Posts Tagged ‘australia’

Jenson wins in Melbourne

March 29th, 2009 No comments

button_barrichello_aus_2009Brawn GP continued their fairytale first race weekend with a 1-2 finish in the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.  Jenson Button took the chequered flag after leading from the start while team mate Rubens Barrichello finished second despite a poor start and trading paint several times during the race.

Button had driven away to a 47.7s lead only for it to be reduced to nothing when Kazuki Nakajima spun into the wall, drawing out the safety car, but the Brit managed to keep his lead under the restart.  Rubens’s chances of a podium looked unlikely until the final laps when Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica found themselves in the same place at the same time.  Their crash took both cars out of the race and Vettel was later handed a 10-place grid penalty for Malaysia for causing the accident.  The Red Bull driver was also fined $50,000 for continuing to drive a damaged car.  Although Vettel appologised for the accident, BMW’s Mario Theissen thinks that without the crash Kubica could have reeled in Button and won the race.  Whether that is true, we’ll never know, but the BMW was certainly quick.

Toyota’s Jarno Trulli was originally awarded third but continuing the theme of penalties and protests he was later handed a stop-go penalty for passing under the safety car.  As this occurred in the final laps of the race this was translated into a 25 second penalty, promoting reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton to an unexpected third place finish.  After going from starting in the pit lane to finishing third, Trulli wasn’t happy:

I can’t say how disappointed I am to finish third but have the result questioned. When the safety car came out towards the end of the race Lewis passed me but soon after he suddenly slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road. I thought he had a problem so I overtook him as there was nothing else I could do.

Neither of the Ferraris finished the race and Aussie Mark Webber continued his tradition of bad luck, especially in his home Grand Prix, by finishing last.

The BBC’s coverage was pretty good; no ads and it was good to hear more radio traffic, especially from Ferrari and McLaren but what is with all the Bernie love?  I know the BBC must be happy to have taken F1 from ITV but does their contract include a clause where Eddie Jordan has to praise Ecclestone every chance he gets?

Overall, though, It was a great start to the new season.  The racing was close and there were some fantastic drives.  Jenson drove a perfect race from lights to flag, rookie Sebastien Buemi scored two points for Toro Rosso on his debut, the Toyotas started from the pit lane but (almost) finished third and fourth and Barichello gave Brawn GP a perfect 1-2 finish despite driving into everyone he could see.  The BGP 001 is a tough car and seems to be fast even with bits of its front wing on the track.

But almost as amazing as the first 1-2 finish from a new team for fifty years was Hamilton’s third place.  Lewis wrung all he could from the struggling MP4-24 and his drive reminded me of Schumacher who could always somehow salvage a good finish from what seemed an impossible position.  Lewis was lucky, though, and his 6 points will only give him and the McLaren engineers a little breathing room until they can find the downforce they are lacking.

2009 Australian Grand Prix Race Results

Pos Driver Team Grid Pos Time Points
1 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1 01:34:15.784 10
2 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 2 01:34:16.591 8
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 18 01:34:18.698 6
4 Timo Glock Toyota 20 01:34:20.219 5
5 Fernando Alonso Renault 10 01:34:20.663 4
6 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 5 01:34:21.506 3
7 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 13 01:34:21.788 2
8 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 17 01:34:22.082 1
9 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 16 01:34:22.119 0
10 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 9 01:34:22.869 0
11 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 15 01:34:23.158 0
12 Jarno Trulli Toyota 19 01:34:42.388 0
13 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 8 lapped 0
RET Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 3 retired, 56 laps 0
RET Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 4 crash, 55 laps 0
RET Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 7 retired, 55 laps 0
RET Felipe Massa Ferrari 6 retired, 45 laps 0
RET Nelson Piquet Jr Renault 14 crash, 24 laps 0
RET Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 11 crash, 17 laps 0
RET Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 12 retired, 0 laps 0

Photograph: Mick Tsikas/Reuters

Weight adjusted qualifying times

March 28th, 2009 No comments

tf109_australia_2009The FIA now publish the starting weights of the cars after qualifying.  This has both an upside and a downside.  You can now tell the fuel level of each car and therefore get a better idea of overall pace but, conversely, this removes some of the speculation and uncertainty over when a car will have to pit.  Sometimes not knowing whether a car has enough fuel to stay out longer than another is part of the fun.

