Video: Lewis Hamilton at FOTA Fans Forum event 2011

F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Kamui Kobayashi discuss overtaking with fans at the FOTA Fans Forum event at McLaren, June 30th 2011

Source: speedmerchantsmedia

Ferrari happy with V6 engine rules compromise

Ferrari is happy with F1’s engine formula for the future.

The FIA had earlier announced controversial four-cylinder engines for 2013, but in the face of opposition from teams and engine makers has now agreed to let the sport be powered by 1.6 litre V6s in 2014 and beyond.

Ferrari, whose founder Enzo Ferrari’s main passion was big engines and horse power, had been the most staunchly opposed to the four-cylinder plan.

But after the FIA rubber-stamped the V6 compromise this week, team boss Stefano Domenicali said: "This decision is good for the sport.”

"We now have the necessary time to prepare for this new project," he is quoted by the German news agency SID.

It is believed Renault and Cosworth are also happy.

"It is good that the compromise reached has been confirmed by the World Motor Sport Council," agreed Mercedes-Benz’s Norbert Haug.

Source: Nextgen

Ecclestone: Vettel dominance makes F1 'interesting'

It is a statement that will likely cause many to question just where he has left his marbles this time, but this frank and engaging exchange between F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone and defending world champion Sebastian Vettel is well worth reading...

Swimming against the tide of popular opinion as is so often his wont Bernie Ecclestone has pronounced that Sebastian Vettel's crushing dominance in F1 2011 to-date is 'what makes it so interesting for the fans' and muses that there is no reason 'why there shouldn't be a Red Bull era' in much the same manner as that of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari.

As the sport's defending world champion, Vettel has been in imperious form this season, triumphing in six of the eight grands prix thus far and taking the chequered flag as runner-up in the other two, to establish a commanding 77-point advantage over any of his pursuers in the title standings.

To put that into perspective, even if either McLaren-Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton or Ferrari's Fernando Alonso won every single one of the remaining races in 2011, finishing second in each of them would still be sufficient for Vettel to comfortably clinch the crown. Little wonder Ecclestone rates him as 'the best'.

“You can't hide talent,” the sport's influential commercial rights-holder told the official F1 website. “He has an absolute will to win – and he has everything in his hands to do it. Probably others don't have the package that Sebastian has right now.

“He is in a similar position as Michael [Schumacher]. Sebastian is the best right now, and that's why he is dominating. That's what makes it so interesting for the fans, because every race weekend starts with a big question mark – who will be able to beat Vettel? That's why fans tune in.

“The competition Sebastian is facing is much bigger than that confronted by Michael, though. That makes Seb's wins even more noteworthy. I don't see a reason why there shouldn't be a Red Bull era just as Ferrari had theirs with Michael. He reminds me of Jochen Rindt – Seb will always stay grounded, no matter how big the success. That is what makes real champions. That was also Jochen's strength. Plus, both are lousy losers…”

Indeed, it is not only Vettel's on-track prowess that impresses Ecclestone, with the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive waxing lyrical about the young German's manner away from the circuit, reasoning that – unlike some of his rivals – the way he behaves is 'how I expect a champion to be'.

“I don't like that some of the drivers are completely under the thumb of their teams and sponsors,” reflected the 80-year-old, who presented Vettel with a silver telegram and a ruler engraved with the names of all of the sport's world champions – as is tradition – in Abu Dhabi last November. “With Sebastian it is different. He is still his own master, which is obviously also because Red Bull and Didi Mateschitz allow it.

“Every F1 driver – and especially the champion – owes his success, his money and his popularity to the sport. That is why he ought to give something back – to be open and accessible. That's why I complained about Fernando Alonso, who in my view didn't represent F1 well enough.”

Vettel, by contrast, is in Ecclestone's eyes the sport's perfect ambassador, and the 23-year-old reveals that the man who rules F1 with an iron fist 'welcomed me with open arms and respected me from the very first moment' that he joined the grand prix grid in mid-2007 and 'offered to come to him whenever I felt I was having a problem', leaving him 'almost speechless' – and, in more familiar style, 'when I got my super-licence in Istanbul, he came up to me saying, 'don't mess it up, boy!''

“F1 is the highest level on which I can prove to myself and to others how good I am,” he explained. “I enjoy that challenge – and people admire me for it. I feel hugely privileged, so I believe that after what the sport gives me, I ought to give back.

“With all the glamour that surrounds us, some seem to forget what we are here for. I try to keep my feet on the ground. I don't feel any 'bigger' than my friends from schooldays. I would say I am only privileged in one thing, and that's that I've found something in life that gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Based on that view, I probably would even pay to drive an F1 car! If I didn't love what I do, I probably wouldn't be so successful; money was never a motivator for me.

“On the Abu Dhabi podium, I felt somewhat empty and lost. I hadn't really realised what had just happened. It was a dream come true to test an F1 car, then the dream got bigger when I was driving one and making it onto the podium and winning a race, so when the title was mine it was almost a bit too much for me – but instinctively I knew that it was very addictive, that I wanted more of the same!”

Ecclestone insists Vettel 'must not worry about anybody as [his] team-mate' – even though much of the F1 paddock seems to be presently preoccupied with the topic – and the 16-time grand prix-winner agrees that he is not losing any sleep over the matter, and also reasserts that despite speculation linking him elsewhere in the future, for the time being he is more than content right where he is.

“In the end, I don't waste too many thoughts on who is my team-mate,” he underlined. “I want to be the best so I have to beat them all, with the same car or any other. I would never ask my team to get me a team-mate to my liking, but I expect two things from whoever has the second cockpit honesty and respect.

“To win races is not easy, to win championships even less so – at whatever team. I feel completely happy at Red Bull. Of course Ferrari and Mercedes do come with a huge legend, but I am not into myth right now. What's important for me is that when I come from the track and look in the mirror in my hotel room, I want to be able to say, 'yes, that's me and I am satisfied with what I see'. After Abu Dhabi, it feels good to know that I don't have anything to prove to myself anymore.”


John Surtees in Maranello, from the past to the present

For the past two days, a truly special guest was welcomed within the Ferrari walls, in the shape of a former Ferrari driver and one of the legendary names of the sport, John Surtees. He was involved, along with Fernando Alonso in a promotional event organised by Shell at the Fiorano track which saw Ferrari past and present brought together in the garage. “Looking into Fernando’s eyes, I could see the same determination I had when I was racing,” he said. “Time passes, but passion for racing is something that never changes across the centuries and if you have it in you, you see it in others.”

On leaving Alonso, Surtees met Piero Ferrari, the Ferrari vice president and Stefano Domenicali, the Scuderia team principal and was then taken on a tour of the company, beginning in the Ferrari Classiche department, where he was met by Giulio Borsari, a former mechanic and now a consultant to the company, who had worked closely with Surtees when he drove for the Maranello team. The Englishman is actually the only man to have won world championships in Formula 1 and its equivalent on motorbikes. He made the move to four wheels in 1960, having won seven world titles with MV Agusta and he joined Ferrari in 1962, taking the world title in ’64. Borsari and Surtees reminisced about the significant and enjoyable moments they spent together at the race tracks. The tour for the “figlio del vento” (son of the wind) as he was called back then by his Ferrari team, continued with a visit to the new assembly line and he was clearly impressed by the technology involved. “It’s incredible how everything has changed!” exclaimed Surtees on entering the building. “In my day, the cars were pushed on trolleys and a group of mechanics would work around it. Now, everyone has a place to work and no one seems to be pushing trolleys!”

It was an emotional moment when he went to the Ferrari Museum, where he was snapped alongside his old helmet and a winning photo dating from 1964.


Pirelli announce tyre choices

Teams will be able to make use of the hard and soft compound Pirelli tyres at the upcoming British GP at Silverstone

Despite criticism from Ferrari after the Spanish Grand Prix where the hard compound tyres were used for the first time, the Italian manufacturer confirmed they will be sticking with the hard compound tyres in Britain.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery insists that hard compounds remain the best choice for the Silverstone track.

"There has been a lot of comment in the last few weeks about the choice for Silverstone," explained Hembery.

"Silverstone is one of the hard circuits in the season, it has a very aggressive surface, it has an unknown factor because the surface has been changed due to the new building work, and in terms of the tyre maker's point of view it is probably one of the hardest circuits that we face during the year - together with Istanbul, Malaysia and going forward something like Spa and Monza for the high speeds and then Suzuka.

