust design, its efficacy cannot be gauged as they may have spent the entire session doing high fuel load running, ending up in 14th with Michael and 18th for Nico.

Button's McLaren bounces over the kerbing under the floodlighting
Courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 

The same goes for Lotus who brought a new rear wing to Singapore but only seem to have introduced it with about 10 minutes to go.  Perhaps the fuel loads were high but Kimi finished 12th while Grosjean was 15th at the end of the session.

Little was seen of the Caterhams, Marussia or HRT on the TV which is unfortunate at Free Practice, particularly when Ma Qing Hua was driving the HRT for the second time.  He finished last, some 1.5 seconds behind Pedro De La Rosa.

Ma Qing Hua waits his turn
Courtesy HRT F1
Final results:


Caterham F1 announces new CEO - Cyril Abiteboul

In a Press release just moments ago Caterham F1 announced Cyril Abiteboul as their new CEO, with responsibility for the teams on and off track operations. He's third in line to the overall Caterham Group CEO Riad Asmat and obviously Tony Fernandes.

However, given that he's currently working as Deputy Managing Director of Renault Sport F1, and is to split his word between the two until January next year, it remains to be seen how the other teams using the Renault engine will feel about this dual role.

I would particularly wonder how Red Bull will feel given their sister cars, the Toro Rosso's are the yardstick to which the Caterham F1 team are measuring themselves at the minute.

 The full press release is available on the Caterham page in the Right-hand sidebar.

Autosport: Provisional 2013 F1 Race Calendar revealed

Always at the forefront of Motorsport Journalism, Autosport have published details of the provisional F1 calendar for 2013 as submitted to the teams in Singapore.

2013 Formula 1 calendar (Provisional)

  1. March 17           Australia (Melbourne)
  2. March 24           Malaysia (Sepang)
  3. April 14             China (Shanghai)
  4. April 21             Bahrain (Sakhir)
  5. May 12              Spain (Barcelona)
  6. May 26              Monaco (Monte Carlo)
  7. June 9                Canada (Montreal)
  8. June 16              America (New Jersey) * 
  9. June 30              Britain (Silverstone)
  10. July 21               Germany (Hockenheim)
  11. July 28               Hungary (Hungaroring)
  12. September 1      Belgium (Spa)
  13. September 8      Italy (Monza)
  14. September 22    Singapore (Marina Bay) * 
  15. October 6           Japan (Suzuka) 
  16. October 13        Korea (Yeongam) * 
  17. October 27        India (Buddh International Circuit)
  18. November 3      Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)
  19. November 17    United States (Austin)
  20. November 24    Brazil (Interlagos)
The big change is that Valencia is gone, to be replaced by New Jersey, but all of the asterisked races are subject to confirmation.

Confusion over Sid Watkins Tribute

It's strange that there would appear to be a lot of confusion online with regard to what exactly is proposed at Singapore to commemorate The "Prof", Sid Watkins following news of his death a week ago.  All of the F1 Websites are reporting the following FIA press release which says that there's to be a minutes applause on the grid before the race to honour his life and work in improving safety in Formula 1:

Press Release

                                          Tribute to Professor Sid Watkins OBE 


A number of tributes will take place during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.
Following the sad news of the death of FIA Institute Honorary President, Professor Sid Watkins, the FIA, FIA Institute and Formula One Management will arrange tributes to his memory at the forthcoming Singapore Grand Prix.
On Sunday, before the start of the race, there will be a minute’s applause on the grid in his honour.
Throughout the weekend, a Book of Remembrance will be available for the F1 community to write their own personal messages of condolence.
A bronze bust of Professor Watkins, commissioned for him on the occasion of his retirement last year from the FIA Institute Presidency, will be on display beside the Book of Remembrance throughout the race weekend. At a later date, the Book will be presented to the Watkins family on behalf of the FIA, FIA Institute and F1 family.
The FIA and the FIA Institute will continue to consider the most appropriate permanent tribute to Professor Watkins, in recognition of his achievements and his unique legacy for motor sport.

An announcement on this lasting tribute will be made in due course.
I think that this is a rather fitting tribute to a person who has, arguably, had more impact on Formula 1 than any driver or team owner in its history.  There are legends and then there is Professor Sid Watkins.  If you don't already know about the work that he did any of the F1 websites, including will provide you with all the information you need to appreciate his work.

Now that website, also, on the 20th September 2012, released a statement with regard to the planned tribute to the "Prof".  The wording of that statement is very similar except for the question of what will happen on the grid.  It says:
Following the sad news of the death of FIA Institute Honorary President and renowned former FIA medical delegate, Professor Sid Watkins, last week, a number of tributes to his memory have been arranged for this weekend’s 2012 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix.
On Sunday, before the start of the race, Bernie Ecclestone has invited those on the grid to observe a minute's silence in Watkins' honour, and throughout the weekend a Book of Remembrance will be available for the F1 community to write their own personal messages of condolence.
A bronze bust of Professor Watkins, commissioned for him on the occasion of his retirement last year from the FIA Institute Presidency, will be on display beside the Book of Remembrance. At a later date, the Book will be presented to the Watkins family on behalf of the FIA, FIA Institute and F1 family.
The FIA and the FIA Institute will continue to consider the most appropriate permanent tribute to Professor Watkins, in recognition of his achievements and his unique legacy for motorsport. An announcement on this lasting tribute will be made in due course.
If this situation is not clarified the scene on the grid could be chaotic before the race with some observing a silence and others applauding.

