Saturday, 28 May 2011

Alonso fastest again in Saturday practice

Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in Saturday practice for the Monaco Grand Prix with a time of 1:14.433. He was more than half a second faster than Jenson Button in second. Behind Button it was a lot tighter with five additional drivers within half a second of Button. Behind these seven cars there was more than a second down to the 8th fastest car; Jaime Alguersuari in 8th. The top seven included all the drivers from Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes, bar Nico Rosberg who had a crash early in the session and didn't set a time. Rosberg made heavy contact with the barriers under braking for the chicane after the tunnel, and damaged his car so much that he may very well miss out on qualifying. Rosberg's crash led to a red flag that lasted for 14 minutes in the 60 minute session.

There was another red flag 6 minutes before the end when Tonio Liuzzi lost the back end of his car in the middle of the first corner, smashing it into the barrier and completely destroying the back of his car. With only two hours before qualifying it is unlikely that he will take part in it. He could also face exclusion from the race as he's times in earlier sessions have been right at the edge of the 107% rule

The track went green again two minutes before the end of the session. Sadly this was not enough time for all the cars to get a good go with the super soft tyre. While most of the cars had done a few runs on the quicker tyre before the red flag, a lot of teams were stretching it for the very last minutes, and were caught out by the red flag. This included the two Red Bull drivers. Sebastian Vettel set his fastest time on the slower soft tyre, while Webber slightly improved on the super soft in the last seconds of the session. The super soft tyre is believed to be about a second faster than the soft tyre, meaning it could be a really good fight for pole between Ferrari and Red Bull, and possibly also McLaren.

Qualifying starts at 2 pm. local time, or at noon GMT.

Full results:

01. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.433s 18 laps
02. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m14.996s + 0.563s 17 laps
03. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m15.024s + 0.591s 19 laps
04. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m15.245s + 0.812s 19 laps
05. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m15.310s + 0.877s 21 laps
06. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.386s + 0.953s 14 laps
07. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m15.529s + 1.096s 19 laps
08. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.617s + 2.184s 13 laps
09. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.736s + 2.303s 15 laps
10. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m16.821s + 2.388s 19 laps
11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m16.990s + 2.557s 20 laps
12. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m17.196s + 2.763s 13 laps
13. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m17.333s + 2.900s 17 laps
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m17.403s + 2.970s 18 laps
15. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m17.779s + 3.346s 17 laps
16. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m17.880s + 3.447s 17 laps
17. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m18.069s + 3.636s 17 laps
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m18.115s + 3.682s 20 laps
19. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m18.580s + 4.147s 21 laps
20. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m18.808s + 4.375s 21 laps
21. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m19.259s + 4.826s 19 laps
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m20.115s + 5.682s 15 laps
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m20.278s + 5.845s 16 laps
24. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 3 laps

Friday, 27 May 2011

Alonso fastest in Thursday practice

Fernando Alonso made the fastest time in free practice two on Thursday adternoon. The Ferrari driver's time of 1m15.123s was just a tenth of a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren. Behind him followed Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, Jenson Button in the Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull, making it four different teams in the top five. Vettel was only half a second behind Alonso, which should mean all four teams have a decent chance to win.

The practice sessions were relatively uneventful with Tonio Liuzzi's crash in FP1 being the only noticeable accident. The Italian lost his car under braking on his way out of the tunnel and hit the barriers destroying his front wing and suspension. He walked away unhurt, but was forced to sit out the second practice as the team repaired his car. Michael Schumacher and Vitaly Petrov also had minor contact with the barriers  but neither of them seriously damaged their cars.

The results from free practice two:

01. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m15.123s 42 laps
02. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.228s + 0.105 33 laps
03. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m15.321s + 0.198 44 laps
04. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.448s + 0.325 38 laps
05. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m15.667s + 0.544 46 laps
06. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m15.781s + 0.658 45 laps
07. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m16.356s + 1.233 33 laps
08. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m16.642s + 1.519 42 laps
09. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m17.101s + 1.978 46 laps
10. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m17.126s + 2.003 38 laps
11. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m17.337s + 2.214 35 laps
12. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m17.541s + 2.418 47 laps
13. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m17.570s + 2.447 39 laps
14. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m17.581s + 2.458 32 laps
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m17.633s + 2.510 49 laps
16. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m17.706s + 2.583 37 laps
17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m17.789s + 2.666 43 laps
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m18.266s + 3.143 50 laps
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m18.490s + 3.367 39 laps
20. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m19.053s + 3.930 15 laps
21. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m19.185s + 4.062 40 laps
22. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m19.338s + 4.215 35 laps
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m22.066s + 6.943 33 laps

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Monaco Grand Prix preview

This weekend we'll be racing in Monaco in the streets of Monte Carlo. This is by far the slowest circuit on the F1 calendar. It is actually so slow and twisty that it's not possible to run the usual 300 km in two hours and the race is therefore shortened to about 260 km. The track has many tight corners and no "real" straights. Therefore the teams have as much downforce as possible for this race. Earlier years have seen the teams bring several extra winglets, but with the current regulations this is not possible.

Last year's race was won from pole by Mark Webber ahead of his team mate Sebastian Vettel. He just beat Robert Kubica for pole. At the start Vettel got ahead of Kubica and the top three staid that way for the rest of the race. In fact the top five finished in grid order except for the aforementioned switch. This race also saw a great drive from Fernando Alonso, who was forced to start at the back of the grid after a crash in Saturday morning practice. He made use of an early safety car to get his tyre stops out of the way and after passing a few back markers he showed great pace forcing Lewis Hamilton to pit early and the rest of the pack to react to him. Alonso fnished 6th just behind Hamilton.

