Archive | July, 2011

3 winners and 3 losers of the Hungaroring qualifying.

31 Jul

Winners.

Sergio Perez, qualified 10th.

This is Sergio’s rookie season in F1, and my it’s been one to remember, he has 8 points in the championship but has had points taken from him for an illegal car and failed to race at either Monaco or Montreal after his huge shunt (maybe not something to remember). Not only that but in qualifying he’s regularly beating  Kobayashi, a talented driver, and is leading fellow rookie Paul Di Resta in the title standings by 6 points (and don’t forget that Di Resta is touted as a huge potential). One thing many people don’t know about Perez is that as well as driving for Sauber he is part of the Ferrari young drivers program so with a bit of luck it won’t be long before he wears the red overalls belonging to the Maranello team.

Jenson Button, qualified 3rd.

If you’ve kept track of Jenson in the post Braun years, you’ll have observed that although he’s good when it comes to the racing, he is regularly held back by his qualifying performance, that’s why he’s a winner for this week after qualifying less than a tenth of a second behind Hamilton and ahead of both Ferraris and Mark Webber. This should lead to Jenson having a good race and maybe attacking the cars in front of him  for the win, although I imagine he’ll settle for a finish as he’s had back to back retirements going into this race.

Adrian Sutil, Qualified 8th.

This is Adrians second in a row Q3 place and it shows he’s starting to get the best from the car not only in the race but in qualifying, a part of the race weekend where he’s regularly been beaten by rookie team mate, Di Resta. This also marks a good rejuvenation of the car as pre Silverstone it was only finishing in low down points and at Silverstone Di Resta qualified 6th and last week at the Nurburgring Sutil finished 6th.

Loosers.

Jerome d’Ambrosio, qualified 24th.

Jerome is on the list of losers because he was out qualified by both of the HRTs including Daniel Ricciardo who is only in his second ever GP.  As well as that Jerome has always up to here been strong in qualifying and has managed to regularly out perform team mate Timo Glock in qualifying.

Both Renaults, Vitaly Petrov 12th and Nick Heidfeld 14th.

Lets rewind to the start of the season where in the first race Petrov finished 3rd, then lets go to the second race of the season where Heidfeld finished 3rd. Now back to the present and neither is doing very well at all, both drivers problem is there inconsistency,  with Petrov it’s kind of allowed as it’s his second season and in his debut season he was amazingly inconsistant, but Heidfeld has no excuse as he’s one of the most experienced drivers out on the grid. What Renault won’t be happy with is that both drivers are behind a Sauber and both Force India’s and Heidfeld is also behind the other Sauber, these are teams they should be comfortably beating, with this disappointing run it makes Renaults chances of winning the championship in the next 5 years slim.

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The Nurburgring

21 Jul

One of my favourite tracks ever made due to it’s history, it’s challenging style and that it was the first ever GP circuit I’ve visited (although not for the GP but actually for a Old Timers Grand Prix held there). The original Nurburgring was an untamed beast which is one of the longest (14 miles) and most dangerous tracks with 174 corners. But after boycotting the track in 1970 and hosting one race in 1976 (in which triple world champion Niki Lauda only just managed to keep his life after crashing) the track never hosted another GP.

But that wasn’t the end of the circuit as a new purpose built track was built in 1981 being built around the old pits. Having been opened in 1984 to host the European GP the circuit got a regular position from 1999 and has since been known to be challenging, due to it’s very challenging first corner, a slippery surface and a lack of overtaking (which could be improved by widening both the Shell and Bit Kurves, or alternatively by using DRS). Since 1999 been a Ferrari stronghold having won 5/10 times, oddly enough no other team has won it more than once with Stewart, Renault, Williams, McLaren and Red Bull winning there once each. Another thing to note it that half of the races there have been won by Germans – although it was 4 times by Michael Schumacher and the other one was won by his brother Ralf.

As far as my prediction for the race goes I’d say that the majority of the corners are low speed with only a handful requiring high downforce, because of this I’d say that the track would suit Ferrari more as Red Bull specialise in the High Downforce corners. Having said this Ferrari have looked strong and even won at tracks which Red Bull have been given the favourites title for.

If you want to know what the old circuit is now used for you can pay to do a lap of the track in your own car (although your insurance doesn’t count if you crash) and is still used for the Le Mans Series race held there each year.