I expect that it will be sorted out pretty quickly but I would have expected all the parties involved to be reading from the same page on a matter of high importance such as this.

Personally I would feel that applause is both warranted and appropriate however there is a dignity in the silence of a large crowd which is palpable and moving.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What will happen if it Rains?

At the drivers Press Conference in Singapore today Peter Windsor asked a very pertinent question:
My taxi driver said yesterday that he thought it was going to rain on Sunday - local opinion - and I just wondered that assuming you're not behind  a safety car and assuming that it is actually raining as distinct from damp, I just wondered what it might be like driving here under lights with falling rain at racing speeds
Bruno Senna and Sebastian Vettel made a stab at answering:
I reckon the glare from the lights on the spray from the car in front can be quite difficult to cope with but we've never had that situation before so it's going to be a bit of a learning curve. We've driven in damp conditions (here) which is already fairly difficult on this track but with spray, I reckon it's going to be a very big challenge and we'll see if it's going to be possible or not. Hopefully it's going to be just like any other day in the wet.
Difficult to know, we've never driven in wet conditions here so we don't know how it will be with the lights. I think no one ever really drove a Formula One car at night during the rain with lights. I think it will be very slippery, because this circuit is not very grippy. I think it was a little bit damp at the beginning of practice last year so yeah, it will be slippery.
If Peter Windsor's taxi Driver is right Bruno could be right on in that glare from the lights in the spray from the car in front may well make it too dangerous to continue and force the race to be Red Flagged.

Mercedes Stat Sheet: Singapore GP

Tweeted by Mercedes AMG F1

Night Racing in Singapore

Michael Schumacher describes the method by which the drivers prepare for the night race:
The reality is that you have to work hard to stay on European time and in the right bio-rhythms, so that you can perform perfectly in the race - because it´s unusual to be competing at this time of day.
Life goes on as normal over and around the brightly lit circuit
Courtesy of Mercedes AMG Petronas
Mark Gillian, Chief Operations Engineer, Williams provides an interesting take on the problems encountered as a result of the high heat and humidity:
The circuit is extremely severe on brakes and due to the hot ambient temperatures we will be required to open the bodywork for engine cooling. Aero wise we run near the maximum down-force level and from a set-up perspective you have to be mindful of the harsh kerbs.
The night Race always throws up interesting photographs,
Barrichello in the light surrounded by darkness
Courtesy of Williams F1
McLaren provide the following Singapore "Facts" for the snippet hungry F1 audience:
  1. As the Singapore night race schedule is run to a timetable to suit European TV schedules, drivers and team members don’t readjust their body clock to the far-east time difference. They sleep from 5am until mid-afternoon – blacking out windows in their rooms
  2. The 2008 Singapore Grand Prix was the first night-time event in Formula 1 history
  3. The Marina Bay circuit which hosts the Singapore Grand Prix is one of only five anti-clockwise circuits on the Formula 1 calendar, alongside Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, Interlagos in Brazil, Istanbul Park in Turkey and the new Yeongam track in South Korea
  4. Drivers are on full throttle for less than 50 per cent of the lap in Singapore
  5. The inaugural Singapore Grand Prix in 2008 marked the debut of an electronic flag system to supplement the conventional warning flags at the marshal posts
  6. The nature of the Marina Bay street circuit is tight, twisty and very narrow in places with many first- and second-gear corners. As a result of the low average speeds, the MP4-25 will be set-up for a high aerodynamic downforce configuration
  7. The lighting system for the Marina Bay street circuit uses 1500 2000-watt projectors on 240 steel pylons, linked by 110,000 metres of power cable to 12 twin-power generators. It produces 3000 lux illumination which is four times brighter than a sports stadium
  8. Lewis’s victory in the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix was the 60th grand prix victory of the McLaren-Mercedes partnership
  9. Running in an anti-clockwise direction, the circuit crosses two bridges and travels beneath a grandstand
  10. The 5.073km Marina Bay circuit passes several famous Singapore landmarks including Saint Andrew's Cathedral, City Hall, the Supreme Court and the Esplanade Bridge
Overtaking is difficult in this Monacoesque street environment. Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering for Sauber F1 describes it in their Singapore Preview:
Singapore is a street circuit with lots of corners and short straights. Therefore overtaking is difficult, which makes qualifying particularly important.
The cars always seem to look better under the lights
Courtesy of Sauber F1
Can you believe that Pedro De La Rosa has never raced Singapore? This is his first trip, as he says in the HRT Preview:
I’ve never raced at Singapore but I know the circuit because of my simulator work as a test driver for McLaren. It’s a spectacular track and probably the toughest circuit on the brakes in the entire Championship besides being a very physically demanding race because of the heat and humidity
Keeping close to the barriers is essential to a good lap
Courtesy of HRT F1
Pirelli's preview says that a good lap means the cars will mean:
The driver tends to leave the braking as late as possible, turning in and decelerating at the same time. This subjects the tyre to both longitudinal and lateral forces at the same time, working the structure hard.
Photo: Charles Coates/LAT Photographicref
Courtesy of Pirelli

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pre-Singapore Snippets: F1 shortcuts and machinations

Alternator Failure Revisited - whose fault is it?

Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport broke the news that Red Bull are pushing Renault to change alternator suppliers from Magneti Marelli to an alternative (such as McLaren apparently).  This follows three failures on  Vettel's Red Bull's over the course of the season so far and a recent failure on the Renault test car last week.

