Tag Archives: Felipe Massa

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

Qualifying: Australia 2010 – Jenson P4, Lewis P11 & Lewis Hamilton has a police incident

Yesterday, Friday 26th March 2010, Lewis Hamilton was pulled over by the police in Melbourne, Australia and quoted as saying afterwards:

I was driving in an over-exuberant manner and, as a result, was stopped by the police. What I did was silly, and I want to apologise for it.

This would apparently not affect his qualifying today but one has to wonder if that is true after Hamilton failed to get through to the P3 after being only 11th fastest in P2. In fact the official word from the McLaren camp after qualifying was that yesterday’s run in with the police had affected Lewis going into qualifying. Jenson Button made it through to P3 and lines up 4th on the grid for tomorrow’s race, with Sebastian Vettel on pole, Mark Weber in 2nd and Fernando Alonso in 3rd.

Lewis Hamilton in Australia

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

Earlier in the week I entered the @McLaren_eShop prediction contest with an entry of Lewis Hamilton to come 2nd, and Jenson Button 5th. I’m thinking a few miracles may have to happen tomorrow for that to come true. However, with that notorious first turn at Albert Park a few of the cars in front of 2008 Champion Hamilton could fall by the wayside.

It’ll be interesting to see how Jenson Button fairs against the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso in front of him and Felipe Massa behind him. They were clearly faster in Bahrain but Massa did struggle a bit in qualifying with P5 being quite flattering of his overall performance this morning,

Jenson Button at Albert Park

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

After the Bahrain GP I’d have put money (I didn’t) on Lewis qualifying ahead of Jenson, who seemed very uncomfortable in his McLaren MP4-25. However, it’s the 2009 Champion who is flying the flag for McLaren after this morning’s qualifying session and as a driver he seems much more at ease with his car.

After winning in Australia in 2008, Lewis Hamilton is having a run of bad luck – let’s hope he puts that to rest in the actual race tomorrow.

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Filed under Australian, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Qualifying

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

Qualifying: Bahrain 2010 – Surprised to be pleased with 4th

Let’s cover the three practice sessions first, and with just 6 hours till the start of the Grand Prix I’ll keep it brief.

Free Practice 1 – Friday 12th April
Jenson Button – 5th
Lewis Hamilton – 6th

Free Practice 2 – Friday 12th April
Jenson Button – 4th
Lewis Hamilton – 2nd

Free Practice 3 – Saturday 13th April
Jenson Button – 7th
Lewis Hamilton – 12th

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Lewis had a problem with one of his front brakes 15 minutes from the end of FP3 which meant his session was over, meaning he never got a chance to do a simulation qualifying lap ahead. At this point I started to get worried, for 2 reasons: 1) Would they be able to sort Lewis’s car out in time for qualifying?, and 2) How much of a disadvantage would Lewis be at having not done that simulation qualifying lap, given that the Bahrain track had changed since he qualified there in 2010? After what appeared to be a great few weeks of testing, was the McLaren dream of a return to form beginning to unravel?

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That last question seemed to become answered as we started the first qualifying session of 2010, one in which Lewis finished up 6th and Jenson 11th – not what I had been expecting and hoping for, Though both made it into Q2, if Jenson didn’t improve he wouldn’t make it to Q3. The Ferraris and Red Bulls were leading the pack, with Adrian Sutil’s Force India in 3rd.

Q2 saw Lewis remain in 6th, while Jenson did manage to improve from 11th to 10th place – just scraping in to Q3 and a chance to start further up the grid. However, in getting 1st place in Q2, Sebastian Vettel was almost a second faster than Lewis Hamilton and well over a second faster than Jenson Button. It was becoming clear that I comparison to the front runners, McLaren didn’t have the pace.

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You can imagine my delight when Lewis Hamilton managed to claim 4th place on the grid by the end of Q3! 24 hours ago I’d have been disappointed with that result but after Q1 and Q2, the 2nd row of the grid was a major accomplishment. Jenson Button do so well, qualifying in 8th place – but at least it was an improvement from the 10th and 11th place finishes in Q2 and Q1 respectively. In qualifying 4th Lewis was more than 1.1 seconds slower than Sebastian Vettel in pole position, just under a second slower than Felipe Massa in 2nd and more than 6/10ths of a second slower than Fernando Alonso in 3rd. Back in 8th, Jenson was over 4/10ths slower than team mate Lewis in 4th.

While the 4th place achieved by Lewis was a great effort compared to Q1 and Q2 it’s still somewhat of a disappointing first qualifying session for McLaren, not something I either wanted or expected after last season. Downforce on the corners seems to be the problem, so there is hope that on the straights the McLaren’s can make up time and places, especially given the reports that overtaking on the corners is nigh on impossible.

Yesterday evening I received a tweet from 5LiveF1 on Twitter saying this:

Rumours are that McLaren ran with a higher ride height in qualy to counteract the fuel weights tomorrow.

If this is the case then the McLaren MP4-25s of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could perform better in the race than qualifying would have us believe. Until that’s proven it looks like it’s a Ferrari race to lose to lose in Bahrain, given than Vettel’s Red Bull will apparently be harsher on its tyres and has question marks over its reliability.

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It took half a season for McLaren to catch up last season, but they were in a much worse position in comparison to the fastest cars than they are this year. If when the dust settles later on today and we see McLaren with some catching up to do, we can take solace in the fact that they this will happen a lot quicker than last year, and with so many cars with a chance of getting big points the championship would still be within McLaren’s grasp.

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Filed under Adrian Sutil, Bahrain, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Qualifying, Red Bull, 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