What happened to the drivers who stopped? Class of 2001

2 Jul

Mika Hakkinen: After starting his F1 career with Lotus in 1991 and finished his first season in joint 15th. In 1992 Hakkinen stayed with Lotus and scored points in 6 races, finishing 4th in two: France and Hungary. For 1993 Mika decided test driving with McLaren would be the way to win, during 1993 Mika drove in the Porsche Supercar Cup winning both the races he started, but Hakkinen didn’t race in the competition again as Michael Andretti left McLaren due to bad results. In his first race with McLaren Mika out-qualified team mate Ayrton Senna but couldn’t win the race. For 1994 Hakkinen was the lead driver for McLaren as Senna left for Williams, in 1994 he got 6 podiums with a best finish of second in Belgium which helped him finish 4th in the drivers championship. In 1995 Hakkinen picked up 2 more podiums although this was probably the least exciting part of the season as he was almost killed in 1st practise in Australia but was saved by track side tracheotomy. 1996 was almost the year when Hakkinen would win but a crash for Jos Verstappen at Spa stopped the dream. 1997 was Mika’s first win at Jerez although he almost won 3 other races. 1998 was Hakkinen’s year after an amazing start to the season but with 2 races left he found himself equal on points with Schumacher. Hakkinen beat Schumacher in both of the last 2 races to take the championship and his 9th victory of the year. In 2000 Mika could only finish second to the Scud with Schumacher although he did get himself another victory, Spa. 2001 was a big year for Hakkinen as he had to prove it shouldn’t be him who’s replaced by Kimi Raikkonen, but after a big crash he wasn’t the same despite winning at Silverstone and Indianapolis. At the end of 2001 he took a Sabbatical from  F1 though this proved to be a retirement. There were chances that he’d return 2004 for Williams and 2007 for McLaren but these didn’t happen, so Mika went into DTM where he picked up 3 wins before retiring for good in 2007. Mika picked up 20 wins 420 points and two world championships from 161 starts.

Jean Alesi: One of only a handful of drivers to start 200 races Alesi however only managed victory once but did get on the podium 32 times. Alesi’s F1 career started in 1989 with Tyrell, he only raced 8 times that season but picked up 8 points and 9th in the championship. 1990 got off to an amazing start with Alesi finishing 2nd to Senna at USA in a car thought of as quite a bit slower. After a good season Alesi was wanted by big teams and so he joined Ferrari as no. 2 to Prost. But this choice was the wrong one as Williams were the team to beat leaving Alesi and Prost a long way behind, that year Prost retired. In 1995 Alesi picked up his one and only victory on his 31st birthday after a rather uneventful few years. For 1996 Alesi joined Benetton as Schue moved the other way the two seasons he spent at Benetton were riddled with errors and a declining Benetton decided not to retain him at the end of 1997. Alesi then moved to Sauber but he wasn’t going anywhere so he moved to Prost to rejoin Alain Prost where he finished every race in a season. In 2001 Alesi moved mid way through the season to Jordan and at the end of the season retired with 201 starts 242 points and 1 win. Since then Alesi was a regular in DTM up to 2006 with 4 victories and never being out of the top 10 in the championship. At the end of 2006 Alesi retired from DTM and was back in racing in 2008 this time in the speedcar series for 2008 and 2009 picking up 4 wins and two top 5 championship finishes. In 2010 Alesi went into the Le Mans series GT2 where Alesi was successful with Ferrari picking up 4th at Le Mans and podium finishes at 3 other tracks. For 2011 Alesi took up a new challenge as a ambassador for Lotus Renault GP.

Jos Verstappen: After testing for the Footwork Arrows team Jos was contacted by all the teams bar Ferrari and Williams. But Jos joined Benetton as a test driver for 1994. When Lehto crashed out Verstappen was brought in to replace him retiring in both races. 1994 was also the season where something occurred which would make his name live on when fuel went over the car in the pits before setting alight with Jos in it. Jos also drive some races near the end of the season picking up a season’s best of 3rd on two occasions. Verstappen then joined Simtek but drove only 5 races finishing only once. In 1996 Verstappen joined Footwork Hart retiring in 12 races and picking up a best of 6th before moving to Tyrell and picking up nothing. For 1998 Jos was with Stewart Ford again picking up 0 points but things changed in 1999 Jos didn’t race becoming a test driver with Honda. 2000 was with Arrows where Verstappen picked up 5 points and just 7 finishes, in 2001 Alesi did something he hadn’t done before, stay with a team for two seasons this time only picking up 1 point. 2002 was a year off before joining Minardi in 2003 picking up 0 points. After 106 starts 17 points and 57 retirements the most successful Dutch F1 driver retired. After two years of sitting at home Jos signed for the A1 Netherlands team winning at Durban before stopping in 2006. In 2008 Verstappen took part in the Le Mans series finishing first in his class at the 24 hour Le Mans race and three other races. In 2009 Jos Verstappen took part in the Le Mans 24 hours with Lola.

Ricardo Zonta: After starting his F1 career with B.A.R in 1999 Zonta finished only 5 races and picked up no points although he was good enough to stay with the team another year this time picking up 3 points. This time B.A.R said enough was enough and didn’t renew Ricardo’s contract leaving him to join Jordan as the reserve driver for 2001 racing twice for them in 2001. After another disappointing campaign  Zonta left to win the Telefonica World Series and then to join Toyota as test driver getting to race 5 times in 2004 and picking up no points, and did the same in 2005 when Ricardo races once, at the end of 2006 Zonta left Toyota to join Renault as reserved driver for 2007 also competing in the Stock Car Brazil series. For 2008 Zonta stayed in the Brazilian Stock Car series and also competed in USA Grand Am series and competing in Le Mans finishing 3rd with Peugeot. Zonta started 36 races and managed to accumulate 3 points in Formula 1.