Dietrich Mateschitz said in the interview: "I want Renault to separate from its supplier Magneti Marelli and use someone else." If this part hadn't failed Auto Bild reckons that Vettel would have another 33 points in the bag at this stage, bringing him within touching distance of Fernando Alonso and Red Bull are worried that one more failure would cost them the Championship this year.

Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of Track Operations, said that this is now "on the agenda" even though they are unsure of the reason behind the failures.

One theory which is going around is that Adrian Newey has packaged the engine so tightly into the chassis cover that the cooling opotions cannot operate effectively.  If that were the case then it might explain why Lotus, Williams, and Caterham have not suffered the same issue.  It is also worth noting that Ferrari who also use Magneti Marelli have not suffered a failure to date.

The detailed findings of the test failure last week have not yet been released.

Do you change a parts supplier if one of your customers is experiencing a problem with their packaging solution?

Romain Grosjean - here to help out!

In his Singapore Preview Romain Grosjean has said:

I wouldn’t say that for the rest of the season I’m here just to play a supporting role; if I have the opportunity to reach the podium, or even a win, then I will take it. Of course, I want the team to achieve the best results it can and if you look at the points difference between me and Kimi it would be foolish to think only of my own results. Let’s hope we can have a fantastic end to the season for me, Kimi and the team.
Does this mean we'll see him pulling over at Singapore should he find himself in front of his team-mate who currently sits in 3rd place in the Driver's Championship?

Lotus are bringing a few upgrades to this race so it will be interesting to see if they improve in relation to their rivals or simply maintain the status quo.

Grosjean is, of course, coming off his one race ban for causing an avoidable accident at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Heikki on Ferrari radar

I Can't remember where I saw this but it was worth bringing up because lots of the web activity has centred on suggestions that Heikki might end up at McLaren should Lewis depart.

Finnish reports say Heikki Kovalainen's management has been summoned to Maranello.

Heikki, who is only 30 (even though he seems to have been around forever) is back on the market after three years with Lotus/Caterham. It's reported that the Finnish broadcaster MTV3 said representatives of Kovalainen's management team at IMG Worldwide will travel to Maranello next week.

I'd be delighted for Heikki if it weren't for the fact that, regardless of what they say, he'd be expected to play a supporting driver's role.

Should anyone take on the second seat at Ferrari when it is so plainly makes you the second driver and kills your personal drive to win?

I think I'll name the second Ferrari "the passion-killer"; does anyone disagree? Luca? Stefano? (Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?).

Chips are down at Lewis's Management Co.

Can you believe that it is being reported that Michael Schumacher could be close to signing a new one-year contract extension for 2013?

(Please bear with me - I couldn't resist the poker analogy but by God even I think it went too far - but I was committed to using it - Ed)

Hamilton's management have played all their cards using the leaked Mercedes offer to raise the stakes.  

Now it may be that Mercedes are running out of patience with Lewis, or are unwilling to be used where they thought a deal was imminent.

Michael is probably relatively ambivalent at this stage as to whether he stays or goes and would be happy to help out Mercedes and Ross Brawn if they were in a bind.

Lewis has now said that finalising his future can wait, clearly to try to eke out the last few chips from the McLaren pot, but McLaren are looking to see what cards Lewis is holding by leaking a possible interest in Perez.

If Mercedes fold Lewis will be left with a pair of twos and may well lose his shirt.

(Apologies and thank you to those who persevered. I wish I had some reward for you...but no - Ed)

Singapore GP Preview: Tyre Wear, Pit Stop Strategy, and Safety Car key can determine Victory

These three elements defined last years Singapore GP for the F1 Teams and are likely to do so again next weekend.

Tyre preservation is a huge issue in Singapore.  In their Singapore GP Preview Pirelli say:

In the opening sequence of corners from turns one to three for example, there is a double change in direction that places particularly heavy demands on the tyres.The driver tends to leave the braking as late as possible, turning in and decelerating at the same time. This subjects the tyre to both longitudinal and lateral forces at the same time, working the structure hard.
And the fact is that last year all of the teams were hugely aware of that fact, with Button (who came second in 2011) stating in the post race interview that:
I was being told throughout the race to look after the car and the tyres; the only time I was really able to push was in the last 12 laps, when I chased down Seb on the super-soft tyre
In that race McLaren opted for a 3-stop strategy with Button, as did Red Bull with Vettel, the 2011 winner, Webber, who came third and Ferrari with Alonso in fourth.

Clearly it worked out as the fastest option with a good pit-stop taking in and around 30 seconds to complete from entry to exit.

The four stop strategy which was adopted by other drivers in 2011 cost those cars over 2 minutes in the pit-lane, versus the 1m30secs odd of those in the first four.

It may explain why, from fifth down there were three two stoppers in Di Resta (6th), Sutil (8th), and (of course) Perez (10th)

The anomalies in the scoring come from 5th down.

Hamilton who finished 5th actually pitted 5 times, due to one of his "coming-togethers" with Massa last year, while Massa took 4 pits-tops finishing an angry 9th, his race having been ruined by Hamilton's disastrous overtaking attempt on lap 13, at Turn 7.  Rosberg in 7th was the only other points scorer and, as with the top four he pitted 3 times.

Last years stats would appear to show that, unless you have a front running, dominant car, a two stop strategy may serve to get you points at the lower end of the top ten while the "conservative" strategy would dictate 3 stops. The Hamilton/Massa anomaly is exactly that and was facilitated in no small way by the arrival of the safety car onto the track on lap 29.

