Category Archives: Abu Dhabi

McLaren in Abu Dhabi in Pictures

Thanks to the fantastic service offered by PicApp, we can now bring you a decent number of good photos from Grand Prix races, starting with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from last weekend.

However, before we get to those, McLaren has had an F1 car in Abu Dhabi before, as this photo of Fernando Alonso from the 2007 F1 Festival shows:

Click the arrow on the right of the photo to actually see Alonso!
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Lewis Hamilton on the new Yas Marina circuit for the first time during Free Practice 1 on Friday 30th October.
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Lewis Hamilton experiences racing at dusk during Free Practice 2 on Friday 30th October – wonder if they have any shots of Heikki Kovalainen?
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Found one! Heikki Kovalainen during Free Practice 2 on Friday 30th October.
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Lewis Hamilton exits the pit lane tunnel during Final Practice 3 on Saturday 31st October.
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Lewis Hamilton sets out for Qualifying on Saturday 31st October
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Heikki Kovalienen during Qualifying – it’s pretty dark out there!
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Lewis Hamilton celebrates getting Pole Position for the very first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
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Lewis Hamilton flies off from pole to lead the race on Sunday 1st November.
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Heikki Kovalainen racing as the sun sets in Abu Dhabi.
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That’s the pick of the bunch – there are far more photos from the practice and qualifying sessions, maybe because of Lewis retiring Heikki not being in a great deal of action during the race. Still, there’s some fantastic photos and while the race may not have been very interesting, it’s a visually stunning racetrack and location.

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Constructors, Drivers, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, In Pictures, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren

Hamilton retires, Kovalainen comes in 11th & McLaren beat Ferrari

It started off as planned, with Hamilton getting the perfect start. However, Vettel was on his tail round the first turn and never let a gap of more than 1.8 seconds open up. Hamilton needed at least a 5 second gap as he was due to pit 2 laps earlier than Vettel. A mistake by Hamilton cost him 0.8 seconds and Vettel ended up being only 1.3 seconds behind when Hamilton pitted. At this point it seemed entirely possible that 3rd place Weber might leapfrog Hamilton after the pit stops too.

Vettel pitted at lap 18 and as expected came out in first place. Two laps later and the McLaren crew were seen making a space in the garage for one of the cars and soon enough Hamilton came in, his race over and a suspected right rear brake the problem. For the man who lit up free practice and qualifying this was a huge disappointment. Before this race Hamilton had earned more points than anyone else in the second half of the season and looked set to add at least 8 points to that total in Abu Dhabi.

With Hamilton out the hopes of McLaren were in the hands of probable departing driver Heikki Kovalainen, who managed to leapfrog Kimi Raikkonen after the pits stops and come home in 11th. That added no points to either his own tally or the team total.

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With the 2009 season now over, Lewis Hamilton finished in 5th place with 49 points, just one point ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, while Heikki Kovalianen finished in 12th place with 22 points. McLaren finished the season 3rd in the constructors championship, one point ahead of Ferrari, with 71 points.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a largely uninteresting race with the most excitement coming in the final few laps as Jenson Button tried in vain to get past second place Mark Weber. Weber’s Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel took home the victory for his 4th race win of the season as he secured 2nd place behind 2009 champion Jenson Button.

I’ll be doing a proper season review in the coming week but this was somewhat of an anti-climax with Hamilton retiring and little race action on offer. For McLaren the next big step is who they sign up as the 2nd driver to partner Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen is the favourite, Nick Heidfeld has been mentioned and Jenson Button is surely only fantasy booking?

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Ferrari, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Nick Heidfeld, Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel

Race Prediction: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2009

1st – Lewis Hamilton
2nd – Sebastian Vettel
3rd – Jenson Button

12th – Heikki Kovalainen

Button will do well to get past Barrichello and Weber but I have a romantic notion that we’ll see two Brits on the podium, which considering the success of Hamilton and especially Button this year, seems odd that it hasn’t happened before.

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Drivers, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, Race Predictions, Sebastian Vettel

Hamilton gets Abu Dhabi Pole in Triumphant Style

Yesterday, Saturday 31st October 2009, saw 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton get his 17th Formula 1 pole position in Abu Dhabi. That in itself is one for the record books, with this being the historic first Formula 1 race in Abu Dhabi. What makes this pole position stand out more than most is the margin of victory that Hamilton achieved.

Qualifying has been a very close run event this year, with mere hundreds of a second separating grid places and pole position often changing several times in the closing seconds of Q3. If I were to throw out a figure of 0.7 seconds you’d be forgiven for thinking that was maybe the time separating the top 10 drivers, but no, that was the margin that Lewis Hamilton beat out second place Sebastian Vettel to claim the pole position in today’s race.

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Lewis Hamilton en route to Pole in Abu Dhabi (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Hamilton had been on form in the three practice sessions with a first and second fastest in the two Friday sessions and second only to champion-elect Jenson Button in Saturday’s 3rd practice. The course, with it’s many twists and turns, seems tailor made for the MP4-24 and even before this blistering qualifying performance the bookies had Lewis Hamilton as the clear favourite to be today’s winner.