Luciano Burti: After starting his F1 career as Jaguar’s test driver Burti raced at the Austrian Grand Prix that year (2000). His 11th then was enough to be one of the main drivers at Jaguar but after 4 races he was replaced by Pedro De La Rosa and joined Prost for the next 10 races before injury forced him to retire. After that season Burti joined Ferrari as a test driver up to 2004 and since 2005 has competed in the Stock Car Brazil series winning once, nowadays Burti is a commentator on F1 when he’s not driving Brazilian Stock Car racing. Luciano raced 15 times picking up 0 points.

Tarso Marques: In 1996 Marques hit the F1 scene with Minardi but due to Minardi’s financial problems he only raced twice alternating with Fisichella, Trulli and Lamy. Sadly Marques failed to finish either race. In 1997 Marques was a regular driver for Minardi for the second half of the season again picking up 0 points. 1999 was the year Tarso moved to the USA for the Champ Car series picking up 4 points. for 2000 Marques stayed in the US this time getting 11 points. In 2001 Tarso Marques went back to Minardi finishing 6 times and getting his usual 0 points. That was the end of Marques’ F1 career starting 24 times and finishing with 0 points. 2004 marked his return to the US for the Champ Car series picking up 19 points in the 2004 and 2005 series. Since 2006 Marquez has competed in Brazilian Stock Car Racing and the South African TC2000.

Fernando Alonso: Where do you start with Fernando? A driver who has and will achieve so much. 2001, Fernando’s maiden year in F1 with Minardi a car that was in all honesty slow, and yet on his debut he out qualified his team mate by a huge 2.6 seconds and by race 4 managed to out qualify both Benettons. Mid way through the season rumours  went round that Alonso would move to Sauber, but the place was filled by Alonso’s current team mate Felipa Massa. At the end of 2001 having picked up 0 points a decision was taken between Benetton and a test driver role at Renault, Alonso chose a Renault something Fosters would call a “Good Call”. After good testing in 2002 Alonso was moved to the race team for 2003, that season at Malaysia Alonso got his first pole position and then won at the Hungaroring both times setting records for youngest driver to do such a thing. 2003 was a success 1 win, 55 points and 6th overall. 2004 brought 4 podiums and 59 points finishing 4th in the championship after a rather non eventful year. 2005 was Alonso’s year, he stayed with Renault and stunned the opposition to become the youngest world champion ever. In 2005 Alonso only finished one race outside the top 3 and took the chequered line 7 times. 2006 saw Alonso stay with Renault as it was yet again the car to beat with Alonso winning 7 times as he surged to taking the championship by a point more than the year before. For 2007 Alonso moved to McLaren to join Lewis Hamilton, it was not a match made in heaven and they didn’t get on. Alonso won on his second outing with the McLaren, and this led to greater things as Alonso finished joint first – with Hamilton – 1 point behind world champion Kimi Raikkonen. The biggest thing to happen for McLaren was off the track as McLaren were found guilty of Spygate and lost all championship points. As Alonso and Hamilton didn’t get on McLaren released Alonso from his contrat at the end of 2007. For 2008 Alonso rejoined Renault and although the car wasn’t competitive Alonso got two wins in a row, this led to him staying with Renault for 2009 where the Braun/Red Bull domination stopped Alonso winning any races, but that didn’t stop Ferrari swooping for him and in 2010 Alonso was in the red colours of Scuderia Ferrari. Alonso’s first race in Bahrain showed promise with Alonso finishing first, but a disappointing first half of the season held him back. In the second half of the season though it was a different matter, the Ferrari being the team to beat with Alonso winning 4 times and making the podium 7 times. It all led to a last day decider with Alonso having a 7 point head start over Webber, neither of these won though with both Alonso and Webber making mistakes with strategy instead it was Vettel who took the record as the youngest driver to take a world championship. 2011 has so far been poor for Alonso with only 1 podium in 7 races. As of yet Alonso has 2 championships 26 wins and 898 points from 165 starts.

Tomas Enge: Enge performed in the final 3 races of the 2001 season with Prost after Luciano Burti crashed, in doing this Tomas became the first Czech driver in history Enge’s best performance was on his debut finishing 12th at Monza, and so ended Enge’s F1 career. Since F1 Tomas has finished 3rd in the championship twice in Formula 3000, has competed in 3 seasons of Indy Car never winning a race, the GTI World Championship finishing 4th in 2010 and a string of Le Mans 24 hours from 2002 to 2010 finishing 1st in class in 2003 2nd in class in 2006 and 3rd in class in 2010, his best actual finish was in 2009 finishing 4th.

Gaston Mazzacane: Commonly thought of as a pay driver Gaston started his F1 career in 1999 as a test driver for Minardi but in 2000 was promoted to the race team. In that first year Gaston managed 12 finishes accumulating 0 points. But it was good enough to move to Prost where raced in only the first 4 races of the year after managing only 1 finish in total from them. Since then Mazzacane has competed in champ car in 2004 finishing 17th in the season with 73 points. Mazzacane started F1 races 21 times picking up no points.