Either way, the data is now published and so there’s not much point in avoiding it.  I figure we may as well take the good points and see if we can use it to get a better picture of how the cars will perform on race day.

By looking at the weights published we can tell how many kilograms of fuel each car is carrying.  The minimum weight for a Formula One car is 605kg including the driver.  The cars themselves are in fact lighter than this and so ballast is used to add weight to the car in the most advantageous way.  This is where heavier drivers like Robert Kubica are disadvantaged; add in the extra 35kg for a KERS device and there is not much left for ballast.  This is why Kubica is not running KERS in Melbourne like his smaller, lighter team mate.  Every 10kg of fuel is worth on average about 0.3 seconds per lap.

So with that in mind I have put my nerd cap on and plugged the numbers into Excel.  Below is a graph showing the actual lap times of the cars compared to fuel-adjusted lap times.

2009 Australian GP Q3 (weight-adjusted)

The cars that made it to Q3 are weighed after qualifying whereas those that were eliminated earlier may refuel before the race.  We can see from the graph above that the Brawn cars were not running light and their weight-adjusted times are still faster than everyone else. Timo Glock is the quickest of the rest but he will have his work cut out for him starting at the back of the grid.

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , ,

Button on pole after dramatic qualifying

March 28th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, AustraliaJenson Button has put his Brawn GP BGP 001 on pole position for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. In a thrilling qualifying session that saw drivers constantly exchanging positions on the timesheet the two Brawn GP cars locked out the front row of the grid, something a new team has not done since Jackie Stewart claimed pole for Tyrrell at the 1970 Canadian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton failed to take part in the second qualifying session due to “drive problems” which later turned out to require a change of gearbox, dropping him down to eighteenth.  The Toyotas of Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli had qualified in sixth and eighth but will now start from the back of the grid as the race stewards declared their rear wing contravened the technical regulations by being too flexible.  A flexible rear wing can provide an advantage by flattening at high speeds, and so reducing drag, but still providing downforce in slower corners.  Toyota have promised to strengthen the wing and will race on Sunday as long as officials approve the modifications.

And if flexible rear wings and dodgy diffusers weren’t enough, Williams also lodged a protest against Ferrari and Red Bull, believed to be about their cars’ sidepods.  After hours of deliberation by the stewards, Williams then decided to withdraw its protest just before midnight which seemed to annoy the journalists who had had to stay around the paddock to wait for the result.

It’s great to see Jenson at the front of the grid and the car weights that are now published show the Brawn cars weren’t running on fumes.  Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel did well to get the ‘non-diffuser’ RB5 up to third and Robert Kubica defied BMW’s performance in practice to get his car on the second row of the grid.  Interestingly, Nico Rosberg, who’s Williams had set the fastest time in all three practice sessions, could only manage fifth.

The teams running KERS didn’t seem to have an advantage over the non-KERS equiped cars.  The first of the KERS drivers, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, qualified in seventh and Nick Heidfeld ended up behind his non-KERS team mate.  We also had a brief glimpse of the new on-screen graphics that show when KERS is being used.  This is really interesting to see and I hope we get more of it in the race on Sunday.  From what we saw of Kimi Raikkonen’s on-board shots it seems to take quite a few corners to fully charge the KERS device.

It’s amazing how close the whole field is and the new regulations have really turned the timesheet upside down.  Now if only the teams would stop whinging about regulations and just get on with the racing!

2009 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:26.202
2 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:26.505
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:26.830
4 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:26.914
5 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:26.973
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:27.033
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:27.163
8 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:27.246
9 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:25.504
10 Fernando Alonso Renault 1:25.605
11 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:25.607
12 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.726
13 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:26.503
14 Nelson Piquet Jr Renault 1:26.598
15 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:26.677
16 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:26.742
17 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:26.964
18 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
19 Timo Glock Toyota
20 Jarno Trulli Toyota

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.