Archive for March, 2009

Rosberg goes fastest in practice

March 27th, 2009 No comments

Nico RosbergThe three teams running controversial diffusers dominated practice for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Friday.  Williams driver Nico Rosberg finished the second session on top with a time of 1.26.053, followed by Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello and Toyota’s Jarno Trulli.

Australian Mark Webber managed to get his Red Bull up to fourth with a time of 1:26.370 but the RB5 struggled with technical issues and team mate Sebastian Vettel only managed 8th ahead of the Force India of Adrian Sutil.

As expected, the McLarens of Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton were well off the pace finishing 17th and 18th respectively.  What was not so expected was the poor performance of BMW.  Nick Heidfeld only managed 14th with 1:27.802 and his team mate Robert Kubica was just behind him.  In radio transmissions, Kubica complained of lack of grip saying:

I don’t recognise this car. It’s not the same. It is very, very difficult to drive.

Poor Nelson Piquet struggled and finished the day in 19th place.  He’s going to have to do better than that if he wants to avoid more insults from boss Flavio Briatore.

It’s great to see the timesheets turned on their head like this and it must be encouraging for Nico Rosberg to finally have what seems like a decent car under him.  After the clear dominance of the ‘double-decker’ diffusers in practice will we see some pieces of carbon fibre hastily bolted on to the other cars?  It would be a bit awkward for those teams who have lodged protests to then copy their design and in the case of BMW, Mario Theissen has already said that their gearbox won’t work with a different diffuser.

Here are the times from both practice sessions:

First Practice

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:26.687 19
2. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:26.736 + 0.049 21
3. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:26.750 + 0.063 24
4. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:27.226 + 0.539 21
5. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.453 + 0.766 15
6. Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:27.467 + 0.780 12
7. Massa Ferrari 1:27.642 + 0.955 24
8. Glock Toyota 1:27.710 + 1.023 24
9. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:27.993 + 1.306 20
10. Alonso Renault 1:28.123 + 1.436 16
11. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:28.137 + 1.450 20
12. Trulli Toyota 1:28.142 + 1.455 21
13. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:28.511 + 1.824 22
14. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:28.603 + 1.916 16
15. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:28.785 + 2.098 27
16. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:29.042 + 2.355 18
17. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:29.081 + 2.394 7
18. Piquet Renault 1:29.461 + 2.774 25
19. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:29.499 + 2.812 21
20. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:32.784 + 6.097 4

Second Practice

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:26.053 36
2. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:26.157 + 0.104 38
3. Trulli Toyota 1:26.350 + 0.297 42
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:26.370 + 0.317 30
5. Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:26.374 + 0.321 38
6. Glock Toyota 1:26.443 + 0.390 42
7. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:26.560 + 0.507 33
8. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:26.740 + 0.687 19
9. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:27.040 + 0.987 29
10. Massa Ferrari 1:27.064 + 1.011 35
11. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:27.204 + 1.151 32
12. Alonso Renault 1:27.232 + 1.179 28
13. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:27.282 + 1.229 32
14. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:27.317 + 1.264 34
15. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:27.398 + 1.345 36
16. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:27.479 + 1.426 36
17. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.802 + 1.749 35
18. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.813 + 1.760 31
19. Piquet Renault 1:27.828 + 1.775 35
20. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:28.076 + 2.023 33
Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , , ,

Teams’ fancy diffusers are legal (for now)

March 26th, 2009 No comments

Toyota's diffuser after an engine failureThe controversial diffusers on the Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota cars have been declared legal by race stewards after a formal protest was lodged by Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault.  BMW had also planned to join the protest but didn’t get their complaint submitted in time.

This means there will be 20 cars on the grid for Sunday’s race in Melbourne but it is not the end of the story.  As soon as the verdict was announced the protesting teams said they would lodge an appeal against the stewards’ decision and the way these things work means this will not be heard at the FIA International Court of Appeal until after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Frank Williams, whose car is one of those under complaint, thinks the Brawn BGP 001 could win the Australian Grand Prix:

It is no accident that their new car is absurdly superior – they are making the rest of us look like amateurs. In Australia they will disappear on the basis of what we have seen in testing. I just hope we can be up there, too.

Ross Brawn has always said his car was legal and thinks those who are protesting are just mad because they didn’t spot the loophole themselves:

The accusations are coming from teams who did not come up with the idea and now they are getting angry.  For anyone who has read the rules it was quite obvious. Ferrari have only woken up because someone has driven faster than them.

I think it’s a shame that the teams have chosen to appeal the decision as it means that should Brawn GP score points or even a podium on Sunday the result will be uncertain until the teams’ complaint is heard in court. We don’t need another situation like Spa last year when Lewis Hamilton’s win was taken away after the race had finished.

Formula One has a long history of teams finding and exploiting loopholes in the rulebook and I don’t think these three teams should be punished for doing just that.  The other thing to bear in mind is that Ross Brawn is the chairman of the FOTA Technical Working Group so you would assume he has a pretty good understanding of the rules.

It will be interesting to see, now that the stewards have declared it legal, if McLaren or any other teams fit a new diffuser to their car for Saturday.  McLaren might feel that if they don’t have a chance at points anyway they won’t have much to lose.

Prediction game: Round 1 – Australia

March 26th, 2009 14 comments

Australia, 2002It’s been nearly five months since Lewis Hamilton passed Timo Glock on the last lap of the last Grand Prix of 2008 to claim the World Drivers’ Championship but the wait is nearly over.  Winter testing in Europe and the Middle East has finished and twenty racing cars have been boxed up and flown to Australia where teams of engineers are preparing them to hit the track on Friday.

Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit will see Formula One’s first ever twilight race on Sunday and it promises to be a thrilling start to the season but the outcome of the race is anything but certain.  Will the new over-size front wings be smashed to pieces as drivers dive for the first dusty corner?  Will McLaren reveal they’ve been sandbagging in testing and blow everyone away like they did in 1998?  Will those teams who decide to run KERS suffer reliability problems or will it give them an overtaking advantage?  Will Brawn GP finish 1, 2 (only to have them taken away when Red Bull make an official protest over their fancy diffuser?)  And will the high-tech RB5 finally give Mark Webber a decent finish in Australia or will he be outdone by his new team mate Sebastian Vettel?

All these questions and more will be answered on Sunday but now is your chance to predict the future in the 2009 Formula One World Championship prediction game!

The rules are simple. Just leave a comment on this post with your driver predictions for the race in the following format:

Fastest lap:

Points will be awarded like this:

  • Predict pole position: 5 points
  • Predict 1st: 10 points
  • Predict 2nd: 8 points
  • Predict 3rd: 6 points
  • Predict correct driver on podium but not in correct position: 3 points for each driver
  • Predict fastest lap: 5 points

You can enter up until the start of qualifying on Saturday.  Don’t worry if you have already entered your predictions on a previous post they will still be counted!

Good luck and enjoy the race!

Categories: Prediction Game Tags:

The prediction game

March 25th, 2009 2 comments

Timo Glock testing the TF109 at BarcelonaThe 2009 Formula One World Championship promises to be one of the most open in years with any of a number of drivers potentially claiming victory starting with this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.  With the old rulebook thrown out and new technology like KERS and adjustable front wings it is almost impossible to predict the outcome of the first race let alone the whole season.

So with that in mind, here’s the 2009 Formula One World Championship prediction game!

McLaren won the Drivers Championship last year and Honda languished at the back of the grid but if winter testing is anything to go by we could see that situation reversed this year with the renamed Brawn team challenging for wins and McLaren’s MP4-24 struggling for pace.

When asked about the 2009 season, Renault’s Fernando Alonso said:

I think the order of the teams will probably be different from the last few years. We have got used to Ferrari and McLaren dominating, but with the new rules I think there will be lots of cars fighting for the win. Hopefully we will be in that fight.

To be in the f1buzz prediction game fight, follow these simple rules:

Before each race weekend, I will add a prediction game post.  Just leave a comment on that post with your driver predictions for the race in the following format:

Fastest lap:

Points will be awarded like this:

  • Predict pole position: 5 points
  • Predict 1st: 10 points
  • Predict 2nd: 8 points
  • Predict 3rd: 6 points
  • Predict correct driver on podium but not in correct position: 3 points for each driver
  • Predict fastest lap: 5 points

You can enter up until the start of qualifying.

After each race I will update the points standings and at the end of the year the reader with the most points wins.  It’s all about points here, none of that medals crap!

The prize is yet to be decided.  Most likely it will be a smug sense of self-satisfaction.

Categories: Prediction Game Tags:

McLaren and Renault threatened boycott

March 24th, 2009 No comments

Bernie EcclestoneThe Times is reporting that in a meeting between Renault team principal Flavio Briatore, McLaren chairman and CEO Ron Dennis, Toyota team principal and FOTA vice-president John Howett and Bernie Ecclestone, Dennis and Briatore threatened to boycott the Australian Grand Prix.

They allegedly told Ecclestone that unless he wrote them a check they wouldn’t put their cars on the specially chartered flights to Australia last Sunday and neither would the rest of FOTA.  The money in question is in payment for signing a new Concorde Agreement, something the teams are yet to do.

According to Ecclestone:

Flavio said, ‘we’re not going to put our cars on the plane, we’re not going to Melbourne.’  He – Flavio – started it, aided and abetted by Ron Dennis.

Unfazed, Bernie decided to called their bluff:

I picked up the phone to our people that handle all the freight to ask them to cancel the aeroplanes.  They were saying, ‘all the Fota-schmota are not going – nobody’s going to go.’ So I said what I’d better do is cancel the aircraft obviously. It costs a fortune to charter those things and almost as much to cancel them.

All the cars are now in Melbourne so the threat obviously wasn’t carried out.  The first race hasn’t even been run but we may already have the Bernie quote of the season:

If they come in here with a gun and hold it to my head, they had better be sure they can fucking pull the trigger.  And they should make sure it’s got bullets in it because, if they miss, they better look out.

The tensions between FOTA and the FIA/Ecclestone has undertones of the FISA-FOCA war of the 80’s.  Back then, Bernie Ecclestone as Brabham team owner and Max Mosley as his legal advisor were on the other side of the conflict that culiminated in a boycott of the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.  Among the complaints of the FOCA teams were FISA’s handling of regulations and financial compensation.

Sounds familiar…