With that ever-important KERS boost button, we could see Hamilton pull away from his rivals at the start and be a huge distance ahead when he comes in to make his first pit stop around the 17-20 lap mark, depending on what report you read. When the fuel weights were released it was impressive to see that Hamilton was carrying around the same weight as those around him and more in the case of drivers like Jenson Button. For some great graphical representations of various qualifying stats then I recommend everyone visit Making Up The Numbers – F1 viewed from the numbers perspective.

Heikki Kovalainen wasn’t so lucky and after being impressive himself in practice, being the man to beat Lewis Hamilton into 2nd place in Friday Practice 2, he made it through to Q2 only to have gearbox failure and qualify in 13th place. It didn’t end there, needing a replacement gearbox Kovalainen gets an automatic 5 place grid penalty and will start today’s race from 18th. He is in a great car to make up places but the nature and dustiness of the track may not allow much opportunity for overtaking. Heikki Kovalainen’s swan song at McLaren may not be the great race it could of and really should have been.

As was mentioned before, Sebastian Vettel qualified in 2nd and with Rubens Barrichello qualifying in 4th it would seem that 2nd place in the Drivers Championship is within reach for the young Red Bull driver. With Kimi Raikkonen qualifying in 12th and Giancarlo Fisichella in 20th, 3rd place in the constructors championship should be heading to McLaren.

Many are reporting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is Lewis Hamilton’s to lose, let’s hope he doesn’t.

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Ferrari, Giancarlo Fisichella, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Qualifying, Red Bull, Rubens Barichello, Sebastian Vettel

McLaren in the news – 31st October 2009

Heidfeld now on pole for McLaren seat @ Motorsport.com F1
Saturday 31st October 2009
Nick Heidfeld has emerged as the leading candidate to become Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren teammate in 2010, according to a leading German newspaper.

Bild-Zeitung claims the 32-year-old “suddenly has the best chance” to replace Heikki Kovalainen, after Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button were also touted for the seat.

“Nick’s qualities are well known to us, but still nothing is decided,” Mercedes competition boss Norbert Haug is quoted as saying. (read more…)

Kovalainen angry with Hailton favoritism @ The Jakarta Post
Saturday 31st October 2009
Heikki Kovalainen has a warning for whoever takes his seat at McLaren next season – get used to being an afterthought.

The Finn is expected to depart McLaren after Sunday’s race, and like his predecessor Fernando Alonso, he will leave angry at the preferential treatment shown to co-driver Lewis Hamilton.

“It was always difficult to accept that Lewis was always the first to receive the new parts,” Kovalainen was quoted as saying in Finnish newspaper Helsingen Sanomat. “I have never wanted to make a big deal about it, but it would have been nice to just once had the new parts on my car, particularly after we lost the chance of winning the championship.” (read more…)

Jenson Button weighs up McLaren option but best advice is to stay with Brawn GP @ Times Online Formula 1
Saturday 31st October 2009
For the first time the howl and splutter of V8 engines echoed around the magnificent Yas Marina Circuit yesterday with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, Britain’s world champions in 2008 and 2009 respectively, leading the way for much of two sessions of practice for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. (Jenson Button weighs up McLaren read more…)

McLaren move the only option as Kimi Raikkonen considers Formula One future @ McLaren F1 Telegraph.co.uk
Friday 30th October 2009
The 2007 world champion, who is leaving Ferrari to make way for Renault’s Fernando Alonso, has agreed an early end to his contract with Ferrari, which was reportedly worth $50m a season.

The enigmatic Finn has been linked with moves to both McLaren and Toyota next year – with the Japanese-backed team saying they have offered him a sizeable contract – but Raikkonen revealed ahead of this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that there was only one real chance for him if he was going to remain in F1. (read more…)

Hamilton says season’s great experience will make him better driver next year @ Trak.In News
Friday 30th October 2009
Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton has said that he has gained a lot of experience from this season, which he will utilize to be an even better driver next year.

The McLaren star overcame a nightmare start to the season to head into the season finale in Abu Dhabi as the leading points scorer in the past seven races. Hamilton has pulled in 40 points from five podium finishes, which included two victories. (read more…)

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, In the news..., Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nick Heidfeld

Heikki Kovalainen – last chance weekend?

It’s almost a certainty, that unless Kimi Raikkonen decides to chase a career as a rally driver he’ll be the second driver in the McLaren team for 2010, along with 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. This of course means there will be no race seat for Heikki Kovalainen next season, so where does he go next? The rumour had him down as Robert Kubica’s team mate at Renault but with their recent signing of Timo Glock that won’t be happening. So, does that leave a space for Kovalainen at Toyota, if they compete next year? Could we see the Finn at Williams in place of Nakajima, who surely won’t retain his seat at the team for next season? Could he get a seat at one of the new teams? Whatever the answer, this weekend in Abu Dhabi could be critical for the career of Heikki Kovalainen.