"Also, being in England, it's very variable in terms of weather. This week they were having 30C, today I believe it's down to about 15C. So again, from a tyre maker's point of view, making a tyre work in that wide variety of conditions is a big challenge, hence the reason that we felt also offering the soft compound would allow us to operate in cooler conditions."

While Ferrari were unhappy with the hard compound tyres in Barcelona, McLaren and Red Bull adapted to them without any trouble. Despite the disparity, Hembery categorically denied suggestions that company would create tyres to favour one team over another.

"The teams have a difference of opinion," he said.

"We have asked their advice but clearly we don't want to favour or penalise one over the other. We have to take a look at the whole field.

"We have 12 teams we look at and feel that we are going to make the right choice for them, and also the right choice for us of course. Our main concern is to make sure that we don't penalise any team. Some people have decided that from Barcelona the hard tyre favours those with high downforce, so we have to be careful that the strategy based on hard tyres is not going to penalise any particular team.

"Equally we don't want to be in the situation where we have five pitstops, so it is a balance we have to find."

Hembery confirmed that medium and soft compounds will be used at the German Grand Prix while softs and super-softs would come into play at the Hungarian GP.

Source: Planet-F1

Alonso's Blog: A meeting with Ferrari’s past in Maranello

Finally, a bit of time off! After the Valencia weekend, I went straight to Maranello where I spent two packed days both on the technical and the promotional front. This morning I went back home to relax for a few days before setting off again for the next Grand Prix, in England this time, at Silverstone.

With the team, we went back over the last race and the short and long term development plans. I take away good memories from Valencia. It was a positive weekend, especially the race. In fact it meant I filled a gap in my trophy collection, but the best part of it was seeing again the delight of the crowd when I passed Mark, first on track and then at the pit stop: racing in Spain is always something special!

It is a key time in the season. We are moving forward, as could be seen in the last three races, but now we must also confirm the progress seen at Monaco, Montreal and Valencia on a track with completely different characteristics, which is definitely more suited to our main rivals. At Silverstone, you need a lot of aerodynamic downforce and this is area where we are lagging behind. We will have some new parts, but there’s a step from that to saying we will have made up the difference…Maybe! We must be realistic and accept that it’s not possible that in less than two months – the time past since the Barcelona race – we have closed the gap that was seen at the Catalunya circuit. It wasn’t a whole lap, because that was down to the way the race panned out, but it was definitely bigger than what we have seen in the last three races. We must continue to work on improving the car and then I am sure the win will come. When? I don’t have a crystal ball to be able to give a definite answer.

In Maranello, I had the opportunity to meet a driver who has been part of the history of Formula 1 and of Ferrari, John Surtees. We took part in a promotional event organised by our technical partner Shell and he was very interesting to talk to, comparing our experiences as drivers and, above all, talking about our lives with a special team like Ferrari. It’s nice to meet people who can give you a first hand account of what Formula 1 was like back then!

Today, the team told me about Pirelli’s tyre choices for the coming three races. At the British Grand Prix, we will be running the Soft and the Hard, the same choice that featured in the early stages of the championship. Okay, for us that means one more challenge, namely being able to make all types of tyre work as well as possible. Anyway, the tyre choice is the same for everyone and there’s no point discussing if the pair of compounds chosen is more suited to one team or another. It’s up to the teams to adjust the cars to get the best out of the tyres both in terms of performance and life.


Diffuser ban to cost Red Bull half a second

Red Bull's motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has revealed that the team expect to lose half a second per lap at Silverstone when the ban on off-throttle blown diffusers takes effect

Speculation has been rife regarding how the ban will impact the teams, with Red Bull thought to be in danger of suffering the greatest loss.

Marko admits that the ban will cost the team but they are well prepared to deal with the changes.

"We expect to lose approximately 0.5 seconds per lap without the blown diffuser," he said.

"However, we made preparations to equalise this in terms of set-up and aero measures. We are optimistic that we will keep our performance level."

The 68-year-old is understandably annoyed at the FIA's decision to implement the ban halfway through the season.

"We would have understood if this was implemented at the end of the season like many other technical developments recently," he said.

"But to do this halfway through the season is a bit strange and not quite understandable," the Austrian added.

Source: Planet-F1

Mark Webber urged to keep up good work

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner hopes Mark Webber's performance at Valencia is a sign of things to come for the rest of the season

Webber is second behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the Drivers' Championship, but he has struggled to give the reigning World Champion a run for his money this year. Vettel has won six out of eight grands prix and has started ahead of Webber in seven of those races.

Webber, though, put up a much improved display at the European Grand Prix and he rated his third-place finish as "probably the best of the season".

Horner agrees with Webber's sentiments and is delighted that he is starting to bridge the gap to his team-mate.

"It was Mark's best race of the season in terms of his performance on those tyres," Horner is quoted by Reuters as saying. "It's the closest he has been to Sebastian all season. He drove well this weekend. Nobody is taking anything for granted."

Horner is also hopeful that the Australian will continue to improve as he's finally coming to grips with the new Pirelli tyres.

"I hope he keeps building up the momentum from this weekend," he said.

"He's made no secret of the fact he's struggled more on these tyres than Sebastian. I think he's understanding them better now.

"If you look at the time difference between the guys during the race he was never more than four or five seconds away for 90 percent of the race, which is the best we've seen all year.

"He'll take a lot of confidence out of the weekend."

Source: Planet-F1

Lewis Hamilton pleads with McLaren for them to re-sign Jenson Button

Lewis Hamilton pleaded with his McLaren bosses to keep Britain’s Grand Prix dream team together and re-sign team-mate Jenson Button.

And ahead of today’s European Grand Prix, he gave the biggest hint yet that he himself will re-sign for the team that has been his home for 13 years – but he issued a clear warning that the decisive factor in contract talks was a winning car.

Button rubbished links with ­rivals Ferrari as “twaddle” but his contract at Woking runs out at the end of this season.

Hamilton spoke after he ­qualified third and Button sixth in Valencia as Sebastian Vettel thundered to his seventh pole in eight races – dashing hopes new engine mapping rules would wreck Red Bull’s F1 domination.

The worst news for McLaren, though, was that Mark Webber is back on form and starting second, and will prove an extra hurdle.

Despite Button’s superb victory in Montreal putting Hamilton’s performances into sharper relief, the 26-year-old wants his contract extended to 2013.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Hamilton. “I’d love to race alongside him for another three years. Jenson has been fantastic. He has been very quick and competitive. His demeanour helps create a comfortable atmosphere in the team. We have more harmony in our team than in any other.”

And last night boss Martin Whitmarsh gave the first indication that is exactly what is about to happen.

He said: “Jenson has been a great member of this team, we are really fortunate with Lewis and Jenson to have two great racing drivers.

“I very much want them to be a part of this team for a long time to come.”

Uncharacteristically reserved after qualifying, Hamilton brushed off his previous claims of “full ­attack” and said his goal was the lowest step on the podium.

“I’ve had a couple of very tough races, so third would be absolutely fantastic and anything else would be amazing,” he added.

“When I say I am on maximum attack I mean that in the positive light, not that I am being careless.

“When I am behind someone, if I have been thinking once or twice, I will definitely think a third time before making a manoeuvre.

‘‘That’s a part of growing. It’s important I finish every race.

“As concerns the future, the most important factor is a better car. I really want to win more championships.”

Source: The Mirror

Media slams Vettel’s ’snooze control’ in Valencia

The media slammed the sagging spectacle of Sunday’s European grand prix.

After seven exciting races boosted by the new overtaking ’DRS’ system and heavily degrading Pirelli tyres, the formula did not conspire to spice up the usually-processional action on the streets of Valencia.

Making the situation worse was Sebastian Vettel’s further extension of his runaway championship lead, and then his exuberant celebration on the radio.

His upbeat message "Fantastic boys, I can’t tell you how good this feels" was met with "deafening silence in the multinational media centre", according to the Telegraph’s Tom Cary.

The Sunday Express’ Bob McKenzie agreed that the 23-year-old German shifted F1 into "snooze control" in the Spanish sun with the Valencia "yawnfest".

Agreed the Independent’s David Tremayne: "If all the races were run on tracks as infernally dull and uninvolving as the one here, the FIA might as well hand another world champion’s trophy to Sebastian Vettel right now.”

"For heaven’s sake, even kids with their Scalextric come up with better layouts," he added in a barb apparently pointed at F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke.

Added the Daily Star’s James Murray: "Sebastian Vettel won one of the most boring races ever and there are fears the rest of the season will be the same."

And the Sun’s Michael Spearman said: "The street race around the Valencia Marina complex was about as thrilling as a four-hour Wagnerian epic."

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport pointed out that there was not a single "retirement, safety car or crash" and the DRS proved "inefficient despite the two overtaking zones".

Bild am Sonntag newspaper said: "The best things about the Valencia race were the sea, the blue sky, the bobbing yachts and the bikini girls."

"It was the first horribly boring race of the season," agreed Austria’s Kleine Zeitung.

"Most viewers felt overwhelmed with boredom by the procession," added the Swiss daily Le Temps.

The Times’ Kevin Eason observed on Twitter that Vettel said the race was "maybe boring" for the spectators. "Too right chum," the journalist quipped.

But the Telegraph’s Cary said it is wrong to blame the smiling Red Bull driver.

"The index-finger waggling celebration is becoming irksome but only because he is jabbing it in our faces every fortnight," he said.

Meanwhile, European grand prix promoter Jorge Martinez Aspar insisted the event had been "excellent" and attended by a healthy 85,000.

But he told EFE news agency that there is "no rush" to sign a five-year option for more Valencia races post 2014.

"We are happy with the situation and want to make the project viable. Ecclestone is willing to help," said Aspar, "but we need to further involve the city."

Source: Nextgen

Ten Questions to Kimi Räikkönen

Kimi Räikkönen, known as 'The Iceman', is famous for giving very little away when it comes to interviews. But in the searing heat of Greece we managed to make him melt. A little, at least...

What is your favourite rally?
“There are still some rallies that I haven’t tried yet, so I don’t know. But it’s always nice to go home to Finland, so I’m looking forward to that rally.”

What was your favourite Formula One race?
“I like Spa as it’s a great track but my personal favourite race was Brazil 2007 when I won the championship. It was a crazy race and I just had to go flat-out.”

How tricky was it coming back into the rally car after missing two events?
“That wasn’t so easy because I still don’t have a lot of experience and the last car I drove was a NASCAR truck, which was quite different!”

How’s the NASCAR going?
“It’s good fun actually. It’s another completely different style of driving, but it went quite well and I’m going to do some more later on this year.”

Is rallying still your main priority?
“Yes, rallying is still definitely the main focus. I’m enjoying myself and I think I’m making progress: now we do most of the rest of the season.”

What have you learned most this year?
“That you need experience in rallying to do well and there is no short cut. And also that you need your pace notes to be exactly right. It’s a bit like Formula One: it’s always the last little bit that makes the difference but that last little bit is always the hardest one to find.”

What do you do to relax at weekends?
“Just relax with friends and go on my boat. The boat is perfect as nobody can bother you.”

Who were your heroes in racing and rallying?
“I don’t really have heroes. But looking back in the past, I always liked the character of James Hunt in Formula One and in rallying Tommi Makinen is a really good guy.”

What are the most important things that you pack to go on a rally?
“My computer and my mobile phone so that I can stay in touch with people and watch some videos.”

What’s your favourite vegetable?
“Potatoes. But I eat most things.”

Source: WRC

Webber blames himself for missing second

Mark Webber blames himself for missing second in the European Grand Prix

Mark Webber insisted he was to blame for missing out a second place finish in the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

Webber had been dicing for position with Fernando Alonso's Ferrari throughout the race before electing to make his final stop to swap onto the medium compound tyre before the Spaniard also pitted for the final time.

Alonso was able to go three laps longer on his final set of soft tyres before pitting himself and it proved to be the crucial decision as he rejoined ahead of the Australian in second.

Although he was then forced to back off in the closing laps due to a gearbox issue, Webber admitted he should have beaten Alonso to the flag to secure a 1-2 finish for Red Bull and blamed himself for only finishing on the bottom step of the podium.

“I think we should have finished second today,” he said. “It was a good race with Fernando, I think it was my best race of the year to be honest until the last pit stop. It was quite close with all three of us, obviously we were trying to go as fast as possible and manage the tyres at the same time.

“I was very happy with how the race was going until the last stop and it was my fault basically. I was worried about Fernando getting the undercut and it was not really known how the medium tyre would behave on the out lap, but it was a risk I decided to take. I lost out to Fernando, he drove a good race.

“We had a gearbox problem at the end, so we backed right off, but we had a massive gap to McLaren, so we could cruise to the end and look after the gearbox.”


Video: BBC - European GP - Fernando Alonso enjoys 'great fight' with Mark Webber

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso says his performance in finishing second in the European Grand Prix in Valencia was a good display for the Spanish fans.

Alonso is also encouraged by how he was able to keep pace with the Red Bulls, finishing in between winner Sebastian vettel and third-placed Mark Webber

Source: YouTube

Vettel: Still a long way to go

Sebastian Vettel is not getting ahead of himself despite extending his lead in the Drivers' Championship to 77 points

The reigning World Champ has proven to be almost unbeatable this season, only losing out on victory on two occasions. Both were to McLaren drivers - and one of those losses, Canada, was through a mistake of his own.

With six victories to his credit, the latest which he achieved in Valencia on Sunday afternoon, the Red Bull driver is holding a commanding 77-point lead over Jenson Button and his own team-mate Mark Webber.

Vettel, though, is refusing to get carried away, urging his team to "stay hungry."

"I'm not looking at the gap. Obviously the title is the target but we'll take it step by step," he said.

"If we have the chance to win, we'll take it because the day might come when we struggle, when we are only good enough for third.

"It's still a long way to go.

"We have to keep doing what we do, stay hungry, wanting to win the races and become better."

As for his victory around the Valencia street circuit on Sunday, the German says that while it may have appeared a boring race to those watching, for him it was an exciting 57 laps.

"I enjoyed it very much. Every single lap its between you and the car," he said.

""For some reason I enjoy this track, even though we maybe think it doesn't suit our car because there are no 100 percent fast corner.

"I'm very happy."

Meanwhile, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insisted the race was a lot closer than it looked.

"Sebastian really enjoyed his afternoon, it was a fantastic race - he got it right from start to finish.

"It was tight with Alonso throughout. It wasn't as easy as it looked."

Source: Planet-F1

Vettel Wins Lacklustre European GP 2011

Sebastian Vettel strolled to his sixth win of the campaign in the European GP where the fight was a lot closer than it was exciting

No matter how many DRS zones you put in, how much power the KERS gives a driver, or what you ban on the cars, it truly seems as if nothing will ever make the Valencia street circuit an exciting venue for Formula One racing.

With the top three, both Red Bulls and Alonso, all runningsimilar strategies and putting on soft tyres in their first two stops, the race appeared as if it would be decided by who could get the most out of their medium compound Pirellis in the final stint.

Webber pitted for his on lap 43, Alonso on lap 45 and Vettel on lap 47. The German, having witnessed his team-mate's times fall on the medium tyres, was the last of leading trio in and therefore only had ten laps on the harder - and slower - compound.

This move just allowed him to cement his victory, although it never appeared as if Alonso, who was second, or Webber, who completed the podium, were a threat to his sixth win of the season.

Lewis Hamilton was fourth over the line as he kept his nose clean in Valencia, finishing ahead of Felipe Massa and Jenson Button.

All 24 drivers completed the grand prix, only the third time in F1 history that there was not a single retirement in the race.

01. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h39:36.169
02. Alonso Ferrari + 10.891
03. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 27.255
04. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 46.190
05. Massa Ferrari + 51.705
06. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 1:00.000
07. Rosberg Mercedes + 1:38.000
08. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
09. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
10. Heidfeld Renault + 1 lap
11. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
13. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
14. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
15. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
16. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
17. Schumacher Mercedes + 1 lap
18. Maldonado Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
19. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault + 2 laps
20. Trulli Lotus-Renault + 2 laps
21. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
22. D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
23. Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps
24. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps

Source: Planet-F1

Sebastian Vettel: F1's ever changing map - interview

Shortly before his run to pole position at the European Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel, F1 world champion, answers a few questions about winning, losing and gadgets he doesn’t have...

by Matt Youson on Jun 26, 2011

Few drivers have ever looked as secure as Sebastian Vettel after seven races of the F1 World Champion. Nevertheless, after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Canada, and with a potentially unhelpful tweak to the technical regulations coming in for the European Grand Prix, questions are being asked about how robust Vettel’s position really is.

