As you all may of read Maria de Villota was injured during a straight line test for Marussia at Duxford (which is a WWII airfield now used as a museam for planes and used by a lot of the F1 teams for straight line testing). From reports thus far she is conscious and stable but her injuries were “life-threating” and very serious. Id like to wish her a speedy recovery from what appears to be a freak accident.
While many have questioned her abilites in a F1 car (her best entry on her CV being a 4th place in a Superleague Formula race) she had already tested a Renault F1 car at Paul Ricard and this was only a straight line test, while she may have suffered from inexperience I dont think she was unqualified to step into a F1 car. This was her first outing as a Marussia Test Driver and hasn’t quite had the PR effect Marussia had been previously created with their female 3rd driver.
She obviously has no superlicense which is why she couldn’t replace Timo Glock last time out at Valencia, this further set back will really raise questions about Marussia’s choice of reserve driver.
Following in the traditions of late, heres a late blog post!
It has taken Fernando Alonso to race 8 for a driver to claim a second win of the season – and much like the first it happened in slightly fortuitous circumstances. Sebastian Vettel had apparently resumed normal service as he secured pole position and sailed off into the distance – some 20 seconds in the lead! – however the altenator in his engine failed. Romain Grosjean then inherited the lead and looked set to claim his first victory, and the first of the season for the promising Lotus Enstone team. However the same fate befell the Frenchmans Renault unit and it too packed up, but it was Fernando who was there to pick up the pieces and as Lewis Hamiltons tyres fell away at the end of the race he was speared by Pastor Maldonado who looked destined for the podium but frittered away valuable points for the two.
It left the podium completely made up of Ferrari favourties as Fernando took the top step – former Ferrari world champion – Kimi Raikkonen picked up another 2nd place in his highly sucessful return to the top flight of racing. The final step was taken by – former multiple Ferrari world champion – Michael Schumacher for a well deserved first podium on his return to F1. Mark Webber picked up 4th to leave him 2nd in the standings, 20 points behind Fernando Alonso with Hamilton and Vettel in tow.
In other news Bernie completed a mastermind scheme of media manipulation to plaster the fanciful London GP idea over the newspapers while the German bribery trail came to its conclusion. Worringly for Eccelstone the German banker has admitted to taking bribes and sentenced to 8 1/2 years – the ramifcations could be huge for the F1 supremo as his Bambino trust is also involved which he apparently has no control over.
Applogies for the delay on this post again, but im sure you all enjoyed the Canadian race last weekend and saw Lewis Hamilton come alive to take a sensational win. The Circuit du Gilles Villeneuve rarely dissapoints and the 2012 edition of the race was thrilling without rain or saftey car mostly due to Pirelli getting it spot on and providing tires that gave a safe 2 stop strategy or a risky 1 stop route to the finish. Hamilton was on pace all weekend and took the safe route to the flag racking up his first win of the year and the lead of the championship. Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel’s tyre gambles didnt pay off and this left the podium spots to Lotus’s Romain Grosjean and Sauber’s Sergio Perez.
Its creating a vicious constructors championship which this year could be even more important as the recession in Europe bites hard and the teams are finding it harder than ever to get stickers on their cars. F1 in 2012 is essentially seeing a 3 tier championship with the 3 “new” teams still firmly routed to the bottom with no chance of scoring points this year. Next up is the battle of battles from last year, the independant (or garagista) teams of Williams, Force India, Sauber along with Toro Rosso (while not being independant per-say but have similar funding) which this year seems to be a mix of tortoise and hare with Force India getting constant results but Sauber and Williams grabbing the headlines. Wins and podiums have been claimed by this group that had no chance of much above 6th or 7th place last year and it could be very telling to see what state they are in at the end of the year as these are the teams that will be feeling the pinch.
The final group is the “Manufacturers” group, although there are only 3 car marques (one of which is dubious) left at the top of F1 Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus battle alongside McLaren and Red Bull for the title honours. These teams are more concerned (with the possible exception of Lotus) with drivers titles, wins and podiums than their final constructors places as these are the monied few in F1. There is confusion amongst F1 elite with how exactly to get a handle on this seasons tyres and thus the championship, however the best in F1 reside here both drivers and engineers so I would expect these teams to pull away as the season continues. Question is will anyone fall by the wayside or join the group for the final run into Brazil?
