Saturday 17 April 2010

Red Bull on the Front Row in China

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Vettel is on pole for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix with his team-mate Webber close behind in second place. Alonso put his Ferrari in third slot with Rosberg proving, my point that Mercedes are not there to make up the numbers.

The qualifying was almost predictable but something that nobody foresaw was the catastrophic failure of Sebastien Buemi’s front suspension and brake assemblies as he braked during the first practice session on Friday. As Buemi braked both brake housings appeared to fail causing both wheels to shear off at high speed bouncing on the guard fence and into the spectator area. This bizarre incident once again brings wheels into the spotlight. Tethers are in place to retain wheels, but are only effective when the whole assembly is damaged during a crash. The fact that they were not seen to play any part in this incident means that the axle itself must have failed.

Buemi was unharmed as he was propelled at a shallow angle into the left barrier and then into the gravel trap. I can think of many other circuits where he would not have been so lucky.

Safety was in the news again as the Race Director Charlie Whiting clarified the rules to outlaw Hamilton’s high-speed slow motion weaving manoeuvre. Hamilton initially shrugged off suggestions by other drivers that the move was dangerous. After the ruling Hamilton said "I think the ruling was fair at the race and Charlie - I believe he took a fair decision and gave us a warning for that not to happen again".

1st Vettel
2nd Rosberg
3rd Alonso

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Vettel Wins at Sepang

Vettel got the win he desperately needed and will go to China on a high. Hamilton did well to score points coming from the back, and proved that he can beat team-mate Jenson Button. Nico Rosberg demonstrated that the Mercedes Team do have a competitive car with an impressive 3rd place. Reliability could be an issue though with Schumacher failing to finish and no doubt giving the press more to speculate about. Ferrari appear to be doing well, but they too have real reliability issues and have now used three out of the eight allocated engines for 2010. See the table below for details of engines used by all teams.

Team / Driver No of Engines
01 McLaren Mercedes Jenson Button 2
02 McLaren Mercedes Lewis Hamilton 2
03 Mercedes Benz Michael Schumacher 2
04 Mercedes Benz Nico Rosberg 2
05 RBR Renault Sebastian Vettel 2
06 RBR Renault Mark Webber 1
07 Ferrari Felipe Massa 3
08 Ferrari Fernando Alonso 3
09 Williams Cosworth Rubens Barrichello 1
10 Williams Cosworth Nico Hülkenberg 1
11 Renault Robert Kubica 1
12 Renault Vitaly Pertrov 1
14 Force India Mercedes Adrian Sutil 2
15 Force India Mercedes Vitantonio Liuzzi 2
16 STR Ferrari Sébastien Buemi 2
17 STR Ferrari Jaime Alguersuari 2
18 Lotus Cosworth Jarno Trulli 2
19 Lotus Cosworth Heikki Kovalainen 2
20 HRT Cosworth Karun Chandhok 1
21 HRT Cosworth Bruno Senna 2
22 BMW Sauber Ferrari Pedro De La Rosa 1
23 BMW Sauber Ferrari Kamui Kobayashi 1
24 Virgin Cosworth Timo Glock 1
25 Virgin Cosworth Lucas Di Grassi 2

Details correct as at close of Malaysian GP

There has been talk about the rear view mirrors being dangerous on some cars and the FIA have now banned the use of outboard mirrors. The ban due to come in for China on 16-18 April 2010 will now be in place from 7 May, meaning that the revisions will first be seen at the Spanish Grand Prix. Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams, BMW Sauber, Force India and Hispania Racing will be affected by the ban.
The failure of USF1 to get to the grid this year has prompted the FIA to announce that there will be a new selection procedure to fill any vacant spots from 2011 onwards the FIA say that all applicants will be expected to undergo thorough due diligence. And indicate that they will be looking at a scheme that will include:

(a) the technical ability and resources of the team;
(b) the ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation;
(c) the team’s experience and human resources;
(d) the FIA’s assessment of the value that the candidate may bring to the Championship as a whole.

Friday 2 April 2010

The Malaysian Grand Prix Preview

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As Lewis Hamilton was posting the fastest lap in the second practice session at Sepang the press was speculating about the pace and commitment of Schumacher. For me there is no doubt that he has the commitment, but what he does lack is experience. He may be a five times world champion and hold just about every record in the book, but he has been away from the sport for too long to just jump back in a car and win races. The Mercedes package is not yet fully competitive, but both Rosberg and Schumacher could win races before too long.
The Malaysian GP has arrived and this year the race has been moved to an earlier start time to avoid losing light if the race gets delayed as was the case last year. Once again it is TV that dictates running times. The organisers must not lose sight of the safety aspects. Last week in Melbourne Jenson Button and other drivers were complaining that the late start would cause problems later in the race as the sun set. In the end the cloudy weather avoided any issues, but I would rather get up a couple of hours earlier than indirectly contribute to an accident on the track. The weather in Sepang is often a influencing factor as the heavy showers develop during the afternoons. This year will be no different and we should see a lot of overtaking and a very exciting race if the weather is changeable.
Conditions meant that qualifying was chaotic with most of the favorites demoted to the bottom of the grid after spinning. Button made it to Q2 only to spin off. Webber is on pole with Rosberg and Vettal in 2nd and 3rd. If it is wet tomorrow anything could happen if it is dry watch out for those McLarens and Ferrari's cut through the traffic.

1. Hamilton,
2. Webber
3. Alonso