Having praised Pirelli and the teams in respect of their understanding and use of tyres over the last three GP's, this night race and the soft and supersoft Pirelli's will test just how confident the teams are in their ability to read the tyres.

If you factor in a much improved Sauber from last year which still seems to be easy on its boots, who's to say that Sergio or Kamui cannot push hard to reach the top step this race.  That would be a worthy result for a team that has shown consistent and constant improvement over the last couple of years.

Entering into the final 7 races in two months, all away from the factories there is another factor which needs to be taken into account in terms of the constructor's championship.  Are some teams going to stop upgrading this years package due to the race pressures inflicted by 7 far flung races in 2 months and hope to ride the season out in what they have?

I'm looking at the likes of Lotus who are 91 points clear of Mercedes and who have new parts to introduce but will do so at Japan; at Force India who are only 9 points ahead of Williams and are talking the talk but can they walk the walk (pilgrim); and at Toro Rosso who have points relative to the following three teams who have none?

Could this be the time where Williams, Mercedes, and Caterham (hopefully) can capitalise on all the pressures of being away from base?

Mercedes has the money, Williams have the desire and I can only hope that Caterham have the will and luck to get the all too valuable first point in F1.

Renault Describes Engine Characteristics of Singapore F1 Circuit


Twenty two of the 23 corners are taken in first to third gear, so for the vast majority of the lap the engine is working at between 8,000rpm and 13,000rpm on the corner exits. The engine maps need to deliver good driveability through the low speed and low rev range as accurate torque response and stability are key. Getting the correct gear ratios in the lower level can also improve grip, and ultimately lap time, in this respect.

The engine is only given a chance to breathe on two short straights, the pit straight and then the curved straight between turns five and seven. In fact seventh gear will only be engaged three times per lap; only Monaco has a lower usage.

The stop-start nature of the track and the short bursts of acceleration between the turns make Singapore one of the least fuel efficient of the season and consumption per kilometre is extremely high compared to the last event at Monza. Getting the fuel load for the start is one of the major challenges of the race as engineers will also have to consider the likelihood of weather changes and safety cars.

While temperatures during the night are typically lower than during the day (between 5 and 6°C cooler), the enclosed nature of the track between the buildings keeps ambient temperature high. Cooling systems are therefore carefully monitored, particularly since the cars are going relatively slowly and often circulating closely to each other, raising the operating temperatures further.

Singapore’s equatorial location gives it a very tropical climate and humidity is often over 90%. The high water content in the air displaces the air being ingested into the engine via the air filter, reducing the amount of oxygen that can be combusted with the fuel. This makes the engine output less powerful so different engine modes will be used to negate the power loss.

The full Renault Sport F1 Singapore GP preview is available on the engine supplier's dedicated page on the right-hand sidebar.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Toto Wolff, F1Speedwriter, Lotus Rear Wing and Kubica

A number of interesting stories which I enjoyed but were unlikely to require a full blog post.

Toto Wolff discusses his role at Williams

In 2013 we will have a carry-over of the car so I’d like to see us in the points more regularly. Pastor hopefully stays with us and has learned his lessons - so the next logical step would be the top six in the constructors’ - or even top five. In 2014 all is new - new car, new engine - so everything is up in the air again, but nevertheless I see us as one of the top teams. Whether this means winning races regularly or challenging for the championship, I don’t know, but the perception should be that this team is winning races and is on the podium regularly.
I'm glad to see Toto appreciates Williams rightful place towards the front of the grid and trust from his comments that Sir Frank won't face the same fate as Adam Parr.

Gerald Donaldson bemoans the loss of True Grit

Today's climate of middle-of-the-road moderation, which encourages a safe but sure approach, means drivers can more easily stay within their comfort zones. As a result the majority are more likely to set their minds in cruise control and become passive to the point that they are unable to summon up the sheer force of will that personifies a fighting spirit.
Interesting post from one of the great F1 Journalists which definitely requires me to reassess my position in respect of penalising the likes of Grosjean and Maldonado for what is essentially trying too hard.  Safety is all well and good, but if it affects the racing mindset then the result is dull procession.  There's an interesting conflicting position from Keith Collantine of F1 Fanatic in the comments section.

Lotus are bringing a new rear wing to Singapore

"We believe we've been able to produce a rear wing which is at the higher end of the downforce spectrum but still able to allow the lion's share of the DRS potential which is more difficult to achieve at high downforce levels. It will be interesting to see how it works on track."
The real question is...Where the hell is this double DRS which first made its appearance at Belgium (without any running)?  It never made it to Monza and now its on the backburner until Japan.  Is this madness? Does it not work? I'm wondering if we'll see the new Mercedes system run at Singapore - If it does, given its reported similarity to the Lotus Solution, we'll have a good idea that the Lotus package isn't all its cracked up to be.

Another rally smash for Kubica but both he and his co-driver are uninjured.  The picture on this webpage gives an idea of what happened.  I was delighted to hear that he'd won The Ronde Gomitolo di Lana tarmac rally the weekend before last but was also saddened due to the fact that the coverage I read of that win all said that his right arm was heavily strapped up and was not used at the podium ceremony afterwards.

I have to admit to being conflicted.  I still want to see him back in F1, but, as he himself said in his interview with Autosport before his last rally, he doesn't know when or if that will be.