Mark Webber won a interesting Monaco Grand Prix to make a new record as the first 6 races have been won by 6 different drivers. The Austrailians win puts him on equal points with his team mate and only 3 points off Fernando Alonsos lead in the championship.
It was another difficult weekend for McLaren who managed only to get Lewis Hamilton to 5th place while Jenson Button retired after an awful weekend in the Principality that promised much but delievered little.
Casey Stoner the 26 year old reigning World Champion has made the shock announcement that he will retire from Moto GP at the end of the season. The rider is now regarded as one of the greats after his dominant season last year and his 2007 world championship on the Ducati which has embaressed ever other rider who has tried to master the Italian machine. The Austrialian has said it is a combination of the lack of support he felt in 2009 when he took the second half of the season off with fatigue which was later diagnosed as a Lactose intollerance along with the top flight of motorbike racing moving to the new CRT format.
Its a bold move and a real shame to see the 26 year old hang up his helmet. It does make for a mental silly season at the end of this year with all of the factory riders out of contract (along with Tech III) and a ride on the competitive Honda to fill.
At the weekend the usual snorefest of the Spanish Grand Prix was turned into a nail biter as Pastor Maldonado held off the home town hero’s Ferrari to take the Grove’s team first win since 2004. Its been well reported that the team have been in decline over the past decade, punctuated with finishing 9th in the standings last year. The race proved that Williams have core pace as they qualified on pole after Lewis Hamilton’s time was deleted after failing to make it back to the pits under his own steam (under fueling the car has been expressly banned since McLaren did it at the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix).
However it proved that the Pirelli rubber can provide a good race without it being a pure overtaking fest, as Alonso spent most of the race within sniffing distance while Maldonado skillfully kept him at bay. However certain drivers are still finding the performance too erratic, like Jenson Button who dialled it in on Friday but it had all but evaporated come the weekend.Pastors stock has definatley risen after a drive that would of befitted the home favourite who came how a respectable 2nd.
Ferrari did look in much better form and in the hands of Alonso have eeked out points every race this season leaving him on the same points as the leader Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton is still well in the hunt despite not managing to better the lowest step of the podium in the first 3 races. Consistancy is certainly the key which leads us onto:
The two Brazilians under pressure. Bruno Senna’s poor weekend wasn’t helped by his team mate charging forth for the victory and will hope for a better result soon to bounce back. The newphew of the late great Ayrton is having an odd season where he’s gone well in the races but struggled in qualifying which is opposite to his problems before 2012. Although it is worth noting that he was comforatbly outscoring Pastor before Spain so i’d expect this to fade away with consistant performances from the Brazilian over the rest of the season. Felippe Massa however is running out of time to save his Ferrari drive as his points total currently stands at 2 for the season while his team mate is joint leader on 61. Massa looks more so than ever a shadow of the driver that took the 2008 title to the wire and in a season where taking every little chance that presents itself, the Scuderia surely cannot afford to continue when there are younger drivers who are embaressing his total.
Finally the weekend ended on a slightly sour note as there was a serious fire in the Williams garage which left several members of the pit crews needing medical attention. One Mechanic has only arrived back to the UK today after he suffered serious burns in the incident. Investigations are ongoing but its believed to be an issue with removing fuel from the cars, we wish everyone involved a speedy recovery.
This weekend sees the start of the traditional main European season which will see the teams visit the classic tracks of Monaco, Silverstone, Spa and Monza. There are only 8 European races (split by the trip to Canada and the modern Summer break) this year a vast change from 10 years ago when 11 of the 17 races were in Europe. The first race will be at the Circuit de Catalyuna which is a highly technical circuit that many think will sort out the correct order of the grid and usually features a Noah’s ark qualifying (All the teams in order). However last year it was a great race thanks to Pirelli whereas in previous years its been quite processional as its so aerodynamically dependant – hence why the teams use it for Pre-season testing.
HRT missed the mid-season test in Mugello to move to their new base in Madrid which I was a little sceptical of, however the new factilty does look good and was visted by Jean Todt. Furthermore the team have announced two new sponsorships with olive oil producer Carbonell and windscreen replacement company Cristalbox. This is good news for the team as cars have been looking increasingly unbranded down towards the back of the grid. The spanish team will bring an update for their home Grand Prix this weekend along with running GP2 driver Dani Clos in FP1.
McLaren are also going to be running their new higher nose (dont worry theres still no step) at the 5th race of the season at Barcelona. We expect to see all teams with a large amount of new parts for this race.