The fact that these 2 teams are neighbors in the constructors table with only 5 points separating them is not exactly a sign of money well spent in Toyota… Toyota scored points in only 7 out of 17 races in 2007 and their greatest point tally from a race was 3. They had 5 races pointless streak from Turkey to China.
Their start to the season was not that bad. Both their cars qualified in top 10 and scored their first point right away with Ralf at 8th, just ahead of Trulli. Jarno Trulli went 1 place better in the next 2 races. After three races Toyota were 5th in the constructors table with 5 points, but the performance slump of Ralf Schumacher was well under way already. It became even more apparent in Spain where Trulli qualified at 6th while Ralf Schumacher at 17. Both cars retired from the race. (more…)
After their disastrous 2006 season many people (me included) said, that this year will be the make or break one for the Williams team. The danger of taking the Jordan route after Honda deserted them was definitelly real. They however managed to turn the things around. Toyota power replacing the Cosworth engine was an important step. Not that Cosworth V8 was a bad engine, but financial side of the deal with Toyota was definitelly much sweeter for Williams than buying engines off Cosworth… On top of that the team secured the title sponsor AT&T, without even giving them the most lucrative place on the car. That went to another major new sponsor – Lenovo. Mark Webber left and Alex Wurz was promoted from testing duties to a race seat alongside Nico Rosberg. Their winter testing form was promising, things did not look too bad for Williams ahead of 2007 season.
BMW Sauber team surprised many this year and claimed the best of the rest title. After the exclusion McLaren exclusion that meant no 2 in costructors table.
They declared ther intentions right at the race 1 in Melbourne. Nick Heidfeld finished in strong 4th place, well clear ahead of Renaults. Kubica however suffered from their early season reliability issues and did not make it to the chequered flag. In the next race in Malaysia, Nick Heidfeld found himself ahead of Felipe Massa after Massa’s failed attempt to overtake Alonso. He managed to keep Massa behind and claimed the second 4th place in a row. Kubica again suffered car problems and finished way down the field and outside the points.
It took 3 races, but after Bahrain Kubica also had points under his belt for 6th place. However the way Heidfeld overtook Alonso and kept him in bay counts as one my highlights of 2007 season. Third 4th place in a row for Heidfeld. By now BMW Sauber were clearly established as 3rd best team.
Two weeks have passed since the last race of the season. I find this to be the right time to begin with the series of season review posts. The first 5 parts will focus on the teams. Several “Top Of The 2007 Season” posts will follow.
Part one will focus on the top 2 teams of the 2007 season Ferrari and McLaren. I still consider McLaren to be a top 2 team regardless their zero point tally…
Ferrari entered the 2007 season with all new set up. The most significant changes were the absence of retired Michael Schumacher and the departure of Ross Brawn. Kimi Raikkonen was brought in to replace the 7 time wolrd champion. Felipe Massa and Jean Todt represented the continuity of the old Ferrari. Even as many had wondered how all the changes will affect the teams performances, they were still considered one of the favourites for the 2007 titles following the strong winter testing season. Their experience with the Bridgestone tyres (although totally different Bridgestone tyres) was also considered a significant advantage.
The team brought a brand new car – the long wheel base F2007 – quite a different car from its predecessor 248 F1. The new package proved to be an instant success (well, almost). Kimi Raikkonen won the opening race from the pole, claiming the fastest lap as well. His first race for Ferrari and hattrick right away. However a major weakness of the new Ferrari package was exposed in the first race as well – reliability.
The race start was a perfect display of Ferrari team work. Massa slowed down Hamilton allowing Raikkonen to gain a place. Ferrari 1-2 before the first corner… Hamilton went on to loose another place to Alonso who came out of nowhere to overtake him. Hamilton went off the track and dropped further down to 8th. After first few corners the title chances of Raikkonen and Alonso were no longer only mathematical… Then eight laps later it all went wrong for Hamilton. His car suddenly slowed down and it looked like he may have to retire. He got the car going but by that time he lost about 40 seconds and dropped way back down to 18th place. Ferraris were pulling away from Alonso. It started to look like this may be Kimi’s day after all…
April 6, 2003 – one of craziest races in the recent memory. Few 2007 GPs came close (Canada, Europe, Japan) but not close enough.