Massa does not know his future

What is going on at Ferrari? I certainly don't know given that they're one of the teams which have not yet responded to my request for media access.  I can tell you this though, Felipe Massa is in the dark too, nobody has talked to him about his future at the team.

This excerpt from the Ferrari Website puts it in a nutshell:
If one wants a good night’s sleep, it’s best not to have too many worries on one’s mind and although Massa currently does not know what the future holds for him after the Brazilian Grand Prix, the Ferrari man appears to be facing the situation calmly. “There is no news on my future at the moment, but there’s no doubt that good results will help,” he confirmed. “I just need to keep pushing hard and getting good results, in the hope of hearing some good news soon. It’s always better to know what the situation is, as of course I want to know what I’m doing next year. But I can tell you that it’s never happened that I’m in the car in the middle of the race and I start thinking about what I’ll do next year! However, I know that results are what matter, so if the situation arises where you have to take a risk in the race, then you have to think carefully about it, as you know your priority is to finish the race.”
Now, do correct me if I'm wrong, but we do know that Mark Webber was offered next year's drive with the Scuderia because he said so and nobody at Ferrari denied it: And, let me ask this: Why are the Ferrari website making reference to the fact that Felipe "currently does not know what the future holds for him after the Brazilian Grand Prix"?  How nasty is that when he knows they've been in contact with other drivers?

Felipe knows what they want so why does he want to remain with a team who will only offer him the drive if they can't find anyone else to play patsy to Alonso?  I'd be out of there faster than a Brazilian Tapir in a room full of hungry Jaguars.

I've been arguing for the last two years, even before Melbourne in 2011, that he needs to be nurtured again in order that he can rediscover how to race for the win.

I was wrong.  He is no longer a patient, he's a racing driver.  He needs to know that the Team is relying on his performance; that he is not a Number 2.  He needs to be back in the mix.

The question for Felipe is where he might go?

I want Massa fighting for wins; fighting for titles.  I think he was good enough before his accident and has lost nothing of his racecraft since.  What he has lost is simple to explain:

He has lost equal status within the Ferrari Team

With the arrival of Fernando Alonso Ferrari have done what they did with Michael.  They have gathered all of the resources and focused them on his car.  One of the "resources" which have been focused on Alonso is Felipe.  This is to the detriment of Massa's racing abilities and he must be feeling somewhat sidelined.

If you remember Kimi at Ferrari; it was clear that Massa was given equal status and this led to his sadly unsuccessful championship run.

The problem now is that, since his accident Ferrari have "given him time" to recover.  I can imagine the scene where they tell him to relax - just support Alonso - don't feel under any pressure to perform immediately - take your time.

It's easy to fall into the routine.

Now, with Ferrari looking elsewhere for Alonso's support, it's Felipe's opportunity.  Get out! Find a team that want results. Go racing.  For the first time in three years it looks like there may be seats available at the top table.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Teams agree to cover ugly noses next year

It's an odd little story which has been brewing for the last couple of weeks since it was mentioned, as an aside, in an interview with one of the Team Principals.  I'd been looking around to see if it was mentioned again and saw today that ESPN had a story about it.

The upshot is that the 10 teams who use the step nose to conform with the F1 rules have agreed to regulations which will allow them to cover up the step because it got such bad publicity at the beginning of the year.

I have to admit that I'm not a fan of the original look but, on the whole I thought that the majority of stepped solutions have been altered to the less ugly end of the scale.

What we're talking about, really, is an F1 nose job for purely cosmetic purposes.

ESPN quotes Paddy Lowe, McLaren Tech Director says that the way the "modesty" panel is
"managed is that the laminate and size of that panel is limited so that you can't create an aero [advantage] out of it and also so that it plays no part in the forward impact"
Simply put it's for the look of the thing rather than for any worthwhile purpose.

I love to quote Murray Walker at these times but on this particular occasion I think it's Enzo Ferrari who said that "race cars are neither beautiful nor ugly. they become beautiful when they win".

It's a truism which was echoed by Ken Tyrell years later when he, the master of little innovations, installed his side aero wings beside the cockpits.  These X wings which provided extra downforce were - as per usual - copied by everyone until they were - as per usual - banned (in that case on safety grounds after Alesi's got tangled up at his pitstop).

Beautiful or ugly the primary purpose of the F1 car is to beat all of the others, while conforming to the regulations.

Another funny thing about the story is that it comes from Paddy Lowe of McLaren, the team that don't have a step in their nose.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Link to Feature Story on Prof Sid Watkins

I thought this had been published, apologies.

It is the sad task of journalists to write obituaries and, when I was a young journalist the job of researching the history and background of those who had died.

In the case of Professor Sid Watkins there is a wealth of information out there and, no doubt, the newspapers this morning, tomorrow and on the weekend will be comprehensive in telling the story of his life in a few short paragraphs.

While I would love to set out the incredible achievements of this man, whom I knew only from Formula 1 television coverage, his tale is best told in his own words and HERE IS A LINK which will introduce you to his work on safety in Motorsport and to his life's history in working at the coalface of F1 from its years of tragedy culminating in the death of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenburg at Imola in 1994 to the introduction of improved safety measures in cars.

The man revolutionised the sport and saved many lives.

Instead of pointing you to one of the many obituaries I'm going to give you a link to a 2002 article by Car and Driver which may serve to provide a fitting introduction to the Professor's life and work.

RIP: Professor Sid Watkins 1928 - 2012

Sad news about the passing of Professor Sid Watkins.

