Category Archives: Nico Rosberg

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

Is 2010 the most eagerly anticipated Formula 1 season ever?

I personally have been counting down the days till the start of the 2010 F1 season, and from the amount of people on Twitter, websites and other Formula 1 blogs, I’d say I’m not alone. The anticipation and almost lack of patience to get to the Bahrain Grand Prix seems to have Grand Prix Fever at an all time fever this year, but why is that? I don’t think it’s one thing, but many factors are contributing to people’s desire to see the season start.

The Brawn Dominance of 2009
Last year Brawn, and in fact Jenson Button himself, won 6 out of the first 7 Grands Prix.The extra months of development put in by Honda before the buyout gave them an insurmountable advantage and though Red Bull gave them a few tense moments towards the end, the season was almost over before the halfway point. As such fans never got much of a competition last year and after the nail biting climax of both the 2007 and 2008 seasons, they are desperate for a Formula 1 season with some exciting rivalries and championship battles.

The Return of Michael Schumacher
Love him or hate him there is no other driver in the history of Formula 1 who has made such an impact as Michael Schumacher. At 41 years old and after 3 years away from the sport as an active driver, he’s back. Just what effect will that have on the other drivers and the season as a whole? Speaking for myself, I am relatively new to Formula 1, at least as fan at the level where I watch everything, every week. That means I’ve never watched every race in a season where Schumacher has dominated, or at least been a factor in determining who would be champion. To have him on track at the same time as drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel is a mouth watering prospect, and has brought even more attention to an already fascinating 2010 season.

McLaren’s Poor 2009 Season
While the second half of the 2009 season was one of improvement and success, the first half was so bad that McLaren failed, at least by their standards. As a McLaren fan it was very disappointing not to be in the championship race, neither for the drivers or constrictor. Testing seems to have gone well for McLaren so I’m anticipating starting the 2010 season with a chance of victory from the very first race, and that alone is enough for any fan of McLaren to want to get the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend started as soon as possible. The sooner we see success in 2010, the sooner we can forget the mediocrity of 2009.

Most Competitive Season in Recent History
McLaren and Ferrari seem to have pulled themselves back from the doldrums of 2009, we have no reason to believe Red Bull have dropped performance from being the fastest car on the grid last year and Mercedes have taken over the championship winning car of last year and have had an off-season of development with a high level of funding. Add Williams and BMW Sauber Ferrari (wow, that’ll take some getting used to) into the mix and it’s looking like we are in for a season with more possible race winners than there has been for a long time. The first few races may tell a different story but on paper it would appear we are in for a very exciting season, and one which will see the championship race go right to the very end with no clear favourites right now.

New Teams and Drivers
Lotus, HRT and Virgin are brand new to 2010, while Sauber and Mercedes have been taken over fro the teams they were on 2009. Add in new names to Formula 1 like Bruno Senna, Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg plus the likes of Pedro de la Rosa, Lucas di Grassi, Vitantonio Liuzzi & Kamui Kobayashi and the 2010 season has a grid that looks vastly different to 2009, both in quantity of cars n the grid and the number of new or returning names behind the wheel. While a lot of these drivers may not be vying for the lead themselves, what they do on track will inevitably affect those that are gunning for big points – remember Spa last year?

Rule Changes
There have been a multitude of rule changes for the upcoming season but the three that make the most difference, at least from my perspective, are:

  • No refuelling during the race – this means that the cars have to fuel up at the start of the race with a full tank, enough to last them the whole race. This has a massive effect on qualifying where we used to see cars fuel light for pole position but have to come into the pits early in the race for more fuel. Conversely, some cars would fuel a bit heavier hoping the extra laps they stayed out would be enough to keep them in the lead after their later pit stop.
  • Tyres at end of qualifying just be used for the start of the race which gives way to one of two strategies; 1) Choose soft tyres in order to get near the start of the grid, but suffer greater wear with a heavy fuel load at the start of the race, or 2) choose the harder tyre and maybe not qualify as well, but have less wear on the tyres from the race start and thus go longer and better on the first set of tyres.
  • New Points System – this is the big one, and has been put in place to encourage drivers to go for the win every time rather being satisfied with a 2nd place finish. Where 1st, 2nd and 3rd used to earn the drivers 10, 8 and 6 points respectively – those positions now get a driver 25, 18 and 15 points. This means that someone who has fallen behind in the points after a few races could see some successful car upgrades catapult him back up to the top of the leader board with a couple of wins. The points also go back to 10th place, that’s 2 more points winning places than the 2009 season.

All these factors are going to change qualifying, race strategies and driver motivation – at least that’s the theory!

