Category Archives: Sebastian Vettel

What I want from the 2011 Formula 1 Season

Been a while, but I’m back – how have you all been?

  1. First off I’d like to wish Robert Kubica a quick recovery – that’s my number one wish for 2011, that we see Robert back in a his Renault and thrilling us all with his spectacular driving talent once again.
  2. I want Lewis Hamilton to win the Driver’s Championship – did you really expect anything else? If his car is competitive from the start I believe the only thing stopping Hamilton form achieving title number 2 is himself. But then those mistakes that come from being over-zealous is also the mentality that makes him such an exciting driver to watch, and I love his all or nothing attitude. However, he just needs to reign it in once in a while to avoid giving away points needlessly.
  3. If Hamilton can’t win the Driver’s Championship he at least needs to beat Jenson Button, and convincingly from start to finish. I don’t want any of this Button getting race victories before Hamilton like last year – I want total team mate domination from the 2008 Champion, from the very first race and continuing throughout the season.
  4. McLaren to win the Constructor’s Championship. I may be more loyal to Hamilton than the team but I still like McLaren more than any other team and I don’t want them coming in behind the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari. Not sure this point and the previous sit well together, but I can dream!
  5. I don’t want a dominant car like the Red Bulls last year. Qualifying was on the whole very predicable and boring and this year I want more people on pole, and more people vying for a pole position during qualifying.
  6. With Hamilton ultimately winning, I want a close race for the Championship like last year. 2009 was a fairytale story for Brawn but it was boring, going down to the last race with 4 people statistically in with a chance made for a great season in 2010 – more of the same please.
  7. Weber to beat Vettel. I actually like Vettel a lot more than I did as I think he’s matured a lot, but I still want to see Weber beat his younger team mate. In fact if Hamilton doesn’t win the Championship, in the absence of Kubica, I want Weber to become 2011 Champion.
  8. Lotus (not the Renault team) to score points, and specifically Kovalainen. Drove brilliantly for a team that couldn’t really compete, but so very nearly did, at the back end of the established teams anyway. Any man that becomes his own fireman deserves at least 1 Championship point

That’s me done for now, there maybe nmore to come later. So, agree, disagree or have your own wishes for the season? To borrow a catchphrase from Sidepodcast; see you in the comments.

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Filed under Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, Robert Kubica, Sebastian Vettel, Uncategorized

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

Neglected Blog, Turkish Delight & Communications Breakdown

Apologies for the lack of blog updates (busy times which should be easing off soon, hopefully) and also for the very corny pun in the title of this update – I couldn’t resist!

Am I happy that Lewis Hamilton won in Turkey? yes, I’m over the moon. Would I prefer it the victory had have come from actually beating the Red Bulls rather than capitalising on the collision between Weber and Vettel? of course, but the improvements of the McLarens are very encouraging and Hamilton and Button were within pouncing distance of Weber and Vettel for the whole pre-collision race. This victory out Hamilton right back into the title race, something which comes as a huge relief to me, and lots of other people too, I’m sure.

Now, onto more serious matters, and the information that has come out of the radio communications that can be heard on formula1.com, which went something like this:

Team to Hamilton “Save fuel”
Lewis Hamilton- “If I save fuel will Jenson pass me yes or no?”
Team- “No Lewis He won’t”

Of course we all know what happened next. So, was this a case of the team not communicating to Jenson what they had just told Lewis or was this Jenson deciding to race for the win ignoring what the team had said/ No doubt we’ll get an explanation from Martin Whitmarsh at the next race, as I am sure the BBC team will ask him what went on. With no team order there can be no real blame for Jenson wanting to race, but he was given the passing opportunity due to Lewis slowing down, so the fault lies with the lack of communication.

If Lewis needed to save more fuel than Jenson, as the case may have been, would the team have been right to tell Jenson not to pass Lewis? Conserving fuel, just as with tyres, is part of the race and if Jenson has done than better than Lewis then all credit to him, surely, and a shot at the win in his right. Of course this is only mass speculation but I know that if the shoe were on the other foot than I’d want Lewis to be given that chance at victory.