What to say about the man.  He was an institution in F1 by the time I began watching the sport in '89.

His legacy is the quality and speed of medical treatment for which the sport is now renowned. Without him the sport would not be anywhere near as safe as it is now.

Those who knew him will be able to say it better than I.

All I know is that the world has lost a great man who spent his life saving other people's lives.  Some of the many F1 drivers who would not be here without him include Gerhard Berger (Imola '89), Rubens Barrichello (Imola '94) and Mika Hakkinen (Australia '95).

Legend of the sport. Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

F1 Teams provide F1 2012 with Media Centre access

Having looked at a number of F1 sites where it is patently obvious that the authors, like me, are not F1 Journalists, it seemed that many of them were either taking copyright content from other sites or, had access to the media centres of F1 teams and F1 team suppliers.

I had two options available to me, either to put up with it and wallow in a certain amount of self-pity and anger, or to apply to the Media Centres for access to their material and photographs.

I decided to do the latter, and approached Renault Sport F1 for permission to use their material.  I was surprised and delighted when they provided media access to my Blog.

Thank you Renault.

Emboldened by that success, I approached all of the F1 teams and have so far been granted access by six of the twelve teams.

In order of their permitting me access I would like to thank:

Williams F1 Team
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Mercedes AMG Petronas
Sauber F1 Team
Caterham F1 Team
HRT Formula 1 Team

I have not been refused permission by any team to date but neither have I heard back with regard to clarification from any team but Lotus, who are assessing my request.

I have put up tabbed pages for each of the teams and will bring you their press releases on those pages as they are issued.

I'm pretty certain that this Blog has never breached copyright in the past and my delight at being granted media access by the foregoing Teams and Engine Supplier is based on the fact that, not only do I gain access to Renault's assessment of each track as regards its engine's probable performance (alternator's aside) I also get to illustrate my Blog posts with photographs from the teams sites, which provides some nice relief from plain text.

On foot of all of these exciting changes I'll be playing with the existing Blog format over the coming days and weeks in order to best accommodate all of this new data and I hope you'll be patient with me.  Hopefully, what comes out of this will be a better, prettier end product which will incorporate the best of the old with some great new material.

Update: Pirelli F1 have provided access to the Media Centre list, Thank you to them.  While I know that I have been somewhat scathing of their influence in the early part of the season I'm hopeful that the teams have gotten on top of the tyre issue as evidenced over the past three races. Fingers crossed this continues for the rest of the season.

Interesting posts on the future of Lewis Hamilton

Looking through the F1 Web, obviously the top stories all include some reference to Lewis Hamilton's future.  F1 Elvis, ex McLaren Engineer, would appear to have discussed the matter with a few of his mates and I find the following short excerpt particularly telling:

...stories of wearing huge dark glasses inside MTC or pulling out a mobile phone when walking down corridors, rather than becoming engaged with factory staff coming the other way, are sadly believable.

The article is well worth reading, discussing as it does the future of one of the stars of the sport.

The question of whether or not the Mercedes link is a ploy by Lewis's management to increase their client's bottom dollar at McLaren is becoming increasingly irrelevant at this stage; I think that we, the fans, just want this matter sorted out once and for all, regardless of the number of column inches it still has the power to generate.

The second interesting story comes from Formula 1 Blog, posted by Negative Camber, and scrutinises a quote of Lewis from a Reuters story:

"I'm not really focusing on next year, I want to focus on this year. This is one race at a time and I'm trying to take this team to the top,
"I'm trying to help them as they are trying to help me to win both championships. It is an incredible team and I have a great relationship with them so I'm really looking forward to the future..."
Negative Camber saw something in the above quote that nobody else picked up: Lewis is making a distinction between himself and the team.  He talks about "them" and "me" rather than "us".  In the past it has all been about the team, now it's about him helping "this team".

This language would mean nothing in isolation, however in the context of the current negotiations it my be telling.

Certainly James Allen and Eddie Jordan (EJ) are convinced that Mercedes will be Hamilton's new home. With JA stating that:

some signs were there from McLaren’s side that there was not only a reluctance to meet the financial terms, but also a weariness with the whole pantomime of ‘Life with Lewis.’ The tweeting of the set up sheet in Spa was a symbolic watershed in a relationship which has veered off track since the wide eyed enthusiasm of 2007

If that is the case then it's time for Lewis to come out and say so, in order to give the team that has given him everything he has achieved an opportunity to find a suitable replacement.  regardless of the final outcome McLaren are not going to jeopardise their good chance of winning the Constructor's Championship and, being one of the most professional outfits in the Pits, will not interfere with Lewis's opportunity to win the Driver's Championship.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Do you have a super-licence?

A couple of readers have gone back through the archives to this link, which, funnily enough, raises the spectre of a certain driver leaving a certain front-running team.

The post reads as follows and is pretty foresighted - even if I do say so myself.

Are you up to the challenge?  Do you have what it takes?

Successful F1 Team looking to hire a driver on a fixed term contract with the ability to extend it for the right candidate

Do you have the proven ability to bring the car home in the top 4 places?
Are you a driver whose form suggests that you can win a race given the opportunity?
Do you have the consistency to ensure that you're there or thereabouts come the end of the race and can push all the way to try to steal victory?
Can you build a gap at the start, extend it, and drive the lonely miles to an unchallenged win?
Are you young enough that you'll give the team continuity when your team-mate retires?
Are you old enough that you can fight for the mantle of No.1 from the moment you arrive?