The forecast for the weekend is sunny with almost 0% chance of a wet race. For the first time of the year, Pirelli are going to provide its super-soft tyre for this race. They have said they expect the tyre to last for less than ten laps. This means we are likely to see at least as many pit stops as we have seen in the last few races, and probably huge differences in tyre performance. It's going to be interesting to see how the drivers will tackle passing and defending on this incredibly tight circuit.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Qualifying verses race pace at the Spanish GP

Mark Webber's pole time at the Spanish Grand Prix was almost a second ahead of the first non-Red Bull car - Lewis Hamilton's McLaren, but in the race the McLarens seemed to be at least as fast as Red Bulls, if not a tiny bit faster. From browsing internet discussion forums it seems like most people believe the Red Bull again was disproportionately quick in qualifying compared to its race pace. That would make indeed make sense from looking at qualifying versus race pace in 2010 and so far in 2011. But I'm not sure that was the case at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The reason is simple: Sebastian Vettel lapped the entire field apart from his team mate and the two McLarens. The race had 66 laps and the leaders averaged a bit under 90 seconds per lap. That means you would need to be at least 1.35 seconds faster per lap than the car you lap. Fernando Alonso was just under a second slower than Webber's pole lap, but even though he held Vettel and Hamilton up for the first 18 laps he got lapped by both of them. Nico Rosberg was 1.6 seconds off pole and got lapped on lap 47. And these aren't even the most extreme examples. Vitaly Petrov was a tenth faster than Rosberg in qualifying but got lapped around 42-43 and finished way behind the Mercs. He might have had some problems, but to me it looks like he had a pretty clean race.

Overall the Red Bull kept its pace advantage in qualifying compared to most of the other teams. The only logical conclusion from this is that McLaren and Red Bull are miles ahead of anyone else and McLaren fucked up their qualifying, or they're a bit slower overall than Red Bull but focused a lot more on race pace than qualifying. Hopefully we'll be able to make some more sense of this later in the season. After all, the Barcelona track is considered to be one of the best benchmarks for which car is actually the fastest; hence it's popularity as a testing track. (Well, that and its location.) If McLaren have indeed caught up with Red Bull we might actually have an exciting title battle after all, but this is very ominous for the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Star of the race in the Spanish Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel
An amazing win in a car that looked a lot less dominant in the race than in qualifying. He might even have been a bit slower than Hamilton. Today he also won his first ever race without leading at the first corner. He also made some great overtakes after his first pit stop and defended well against Hamilton who clearly had the best car on primes. Apart from being bested by Alonso at the start that was a flawless race.

Lewis Hamilton
Almost a flawless race from Hamilton too. He showed some amazing pace in that McLaren, especially on the primes. He made a great job with harassing Vettel towards the end, but sadly for him Vettel didn't set a foot wrong. With the amazing pace he showed I can't help but think that he'd have a decent chance of winning if only McLaren were a bit more inventive with their strategy. Pitting the lap after Vettel almost every stop was probably the worst they could have done.

Fernando Alonso
What a start! He got just the perfect amount of wheel spin and the way he attacked turn 1 was just jaw dropping. Then he did a great job defending the lead for 18 laps in front of his fans in a much slower car and arguably an even greater job keeping Mark Webber behind him for so long. In the end though, the ferrari was way too slow on the hard tyre and there's no way he could have finished higher than 5th. It could not have been fun for the Spanish fans to see him lapped, but the way he drove in the first part of the race easily made up for it.

Nick Heidfeld
Quick Nick had a great race after a very difficult Saturday. In Saturday practice a cracked exhaust set his car on fire making him unable to take part in qualifying. As a result he started 24th and last but still finished well ahead of his team mate who started 6th. And if the race had only been a lap or two longer he would have passed both the Mercedes drivers. Sadly the TV cameras didn't focus too much on him but it must have been a great drive.

What do you think? Cast your vote in the poll to the right and/or leave a comment.

Hello world.

Formula One. The best drivers in the world racing against each others in the fastest and most most sophisticated racing cars money can buy.  That's the reason why it's called the pinnacle of motor sport. And that's also why I love the sport so much more than any other. I also love the spectacle that F1 has become in 2011 with the new Pirelli tyres, but a lot of other series provide close racing and lots of overtaking, and some a lot more even that 2011 F1. But they lack the complexity, the skill and the mind blowing performance that Formula One has. That is why Formula One will always be the best. Even if the races were snore fests, like many argue a lot of them were a few years ago, no racing series would get close to F1.

So this blog is about F1, that much is clear. I haven't decided much more than that yet. In the beginning I'll just write about what I want to write about, and both you readers and I will probably enjoy some articles more than others. I'll probably analyse (part of) the races, give my opinion on the hottest F1 news and hopefully pick up on some of the very interesting news that go relatively unnoticed. To begin with I'll write a post or two about the latest Spanish Grand Prix. Who would've thought? The Circuit de Catalunya,  which by many was labelled as one of the most boring on the F1 calendar, provided one of the best dry races I can remember. In my next post I'll write about some of the most interesting drives and battles of the race. I hope you'll look forward to reading it as much as I do to writing it.