Sebastian Vettel extended his contract with Red Bull
With F1 back from the summer hiatus we also have some fresh news, rumours and speculations coming out of the paddock. Here is a summary of today’s F1 news, tweets and speculations.
Sebastian Vettel extended his contract with Red Bull until the end of 2011 season. Red Bull Racing also has an option for Vettel’s services for 2012 season. This is a fact.
Yesterday McLaren made it clear that Heikki Kovalainen has to up his game if he wants to keep his seat beyond this season. Martin Whitmarsh very much confirmed it today. But while doing so he also said something interesting about Fernando Alonso and Ferrari:
Rubens Barrichello was fastest in the first practice session for the European GP in Valencia ahead of Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. There were 5 Mercedes powered cars in top six. The new guys ended the FP1 in 17th (Grosjean) and 20th (Badoer).
Friday practice 1 times:
Luca Badoer returns to F1 racing
Following Jaime Alguersuari’s debut in Hungary there will another two new names on 2009 F1 grid this weekend in Valencia. Luca Badoer will step in for injured Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean will replace Nelson Piquet in Renault. Here are short introductions of both drivers:
Luca Badoer, Ferrari
Following his 1992 F3000 championship title Luca Badoer moved up to Formula One in 1993. He made his F1 debut with the Ferrari powered Lola BMS. His best F1 race finish to date came in the fourth race of that season – 7th place in the 1993 San Marino GP. Unfortunately for him those days only top 6 scored the points…
Romain Grosjean will make his F1 debut in Valencia
Renault today officially ended the period of guessing and speculations. As expected Romain Grosjean has been officially confirmed as Renault F1 driver replacing Nelson Piquet jr.
This season Romain has been the team’s third driver and has attended all races. In 2007 he was Formula 3 Euro Series champion and in 2008 he won the GP2 Asia Series. This season, Romain has been competing in the GP2 Series with Barwa Addax and has won 2 races.
Fernando Alonso will race in Spain this weekend
FIA Court of Appeal overturned Renault’s one-race suspension today. Instead the team was fined $50,000. This means that Fernando Alonso will be able to race in front of Spanish fans this weekend in Valencia.
Renault hasn’t officially confirmed yet who will be their second driver at the European GP. Romain Grosjean is expected to fill the vacancy created by Nelson Piquet’s exit.
Here is the FIA statement:
Michael Schumacher will not race in Valencia
Michael Schumacher has decided to call off his Formula One comeback. Luca Badoer will replace Felipe Massa for the European GP in Valencia. In the statement published on his website Schumacher explained that the persisting neck problems are the reason behind the cancellation of his F1 come back:
“Yesterday evening, I had to inform Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and team principal Stefano Domenicali that unfortunately I’m not able to step in for Felipe.
I really tried everything to make that temporary comeback possible, however, much to my regret it didn’t work out. Unfortunately we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in the neck which occurred after the private F1-day in Mugello, even if medically or therapeutically we tried everything possible.
We all probably expected this to be a quiet week. It all turned out a bit differently.
BMW decided to pull the plug on F1. They surprised not only the public but also their drivers who had no idea such an option was even on cards (at least that is what Heidefeld, Kubica and Klien said). The focus of BMW debates is now shifting from “Why they decided to quit ?” to “What is next ?”
What a bizzare day in F1 this was. It started with BMW pulling out, it ends with news that Michael Schumacher is coming back.
Ferrari has confirmed that Michael Schumacher will replace Felipe Massa in Valencia. Hm, Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen as team mates …
“The most important thing first: thanks God, all news concerning Felipe are positive. I wish him all the best again.
“I was meeting this afternoon with Stefano Domenicali and Luca di Montezemolo and together we decided that I will prepare myself to take the place of Felipe.
“Though it is true that the chapter Formula 1 has been closed for me since long and completely, it is also true that for loyalty reasons to the team I cannot ignore that unfortunate situation. But as the competitor I am, I also very much look forward to facing this challenge.” – Michael Schumacher
Obviously he forgot to tell his manager who was only a day or so ago 200% sure Schumacher would not jump into Massa’s seat …
Here come the Bridgestones ...
With the exception of Monaco Grand Prix Bridgestone this season has been following the concept of leaving a gap in rubber stiffness between the two allocated tyres for each race. That means that for example drivers have had to use super soft and medium or soft and hard rather than super soft and soft or medium and hard compounds at each GP (unless the race is declared wet).
For the four races from the Hungarian Grand Prix to the Italian Grand Prix Bridgestone will allocate consecutive compound pairings for each of these races.
Melbourne, Montreal, Valencia, Singapore – these were my 2008 Formula 1 destinations. Melbourne and Montreal were new for me, Valencia and Singapore new even to Formula 1. Montreal and Singapore were also 2 of only 4 sell out races in 2008. Here is a mini photo review of the events that unfolded in front of me and my Nikon in 2008:
Valencia Street Track was a brand new addition to the Formula 1 calendar and from what was seen and said and written it promised to be an exciting new venue. I was lucky enough to be able to fit European GP into my annual summer trip to Europe and see this new Grand Prix live.
The venue and organization
As it is the case with the street or park or city tracks, the biggest plus from a spectator point of view is the convenience. In Shanghai the trip from city to or from track may take anywhere from one to two hours, depending on how bad or very bad the traffic is. In Valencia the taxi ride took about 10 minutes. It then took about the same time for me to walk to my seat.
Some people think that the reace should have taken place somewhere around the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències – a new modern part of Valencia near the harbour rather than in the dockyard. Well, perhpas it would provide better backdrop if those parts still under construction could be somehow be avoided. But the race track was build a bit closer to the sea, near that dockyard. Yes, once you sit there you can’t miss the sights of cranes and containers. But the views from grandstands also offer this:
Felipe Massa, Valencia 2008
It was not the most exciting race of the season but still, it was a great weekend in Spain. I am really glad that it was this race that this year coincided with my annual summer trip to Europe. Spain is definitely a great place to enjoy Formula 1 weekend and the setting in Valencia is simply great. And perhaps next year the Formula 1 cars will also be able to show us the kind of racing GP2 offers .
Already on Friday it was becoming obvious that Ferrari will be the team to beat in Valencia. And at the end that also was the case. Felipe Massa claimed the pole and was well set for the victory. His first pit stop (a lap earlier than Hamilton) and the smiles on face of Martin Whitmarsh made the commentators on the track to hand the victory to Lewis Hamilton, but when Hamilton emerged from his own pit stop behind both Massa and Raikkonen, the speculations about possible superior McLaren tactics ended. From then it was pretty about Massa not making any errors and his car giving him no Hungary like shocks. The scare came during his second pit stop. His crew released him straight into the path of Adrian Sutil (who was a lap down). These two almost collided and the incident was under investigation. Massa himself blamed Sutil for it, not understanding why Sutil needed to rush ahead of Massa in the pitlane when he would still have to let him pass on the track. From the outside it looked more like an error of Massa’s crew. In GP2 race Karun Chandhok received drive through penalty for similar error, in F1 it was to be investigated after the race. It is hard to say what approach is better but … should not the officials apply the same penalties (or procedures) for the same violations (or incidents) ? I am not questioning the fact that Massa escaped without penalty (I do not think he deserved one) but the FIA’s inconsistency that naturally leads to debates about certain teams escaping lightly.