Send CV's only - No Agents - to

Chertsey Road
GU21 4YH

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lewis Hamilton takes the Chequered Flag in Monza

A satisfied Lewis Hamilton wins comfortably  in Italy
Photo Courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Monza Results:

1.   L. Hamilton
2.   S. Perez
3.   F. Alonso
4.   F. Massa
5.   K. Raikkonen
6.   M. Schumacher
7.   N. Rosberg
8.   P. Di Resta
9.   K. Kobayashi
10. B. Senna

Another great race at Monza but, for the second time this season, the role of DRS rather than tyres in enabling passing was very apparent.  While tyre wear also played a crucial role in determining the outcome, this was down to pitstop strategies rather than rapidly degrading rubber; for the last three races it would appear that the teams and Pirelli have gotten to grips with how the different tyre options work.

The teams' understanding of the performance of each compound has negated the lottery which was rife in the earlier part of the season and I must give Pirelli credit for facilitating this understanding by their constant work at making the tyres less of an enigma.

The DRS zones, while the system remains a bit of a bugbear for me personally, were not the only parts of the circuit where overtaking took place and hats off to Alonso, Perez, Vettel, et al who were not afraid to have a go - even if it did see Alonso taking to the grass in a scary moment on the Curva Grande.

Monza sparkled on Sunday.  Lewis, starting from Pole Position took control of the race from the start while  Felipe Massa in third caught Button out in the drag race down to the first chicane.  Massa held on well to Hamilton for a little while but the gaps stabilized, as they are wont to do, and Jenson, who had been biding his time and saving his tyres inexorably began to reel in the Ferrari, before overtaking him when he pitted on lap 19 and putting in some stunning laptimes which negated the McLaren 4.1 second pitstop (slow by their standards) to come out ahead.

Button held onto second place until he parked the car up on lap 33 with an engine ("fuel pick-up") problem that left him without drive.

Vettel and Alonso were fighting it out for around 20 laps, with a side by side release in the pits adding to the nervousness and excitement, then Alonso tried around the outside on the Curva Grande and ended up with four wheels on the grass as Vettel applied a drifting squeeze, which many of the commentators saw as revenge for a similar move last season which saw Vettel overtaking Alonso with a similar, if slightly less dangerous, outcome.  Alonso survived the scare and shortly afterwards took third though Vettel received a drive through penalty for his defensive tactics.

I have to say, in Vettel's defence, that I am not 100% convinced that it should be a penalty offence but the rule does require a cars width. This youtube video does show that Sebastian did not leave that and I guess that's the end of that question.  Vettel was instructed to park the car as the Renault engine suffered another Alternator failure.  Renault apologised to Sebastian and Red Bull:
We have to apologise to Red Bull for the two failures on Sebastian’s car, first in FP3 and now in the race. In both cases the alternator failed. We introduced a new spec’ of alternator following the problems in Valencia and believed this would overcome the issues. We are still looking into why the part failed again here but we do know that even though the alternator was being operated entirely within the prescribed range, the part itself overheated and shut off the power supply. This is a priority between ourselves and our suppliers and we have to ensure we are fully on top of the problem before Singapore.

Alonso drove a fine race to third position from tenth, gaining one place when Massa gave way and, once again, (as per Belgium) I have to highlight what I see as the easy "overtake" by which Vettel overtook Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso for position.  Maybe I'm being sensitive to the sister teams but it just seems like the Red Bulls have a favoured status in overtaking the Toro Rosso's for position.

It makes a bit of a mockery of the fact that Ferrari aren't allowed to run a third car.

Perez enjoys a well deserved Second place
Photo courtesy of Sauber F1
Drive of the day is reserved for Sergio Perez who drove a spectacular race for Sauber from 12th position on the grid to finish second, overtaking the two Ferraris along the way.  A very long first stint on the hard tyres saw him overtaking Rosberg, Senna, Di Resta, Kobayashi and Raikkonen (twice) for position, which brought him up to sixth before he took Massa, Alonso, Vettel, Button and Hamilton in the pits to take the lead before his one and only pitstop on lap 29.  That dropped him down to eighth but he benefited from Button's retirement and the second pitstops of Vettel and Schumacher to move to fifth and, in a storming performance on the medium compound tyres, overtook Raikkonen, Massa, and finally Alonso on lap 45 to take a brilliant second place.

If the race had been 5 laps longer Lewis's win would not have been comfortable, though he managed to up his pace for a couple of laps at the end which ensured Victory.

Fernando's third, combined with Vettel's retirement, increases the gap to Lewis in second (in the official driver's championship) to 37 points. 35 points separate the two in my (- Bah) championship.

With 175 points left to play for, and the much improved performance shown by McLaren over the last few races it looks like both championships are wide open as the F1 Circus leaves Europe and heads to Singapore.

Senna has an eventful race in his battle to tenth
Photo Courtesy of Williams F1 team

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mercedes AMG comments re Friday Free Practice Monza

The final race weekend of the European season got underway today at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Italy.

• Michael and Nico completed a total of 131 laps during the two practice sessions

• Following Michael´s gearbox problem in Spa, the ratios were changed before P1 in accordance with the regulations

• The gearbox ran without incident today and will be inspected thoroughly this evening before qualifying and the race

• As ever in Monza, the field was closely matched, with the top ten cars in P2 separated by little more than 0.8s

Nico Rosberg
That was definitely a better start for us than in Spa. We were able to complete a lot of laps today and it seems that we have a good pace on high and low fuel levels. As always, it’s difficult to say where we are compared to the others but I hope we can score some good points this weekend. It was great fun to drive on this amazing track, and I always like the special atmosphere here. Yesterday I went out on the old Monza track with a scooter which is great to see. 