Dream Teams
What started off as a media fuelled fantasy, soon became reality when 2009 champion Jenson Button joined 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton to form the British Dream Team at McLaren. Over at Ferrari, Fernando Alonso made his much anticipated move and joins Felipe Massa, who hasn’t raced since Hungary where he had the horrific accident. At Mercedes there is the returning Michael Schumacher and the ever promising Nico Rosberg, all under the watchful eye of Ross Brawn. At Red Bull we have Sebastian Vettel and Mark Weber, who on paper may not have the allure of these other 3 teams but let us not forget that this is a team that gave Brawn a run for their money in the championships last year. Had Brawn not had that developmental head start last year we’d probably be starting 2010 with Red Bull driving the 1 and 2 cars. It’s a fascinating prospect, not only seeing how these teams compete against each other but to see how and even if the drivers can co-exist.

The Rise of Social Networking / Blogs
In the past 12 months Twitter has exploded and if you are ever tweeting during a F1 race you’ll see online social interactivity taken to new levels. There have also been a huge rise in the number of websites and blogs dedicated to the great sport of Formula 1. It could well be that it just appears that there is more anticipation for the upcoming season because more people are visibly talking about it, though I’m pretty sure the anticipation is real, it is bigger than ever before and it’s because of the points discussed previously. It is great that the F1 community is able to grow on a global scale and bring fans together thanks to the internet.

So, the question was: Is 2010 the most eagerly anticipated Formula 1 season ever? The answer is yes, and this time next week the first practice session will be under way on Bahrain. I’m excited about the upcoming season like never before, are you?

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Filed under Bahrain, BMW Sauber Ferrari, Brawn GP, Bruno Senna, Constructors, Drivers, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Grand Prix, HRT, Jenson Button, Kamui Kobayashi, Lewis Hamilton, Lotus Racing, Lucas di Grassi, Mark Weber, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Michael Schumacher, Nico Hulkenberg, Nico Rosberg, Pedro de la Rosa, Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel, Virgin, Vitaly Petrov, Vitantonio Liuzzi

Hamilton will win the Championship in 2010

This is the opinion of the F1 Racing reader panel, the results of which were revealed in the March 2010 issue – a mini preview of which can be seen on their website.

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Lewis Hamilton topped the poll with 26.1%, narrowly beating Fernando Alonso into 2nd (25.4%) and Michael Schumacher in 3rd (20.9%). Sebastian Vettel wasn’t too far behind in 4th with 16.3%, and there was a bigger gap to Felipe Massa in 5th (6.0%) and Jenson Button in 6th (5.3%).

What’s interesting is that neither Schumacher nor Vettel’s team mates appear in the results of this voting, which as the results add up to 100% I can only assume that Rosberg and Weber weren’t offered as options to the panel. Though they will be driving the same car as their team mates, it seems that F1 Racing does not deem them in with a chance of winning the Championship. They are probably right but I’d have liked to have seen them included just to see what kind of an impact they made on the results.

As a McLaren fan I concur with Lewis Hamilton being the number 1 pick. When I started to support Hamilton in 2007 it wasn’t just because he was British it was due to him being a damn good driver, something he proved last year even more so than during his Championship winning season of 2008. Testing has looked a lot better this year for McLaren but we won’t really know where the teams stand until 2 weeks time in Bahrain. If the McLaren MP4-25 is competitive then Hamilton has to be one of the favourites to take the title.

Jenson Button didn’t fare as well in the poll and many still think he’s made a mistake going to a team which is built around and for Lewis Hamilton. Button has done very well in testing and appears to be fitting into the McLaren team very well, but only time will tell if he made the right decision to leave Brawn, now Mercedes GP.

Featured in the same issue of F1 Racing is an interview with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, conducted by ex F1 World Champion Damon Hill. A preview of the interview can be read here.

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Raikkonen out of Formula 1 in 2010, Jenson Button to McLaren now just a formality

Kimi Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson has announced that the Finnish ex World Champion will be taking a sabbatical in 2010 after talks with McLaren broke down. Robertson was quoted as saying:

Kimi and McLaren were unable to reach an agreement, so he will not drive at the F1 level – at least not next year.

A gap year means nothing for Kimi. He is more interested in fighting for wins and the world championship. F1 will miss Kimi. He worked hard over the summer – doing things in a Ferrari that only the best drivers are capable of.

With the recent Mercedes acquisition of 75% of Brawn GP and the rumours of them wanting an all German team of Nick Heidfeld and Nico Rosberg, it was looking more and more likely that Jenson Button would be signing for McLaren, leaving Kimi Raikkonen without a competitive option in 2010.