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Racing in F1 in 2010?

At the brand new Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Kovalainen was 12th quickest in 1st free practice but improved up to 1st in 2nd free practice. It was team mate Lewis Hamilton who went the quickest in 1st free practice and he was also Kovalainen’s quickest rival in 2nd free practice. It looks like McLaren have the MP4-24 in good form for this weekend, though we all know free practice sessions usually have little bearing on the race results, hence Nico Rosberg not being atop the Drivers Championship!

As a McLaren fan, and I know it will sound harsh, but I won’t be sorry to see Kovalainen leave. I have nothing against the guy personally, but as a racing driver he doesn’t seem to have the determination and drive needed to succeed, something that is especially highlighted when you’re the number 2 driver to Lewis Hamilton who goes into every race like the championship depended on it. This season he’s had a few occasions where he’s qualified in a decent position, sometimes ahead of Hamilton, but he hasn’t capitalised on it during the race. Compare that to Hamilton who in the last race in Brazil qualified in 17th and finished on the podium in 3rd and you can see why McLaren are looking to replace him.

Kovalainen needs to take his free practice 2 form into qualifying and then into the race, this is his last chance to impress any potential race team bosses and secure a race seat for 2010. Also, for purely selfish reasons, I want Kovalainen to do well, get some points and help secure 3rd place in the constructors championship ahead of Ferrari!

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Constructors, Drivers, Ferrari, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Renault

Jenson Button wins Formula 1 Championship & Lewis Hamilton races to 3rd in Brazil

I’ve been quite critical of Jenson Button over this season, as have a lot of others. As a Lewis Hamilton fan it was hard to watch Jenson race to victory after victory at the start of the season while Lewis struggled to get into the second part of qualifying with his underperforming McLaren MP4-24.

Button has the advantage of driving a car that had a lot of money and time pumped into it by virtue of Honda forgoing success in the 2008 season to concentrate on the 2009 season. Of course that didn’t quite go to plan when late last year Honda announced they wouldn’t be taking part in the 2009 season – at this point Jenson Button, and team mate Rubens Barrichello, were without a ride for the 2009 season. The rest of the Brawn GP story, as they say, is history and perhaps both drivers were deserving of such a superior car for sticking with the team.

There’s no doubting that for the first 7 races the Brawn GP were far superior to any others on the grid, with the Red Bulls being the closest in terms of performance. Even though the likes of McLaren and Ferrari have turned up year after with superior cars, this felt different, and I almost resented the Brawn’s performance and Jenson’s success. As the season progressed and other cars got better, specifically the McLaren, the playing field evened out. The only problem, if you can call it that, is that Button had built up such a lead that only his team mate had any chance of catching him, with an outside chance going to either Sebastian Vettel or Mark Weber at Red Bull. This meant that even though Button was under-performing he was still going to be the champion and for me that spoiled the season a little bit.

Moving on to the Brazilian Grand Prix and I was firmly behind Barrichello and wanted him to take both the victory at Interlagos and then the Championship from Button at the very first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix two weeks later. As Vettel had qualified 14th there was no chance he was going to challenge Jenson. Hamilton qualified in 17th which was pretty poor but as always I’d be behind in, hoping he’d be able get past a few people and get some points, maybe even enough to match or get past Kimi Raikkonen on the leader board.

What I witnessed on Sunday was Button having the race of his life and putting on a performance worthy of a champion. With his lead having been eroded over the weeks and there being a strong chance of Barrichello winning after starting from pole position, Button was obviously fighting for his championship and for the first time this season felt very much under pressure. I just wish he’d raced like that for the previous 8 races rather than relying on his cushion of points amassed earlier in the season. Because of his fantastic performance I was pleased for him when he became champion, though at the same time extremely gutted for Barrichello who once again had no luck during his home race.

Congratulations Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula 1 Drivers World Champion, and to Brawn GP, the 2009 Formula 1 Constructors Champions.

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2009 World Champion (Photo Credit ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images)

After qualifying in 17th, Hamilton also had an amazing race and thanks to a great tactical decision of pitting and changing tyres while the safety car was out early in the race, along with some great driving, he managed to overtake Barrichello with a few laps left and come home in 3rd, another podium finish. Importantly, this meant he overtook Raikkonen and has a 1 point lead going into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – hopefully he can keep the 5th place while helping McLaren remain in 3rd in the Constructors Championship.

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Lewis leads the way (Photo Copyright: Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images)

While there a few lesser places still to be decided, like Vettel and Barrichello’s fight for second place, we go into the first ever Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with both the Drivers and Constructors Champions already crowned. Still, next season should be fantastic, as long as the FIA don’t throw too many spanners into the works!

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Brawn GP, Brazilian, Constructors, Drivers, Ferrari, Grand Prix, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Red Bull, Rubens Barichello, Sebastian Vettel