Michael Schumacher
I am quite happy with the practice sessions as we achieved a lot of reasonable work with regards to long runs which was our main focus today. We have a different aero package for Monza which seems to work well so it seems to be looking better than in the last races. During the sessions, we made progress as well so I am curious to have a look at the data we collected and learn the full picture. It´s always nice to be back in Monza as I am still so warmly welcomed by all the tifosi. As I said earlier, I would like to say thank you for that and hope we can put on a good show tomorrow and in the race on Sunday.

Ross Brawn 
We’ve had a pretty good day and both Nico and Michael were reasonably happy with the balance of the car by the end of the second session this afternoon. We completed our planned programme, and have all the information and data that we needed on the different tyres and fuel levels, so now we will have a look and make our plans for tomorrow.

Norbert Haug
A positive start to the weekend on this traditional high-speed track. Nico and Michael posted consistent lap times during their long runs in race trim on both Pirelli tyres. We seem to have a reasonable base to work from tomorrow.

Sauber F1 Team comments on Monza Free Practice sessions

Italian GP – Practice – Friday, 07.09.2012

Image courtesy of Sauber Motorsport AG

Weather: sunny and dry, 23-28°C air, 28-42°C track

The Sauber F1 Team had a straightforward first free practice session ahead of the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, but a rather difficult second session in the afternoon. Both drivers, Sergio Pérez and Kamui Kobayashi, would have preferred to be able to do some more laps today and neither of them is happy with the Sauber C31-Ferrari’s set-up yet.  

Sergio Pérez:
Sauber C31-Ferrari (Chassis 03/Ferrari 056)
1st Practice: 8th / 1:26.323 min (26 laps) / 2nd Practice: 9th / 1:26.068 min (32 laps)
“The first free practice went alright and also in the second session we almost completed our programme, but I had to stop a few minutes early when the team called me in for some checks. Overall so far I have the feeling we are a bit behind expectations here. We lose quite some time on the straights and now have to find a good aero and set-up compromise. We definitely want to fight for the top ten in qualifying tomorrow.”

Kamui Kobayashi:
Sauber C31-Ferrari (Chassis 02/Ferrari 056)
1st Practice: 14th / 1:26.746 min (23 laps) / 2nd Practice:  16th / 1:26.730 min (17laps)
“It was a bit of a difficult day. I didn’t do enough running to decide on the settings and the downforce level. In the morning it was business as usual and also my first run in the second session was okay. But then, after we had made some changes, the car was bouncing an awful lot. I nearly spun on the straight. However, we identified the problem but could not fix it during the session. I think we have quite a lot of work to do tomorrow.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
“The morning’s session was okay. We were focusing on aerodynamics as you always do in Monza because of the special low downforce configuration. We did comparisons of rear wings and other parts. In the afternoon Kamui’s session finished early because we had experienced a problem which we could not solve during the session. Actually after this we are not confident to continue with the planned programme and want to have a closer look at everything now. On Sergio’s car we discovered something wrong on the data shortly before the end of the second free practice and decided to call him in as well.

Williams F1 Team Comments on Fridays Free Practice Sessions at Monza

These are the comments in respect of what work was carried out by Williams in the two Free Practice Sessions today at Monza:


• Aero evaluations
• Tyre runs and set-up work
• Long runs in the afternoon

Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: We have a lot data to dissect and interpret tonight from today's two sessions to ensure that we optimise the car for the race without compromising qualifying. We managed to get through the entire test programme, despite a hydraulic problem on Pastor's car which prematurely stopped his FP1 session. The mechanics reacted very quickly and we managed to get the car ready for the start of FP2.

Pastor Maldonado: It was a productive day as we were trying some different configurations, especially with the aero levels. We completed everything we set out to do in the programme. There is still more speed to come and so tomorrow we will continue working to improve, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.

Bruno Senna: It was a difficult session. After not running in the morning I had a lot to do this afternoon, but we’ve been trying different things and I think we can find a good path. Hopefully the car will be even better tomorrow and we can iron out some of the technical details to improve for qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas: We got lot of running today with the dry weather so it was great to get that under our belt. The track is brilliant as it’s an old school circuit and very quick. The morning session was productive and we worked through all the tests we had planned.

Ferrari on the pace in Monza Free Practice 2

Picture courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button set the pace in FP2 at Monza with Hamilton under 4 hundredths of a second ahead of his team-mate.

But, the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso was just two hundredths behind Button and Felipe Massa in fourth just a tenth behind.

So the question is: Have Ferrari brought something new to the party this weekend?

The fact remains that the quickest time this afternoon at 1m 25.290 is still 3 seconds off Vettel's pole lap from last year, but the two Prancing Horses would appear to be restless.  This weekend is vital for Felipe Massa. Having heard last week that Mark Webber held talks with Ferrari about a drive next year he must be feeling some serious pressure to perform. Where better to score a podium than at the home race.

From fifth on the results were: Rosberg, Raikkonen, Di Resta, Hulkenberg, Perez, and Schumacher.

D'Ambrosio was closer to Raikkonen this afternoon, just six tenths down on Kimi's time, as the Belgian got to grips with the track.