Seb, as usual, seemed to find the whole thing very amusing as he sat down with the press before securing yet another pole position as Red Bull Racing locked out the front row of the grid in Valencia.

So Seb, are you worried about the new regulation that bans a change of engine map between qualifying the race on Sunday?
SV: Not worried at all. I think it’s something everyone was playing around with. Yes, I think it makes a difference to everyone but I don’t think it makes a bigger difference to us than other people. I think it will be the same for all the teams.

Even if it doesn’t affect your pace in the race, might it affect your pace in qualifying?
SV: We had some phases last year where people thought we have a lever in the car and it turned out we didn’t. I was asking myself whether we did, only nobody told me! So maybe I should ask myself whether we have something special again this year – but from what I know, I can assure you there’s nothing special changing between Saturday and Sunday.

Why are McLaren closer to you in the race than in qualifying?
SV: Hmmmm… I don’t know – maybe they have a reason why they are over-performing in the race compared to qualifying. We’ve had some races that have been very straightforward for us with good race pace, and others where we felt we had underperformed. It’s difficult to rate our true race pace because it depends a lot on the track, the conditions and how the race unfolds.

Business as usual this weekend?
SV: Ah, we’ll have to wait and see. It’s a long way to the finish. We can’t afford to simply do our jobs and expect everything to be fine, we have to push as hard as we can. As I’ve said before, there are going to be races where you really struggle and the most important thing is to not forget why we’re here.
This track is usually difficult for us, but we’ve had a very competitive car everywhere so far – so that makes us reasonably confident. Canada shouldn’t have suited us, but we were very good in the dry conditions there too.

A few races ago you said a moment would arrive where Red Bull Racing needed to have the KERS working because other teams would be getting closer. Has that moment arrived?
SV: Yes. If you look at the last three races, I haven’t been cruising around, quite the opposite. I’ve been leading but have been attacked all the time: it’s no secret that I haven’t always had KERS available. Just by looking at the projected lap time benefit, you’re talking about three to five tenths – that makes a big difference.

Will we see a bit more overtaking in Valencia this year?
SV: Yeah, I think so. In some places we’ve seen the DRS can be very powerful. Arguably at some places it was too easy to overtake. It depends largely on the track, how many zones you have and how long the zone is.
At tracks like Monaco, I think the difference was fairly small, whereas in Canada or Turkey, we had a lower speed corner and then a very long straight and arguably overtaking was too easy. Of course we are still playing around with all the new systems we have, especially the rear wing. But I think here it will be a big help.

With a bit of time to reflect, how do you feel about the result in Canada?
SV: I can see people were very excited, but it was pretty straightforward! The race presented plenty of opportunities to make a mistake or to get something wrong. In hindsight I think we did a very good job and I made one mistake half a lap from the end.
I think you could see that I was a little bit disappointed and angry – because when the win is so close it’s always going to be like that. It’s never easy to win races and I felt I could have done it there.
But my only chance was to push as hard as I could on that last lap to make sure I had enough cushion going onto the back straight. Otherwise I faced the same destiny as Michael [Schumacher] had against Jenson, where there is no chance to defend – but I didn’t get that far. We finished second and it’s very good points. So my feeling now is it could have been worse!

Source: Red Bull

Video: Fashion Photography With F1's Lewis Hamilton & Jenson Button

Another Vodafone VIP classic as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are invited to a photo shoot with a difference.

Rather than being the focus of the shoot, this time the famous Formula 1 duo are let loose as photographers directing an 'eccentric British summer' fashion shoot.

This is a photo shoot with a twist as Hamilton and Button discover their wacky, creative flair and are tasked with everything from choosing the wardrobe, to selecting props and taking the final shots.

With Lewis behind the camera and Jenson (as his assistant!) directing the models this is a great bit of cheeky fun and an amusing distraction for Jenson and Lewis before they get behind the wheel at the next Formula 1 2011 Grand Prix.

What is Vodafone VIP? Find out more here


Qualifying: It's Another Pole For Vettel

Sebastian Vettel claimed his seventh pole position of the season at the European GP as Red Bull locked out the front row

Although the team were expected to suffer in light of the FIA's ban on changing engine maps in parc ferme, Vettel proved that it is not the secret of their success.

The reigning World Champ crossed the line with a 1:36.975, beating his team-mate Mark Webber to pole position by 0.188s. Lewis Hamilton qualified in third place with Fernando Alonso starting from P4.

Qualifying 1
It was warm and windy as the cars took to the the track in bright Valencia sunshine, the ambient temperature of 26C with the track at 44C.

There were no problems left over from a fairly uneventful morning practice and it was Nick Heidfeld's Renault setting the first P1 time at 1:41.897. All the top runners would try and get through this opening session using only the Medium (Prime) tyre and saving their Soft (Option) tyre for Q2 and beyond.

To get the medium tyres working, and up to temperature, the teams embarked on multi-lap runs. Mark Webber took the P1 time down to 1:40.429, team-mate Sebastian Vettel beat that with a 1:39.965, while Jenson Button edged that down a 1:39.605.

Vettel took over at the front again with a 1:39.356 and then Lewis Hamilton grabbed the spot with a 1:39.244. Not for long, Sebastain Vettel lowered the time to 1:39.116. It was already clear, though, that the McLarens were more than a match for the Red Bulls on the Prime tyre.

The Ferrari team had gone two ways on front-wing set-up with Felipe Massa sporting a double-element front wing and Fernando Alonso going for a triple. Alonso was using his to better effect.

Running into the last four minutes, the mid-grid teams had been forced to go for the soft tyres. Heikki Kovalainen had put his Lotus up into P15 using the soft tyres and so the others had to react. At this stage the main contenders for the unexpected exit were: 16.Barrichello, 17.DiResta, 18.Kobayashi with Williams' Pastor Maldonado yet to set a time.

Maldonado came out and delivered P6, Paul DiResta (after limited running on Friday thanks to Nico Hulkenberg damaging his car) jumped to P9, Rubens Barrichello disappeared off to P11.

These improvements started to push Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa towards the late 'teens. Rosberg jumped up to P4 on his set of softs which pushed Mark Webber to a perilous P17 (still sticking to his medium compound).

As the session reached its conclusion there were 20 drivers out on track with Massa opting to bolt on a set of soft tyres to make certain of his inclusion. That produced a lap time of 1:38.413, the fastest of Q1. And safety of course. It hadn't been too cautious an approach, he had been in P17...

Mark Webber managed to jump to P14 and when Kamui Kobyashi improved hhis position from P18 to P16, that left Jaime Alguersuari stuck in P18 with no laps left.

And so out went: 18. Alguersuari, 19.Kovalainen, 20.Trullim 21.Glock, 22.Liuzzi, 23.D'Ambrosio, 24.Karthikeyan.

Trulli managed to spin in the final corner to wreck his chance of beating Kovalainen in qualifying again, Mark Webber ended up an uncomfortable P16, but it was Alguersuari who was the big loser, having gone out in P18 in the last three races.

Qualifying 2
It was straight onto the soft tyres for the front runners now. Massa continued using his set from Q1 and produced a 1:38.566, Mark Webber beat it with a 1:38.058, Fernando Alonso edged ahead of that with a 1:37.930 and then Sebastian Vettel booked his place in Q3 with a 1:37.305.

Behind Vettel, Button slotted into P2 and then Lewis Hamilton took P2 off him. Just as the Ferrari team were thinking about making their times a little better, Pastor Maldonado slowed to an unexpected halt in a tricky position just off the racing line and had to be retrieved by crane. It brought the red flag out with 7.59 of the session still to run.

Vitaly Petrov and Sebastien Buemi had yet to set a time.

When the Williams car was cleared, there was no great rush out of the pits to complete a lap. With four minutes left to run the danger position were: 7.Massa, 8.Schumacher, 9.Heidfeld, 10.Sutil, 11.DiResta, 12.Barrichello, 13.Maldonado, 14.Perez, 15.Kobayashi, 16.Petrov (no time), 17.Buemi (no time).

Kobayashi improved to P13, Barrichello could only stay P12. Petrov overtook his team-mate to grab P9, Buemi stayed a disappointing P17, Michael Schumacher made himself safe with P6. Nick Heidfeld jumped back in front of his Renault team-mate to hold P9.

The symmetry of 2 Red Bulls, McLarens, Ferraris, Renaults and Mercedes getting into Q3 was then ruined by Adrian Sutil who slotted his Force India into P10 demoting Vitaly Petrov to P11.

So out went: 11.Petrov, 12.DiResta, 13.Barrichello, 14.Kobayashi, 15.Maldonado, 16.Perez, 17.Buemi.

Qualifying 3With engine maps having to be carried through from qualifying to the race it was all eyes on Red Bull to see if they could sustain their advantage at the front.

It didn't take long to realise that an upset was unlikely to be the case. Alonso set provisional pole with a 1:37.454, Lewis Hamilton took it from him with a 1:37.380 and then Sebastian Vettel went four tenths of a second faster with a 1:36.975.

The top six after the first runs lined up: Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Webber, Button, Massa. Adrian Sutil, Nick Heidfeld and Michael Schumacher didn't go out at first and Nico Rosberg had the circuit to himself in the middle for his timed run.

Rosberg set P7 before the final flurry. Michael's one run put him a whisker shy of Rosberg in P8, Heidfeld didn't complete a whole lap and Adrian Sutil didn't bother going out at all.

Thus it was the front runners who were going to provide the action and Mark Webber showed that he can get within 0.2 of his team-mate by moving up to P2.

Behind him, though, it was mostly anti-climax. Alonso realised he was slower and came into the pits, Hamilton realised he was slower and came into the pits, Button was slower and didn't improve and got overtaken by Felipe Massa who squeezed up into P5.

Realising that he now had pole, Vettel didn't need to put in another lap and also came into the pits. Thus Vettel achieved his seventh pole out of seven for the year without major drama. Given the closeness of McLaren on the medium tyre and two DRS zones to overtake in, the race will be a lot tougher to dominate.

01. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m36.975
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m37.163 + 0.188
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m37.380 + 0.405
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.454 + 0.479
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m37.535 + 0.560
6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m37.645 + 0.670
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m38.231 + 1.256
8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m38.240 + 1.265
9. Nick Heidfeld Renault No time
10. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes No time
11. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m39.068s + 1.763
12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m39.422s + 2.117
13. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m39.489s + 2.184
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.525s + 2.220
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m39.645s + 2.340
16. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.657s + 2.352
17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m39.711s + 2.406
18. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m40.232 + 1.819
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m41.664 + 3.251
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m42.234 + 3.821
21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m42.553 + 4.140
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m43.584 + 5.171
23. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m43.735 + 5.322
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m44.363 + 5.950

Source: Planet-F1

Practice Three: Vettel back on top

It didn't take long for Sebastian Vettel to stamp his authority on the European GP weekend, posting the fastest time in final practice

Despite falling behind the Ferraris on Friday, the reigning World Champ came back strong in Practice Three, making his mark ahead of qualifying.

Vettel crossed the line with a 1:37.258 to finish 0.420s up on Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

Felipe Massa was third quickest, a further 0.162s off the pace, while Mark Webber finished in fourth place.

Jenson Button was the faster of the two McLaren drivers, claiming fifth place ahead of Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.

Report: Track temperature was sitting at 34'C as the final practice for the European GP got underway under blue skies. Jaime Alguersuari was the first man out on track, leading out the field for their installation laps. Jarno Trulli set the early pace ahead of Timo Glock before Sergio Perez and then Alguersuari moved ahead of them.

Nick Heidfeld was the next to lead the way with a 1:41.903 before lowering the benchmark time to by eight-tenths. However, his reign was short-lived as Fernando Alonso hit the front with a 1:39.743 while Nico Rosberg took second place. Felipe Massa was fourth ahead of Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil.

Massa improved his time, slotting in behind his team-mate while Jenson Button took third place, just half a second adrift of Alonso's best. Meanwhile, neither Sebastian Vettel nor Mark Webber had posted a lap time despite half the session having already past.

Vettel finally headed out, immediately hitting the front with a 1:38.999. His team-mate Webber claimed fourth place behind Alonso and Button. Ferrari continued playing around with their front wings, still undecided as to which route they wanted to go ahead of qualifying.

Vettel coninued lapping, lowering the benchmark time as Webber improved to second before losing out to Schumacher, who was just 0.105s behind Vettel. Sergio Perez, on the softer tyres, moved up to sixth place. Rosberg overhauled Vettel before Massa, despite a bit of a scruffy lap, went quicker still.

Alonso put in fastest times through all three sectors on his way to a 1:37.678, six-tenths up on Massa's best. Button joined the Ferraris at the front as Massa closed up on his team-mate but still fell a tenth short. Webber took third behind the Ferraris, however, it was all-change as Vettel put in fastest times in all three sectors to take the P1 slot with a 1:37.258 despite behind held up by a Lotus.

The session ended with Vettel quickest ahead of Alonso and Massa and Kamui Kobayashi putting in a massive slide that ended with his front wing in the barriers.

01. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m37.258 15 laps
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.678 + 0.420s 16 laps
3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m37.840 + 0.582s 17 laps
4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m38.068 + 0.810s 13 laps
5. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m38.326 + 1.068s 13 laps
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m38.580 + 1.322s 15 laps
7. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m38.741 + 1.483s 13 laps
8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m38.799 + 1.541s 14 laps
9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m38.822 + 1.564s 17 laps
10. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m39.113 + 1.855s 15 laps
11. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m39.411 + 2.153s 19 laps
12. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.778 + 2.520s 18 laps
13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m39.823 + 2.565s 18 laps
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.848 + 2.590s 18 laps
15. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m39.888 + 2.630s 17 laps
16. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m39.987 + 2.729s 18 laps
17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m40.004 + 2.746s 16 laps
18. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m40.239 + 2.981s 20 laps
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m41.267 + 4.009s 15 laps
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m41.690 + 4.432s 18 laps
21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m42.557 + 5.299s 18 laps
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m43.243 + 5.985s 17 laps
23. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m43.309 + 6.051s 18 laps
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m44.630 + 7.372s 19 laps

Source: Planet-F1

Hamilton: Senna summed up my motto

Lewis Hamilton has revealed he will continue to live by one of the most inspiring quotes of hero Ayrton Senna's career

It is a remark that features in the documentary movie 'Senna' that has taken cinemas by storm recently, and came in a conversation with three-times World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart in 1990.

The Scot criticised Senna, claiming the Brazilian had been involved in more accidents over the preceding four years of his career than all the other F1 Champions put together.

Senna's reply remains legendary as he said: "Being a racing driver means you are racing with other people, and if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver."

Hamilton has admitted it was a comment he heard when he was young, one that motivated him then and will continue to do so regardless of the recent incidents he has been involved in.

"It's stuck with me and it is absolutely true. I don't know if other drivers have that same feeling, but I definitely do," said the McLaren driver.

Two crashes in each of the last two races in Monaco and Montreal - one of which was with McLaren team-mate Jenson Button during the latter - have drawn considerable criticism.

"I have stood back and had a look at things, and I like the way I drive, so I'm going to continue to drive the way I do," added Hamilton.

"If I wasn't able to drive that way then I just wouldn't enjoy it. Of course you can always make better judgments and better calls.

"But of the 100-odd manoeuvres I've made over the last couple of years you are bound to have some that don't come off so well.

"But sometimes they do, and when they do they are pretty good.

"Of late I've had a bit of a bad run, but hopefully we'll have a more positive run from here.

"When you have a bad day in the office all you can do is try and analyse things, take a step back, reflect, and then move forward in a pro-active way."

The likes of Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, however, have come out in support of Hamilton, insisting he should not change.

Unsure what to make of their approval, Hamilton said: "They're only saying that because I'm not finishing races."

He then added: "But if they're saying that in a positive way then that's fantastic, and it's nice to see there is some support."

One of his detractors, however, remains Ferrari's Felipe Massa, one of the drivers he tangled with in Monte Carlo.

"Everything he did wrong, he paid for it," said Massa.

"He needs to understand the direction he takes with his driving style because anything he does which is not inside the rules, then he will pay."

Source: Planet-F1

Sebastian Vettel F1 Blog: Driver bullish ahead of European Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel tells us about some Spanish traditions ahead of the European Grand Prix in Valencia and how he prefers one type of bull to another...

by Sebastian Vettel on Jun 24, 2011


Don't worry! I won't start my first blog from Spain by going through the whole of my Spanish vocabulary but yesterday I learned the traditional call of the local bull fighters.

I met one yesterday who taught me all about this Spanish tradition. It’s a lot harder than it looks! I’d always thought it was the colour of the cloth that made the bull react, but actually it’s all about the moves the matador makes, which look a lot like dancing.

I'm a lot more confident in my Red Bull than I would ever be in front of an actual bull - not that I ever plan to be! But I sure needed a day to calm down after my last-minute mistake in Canada. Everything's fine again now as I'm not really the kind of guy who spends a lot of time thinking about past mistakes, because it doesn't help.

'I'm not really the kind of guy who spends a lot of time thinking about past mistakes'

Mistakes happen and it's important to pick yourself up again and make sure you don't do the same again.

That's also why I’m so happy being back in Valencia and able to start a bit over again – I just love this track. It’s a beautiful track because it’s so close to the water – we have that part where we race over the bridge – but it's also a tough race.

It's kind of a mix between Montreal and Monaco, with long straights on the one side and a few slow turns on the other. Despite that challenge, I'm quite optimistic about this weekend and I’m sure we’ll do well here.

I also want to say a few words about the rule changes from the last weeks. I think it gets harder and harder to know what is actually allowed and what isn’t, but we will continue to rise to the challenge and I'm positive that my team will as usual find the perfect way to deal with the upcoming changes.

Talk to you tomorrow!


Source: Red Bull

Massa happy with competitive Ferrari

Felipe Massa says he is hopeful that Ferrari will be able to challenge for pole position in the European Grand Prix just as it did in Canada.

Ferrari enjoyed its best qualifying performance of the season in Montreal when Fernando Alonso was second ahead of Massa in third, just 0.2s behind pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel. Massa said that it had been another encouraging day of practice, and that he expected to have a similarly competitive car this weekend.

"I'd say it was a good day, better than many other Fridays this season," Massa said. "From what we could understand after three hours of free practice, the car is pretty competitive and I don't expect the situation to be that different to the one we saw two weeks ago in Canada. It's true it is only Friday, but at least it's a positive start!"

Massa also said that the car was working on the medium compound tyre, but that with such a difference in performance between the two types of available tyre, the balance was proving difficult to perfect.

"The tyres worked well: both the Prime and the Option delivered more grip than we had been expecting going into the weekend. Sure, there's a big difference between the two compounds, but the Medium, with higher temperatures than we saw in Canada, did not do badly. Now we must make the right decision regarding set-up on the car for the next two days. The car balance is not yet perfect - for example we are still locking the fronts too often under braking - but we are working in the right direction. Let's hope we can put up a fight in qualifying, just as we did in Canada."

Source: ESPNF1

Vettel: Bulls won't suffer more than others

Sebastian Vettel is expecting a tight fight for Sunday's European GP victory after Friday's practice saw the top seven separated by just over half a second

Vettel finished Friday's second session in third place with a 1:38.265, just 0.297s down on pace-setter Fernando Alonso.

However, it was a marked improvement on his pace from Practice One when the German, reportedly running without the off-throttle exhaust in preparation for its upcoming ban, was over 2.5s behind team-mate Mark Webber.

That, though, is not the only ban facing the teams as from this weekend's European GP onwards they are no longer permitted to change their engine mapping after qualifying and before the grand prix.

This new ban is expected to hit Red Bull hard as the team are believed to run extreme engine mapping in qualifying before lowering it to safer levels ahead of the grand prix.

"To be honest I can understand that this is news to everyone, and everyone wants to get some information," Vettel told journalists in Valencia on Friday afternoon.

"I can only say that it will affect everyone, when the rules change, but I don't see us suffering more than other people, to be honest.

"Maybe we will be surprised, maybe not. What I can judge now I think we have nothing to be afraid of."

As for his run on Friday morning, reportedly without the off-throttle exhaust, Vettel refused to confirm the reports but did concede to the fact that his programme was "different" to what his rivals were doing.

"Sometimes you try different things. If you're not in the top five or the top 10, clearly you're running a different programme from the others, so that was this morning.

"In the afternoon we were more or less on the same pages as the rest. As you've seen, it's very tight. I had a good feeling, to be honest, it was much better than in the morning.

"It is a Friday, and it's always difficult to see what other people do. The important thing is we are there or thereabouts. It is tight here.

"Last year obviously we had a very good race, but there were a couple of people, Lewis and Fernando in particular, who were very close to us. The race unfolded a bit differently so we had a nice time at the front.

"It changes circuit by circuit. You can't really say that's team A, team B, team C. Sometimes the gaps are bigger, sometimes they are much closer.

"I give you the perfect example - we go to Australia, we are quite a bit quicker than the rest, we come to Malaysia, and we really had to push hard to qualify on pole. That's two weeks, nothing was changed on the cars, it was just a different track.

"That's how it goes. That's why here as we expected it will be very tight."

Source: Planet-F1

Video: BBC - European GP - McLaren in the fight for pole - Lewis Hamilton

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton admits the prime tyres proved difficult to "switch on" but feels he is close to matching the top pace of Ferrari and Red Bull at the European Grand Prix

Source: YouTube

Alonso: Friday's times don't mean much

Fernando Alonso is not putting too much stock in Friday's lap times, insisting that Red Bull are still the favourites to take pole in Valencia

The double World Champ, who has never finished on the podium at the Valencia street circuit, set the pace on Friday afternoon, clocking a 1:37.968.

And although he was quickest by two-tenths ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, the Ferrari driver insists it's too early to say how his 150° Italia will perform as the weekend progresses.

"Overall, a positive start to this Valencia weekend, my second home race," said the Spaniard.

"We got through all our planned programme, working mainly on tyres, where the chief element at this grand prix is the first appearance of the Medium.

"It was important that we were able to do so many laps, because on a circuit like this one, getting a lot of kilometres under your belt helps you gain confidence in the car, looking for the limits and thereby improving performance.

"The track characteristics are well suited to our car, but it is too early to say where we are compared to the others.

"Already, in the past, we have gone well on the first day only to see ourselves losing out by a second in qualifying, therefore I don't even want to consider today's time sheet.

"In FP1 and FP2 you try so many things and the track changes very quickly - even more so on a street circuit like this one - so it is really impossible to make predictions."

The one prediction he is making is that Red Bull, despite the new ban on changing engine mapping after qualifying and ahead of Sunday's race, will still be the team to beat in qualifying.

However, he reckons Ferrari can put up a challenge of their own.

"The car seems to handle well, therefore we can tackle qualifying with confidence, aware that we are up against very strong rivals: it's not by chance that Red Bull have always taken pole in the first seven races of the year and clearly they are still the favourites.

"Overtaking here will be easier than in Monaco, but grid position will nevertheless be important."

Source: Planet-F1

Alonso Tops Closely Contested Practice Two at Valencia

Fernando Alonso set the pace in Friday's second practice for the European GP, which saw four teams represented in the top four

The Ferrari driver posted a 1:37.968 to edge Lewis Hamilton by 0.227s while Sebastian Vettel was a further 0.070s adrift.

Michael Schumacher, who put his Mercedes GP up into fourth place, was just 0.050s behind Vettel with Felipe Massa just over a tenth behind him.

In fact the top seven drivers, which included Jenson Button and Mark Webber, were separated by less than six-tenths of a second.

Report: Track temperature was up to 38'C as Paul di Resta was forced to wait in the pits as his team worked furiously to repair the damage done to his car by Nico Hulkenberg in Practice One. Jerome D'Ambrosio was the first man out, leading the field as the clock began the countdown for Practice Two for the European GP.

Sergio Perez set the early pace with a 1:44.432 before he was overhauled by Pastor Maldonado. But with more drivers heading out it was all change with Felipe Massa, Nick Heidfeld, Vitaly Petrov and Rubens Barrichello all slotting in ahead of them. Massa was in the P1 slot with a 1:40.857. Fernando Alonso was the next to lead the way, 0.203s up on his team-mate.

Sebastian Vettel joined the action, taking third place behind the Ferraris while Lewis Hamilton moved into fourth place. Vettel continued lapping, taking the P1 slot wiht a 1:40.062. Webber joined his team-mate at the front, taking second. Vettel goes even faster, a 1:39.790. Maldonado took fourth on the softer option tyres.

Alonso put in a fastest second sector time but could only close the gap to the leading Bulls. Just 0.128s behind Vettel now. However, the Spaniard's efforts were then undone as Vettel went even quicker, extending his advantage.

Heidfeld was the one who finally overhauled the Red Bulls withe a 1:39.040, using the softer tyres. His reign, though, was short-lived as Rosbert, also on the soft tyres, went 0.028s quicker. But he too lost out rather soon as Webber went 0.481s faster. Webber's time was then topped by Vettel, the German posting a 1:38.265. Hamilton was the next in the P1 slot, 0.070s up on Vettel. Michael Schumacher put his Merc GP into third place, 0.120s off the pace.

And it was all change as Alonso then went quickest, 1:38.184 for the Spaniard. Still no times from di Resta and Jaime Alguersuari, the latter stuck in the pits with an engine problem. Di Resta eventually managed to get out, taking 14th place.

The session ended with Alonso in the P1 slot, followed by Hamilton and Vettel.

01. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.968 35 laps
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m38.195 + 0.227 26 laps
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m38.265 + 0.297 31 laps
4. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m38.315 + 0.347 30 laps
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m38.443 + 0.475 32 laps
6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m38.483 + 0.515 30 laps
7. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m38.531 + 0.563 26 laps
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m38.981 + 1.013 33 laps
9. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m39.040 + 1.072 35 laps
10. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m39.586 + 1.618 27 laps
11. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m39.626 + 1.658 31 laps
12. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m40.020 + 2.052 34 laps
13. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m40.301 + 2.333 34 laps
14. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m40.363 + 2.395 7 laps
15. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m40.454 + 2.486 32 laps
16. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m40.531 + 2.563 37 laps
17. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.083 + 4.115 34 laps
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m42.156 + 4.188 39 laps
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m42.239 + 4.271 25 laps
20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m42.273 + 4.305 21 laps
21. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m42.809 + 4.841 36 laps
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m44.460 + 6.492 29 laps
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m46.906 + 8.938 16 laps

Source: Planet-F1

Practice One: Webber tops the charts at European GP 2011

Mark Webber proved to be the man to beat in Friday's first practice for the European GP, easily outpacing Vitaly Petrov

The Red Bull driver posted a 1:40.403 around the Valencia street circuit, 0.824s up on Petrov while Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was a further 0.012s off the pace.

Lewis Hamilton was fourth quickest, ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Felipe Massa.

As for reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel, he was down in 16th place, 2.538s off the pace.

Reports claim the German's lack of pace was due to him running without the off-throttle exhaust, which will be banned from the next race in Britain.

Report: Track temperature was 28'C as Friday's first practice got underway in Valencia with Sebastian Vettel leading out the field for their installation laps. Nico Rosberg set the first lap time of the session, a 2:06.412 for the Mercedes GP driver. Force India reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg joined the action with a 1:47.942.

He continued lapping, improving his time before his session came to a premature end as the German lost the rear end of his VJM04 - actually Paul di Resta's - under braking, hitting the concrete barriers at Turn 12.

30 minutes in the the session only six drivers, Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado, Jaime Alguersuari, Daniel Ricciardo, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, had set lap times while the others waited for the street circuit to be cleaned and grip to improve.

Maldonado continued running, taking the P1 slot with a 1:43.455. Schumacher overhauled him with a 1:43.050 as Ricciardo took second place. Adrian Sutil jumped to fourth while the two Ferraris were eighth and ninth with Fernando Alonso ahead of Felipe Massa. Both were over a second off the pace.

Massa was the next to lead the way with a 1:42.530 while Nick Heidfeld put his Renault up into second place before he lost out to Sutil. Alonso took over from Massa at the top, 0.847s up on his team-mate's best time. Lewis Hamilton went sixth on his first run with Jenson Button, who won the previous grand prix in Canada, P7.

Problems for Karun Chandhok, who is touring slowly in his Lotus and reporting a problem with his second gear. The Lotus test driver, who is taking Jarno Trulli's drive for this session, headed back into the pits. Sutil climbed to second place, splitting the two Ferraris. Mark Webber joined the action, taking sixth place. The Red Bull driver improved to second on his next lap. Button climbed to fourth.

Webber took over at the top, setting the fastest first and third sector time, on his way to a 1:40.597. His team-mate Vettel was down in 18th place, over three seconds off the pace, with reports claiming he is running without the off-throttle exhaust as it will be banned from the next race in Britain.

With 30 minutes remaining, Webber was leading the way ahead of Alonso, Massa, Button, Sutil, Hamilton, Heidfeld and Rosberg. Problems for Vitaly Petrov, who Renault report has burnt his back in his overheating R30.

Webber upped his pace, shaving tenths off his time while Petrov was finally back in the car, moving up from 11th to fourth place. The Russian took over six-tenths off his time to climb to second place behind Webber and ahead of Alonso. Hamilton put in a better lap, taking fourth place. However, the McLaren driver was still over a second off the pace.

Practice One ended with Webber in the P1 slot with a 1:40.403, 0.824s ahead of Petrov and a further 0.012 up on Alonso.

01. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m40.403 22 laps
02. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m41.227 + 0.824 20 laps
03. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m41.239 + 0.836 22 laps
04. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m41.510 + 1.107 23 laps
05. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m41.580 + 1.177 24 laps
06. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m41.758 + 1.355 23 laps
07. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m41.926 + 1.523 14 laps
08. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m41.955 + 1.552 20 laps
09. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m42.043 + 1.640 22 laps
10. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m42.216 + 1.813 29 laps
11. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m42.270 + 1.867 26 laps
12. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m42.412 + 2.009 27 laps
13. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m42.704 + 2.301 23 laps
14. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.738 + 2.335 20 laps
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m42.841 + 2.438 28 laps
16. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m42.941 + 2.538 21 laps
17. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m43.201 + 2.798 18 laps
18. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m43.769 + 3.366 7 laps
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m44.136 + 3.733 17 laps
20. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m45.026 + 4.623 17 laps
21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m45.221 + 4.818 19 laps
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m45.494 + 5.091 24 laps
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m46.926 + 6.523 27 laps
24. Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault 2 laps

Source: Planet-F1

Video: McLaren Automotive opens its first showroom in London (One Hyde Park)

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button with McLaren Automotive Executive Chairman, Ron Dennis in London

Source: NextgenAuto

McLaren boss comments on rumors about Hamilton, Button!

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh won't have any of the rumors suggesting that his current drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button might be seeking greener pastures at other teams. Whitmarsh believes both of the drivers are happy at McLaren.

- As a general statement we've got two great drivers in the team and I think they enjoy being in this team. They both want to win and I think we've seen them racing each other and other cars to prove that. We'll talk about the future with them when the time comes, but at the moment we're not planning on a different driver line-up, Whitmarsh insists on ESPNf1.

- I think ultimately Lewis will decide where he's going, but I think he enjoys being in this team. Lewis as a top driver will be linked to any team that the media think can afford him or satisfy his expectations. I don't pay too much attention to what's written in the media, in my experience it hasn't been a good guide to what is really happening in driver negotiations.

Recently Lewis Hamilton has been linked to Red Bull, as he allegedly had a chat with Red Bull's team principal during the Canadian GP in Montréal.

Source: RacingNewsFlash

Lux files criminal complaint against Sutil

Genii chief executive Eric Lux has filed an official legal complaint against Force India driver Adrian Sutil in the aftermath of a violent incident, involving the two, in a Shanghai M1NT nightclub in April.

Lux, who is part of the senior management of the Renault F1 team, was allegedly cut on his neck with a broken champagne glass by Sutil.

The Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung reported late on Wednesday that the Lux finally filed a complaint, probably some time last week.

“There is a pending complaint for grievous bodily harm against Herr Sutil,” a spokesman for the prosecutor confirmed.

Sutil’s manager Manfred Zimmermann commented: “We are confident the court will come to the conclusion that this was not about Adrian attacking anybody.”

Zimmermann added that, following an initial contact during which Lux demanded that Sutil sit out some grands prix, there have been no other talks about an out-of-court settlement.

FAZ said the prosecutors will investigate Lux’s complaint and then decide whether to bring charges.

Source: YallaF1

Marko says exhaust curbs favour Ferrari

Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko has continued to vent against the FIA’s controversial clampdown on blown exhausts.

La Stampa newspaper quotes the Austrian as suspecting Red Bull’s rivals moved to outlaw the technology after experiencing the dominance of the Adrian Newey penned RB7.

“If the others cannot copy us, they ask for our ideas to be banned,” he reportedly said.

“This definitely favours Ferrari, and the decision seems to have been taken by give them an advantage,” added Marko, who is Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz’s right hand man.

Formula 1′s governing body is headed by the former long time Ferrari team principal Jean Todt.
Marko had already slammed the timing of the blown exhaust clampdown, after previously banned innovations like the F-duct and double diffusers were banned at the end of the relevant season.

“This is quite a serious intervention in a solidly developed structure,” German reports quote Marko saying.

But runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel seems less worried.

“I think it (the ban) could even be good, as it will cause bigger problems for the Mercedes powered teams,” claimed the World Champion.

Source: YallaF1

Webber: We must adapt to new regulations

Mark Webber has admitted that Red Bull will ‘have to adapt’ to the rule changes being introduced at this weekend’s European Grand Prix, with the gains from exhaust-blown diffusers set to be significantly reduced. The concept was first introduced by the Milton Keynes-based squad in 2010, making use of hot flowing gases by channeling them over the rear of the car when drivers are ‘off-throttle’ to increase cornering speeds.

"I don't think they will make the car any faster, but I think it is the same for everybody," the Australian said on Thursday. "We have got to adapt again, get used to it, but it is nothing new for our team to adapt to a change in regulations. All the teams have to adapt and see what they can do to do the best out of it."

Despite the restrictions that have been put in place, Webber believes the current pecking order will remain relatively unchanged over the next few races.

"I don't think it is going to turn the field upside down," he added. "I think everyone will still be in reasonable shape. McLaren and Ferrari are fast, we know that. We are quick but, the changes, whether they will turn the championship around, I think it is unlikely."

A complete blown diffuser cut down has been confirmed for the British Grand Prix next month, with Renault Technical Director James Allison explaining earlier in the week: "When the driver lifts his foot fully off the throttle pedal, then the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) maps must be set up so that the engine closes the throttle."

"Previously, it was possible to configure the engine maps to leave the throttle open and reduce the engine power by other means."


Alonso: Plenty of time to recover

Although Fernando Alonso admits it has been a "very bad season" for Ferrari, he reckons there's still time to turn it around

Ferrari have had a lacklustre start to this year's campaign, failing to win a single grand prix. Their best result to date was Alonso's second placed finish at the Monaco GP.

As a result, the Italian stable is trailing Red Bull Racing by 154 points, prompting talk that they could switch their focus to 2012 if things do not improve in the next two races.

And Alonso concedes, it has been a "very bad" start to the Championship.

"When you are in Ferrari, this is the pressure, you need to win every race and every Championship," he said.

"So it seems it has been a very bad season so far because we are Ferrari.

"At the moment, it's difficult to win a race.

"There is no doubt that in Monaco and Canada we had the opportunity to win the race. That is fact, it's not a dream. We were very close, we were 10cm from winning in Monaco.

"The last two races the trend is quite good and we have improved and seem to be competitive.

"The characteristics of the circuit in Valencia are similar to Monaco and Canada so maybe here we will again be competitive.

"But we must not forget that we are sometimes one second behind (Red Bull) in qualifying and with this it's difficult to win."

However, the Spaniard is refusing to give up just yet, confident that Ferrari still have time to turn their season around.

"We need to have the best car and then we can win the title," he said.

"There is plenty of time and plenty of races to recover. If we are fifth or sixth as we are normally in qualifying it is very difficult.

"But the Championship is long. We need to concentrate race-by-race and to be on the podium in every race - this is our aim, this is our goal.

"We need to respect our opponents and to understand that in some places and in some races we cannot do that."

Source: Planet-F1

Robby Gordon: Räikkönen will drive Sprint Cup!

NASCAR driver Robby Gordon confirmed recently to ESPN that Kimi Räikkönen trashed his number one car during a testing period on May. Gordon was supposed to drive it next weekend at Infineon Raceway, in Sonoma.

Should Räikkönen not have wrecked the car, it would have been likely that he would have raced in the Sonoma Sprint Cup GP himself.

Gordon also said that the car Räikkönen wrecked has been at the shop the last few weeks.

Räikkönen still wants to race in NASCAR, and Gordon presumes that this will happen at Watkins Glen on August 13, at the very latest.

Source: RacingNewsFlash
Courtesy: luieluv

Photos: Jenson & Lewis join Ron Dennis for launch of retail network

McLaren Automotive opened the doors to its first dedicated McLaren retailer, McLaren London, with a star-studded celebration at its One Hyde Park, Knightsbridge location on June 21. By the end of 2011, McLaren will have 35 bespoke retailers in 19 countries worldwide. All have been carefully selected by McLaren to offer the best in customer sales and service for a range of high-performance sports cars, beginning with the ground-breaking McLaren MP4-12C.

The opening, hosted by our drivers, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, together with McLaren Group and McLaren Automotive Executive Chairman, Ron Dennis, celebrated ‘Defining Moments in Time’.

Recognizing the launch of the global network of McLaren car retailers, and the arrival of the first ‘pure’ McLaren sports car, the event also presented past McLaren track successes with iconic trophies and two of Lewis Hamilton’s race-winning Formula 1 cars

Source: Facebook

This is how Lewis Hamilton replied to MTV3-readers questions

Readers from MTV3 were offered a chance to send questions to McLaren's F1-driver Lewis Hamilton and the British team's technical department in May

Hamilton replied to two questions from the readers and McLaren's technical manager Indy Lall also replied to two questions.

Do you ever get bored in a F1-car? I don't mean races, I mean for example the 2nd practice session when you test some small changes in setups by driving on a long straight. Have you ever secretly yawned for example at that time?

Lewis Hamilton:
I don't think that one can ever get bored when driving these cars because driving them is so much fun. I have drove tests on long straights, which starts to repeat itself very much but that isn't still boring at all, because we are talking about driving a F1-car (nevermind if it's on a repetitive track). You don't fall asleep behind the wheel but the day can get long. It's never boring to drive during GP-weekends.

Which similarities and on the other hand differences are there between F1- cars and NASCAR-cars?

Lewis Hamilton:
I think that it could be a little more easier to overtake with a NASCAR-car. It's really difficult with a F1-car and they always change the regulations to make overtaking easier, but when you are driving it is really difficult to get near another car so you can overtake. In NASCAR again it's a bit easier for the drivers to get closer to each other and get a chance to overtake. I think it would suit me too, I would probably enjoy it very much! I believe that there is a certain way by which you have to drive a F1-car so you can get out all possible grip from the downforce. When driving with a regular car again you look more for the mechanical grip. It was really much fun to drive again with a real transmission and a car that had a clutch. The car had immense powers and also quite good brakes. They belittled it to me by saying "you probably won't like this as much as...", but I was all smiles the whole time.

(Hamilton recently tried out a NASCAR-car in a car-show in US)

Do you think aerodynamics has a too significant role in F1 (compared to NASCAR's approach), although it does enable a superior performance ability?

Indy Lall:
Well, in F1-regulations they allow taking advantage of aerodynamics and you have to operate within those rules. All teams use it and as a matter of fact the smart designers and engineers create revolutionary changes. In NASCAR it's much more restricted. NASCAR is actually an equal playfield for all teams and there is a difference of less than half a second between the pole and the last grid. In F1 the difference is naturally much bigger. This bigger difference is the result of how the best teams can squeeze out everything possible from the regulations.

What kind of technical changes will be needed in F1-cars for season 2013 if the four-cylinder turbo engines will become true?

Indy Lall:
Changing into a smaller engine will immediately affect the car's weight, and I believe the changes will depend upon what the engine's fuel consumption will be. If the engine consumes a lot, naturally there has to be more fuel in the car. It's quite a challenge to fit in a smaller engine so that the solution offers the engineers new possibilities to develop the car aerodynamic. That's why I believe that the most revolutionary changes will take place in aerodynamics and reliability, which again is achieved due to new parts, like the engine.

Source: MTV3
Courtesy: Nicole