Category Archives: Felipe Massa

Lewis Hamilton in Italy in Pictures (2010)

So, this is the first dedicated Lewis Hamilton post after yesterday’s epiphany – enjoy the photos!

During Free Practice on Friday 10th September
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During Free Practice on Friday 10th September
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During Free Practice on Friday 10th September – inside a cloud?
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During Qualifying on Saturday 11th September
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After Qualifying on Saturday 11th September
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Just moments before he retired from the race on Sunday 12th September
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Hamilton clashes with Massa – race over

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Filed under Felipe Massa, In Pictures, Italian, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren

Was Hungary the turning point for McLaren, again?

Last year Lewis Hamilton achieved McLaren’s first race win of the season at the Hungaroring. This year Hamilton retired on lap 23 with a gearbox failure while Jenson Button came in 8th, behind Pedro de la Rosa, Nico Hulkenberg and Vitaly Petrov, as well as the 2 Ferraris and the 2 Red Bulls. In 2009 the Hungarian Grand Prix marked the return to form of the McLaren as Lewis Hamilton went in to gain more points in the 2nd hlaf of the season than any any other driver. This year I fear it could be a turning point of a different kind.

At the rick of being labelled pessimistic, I do fear that Hungary showcased just how far McLaren are falling behind the Red Bulls and Ferraris. Before Hamilton’s retirement he’d performed far better than the car by getting past Felipe Massa in the pits and moving from 5th place to 4th place, while Jenson Button had been languishing in 10th place, at least a slight improvement on his 14th place starting position. In qualifying Hamilton drove out of his skin just to get 5th place on the grid while Button failed to make Q3 and started in 11th. Bad qualifying had been a constant during Button’s season and it’s a testament to his race performance, and some luck, that he currently sits in 4th place in the Driver’s Championship.

While a 5th place start for Hamilton might not sound catastrophic, he was nowhere near the pace of the Ferraris and Red Bulls and the gap seems to be increasing with each race. Like McLaren last year, Ferrari have made a remarkable comeback and with some questionable tactics have catapulted Fernando Alonso right up into Championship contention. Hamilton meanwhile has relinquished the Championship lead to Mark Weber, who leads by 10 points, and is being chased down by Vettel who is just 6 points behind him, and 4 points ahead of Button, who himself is 6 points ahead of Alonso.

After the Hungarian Grand Prix McLaren also lost the lead in the Constructor’s Championship with Red Bull now ahead of them by 8 points. In fear that’s a lead that McLaren won’t be reclaiming, as performance issues aside Jenson Button seems to be falling more out of love with his car with every race. It’s a little similar to last year where Button suffered a drop in performance, such that he was almost caught by both Vettel and Barichello. of course last year he had a cushion of 6 wins, not something he can rely on this year.

Lewis Hamilton on the other hand, while not driving the best car, can always be relied on to get at least 100% out of the car and often more, retirements aside. But is that enough to make an impact in the last 7 races and give Hamilton a chance at becoming a 2-time World Champion? If I had to bet on a McLaren driver winning the 2010 Driver’s Championship I have to confess that’s not a bet I’d be putting much money on, though the combination of McLaren development and Hamilton driving is one that always has the potential to surprise and perform.

Am I being too negative? Maybe, but the speed of the 2 teams in front of McLaren is frightening, at least to a McLaren fan. Am I also being a bit harsh on Jenson Button? Again, maybe, but he does seem to under perform unless he’s 100% happy with his car and frankly in this race for the title we need more. With Red Bull’s apparent driver friction and Ferrari’s alleged team orders, I sometimes wonder if the harmonious atmosphere in the McLaren garage couldn’t benefit from a bit more fight between the two drivers. It’s great for PR to have 2 drivers getting along so well but is it really conducive to the best results on track?

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Filed under Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Hungarian, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel

The catch-up blog: Barcelona, Monaco and boredom!

First off, apologies for the lack of updates – I was on holiday and then when we got back I was poorly (ahhh!) and work and other things have been really hectic, so yeah, sorry!

OK, that over with, what’s been going on in Formula 1? Well, to start with I found the Spanish Grand Prix from last week to be the most boring race I have ever seen, and this is coming from someone who wasn’t bored during the Bahrain Grand Prix from, earlier in the season. To make matters worse, Lewis Hamilton has the tyre/wheel problem on the penultimate lap which saw him crash out, and with it the opportunity to go second in the Championship. Instead of being just a few points behind then leader Jenson Button, he was left floundering 21 points behind his team mate.

Fast forward a week and while qualifying was a lot of fun, it seemed that Lewis and Jenson were really struggling to get anything out of the car, which was reflected in the qualifying positions of 5th (Lewis) and 8th (Jenson). The race saw Jenson retire from an over-heated car during the first couple of laps under safety car conditions – something about a bung left in!? Lewis went on to keep his 5th place, but never looked like he would have troubled Felipe Massa even if over-taking was possible.

Confession time – I don’t get the Monaco Grand Prix! Sure it’s a spectacular location but it’s somewhat of a procession, and doesn’t seem to provide much in the way of action, at least from my limited experience of watching races from there. This week’s race, for example, was pretty dull, and the only thing of interest was seeing how much of a lead Mark Weber could build up after each session of safety car racing. Please, can someone explain to me why the Monaco race is so revered?