All started in October 2002 when the all team bosses came up with a “wise” cost cutting idea and voted to change the rules to limit the use of wet tyres to just one spec per event. Looks like Max Mosley has not always enjoyed monopoly on creating stupid rules. So fast forward to April 6, 2003 Interlagos circuit. Torrential rain turned the track into free flowing river at some parts but all that the teams had for their disposal that weekend were intermediate tyres. They for sure saved on the tyres, but the high speed Turn 3 became one of the most expensive car wreck centres – by the time the race finished (will come to that), there were Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari, Juan Pablo Montoya’s Williams, Jenson Button’s BAR, Antonio Pizzonia’s Jaguar and both Minardis piled up behind the tyre wall. (videos inside the article)
When watching F1 race at the track, especially an eventful one like the Chinese GP, it is quite difficult to write a detailed race review. In anycase, it has been a week since the race and there is definitelly no need for another race review, the web is full of them already. So I decided to make an alternative report from the Chinese GP. Some of you may have read my article Going To Shanghai To Chinese Grand Prix. It seems that things have changed a bit since my last visit to Chinese F1, so a bit of an update is necessary.
Before we get to the race track I return to way from the airport. After testing the Maglev train that goes from the Pudong Airport to Pudong Middle Of Nowhere, I must say, it is worth taking it. You do not get too many chances travelling on land at 431 km/h.
And even the train goes only for 30 km and stops in the Middle Of Nowhere, it still helps jumping the 30 km of possible traffic jams. The Middle Of Nowhere train station has plenty of taxis waiting and the combination of the Maglev train with taxi saved me about 20 minutes travel time to hotel and about 8-10 USD in the total fare. (more…)
What a race it was… As usual, throw in the rain and expect unexpected. The race started behind the safety car, as the track conditions were deemed too dangerous. One only had to see some of the on board footage to understand why…
To make things even more confusing FIA requested teams to start the race on extreme wet tyres, with black flags awaiting those who would not follow. Apparently the rule came out only at 12:15, 15 minutes before the race start. FIA sent the information by email. Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali only received the email by 1:37 … Ferraris started the race on intermediates… Why on Earth did they choose to do that in those freaking wet conditions is mystery to me. With or without FIAs rule the extreme wets were sure the only way to go.
Anyway, without anyone watching the race knowing what was going on, both Ferraris, Massa first, Raikkonen after him made pit stops behind the safety car and were relegated from 3rd and 4th to back of the pack. With safety still cruising, both of them had to sit still at the back without being able to recover lost track positions. (more…)
The 2007 Belgian GP hardly can be called a classic race, but it was sure one of the better ones this season, with quite a bit of an on track action. Most of it was down the grid though …
Ferraris were class of the field this weekend, clearly better than McLarens. This was quite a turnaround after Monza, but that’s what we got used to this year. Both teams are very close and the pendulum swings from track to track…
We had no serious carnage at the start this time, however the stunt Alonso pulled on Hamilton could have caused one. Whether the move was deliberate I am not able to tell, but it sort of looked like it. This was something I would understand if the car next Alonso was all red, but doing this to a team mate is quite unexpected. It looks like Ron Dennis prefers this season to end as peacefully as possible. He told ITV:
“It was absolutely fine.They weren’t too aggressive and they’re racing drivers. No-one would blink if it was opposing teams.”
Back to race – It became clear early on, that only some disaster could prevent Ferraris from 1-2 finish. Nothing happened, and so Kimi has 3rd Spa win in a row under his belt. Massa finished 2nd, and with 3 races to and 20 points gap to the leader, he should probably settle for Kimi support role for the rest of the season. Kimi though, cut Hamilton’s lead to 13 points only and is still pretty much in the fight. I am not sure if the doughnut he did at the end of the race was planned, or was it just an innocent by-product of the quick U turn on the way to pits. In any case, quite a refreshment
The Ferrari home race finally brought at least some racing action. The lower pit lane speed limit made 1 stop strategy feasible and eleven drivers opted for it. For some it meant shot at a point finish, for some it was only way to compete. They were all clearly helped by the safety car early on in the race and this for sure assisted some proper racing later on.
McLarens looked to have upper hand over Ferraris after all the weekend. The Ferrari case was not helped by Massa early retirement. The Maranello guys should do something about their reliability issues… (more…)
Jean Eric VERGNE
2014 F1 Calendar
14-16 March - Australia
28-30 March - Malaysia
4-6 April - Bahrain
18-20 April - China
9-11 May - Spain
22-25 May - Monaco
6-8 June - Canada
20-22 June - Austria
4-6 July - Great Britain
18-20 July - Germany
25-27 July - Hungary
22-24 August - Belgium
5-7 September - Italy
19-21 September - Singapore
3-5 October - Japan
10-12 October - Russia
31 October-2 November - USA
7-9 November - Brazil
21-23 November - Abu Dhabi