In the advent of Mercedes’ emergence as the dominant force in Formula One, the term ‘on a knife edge’ has seldom been used. However, there is now no better way to describe the season...
Tagged: Grand Prix
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel took a dominant victory at the 2009 season finale in Abu Dhabi this evening, beating team-mate Mark Webber home by 17 seconds to secure the team’s fourth 1-2 finish in impressive style. After a largely processional race, Webber and champion-elect Jenson Button brought the race to life in the closing laps with a nail-biting duel, with Webber somehow managing to hold off the faster Brawn.
At the start, Lewis Hamilton kept the lead from pole position, with the rest of the field slotting behind in grid order. Despite expectations of Hamilton cruising into the distance, the Briton was unable to shake off the challenge of Vettel in the opening stint, and duly lost the lead after the first round of pitstops, before retiring with brake problems soon after.
Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this evening in the Middle East, after going over two thirds of a second quicker than his nearest rival in qualifying. Despite leading Q1 and Q2 earlier in the qualifying hour, strong competition from Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber forced the Briton to go for broke, and ultimately eased ahead of the Red Bulls to take his fourth pole position of the season.
With the tyres proving difficult to warm up for a single-lap run, all drivers opted for one multi-lap stint on the harder tyre in Q3, with Hamilton emerging from the pitlane in time for just four flying laps compared to his rivals’ five. After scuffing his first flyer by running wide at turn 17, Hamilton bolted to the top of the timesheets with a 1m41.773s on the second time of asking.
Jenson Button secured his first drivers’ world champion with his drive of the season at Interlagos this afternoon, finishing a hugely deserving fifth to put the title beyond the reach of his nearest rivals. A number of first-lap crashes promoted Button to ninth on the first lap, and from there a catalogue of daring overtaking manoeuvres ensured he would take the crown, even before closest rival Rubens Barrichello dropped down the field with a puncture.
Out in front, Mark Webber won the race comfortably from BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica, while McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton took an unlikely third after overtaking Barrichello ten laps from the end. Barrichello, after looking on-course for a deserved win in the opening stint, got caught in traffic after his first pitstop, and faded to a probable third place before losing the place to Hamilton, with a seemingly harmless tap with the Briton causing a left-rear puncture, dropping him to eighth and putting his world championship charge to bed for another year.
After getting final practice compressed into 13 minutes of running this morning, heavy rain caused chaos once again this afternoon with a hugely disrupted qualifying session taking almost two and three quarter hours to be completed. In the end though, it was a wait well worth it for the Brazilian fans as Brawn’s Rubens Barrichello kept his championship fight alive with a superb pole position, made all the sweeter by team-mate and championship leader Jenson Button doing no better than 14th.
Despite continual heavy rain and generally poor track conditions, qualifying got underway as planned at 14.00 local time, before the red flags predictably emerged after four minutes when Giancarlo Fisichella spun to a halt at turn 2. After a 14-minute delay, the action resumed to the finish of Q1, with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton being one of the notable victims of the poor conditions, aqua planing off the track at turn 5.
Lewis Hamilton cruised to a comfortable Grand Prix victory in Singapore tonight, claiming the ten points on offer after a faultless drive from pole position. Starting at the front of the grid, with KERS and a considerable fuel load on-board meant Hamilton was always going to be the firm favourite for victory, but the Briton had to work hard for his reward at the toughest race on the F1 calendar.
At the start, Hamilton got away cleanly and led by the first corner while behind, Nico Rosberg benefitted from starting on the clean side of the track to jump Sebastian Vettel. Further behind Webber was able to hold off the stern challenge of Fernando Alonso on the opening lap, but only by running off the circuit. Ninth-place Barrichello made a super getaway to gain two places by the end of the first lap, while team-mate Button crucially got past Nakajima to climb to 10th.
Hamilton had been on the pace throughout the session, and was the last to post his first timed lap in Q3, taking provisional pole. But with only one run remaining for all drivers, Rubens Barrichello brought out the red flags when he crashed at turn 5, damaging the left side of his car. Although he was able to emerge unscathed from the crash, the red flag meant the session was effectively over, with just 26 seconds left on the clock.
Hamilton then claimed pole thanks to his initial lap of 1m47.891s, with the rest of the top ten also decided on the first run of flying laps. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel took second place alongside Hamilton with a 1m48.204s, followed Nico Rosberg (1m48.348s) producing a fantastic performance in his Williams. The German had gone quickest of all in Q2, setting the weekend’s fastest time at 1m46.197s, but fell back slightly with race fuel in Q3.
Jenson Button wins Spanish Grand Prix as this is his fourth victory of this season. Despite he has been passed by Barrichello at the start, Brawn changed him to a two stop strategy while Rubens was on a three stop. Barrichello finished second ahead of Webber who has made best use of softer tyre in his second long stint. He is followed by team mate Vettel. Vettel’s race passed at the rear of Massa thankls to a good start with use of KERS.
Due to a fuel rig problem at Mass’s last pit stop, Massa was forced to conserve fuel and drop two places during the closing laps. Alonso passed Massa at last lap while he was 16 seconds behind him until Massa started to slow down. Alonso finished fifth. Massa finished sixth just 1.6 seconds in front of Heidfeld. The last point scorer was Rosberg ashe finished eight.
The Grand Prix circuit near Barcelona is one that every F1 team knows well from the hundreds of kilometres of testing carried out there over the winter. Few venues offer such a variety of medium and high-speed corners and it is widely acknowledged as the definitive aero circuit that provides a stern test of an F1 car. With few big braking zones and so many high-speed corners, overtaking remains extremely difficult and a good qualifying performance and sensible strategy are paramount for a successful weekend.
Aerodynamic efficiency is always a key factor at Barcelona, although the introduction of the chicane at the end of the lap in recent years has replaced on of the most critical high-speed parts of the lap and means the track is not as demanding as it once was. Even so, the circuit remains the ultimate test of a car’s aero package and teams will run with high downforce levels to ensure competitiveness over the whole lap.
BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica and Toyota’s Jarno Trulli on their dramatic collision; Force India’s Adrian Sutil on being less than six laps from scoring his team’s first points; and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber on their spectacular one-two victory. All 20 drivers and senior team personnel report back on Sunday’s race…