I’m hoping that we see some interesting races over the next few weeks and months, because these last 2 races have all but destroyed my enthusiasm. I have no doubt I’ll bounce back with my usual exuberance once we see some action, and with it lots of blog updates and discussion. Till then, fill me in on the Monaco love and let me know what you thought of the last 2 races.

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Filed under Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, Monaco, Spanish

The Hamilton Highlight Reel Continues in Malaysia

We all expected rain, there was none. Most expected the Red Bulls to break down, they didn’t. Just what can you rely on in Formula 1 these days? The answer to that question is Lewis Hamilton. Yesterday’s race in Sepang was just another example of superb driving and passionate racing from the 2008 World Champion. In the first lap alone Hamilton made up 8 places from the 20th place he started, to 12th.

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Aside from the tussle between Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, the cameras were rightly on Hamilton for the majority of the race, despite the runaway success of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Weber at the front. For those bemoaning this season for it’s lack of overtaking, Hamilton was there to give a master class, as he passed one driver after another. It was with ease that he did this until he came upon the Renault of Vitaly Petrov, who proved to be a more troublesome rival than Hamilton’s previous victims.

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When Hamilton finally got past Petrov he was accused of excessive weaving, something which the stewards saw fit to warn him about but not take the matter any further. Of course this has angered some people, forgetting how Hamilton has been on the very harsh end of some decisions in recent years, not forgetting McLaren’s £100,000,000 fine for the whole Ferrari ‘spy-gate’ situation while Renault get told not to do it again after fixing a race by having one of their drivers crash his car on purpose! I think it’s about time someone in a McLaren car got let off lightly.

It was a magnificent drive by Lewis Hamilton, who ended up finishing 6th, and would have progressed even further had his good friend Adrian Sutil proven to be the one car he couldn’t get past. With an equally good Mercedes engine in his Force India car, Sutil defended excellently against the rampaging Hamilton.
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While not being able to match Lewis Hamilton’s success, Jenson Button did well to improve from his 17th place qualifying position on the grid to 8th place in the race. He went up the outside at the start of the race and Lewis went up the inside, and whether it be luck, judgement or both, it was the inside line that gave Lewis the advantage. For the second race in a row Jenson Button made a decision to come in for a tyre change early and this looked like it may be fortuitous and see him ahead of the Ferraris and Lewis Hamilton after their pit stops. It did get him past Alonso and Massa but not Hamilton, though only by a whisker as the two were side by side when Hamilton rejoined the race track. Button ended up being overtaken by Massa and looked like he would fall victim to Alonso too but the Spaniards car disagreed and came to a smoke engulfed halt at track side.

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After what appeared to be a disastrous Saturday’s qualifying, McLaren came back fighting and made sure they stayed well in the title race. I personally found the race very entertaining and particularly exciting it times. being a McLaren fan has had its advantages this season as the lion’s share of the action and intrigue has surrounded Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. With The Red Bull failures in Bahrain and Australia, Mercedes (Michael Schumacher) and Ferrari’s break down in Malaysia, McLaren can hold there heads up high as the kost reliable of the 4 front running teams, something which will serve them very well over the course of a season.

Before I go, just let me remind you of the predictions I made for the Malaysian Grand Prix:

1st – Vettel – Correct
2nd – Weber – Correct
3rd Rosberg – Correct
6th Hamilton – Correct
9th Button – Incorrect, but only one place out!

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Filed under Adrian Sutil, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Force India, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Malaysian, McLaren, Red Bull, Vitaly Petrov

Qualifying: Malaysia 2010 – McLaren Gamble and Lose

There isn’t a great deal to write in this blog, it was wet in Malaysia and instead of getting a lap in early to ensure going through to Q2, McLaren left things rather late and the result of that was Lewis Hamilton qualifying on 20th place for tomorrow’s race. Jenson Button had mixed luck in that his fastest time was good enough for 17th place, just one place above the drop zone. However, he then slipped off the track and couldn’t move his car, this meant he could take no further part in qualifying.

Jenson Button in Malaysia, when it was actually dry!

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

So, after the awesome performance of the McLarens in the three sessions (Lewis 1st, 1st, 2nd and Jenson
3rd, 4th, 7th), they start tomorrow’s race in 17th and 20th. The only saving grace is that the Ferraris played the same waiting game, and also lost out. Fernando Alonso starts in 19th place and Felipe Massa starts in 21st place, with Lewis Hamilton in the middle.

Lewis Hamilton on the wet track in Sepang

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

If Lewis doesn’t have a good race tomorrow, and make up a lot of places, then starting in 2nd place, it’s likely that Nico Rosberg will overtake him in the Drivers’ Championship, and he could very well overtake Jenson too. With Mark Weber in pole position and Sebastian Vettel in 3rd it’ll be interesting to see if they score well tomorrow rather than succumb to mechanical failure and mistakes as has dogged them in the previous 2 races of the 2010 season.

You’ll remember that last year the rain was so bad that the race never got to a natural finish and drivers were awarded half points due to the short length of the race. This is all because Bernie Ecclestone wants a later start time so as to be more amenable for European viewers – thanks, but given the immense rains that we know will fall, and have done already, would it not be wiser to start the race earlier?

Jenson Button, close up!

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

That said, with the likes of Hamilton, Button, Alonso and Massa looking to battle the way through to the front, we could be in for a tremendous race…as long as we don’t just see a procession behind the safety car followed by an early finish, again.

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Filed under Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Malaysian, Mark Weber, McLaren, Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel

Bahrain Grand Prix 2010 – Fantastic 3rd for Lewis Hamilton

Let me just remind you of the predictions I made before the race:

1st – Fernando Alonso
2nd – Sebastian Vettel
3rd – Lewis Hamilton

7th – Jenson Button

3 out of 4 is pretty damn good! It was a bit of luck that got Lewis Hamilton his 1st podium finish of the season as he managed to jump Nico Rosberg thanks to Rosberg being held back because of Jenson Button entering the pits. And who said Hamilton and Button could’t work as a team?

Things didn’t start so well for Lewis as he was over-taken by Nico Rosberg at the start. Before the race there were worries that Lewis may be heavy on the tyres, and that would be to the detriment of his race performance. Not only did he cope very well but he mentioned over the radio that Rosberg was holding him up and once in clear space was putting in fast laps up their with the best of them.

Jenson himself lost a place at the start, and mirroring Lewis, he too gained that place back during the tyre change stop. After the race he said that he’d been conserving his tyres in the first stint and thought maybe he’d come in too early. After the one and only pit stop Jenson stayed behind Schumacher for the whole race, who he said held him up but there was no chance to overtake. After qualifying 8th, Jenson finished in 7th in his first race with McLaren.

As the race progressed it became clear that race leader Sebastian Vettel had a problem with his car. This turned out to be an exhaust failure which allowed eventual winner Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and then Lewis Hamilton to pass him. So from a superb 4th place qualifying, Lewis ended up on the podium in 3rd – an excellent start to the season.

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While being interviewed on the BBC F1 Forum Jenson was asked about the 40+ second gap between him and the Ferraris, to which he responded by pointing out that Hamilton was a lot closer at 20+ seconds behind. It was nice to see that Jenson both sees that there is more to get out of the car from him and that Hamilton performed better. So far the McLaren team seem to all be working very well as a team – could Lewis have finally found the perfect team mate?

Lewis gets 15 points for 3rd place while Jenson gets 6 points for 7th place. With a total of 21 points McLaren currently sit 2nd on the Constructor’s Championship, 22 points behind Ferrari and 3 points ahead of Mercedes.

What has become evident after this weekend is that qualification is more important than ever, something Lewis and especially Jenson will have to work on. It wasn’t the most interesting of races and it remains to be seen if this was the result of the no refuelling rule change or the lack of overtaking chances at the Bahrain circuit. As a McLaren fan I’m very pleased with how things have gone this weekend, as it seemed they could have gone a lot worse at one point.

Also worthy of a mention is Heikki Kovalainen, who finished 15th in his Lotus, the highest position of all the new cars.

Race Results (courtesy of Sidepodcast.com):

1 Fernando Alonso 1hr 39:20.4
2 Felipe Massa +16.0
3 Lewis Hamilton +23.1
4 Sebastian Vettel +38.7
5 Nico Rosberg +40.02
6 Michael Schumacher +44.1
7 Jenson Button +45.2
8 Mark Webber +46.3
9 Tonio Liuzzi +53.0
10 Rubens Barrichello +6
11 Robert Kubica +69.0
12 Adrian Sutil +82.9
13 Jaime Alguersuari +92.6
14 Nico Hulkenberg +1 Lap
15 Heikki Kovalainen +2 Laps
16 Sebastien Buemi +3 Laps
17 Jarno Trulli +3 Laps
DNF Pedro de la Rosa Lap 30
DNF Bruno Senna Lap 18
DNF Timo Glock Lap 17
DNF Vitaly Petrov Lap 14
DNF Kamui Kobayashi Lap 12
DNF Lucas di Grassi Lap 3
DNF Karun Chandhok Lap 2

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Filed under Bahrain, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel

Race Prediction: Bahrain Grand Prix 2010

1st – Fernando Alonso
2nd – Sebastian Vettel
3rd – Lewis Hamilton

7th – Jenson Button

I know Felipe Massa qualified above both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, but I have a feeling that today is the Spaniards day and he’ll have a fairytale first race with Ferrari. I’m banking on Lewis having better race pace than in qualifying, plus I’m letting my heart rule my head a bit with my prediction of him coming in 3rd, and his first podium of many this season.

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Jenson looked like he was struggling with the car yesterday, but I still think he’ll make up a place to 7th, though he’ll finish the race somewhat frustrated with himself and the car. Whatever happens today, the guy who comes in first will not only win the race but get a huge 25 points to lead the Driver’s Championship. If a team gets a 1-2 finish then they’ll be leading the Constructor’s Championship with 43 points!

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Filed under Adrian Sutil, Bahrain, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Race Predictions, Sebastian Vettel