If we assume the team didn’t pass on Lewis’s concerns, why would that be? Could it just be an innocent communication breakdown or could they have realised that if Jenson gets the win then he’d be top of the Driver’s Championship, while their team points would remain the same, seeing them top of the Constructor’s Championship. It’s maybe a cynical look at what occurred but as a fan of McLaren that doesn’t mean we have to be blinkered, we have to consider all angles, especially given the large amounts of money involved in Formula 1.

Until we hear from McLaren themselves, all we can do is guess any number of scenarios. The facts are that McLaren are now competitive with Red Bull, and with that in mind the rest of the season should be very exciting indeed.

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Filed under Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel, Turkish

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

Button Wins, Hamilton 6th and F1 is back, baby!

After the relative dullness of the Bahrain Grand Prix 2 weeks ago, today’s GP in Australia was the kind of race that reminds us all why we love Formula 1. From the start to the very finish there was drama, excitement and wait for it, overtaking! I kid you not, cars were passing other cars under normal racing conditions, and a fair amount of that was done by Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton at the Australian Grand Prix

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

Lewis Hamilton drove arguably his greatest race to date, up there with Japan 2007 for me personally, and that was the race that made me into a Formula 1 fan, so high praise indeed. After the disappointment of yesterday’s qualifying I was thrilled to see Lewis in such a racing mood, it’s what has always delighted me as a fan of his. If there was a chance to overtake than he took it, and a special mention has to go out to both Robert Kubica and Fernando Alsonso who brilliantly defended against a much faster Hamilton. In the case of Kubica it was Hamilton’s inability to get past that had the team bring him in for a tyre change, a move that ultimately led to Hamilton losing places, a probable podium place at that.

Later in the race, when chasing down Fernando Alsonso, it was Mark Weber who dealt Hamilton a a second blow when he shunted him into the gravel. At that point I was livid, and had it not been for the presence of my little boy then a fair few expletives would have been thrown the Australian’s way! Luckily it only cost Hamilton one place and he ended up finishing 6th, a result which is far better than the 11th place he qualified but worse than he should have got, had other circumstances and decisions gone his way. Hamilton’s lambasting of the team over the radio during the race wasn’t his finest moment but forgiveable, given the emotions that must have been coursing through him as he saw race positions taken from within his grasp.

Jenson Button cruises to victory in Australia

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

The man in the photo above is none other than Jenson Button, 2 races into his career as a McLaren driver and already a winner. If I’m completely honest I’d have preferred Lewis Hamilton to win, but I won’t begrudge Jenson his victory and for the McLaren team it’s a fantastic result. Kudos to Jenson for making the decision to come in for an early tyre change to slicks, it won him the race, with a little help from Sebastian Vettel’s second problematic Grand Prix in a row. It’s astonishing that Jenson went so long and at such a high performance level on the second set of tyres, but if anyone could it was going to be him.

Jenson Button celebrates victory on Australia

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

At the start of the season I will hold my hands up and admit (you can read old blog posts so I can’t pretend otherwise!) that I thought Lewis was going to outperform Jenson easily over the course of 19 races. Though he did just that in Bahrain, and though there were mitigating circumstances leading to Lewis’s almost disappointing 6th place, Jenson Button has marked out his intention to succeed with today’s race and currently leads Lewis by 8 points in the Drivers’ Championship. The combined effort of both drivers puts them on 54 points, 16 points behind Ferrari.

Team McLaren celebrate Jenon Button's victory

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

Lewis Hamilton is ominously missing from this team celebration, but then so is Martin Whitmarsh – maybe they were discussing the second tyre change at the time of taking this photo! All in all it was a great day for McLaren and for Formula 1 fans everywhere – what a fantastic race. I have no doubt that Jenson’s victory will have lit a fire under everyone in the team, especially Lewis Hamilton, who doesn’t like playing second fiddle to anyone, especially not his team mate.

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Filed under Australian, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Robert Kubica, 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.

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=bahrain+f1&iid=8233363″ src=”b/b/0/6/F1_Grand_Prix_f212.jpg?adImageId=11239134&imageId=8233363″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]
 
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