For Kimi Raikkonen to have pulled have out of talks with McLaren is surely a clear indication that the official signing of Jenson Button is all but a formality now and will be happening sooner rather than later, possibly even today.

With an eye on the World Rally Championship in 2010, it’ll be interesting to see what Kimi Raikkonen’s options are for Formula 1 in 2011 and whether a race seat for a top team will be open to fight for.

For some great comments about the Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button situation I urge everyone to read the comments left by one of our valued readers here.

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg

The world reports Jenson Button has signed for McLaren, good for Mclaren but bad for Mercedes GP?

The latest news sweeping the online world is that Jenson Button has signed a 3 year deal with McLaren worth £6 million a year. I must stress that at this time this is not confirmed, but heavily suspected to be true. After yesterday’s news of Mercedes buying into Brawn GP, Jenson Button moving to McLaren seems more likely than ever. The signing of Jenson Button will save McLaren a fair few millions of pounds a year than if they’d signed Kimi Raikkonen.

Jenson Button – soon to be driving the #1 car for McLaren?
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I’ve had some feedback which suggests that I have been unfair when talking about Jenson Button and that he has far more fire in his belly than I have given him credit for. Admittedly my judgement of Jenson Button is only based on the past few seasons where before last season he was almost non-existent, and last year I was pretty unimpressed despite him winning the World Championship. I’m more than willing to be proven wrong and if I am, and this move to McLaren is actually happening, then that’ll mean more championship points for the team I love and more positive blogging to be done!

I can’t help thinking that Mercedes GP are making a mistake in letting Jenson Button go, because as much as I don’t see his apparent driving skills, he’s a better proposition than either Nick Heidlfeld or Nico Rosberg. The former is consistent but unspectacular and the latter is a wiz in qualifying but never seems to translate that to podium finishes. It’s all very well Mercedes wanting an all German line up of drivers but shouldn’t the potential to succeed be the bigger factor in signing a driver?

Mercedes have said they will announce their drivers for 2010 in the next week or so, but if Jesnon Button is announced as a McLaren driver before then I think Mercedes will be forced into bringing their announcement forward – it would be as obvious as the Ferrari signing of Fernando Alonso earlier in the year.

As for Kimi Raikkonen, well this leaves him taking that money spinning sabbatical that he has spoken about. He has maintained that he will only drive for the right team and with no competitive drive options left one can only assume that the 2007 world champion will not be on the grid in Bahrain next March.

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Filed under Bahrain, Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Grand Prix, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg

Mercedes buy into Brawn GP and McLaren announce long term deal with Mercedes

As most expected, earlier today Mercedes bought into Brawn GP, a 75% share is the believed holding. McLaren have dismissed rumours of a McLaren engine, at least in the next few years, by releasing this statement:

McLaren and Mercedes-Benz are delighted to announce a realigned long-term strategic alliance.

The agreement covers the next six Formula 1 seasons (2010-15) and also provides mechanisms whereby the partnership may continue beyond 2015.

Read the full release over at the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes website.

McLaren have bought back the 40% share that Mercedes owned.

The question of Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen and who, or if, they will drive for next year has not been answered. What is only speculation so far, seems to be leaning more and more in the direction of Jenson Button driving for McLaren in 2010 with the all German team of Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld at Brawn GP.

On the their official F1 Twitter feed McLaren have just tweeted the following:

Ron Dennis made an inspiring speech to the whole company today, discussing the long-term strategy for the entire McLaren Group.

I’ll be looking forward to a return to the red and white livery if that does indeed happen.

Forever in the news, McLaren, Mercedes and Brawn GP are at least making this off season an exciting one so far. The next few weeks, and possibly months, of driver roulette will ensure the 2010 season will be here in no time.

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg

If Jenson Button comes to McLaren, he brings the #1 with him!

All eyes and ears this morning are on the Mercedes announcement which is due to start in a matter of minutes. It is expected that they will announce their involvement with Brawn GP, and how this will affect their current partnership with McLaren.

There are also rumours flying around that Brawn GP, along with Mercedes, are set to announce an all German driving team consisting of Nick Heidfeld and Nico Rosberg. The current thinking here is that Jenson Button will go to McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen will take a sabbatical.

If Jenson Button does indeed come to McLaren he’ll be driving the Number 1 car! This would be an intriguing situation given that Lewis Hamilton is seen as the number 1 driver at McLaren!

Things have certainly moved on from what seemed only to be fantasy booking on the part of the newspapers a few weeks to a reality that is more and more likely to see a McLaren F1 team next year consisting of the last 2 world champions, who both happen to be British!

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg