Posts Tagged ‘alonso’

Alonso confirmed at Ferrari (finally)

September 30th, 2009 No comments

Alonso puzzleFormula One has never been able to keep a secret and today the latest worst kept secret was finally confirmed: Fernando Alonso will drive for Ferrari.

Alonso’s contract is for three seasons starting 2010, partnering Fellipe Massa with Giancarlo Fisichella as reserve driver.

There has long been speculation that Kimi Raikkonen would make way for Alonso next year (a year before his contract was up) but Felipe Massa’s accident and then the Renault race fixing investigation held up the announcement which was expected at Monza.

Like one of those sliding puzzles, Alonso’s move to Ferrari now frees up a space at Renault and the game of musical chairs can begin.  Where will everyone be sitting when the music stops and who will be left standing?

McLaren say nothing has been decided yet but there are rumours that Kimi may return to the Silver Arrows in place of fellow Finn Kovalainen (and that Spanish bank Santander will pay Kimi’s 2010 Ferrari salary.)

Robert Kubica has been tipped to take over Alonso’s seat at Renault while Nico Rosberg could switch places with Rubens Barrichello at Brawn.

While Adrian Sutil will probably stay at Force India, Tonio Liuzzi may be under pressure from Nick Heidfeld to keep his seat there.

The good news for those drivers worried about losing their seats is that there will (hopefully) be at least three new teams on the grid next year.  None of them have announced their driver lineup yet but McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa  has been linked with Campos while Manor or Lotus could provide a way back in to F1 for BBC commentator Anthony Davidson.  I actually think Davidson is a really good commentator but I also think his Formula One career was prematurely interrupted just as it seemed to be getting off the ground.

Somewhat surprisingly we may even see Nelson Piquet Jr return in 2010.  Manor team boss, John Booth, could offer the Brazilian a drive in 2010.  He was quoted by the Telegraph as saying (without a hint of irony):

I’ve not spoken to him at the moment, but he’s a smashing little driver. I’ve no personal problems with him, but it is unclear what his current position is with regards sponsorship

Ferrari press release

Categories: Drivers Tags: , ,

McLaren back on top

July 26th, 2009 No comments

Lewis Hamilton, Hungary, 2009The  Hungarian Grand Prix has been called Monaco without the glamour and, like Monaco, the twisty Hungaroring circuit has something of a reputation for processional races but on a weekend that had already seen a dramatic qualifying session the race proved anything but processional.

At the German Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton showed a hint of the performance improvements the McLaren engineers had made to his MP4-24 but his collision with Mark Webber ended any hopes for a podium Hamilton might have had.  Today there was nothing stopping him.

From fourth on the grid Hamilton used his KERS to charge past Kimi Raikkonen into the first corner and briefly take second from Mark Webber before ceding it again in the second corner.  A few laps later Hamilton had passed Webber and was hunting down a very lightly fueled Fernando Alonso.  When Alonso made his first stop, Hamilton had him.

After Alonso’s stop it soon became apparent that his Renault’s right front wheel wasn’t properly attached and a few corners into his out lap the wheel became completely detached and bounced off the track and into the Armco.

After Saturday’s incident in qualifying that put Felipe Massa in hospital, the stewards were obviously very sensitive about bits coming off cars and subsequently suspended Renault from the European Grand Prix at Valencia in four weeks time.  The stewards statement said:

[Renault] knowingly released car no. 7 from the pit stop position without one of the retaining devices for the wheel-nuts being securely in position, this being an indication that the wheel itself may not have been properly secured.

Renault have filed notice to appeal this decision.

It was the first win of the season for McLaren and Hamilton’s first victory since the Chinese Grand Prix in October last year.  Hamilton said:

It’s an incredible feeling to be back on the top spot after what feels like such a long time and such a struggle. This was one of my best races – I never gave up and, more importantly, neither did anyone in this team. I’m so proud of all the guys. We didn’t expect to win today – we didn’t think we quite had the overall pace – but the car was just perfect to drive, it felt fantastic for the entire race.

It was also the first victory for a KERS powered car.

With Mark Webber finishing third behind Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button finishing seventh, Button’s lead in the Championship has narrowed to 18.5 points and Red Bull have closed the Constructors’ gap to just 15.5 points.

2009 Hungarian Grand Prix Race Results

Pos Driver Team Grid Time Points
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 4 1:38:23 10
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 7 1:38:34 8
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 3 1:38:39 6
4 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 5 1:38:49 5
5 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 6 1:38:57 4
6 Timo Glock Toyota 13 1:38:58 3
7 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 8 1:39:18 2
8 Jarno Trulli Toyota 11 1:39:31 1
9 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 9 1:39:31 0
10 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 12 1:39:32 0
11 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 15 1:39:33 0
12 Nelson Piquet Jr Renault 14 1:39:34 0
13 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 18 1:39:37 0
14 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 16 lapped 0
15 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 19 lapped 0
16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 10 lapped 0
RET Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2 retired, 29 laps 0
RET Fernando Alonso Renault 1 retired, 15 laps 0
RET Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 17 retired, 1 laps 0

Image: McLaren

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , , , ,

Alonso grabs first pole since 2007

July 25th, 2009 No comments

Fernando Alonso, Hungary, 2009In an eventful qualifying session for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso secured his first pole position since the 2007 Italian Grand Prix.

All the timing screens went blank right at the end of the third session so for a while no-one knew what position they were in.  This led to the bizarre situation of Fernando Alonso asking each of the drivers who had pulled into parc ferme what their lap time was.

It soon became apparent that Alonso had clinched pole position by less than four hundredths of a second from Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.  Mark Webber will line up alongside a resurgent Lewis Hamilton on the second row with Nico Rosberg and Heikki Kovalainen on row three.

Despite being on pole, Alonso is not sounding too confident:

We will try (to win) but being honest and realistic, our target is to get some good points. After the last four races where we only scored points in the Nurburgring we need some points for the constructors’, and we know if we start very heavy we go around 8th/9th position.

So it could be that he is running light; we will know more when the car weights are published.

The biggest threat to Alonso and the two Red Bull cars are the KERS equipped McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen who have looked strong all weekend.  Vettel may be starting on the front row but he knows who is just behind him:

For sure the biggest challenge is the threat from cars behind with KERS. The KERS cars are somewhere there, it is a question of where they will pass, left or right, down into Turn One. We will see tomorrow.

The warmer temperatures in Hungary did little to help the Brawn GP cars with Jenson Button qualifying in eighth and Rubens Barrichello failing to make it through to Q3.

The session was stopped briefly after a piece of suspension flew off Rubens Barrichello’s car and struck Felipe Massa in the head causing him to go straight on into the tyre wall at turn four.  Massa escaped serious injury but the 175 mph impact caused the G-warning indicator to light up on his Ferrari and he was airlifted to a nearby hospital as a precautionary measure.

This comes just a week after an accident in the Formula Two race at Brands Hatch claimed the life of Henry Surtees, the son of former World Champion John Surtees, when he was hit in the head by a wheel that had come off another competitor’s car.

2009 Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Fernando Alonso Renault 1:21.569
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:21.607
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:21.741
4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.839
5 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:21.890
6 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.095
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:22.468
8 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:22.511
9 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:22.835
10 Felipe Massa Ferrari No time
11 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.002
12 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:21.082
13 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:21.222
14 Timo Glock Toyota 1:21.242
15 Nelson Piquet Jr Renault 1:21.389
16 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:21.738
17 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:21.807
18 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:21.868
19 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:21.901
20 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.359

Update: Felipe Massa will not race on Sunday so all drivers from P11 move up a place.

Image: Renault

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , ,

Turkey: Fuel adjusted qualifying times

June 6th, 2009 3 comments

Fernando Alonso, Turkey, 2009The FIA now publishes the weights of each car after qualifying on Saturday.  Those cars that make it through to the final qualifying session must use the fuel they qualified with while the rest of the field may refuel before the race.

Below is a graph showing the actual top ten qualifying times as well as those times adjusted for the weight of fuel each car is carrying.  The graph assumes a standard lap time cost of 0.3 seconds per 10kg of fuel.

From these weights we can see that pole sitter Vettel is fueled lighter than Button alongside him while on the second row Barrichello is fueled lighter than the Red Bull of Mark Webber.  This could be good news for both Button and Webber tomorrow as their adjusted times are quicker than the cars alongside them.

Massa’s hopes for another victory look even more remote when we see that his team mate Kimi Raikkonen outqualified him despite carrying more fuel.

The one man that looks very out of place is Fernando Alonso.  His eighth place grid position was only possible because he was fueled lighter than anyone else on the grid.  He can expect a challenge from Rosberg and Kubica during the race.

2009 Turkish GP Q3 (weight-adjusted)

2009 Turkish Grand Prix car weights

Image: Renault

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , , ,