Tag: 2006

2014: Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

Before Formula One heads into its mid-season break there is time for one more race. The Hungarian Grand Prix will be the last race before the summer break which will see the factories going into shutdown for two weeks. Last time out there was another Mercedes victory but Lewis Hamilton fell short of making it a 1-2 after having to fight through the field following a qualifying accident. Valtteri Bottas took his third podium finish in a row, finishing in second place between the two Mercedes drivers.

Circuit: Hungaroring
Number of Laps: 70
Circuit Length:4.381km
Number of Corners: 14
Lap Record: 1:19.071 Michael Schumacher (2004)
Previous Hungarian Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 4
Most Successful Team:McLaren (11 wins)
DRS Zones: 2    
Pirelli Tyres: Medium and Soft

It’s hard to be believe that the mid-point of the season has already passed and the Hungarian Grand Prix will be the eleventh race of the year. Mercedes have won 9 races with Daniel Ricciardo the only other driver to stand on the top step of the podium.

Lewis Hamilton is the most successful current F1 driver in Hungary with four victories – tied with Michael Schumacher for overall most successful F1 driver there – including his first win for Mercedes at the track last year. Hamilton has won for the last two years and also won in 2007 and 2009. He will no doubt be hoping to retake the initiative in the Drivers Championship with another win. For every year that Hamilton has won the Hungarian Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen has finished second. The Finn has finished no higher than seventh this year and is languishing well behind his team-mate in the championship so a podium finish for him would be just what he needs to rejuvenate his season. Hungary has also been a location for first wins – Fernando Alonso in 2003, Jenson Button in 2006 and Heikki Kovalainen in 2008. With the form that Bottas has been of late, could he be Formula One’s next winner?

The Hungaroring has also been a happy hunting ground for McLaren with them winning six of the last ten races in Hungary. The Woking based squad started the year with two podium finishes in Australia but have gone backwards since then. They believe that recent upgrades have set them back on the right track however. Force India and Ferrari have scored at every round so far thanks to Nico Hulkenberg and Alonso and both teams have one podium apiece (Sergio Perez & Alonso). Red Bull may currently lie second in the championship but they should be watching over their shoulders for Williams who have enjoyed a string of good results with Bottas while Felipe Massa has been unlucky to retire from the last two races on the first lap.

The Hungarian Grand Prix has been a constant on the Formula One World Championship calendar since 1986. The Hungaroring has often been likened to a street circuit due to its tight and twisty nature and the low grip. It may lack the barriers of Monaco but it still provides drivers with a challenge as they navigate their way around the 4.381km track. Another similarity to the likes of Monaco is that it is a difficult track to overtake at, placing higher importance on qualifying position. Saying that, it is not a requirement to start on the front row to win there as Button proved in 2006 when he raced to his first Formula One victory from 14th on the grid.

The Hungaroring is a circuit which requires maximum downforce and is also the slowest on the calendar. It is also somewhere where hot conditions can have an impact. Pirelli will be bringing the medium and soft compound tyres expecting two stops to be the order of the day on Sunday. In relation to last year the track remains relatively the same, although there have been a few adjustments. The guardrail to the left of the run-off area at Turn 3 has been realigned while 50mm speed bumps have been instulled on the run-off area at Turns 6 and 7. New fencing has been installed between Turns 11 & 12 and around the outside of 14.

Can anyone stop Mercedes from securing their tenth win of the season?

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Analysis: how would double points have changed the last 20 years? Part Two

A few days ago the FIA published some regulation changes ahead of 2014, and one in particular has been met with an overwhelmingly negative response. The F1 Strategy Group, consisting teams from the championship, voted to allow double points for the last race of the season which, in the case of 2014, is in Abu Dhabi. Four time world champion Sebastian Vettel told German media he thought the idea was “absurd”.

The question was then raised: would double points have made a difference to world championships in the past? An analysis of 1993 to 2002 showed that there would have been a few changes here and there in the top ten, but nothing significant like a change of champion. This post will complete an analysis of twenty years, looking at 2003 – 2013.

2003 – Michael Schumacher

In 2003 a new points system was introduced – points were now awarded to the top eight on the basis of: 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Michael Schumacher won his fourth championship in a row (his sixth overall) narrowly beating McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen. Juan Pablo Montoya ended the year in third place. However, if double points for the last race had been in play, the first major change in the period 1993 – 2013 would have occurred:

  1. Kimi Raikkonen (92) 99
  2. Michael Schumacher (93) 94
  3. Juan Pablo Montoya 82

Yes, Raikkonen would have won his first championship, reducing Schumacher’s tally to only six (‘only’…). David Coulthard would also have benefited from double points, moving from seventh to six, with Fernando Alonso dropping a place. In the constructors championship McLaren would have finished in second place with double points, moving ahead of Williams.

2003

2004 – Michael Schumacher

It was a whitewash for Michael Schumacher in 2004 when he won 13 of 18 races, comfortably wrapping up the championship before the final race of the year, meaning double points would have made no difference:

  1. Michael Schumacher (148) 150
  2. Rubens Barrichello (114) 120
  3. Jenson Button 85

Double points would have allowed Juan Pablo Montoya to finish ahead of Fernando Alonso in fourth place. Kimi Raikkonen would also have benefited, at the expense of Jarno Trulli. The constructors championship would have remained the same.

2004

2005 – Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso became the youngest world champion (at the time) in 2005, comfortably beating Kimi Raikkonen who was hampered by an unreliable McLaren. Michael Schumacher finished in a distant third – an unfamiliar position for him after so much domination. Double points would have altered the top three slightly, although Alonso had already wrapped the title up before the last race:

  1. Fernando Alonso (133) 143
  2. Kimi Raikkonen (112) 120
  3. Giancarlo Fisichella (58) 63

The constructors championship would have remained the same with or without double points.

2005

2006 – Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso did not have to wait long for championship number two, enjoying a spirited battle with a retiring Michael Schumacher throughout 2006 on his way to it. Felipe Massa finished in third place:

  1. Fernando Alonso (134) 142
  2. Michael Schumacher (121) 126
  3. Felipe Massa (80) 90

As can be seen, double points would not have changed the order, instead they would have dropped Schumacher further behind Alonso. The top ten in both the drivers and constructors championships would have been the same, regardless of double points.

2006

2007 – Kimi Raikkonen

2007 saw the arrival of Lewis Hamilton on the scene, and he instantly fought for the world championship. It was a difficult year for McLaren with inter-team battles and ‘Spygate’ seeing them disqualified from the constructors championship. In the end, in some sort of poetic justice, Hamilton and his team-mate Fernando Alonso finished on joint points, just one point behind champion Kimi Raikkonen, who won the final race of the year to clinch it. Double points, however, would have changed things slightly:

  1. Kimi Raikkonen (110) 120
  2. Fernando Alonso (109) 115
  3. Lewis Hamilton (109) 111

Elsewhere in the top ten, double points would have seen Nico Rosberg finish in eighth place instead of ninth. The constructors championship would not have changed.

2007

2008 – Lewis Hamilton

After narrowly missing out in 2007, Lewis Hamilton ruled the roost in 2008, beating Felipe Massa in a nailbiting finale. He overtook Timo Glock on the last corner of the last lap to take the fifth place he needed, after Massa took an emotional home victory. 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen finished in third. If there had been double points, things would be very different in the history books – Massa would be champion and Hamilton would have no championships:

  1. Felipe Massa (97) 107
  2. Lewis Hamilton (98) 102
  3. Kimi Raikkonen (75) 81

Those would have been the only changes within the top ten, but pretty significant. The constructors championship would have remained the same.

2008

2009 – Jenson Button

Major regulation changes in 2009 shook up the field, with newly formed Brawn GP dominating the start of the season. Red Bull joined them at the front with usual front runners Ferrari and McLaren slipping back. Jenson Button won his first world championship, beating Sebastian Vettel and Rubens Barrichello. Double points would have brought Vettel closer to Button’s points tally, but would not have changed the overall order:

  1. Jenson Button (95) 101
  2. Sebastian Vettel (84) 94
  3. Rubens Barrichello (77) 82

None of the top ten would have changed with double points and the same can be said for the constructors championship.

2009

2010 – Sebastian Vettel

In 2009 a new points system was introduced: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1. After missing out in 2009, Sebastian Vettel won his first world championship in 2010, beating off stiff competition from Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber.  Going into the last race, Alonso had the advantage – Vettel never led the championship until the last race, subsequently winning it – but his race did not go quite as planned. The top three would have been altered slightly by double points:

  1. Sebastian Vettel (256) 281
  2. Fernando Alonso (252) 258
  3. Lewis Hamilton (240) 258

Mark Webber, who actually finished third, would have dropped to fourth and Lewis Hamilton would have been third with the same amount of points as Alonso. Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica would both have finished ahead of Felipe Massa with double points. The constructors championship would have been unaffected.

2010

2011 – Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel dominated 2011 in a Schumacher-esque style and won his second championship with over 100 points in hand. Going into the last race he was already 119 points clear of Jenson Button, so double points definitely would not have changed the outcome. Mark Webber finished in third place:

  1. Sebastian Vettel (392) 410
  2. Jenson Button (270) 285
  3. Mark Webber (258) 283

Elsewhere the rest of the top ten would also have remained as they actually finished. Force India would have benefited from double points in the constructors championship, however, moving ahead of Renault.

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012 – Sebastian Vettel

After dominating 2011, Sebastian Vettel had to overcome a significant deficit to beat Fernando Alonso. Kimi Raikkonen finished in third on his return to the sport. Double points in 2012 would have resulted in a very different top three – the biggest changes in the past twenty years:

  1. Fernando Alonso (278) 296
  2. Sebastian Vettel (281) 289
  3. Jenson Button (188) 213

Alonso would now be a three time world champion with Vettel as runner up. Jenson Button would have benefited most from double points after winning the last race of the season. He would have risen from fifth to third – moving ahead of Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton. The constructors championship would have been unchanged.

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 – Sebastian Vettel

This season saw Sebastian Vettel dominate again, winning 13 of 19 races including the last nine. His advantage at the end of the year was 155 points and he had the championship won in India with a few races in hand. Double points would not have changed the outcome:

  1. Sebastian Vettel (397) 422
  2. Fernando Alonso (242) 257
  3. Mark Webber (199) 217

With double points, Sergio Perez would have finished in the top ten, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg who actually finished tenth. In the constructors championship, double points would have seen Ferrari finish ahead of Mercedes in second.

2013

 

 

 

 

 

And that concludes the analysis of the effect of double points in the last twenty years. Between 1993 and 2002 there were no major changes, but 2003 – 2013 would have seen some major changes with double points. The history books would have Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel both down as three time world champions. Michael Schumacher would be a six time world champion and Kimi Raikkonen would have two championships. Felipe Massa would be a one time world champion and Lewis Hamilton would have none.

The end of many eras in Brazil

The Brazilian Grand Prix may be the last race of the season, but this year it is far more than just that. Interlagos will play host to the end of many eras. Felipe Massa will race in red for the last time, Mark Webber will bring his Formula One career to an end, and the paddock will bid farewell to Cosworth engines along with the V8. As if that wasn’t enough, McLaren’s long-standing partnership with Vodafone will also draw to a close and reports suggest Formula One will lose its Global and Technology partner LG. It also signals the start of an uncertain period for a number of drivers who have been left in limbo over whether they will be in Formula One next season, or visiting pastures new.

Felipe Massa leaving Ferrari after eight seasons

Felipe Massa joined Ferrari as a test driver in 2003 before being promoted to a race seat in 2006, alongside Michael Schumacher. Since then he has accumulated eleven wins, 36 podiums, 15 pole positions and 14 fastest laps. He became a bit of a Turkey specialist, taking pole position and winning the race three years in a row. He has also won his home race – the Brazilian Grand Prix – on two occasions as well as finishing on the podium two further times. He came close to winning the championship in 2008, but it was not to be int the end. He is second only to Michael Schumacher in terms of races entered for Ferrari. Brazil will be number 139 – meaning Massa is third in the all time list for number of races with one team.  Michael Schumacher managed 181 with Ferrari and David Coulthard reached 150 races for McLaren. He will begin the next chapter of his Formula One career by joining Williams for 2014 and beyond.

Mark Webber retiring from Formula One

Since his Formula One debut in 2002, Mark Webber has become a popular figure in the Formula One paddock. Not one for shying away from saying things as they are, Webber’s frank nature is refreshing in the current world of Formula One. Starting with Minardi, Webber drove for Jaguar before joining Williams, and eventually moving to Red Bull Racing in 2007. Nine wins, 13 poles, 41 podiums and 18 fastest laps make up his Formula One career. The Brazilian Grand Prix will be his 217th race, and his 129th for Red Bull, placing him fifth in the all time list for number of races with one team. He fought right to the last race of the 2010 season for the championship but unfortunately he has never won one. He has, however, been an important part of Red Bull’s rise to the top and part of the highly successful team who have won four constructors championships in a row. He has won at Brazil twice before – in 2009 and 2011. He appeared in the Thursday press conference and said: “I wouldn’t be leaving if there wasn’t things I’m happy to leave behind, and obviously if there’s more positives than negatives then obviously I would stay. But there’s more negatives than positives so, for me it’s something… I want a fresh change, a new chapter in my life basically – I’m ready for that personally and professionally.

Marussia-Cosworth split leading to Cosworth’s departure

Cosworth have been a familiar name in the Formula One paddock for 50 years, supported by Ford for a number of years as they supplied engines up and down the paddock. They have powered cars to 166 victories, the last of these coming in 2003 when Giancarlo Fisichella won the Brazilian Grand Prix for Jordan. After a brief spell away from the sport (2007 – 2009 inclusive), Cosworth returned in 2010 to provide power to the three ‘new’ teams who entered the sport then – the teams now known as Marussia and Caterham, along with HRT who dropped out after 2012. They also provided engines to Williams for 2010 and 2011. For 2013, Cosworth have just one team – Marussia – and they currently lie tenth in the championship, ahead of Caterham (who now use Renault engines) albeit with no points. After Marussia announced that they would be joining in partnership with Ferrari for 2014, when the new 1.6 litre V6 turbocharged hybrid power units come into play, it will mean the Cosworth name leaving Formula One once again.

Last race for Vodafone as McLaren’s title sponsor

Vodafone joined McLaren as title sponsor for the 2007 season, becoming their official Total Communications partners in 2010. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes have enjoyed a successful seven seasons together, including one world championship in 2008 when Lewis Hamilton became drivers champion. During their time together, Vodafone McLaren have won 34 races, secured 30 pole positions and 24 fastest laps. Considering the season McLaren have been having, it is unlikely they will win in Brazil, so Vodafone and McLaren’s last victory together will have been at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. The announcement about the split was made before the Australian Grand Prix at the very start of the season. At the time Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “We’re immensely proud that, having been set a number of ambitious challenges by Vodafone back in 2007, together we’ve met or exceeded each and every one.” McLaren will announce their new title sponsor when they launch their new car, early in 2014.

End of V8 era as teams look ahead to V6 in 2014

It will be the end of an engine era at the Brazilian Grand Prix with normally aspirated 2.4 litre V8 engines making their last appearance before they give way to turbocharged 1.6 litre V6 hybrid Power Units in 2014. V8 engines made their debut in 2006, replacing the 3 litre V10 engines that had been around since 1995. In 2007 the FIA froze engine development as part of their cost cutting measures and in 2009 a limit on the amount of engines available to teams and drivers was introduced. Since then, each driver has a limit of eight engines per season, which they can use whenever they want, but with every new engine over the limit comes a ten place grid penalty. The RPM limit has also evolved since 2007 when it was 19,000 RPM, being reduced to 18,000 RPM in 2009. Renault have been the most successful manufacturer in the V8 era, powering two teams (Renault and Red Bull) to five constructors championships (2006, 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013) along with two drivers (Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel) to five drivers championships (same years as constructors). Along with that, Renault powered cars have won 59 races, taken 65 pole positions and set 55 fastest laps. Seven manufacturers in total have made engines during the V8 era – Renault, Ferrari, Mercedes, Honda, BMW, Cosworth, and Toyota. Only Cosworth and Toyota are without race winners, Toyota having left the sport in 2o10. In terms of race wins, Renault have most (59 victories) while Mercedes have taken 46 victories, Ferrari 39, Honda and BMW with one apiece. In terms of podiums, Renault also top that list with 95. Ferrari and Mercedes have 83 each,  BMW have 12, Toyota have 11 and Honda have three. Who can add to their tally in the last hurrah in Brazil?

LG end five year partnership with Formula One

It was announced at the end of 2008 that South-Korean based electronics group LG would be joining Formula One as Global and Technology Parners from 2009 onwards. Their logo appears on live timing and  Reports suggest that this relationship will come to an end after the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: Lewis Hamilton

We’ve all heard the story about a young boy who confidently approached McLaren Team Principal Ron Dennis at the 1995 Autosport Awards, telling him that he would one day drive for McLaren. That young boy was Lewis Hamilton, of course. Just three years later Hamilton was signed up by McLaren as part of their Young Driver Programme and so began a 14 year partnership.

Hamilton, like many others, started racing in karts. Aged ten he won the British Karting Championship and STP Karting Championship. In 1996 he won the Champions of the Future series and also became Sky TV Kartmasters Champion and Five Nations Champion. He continued to impress, winning most things he entered. It was in karting that he encountered current team-mate Nico Rosberg for the first time, as they partnered each other back then as well. In 1998, after he was signed up by McLaren, he won both the European and World Karting championships.

He moved to single seaters in 2001, first racing the British Formula Renault Winter Series, before progressing to a full Formula Renault UK season in 2002 driving for Manor Motorsport. He won three races and finished on the podium seven times and by the end of the year he was third in the championship. The following year he won it with ten wins and 13 podiums. Formula 3 beckoned after that and he went on to win the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2005. Hamilton joined GP2 for 2006 with ART Grand Prix. Hamilton fought hard through the year, including an impressive fight back in Turkey when he spun and dropped to the back of the field, and beat Timo Glock to the championship. On November 24 2006 it was announced that Hamilton would be joining Fernando Alonso at McLaren in Formula One.

Hamilton’s debut season in Formula One is certainly one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Qualifying fourth for the first race of the year, Hamilton wasted no time in passing his team-mate. Alonso got back past him but a third place was an impressive debut for the Brit. Four second places in a row followed and at the sixth race of the season Hamilton took his maiden Formula One win. He backed up the Canadian Grand Prix victory with another win a week later at Indianapolis. Two further third places on the trot, in France and his home race at Silverstone, meant that Hamilton had nine podiums from nine starts – highly impressive for a debut. A wet European Grand Prix was his first finish outside the points (and off the podium), but he soon got back to familiar ground with a win in Hungary and points in Turkey. Second place in Italy, fourth in Belgium, and a first in Japan added to Hamilton’s points tally and secured his position at the front of the championship. The Chinese Grand Prix was a turning point when he stayed out on his tyres just too long, and retired when his car got beached in the gravel on the entrance to the pits. He ended the year tied on points with Alonso and missing out on the championship by just a solitary point.

After Alonso’s departure, Hamilton was joined by Heikki Kovalainen for two seasons. Hamilton fought with Felipe Massa for the title in 2008 and an overtake on Glock, with whom he had been battling for the GP2 championship, at the last corner on the last lap was enough to secure it by one point. Five wins and five further podiums was enough for Hamilton to become McLaren’s next world champion. In 2009 McLaren struggled with the car at the start of the year, but in the second half they came to the fore and Hamilton picked up two race wins and three further podiums. He finished ‘best of the rest’ behind the Brawn GP and Red Bull drivers. In 2010 and 2011 he won three races and in 2012 he won four. His final race win for McLaren came at the inaugural Austin Grand Prix. He was leading the Brazilian Grand Prix until an accident with Nico Hulkenberg forced him to retire.

Hamilton announced his contract with Mercedes towards the end of September, bringing an end to his time with McLaren. He likened the move to leaving home for the first time, and seeing what else is out there. He left McLaren with 21 victories, 28 further podiums and a 74% finishing in the points record. He holds the record for most consecutive podiums from debut and most wins in a rookie season. From the moment he approached Ron Dennis and said that one day he wanted to drive for his team, Hamilton has displayed his ambition and dedication. During his six seasons with McLaren he enjoyed considerable success, and one world championship, who knows what the future will hold!

In terms of his time as a McLaren driver he was the seventh driver to win a world championship for them. He was the seventeeth driver to win a race for them and he lies third in their all time winners list, behind only Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: Fernando Alonso

Two time world champion Fernando Alonso joined the team for an ill-fated season in 2007. Announced at the end of 2005 – before he went on to win his second title with Renault – the move was highly anticipated, even more so when it was announced he would be partnering rookie Lewis Hamilton.

Fresh off the back of a second world championship, Alonso joined McLaren in 2007 and wasted no time in becoming one of their race winners. He finished second in the first race of the season and went on to lead home a McLaren 1-2 in Malaysia. Following a win-less season in 2006, it was a welcome return to the top step of the podium for the team. A fifth place in Bahrain was followed up by a third place at his home Grand Prix in Spain. Alonso won again in Monaco, leading home another McLaren 1-2, with the two of them lapping all bar one driver – Alonso’s future team-mate Felipe Massa. He continued finishing in the points, with six podiums, in the next nine races. Included in those podiums were two further wins – at the European and Italian Grand Prix. He had mounted a solid attack on the championship, along with Hamilton and it wasn’t until the 15th race of the season that Alonso (and McLaren) had their first retirement of the year. In difficult conditions at the Japanese Grand Prix, Alonso aquaplaned and ended up with his car in a barrier. Second at the subsequent Japanese Grand Prix and a third in Brazil were not enough to win him the championship, instead finishing third tied on points with Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen became champion.

During his time with McLaren, Alonso got caught up in controversy. He was a key witness in the Spygate scandal that resulted in the team getting disqualified from the constructors’ championship, after exchanging e-mails with test driver Pedro de la Rosa about confidential Ferrari information. Hamilton also proved to be a challenge for Alonso, as the pair fought against each other for the title. At the Hungarian Grand Prix, after Hamilton refused to pull over and allow Alonso to pass during qualifying, the Spaniard got revenge by staying in the pit-box for too long. This resulted in Hamilton losing his opportunity to complete another lap and so missed out on pole position. Alonso was penalised and Hamilton got pole position in the end.

While the two time world champion’s time with McLaren was tumultuous, they came to an amicable agreement to end the multi-year contract early after just one season. Alonso contributed four wins to the team’s 182 wins tally, as well as numerous podiums. Alonso finished all bar one race in the points in an average position of 2.7. 70% of his finishes were on the podium. Alonso returned to Renault following his departure from McLaren and joined Ferrari in 2010.

The Massa/Smedley Story

FRob? Smassa? What to call one of Formula One’s most loved bromances?

With the news that Felipe Massa is to leave Ferrari after eight years comes the possibility that it could also be the end of Massa and Rob Smedley’s relationship as race engineer and driver.

Rob Smedley has worked as Massa’s race engineer since 2006, when the Brazilian’s relationship with Rubens Barrichello’s former race engineer did not quite work out. Since then they have been through a lot of memorable moments together – some good, some bad – and have obviously become good friends outside of the race-engineer/driver relationship. They have also enjoyed a number of wins, pole positions and podiums together. In a feature on Sky Sports F1 over the weekend of the Italian Grand Prix, Smedley revealed that he referred to Massa as ‘Philip’. It is just one of the terms of endearment given to Massa by Smedley. He is often heard over team radio saying “good lad”, “good boy”, or as was case at the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix “Felipe baby”.

“Felipe baby” is still a fan favourite four years on. When the Malaysian Grand Prix was red flagged due to monsoon-like conditions, Massa got on the team radio to ask for a white visor. He sounded quite urgent about it and what was Smedley’s response? “Felipe baby, stay cool – we’re bringing you the white visor”. At the next race Massa was forced to rebuke the name, stating he was not a baby. In a feature with the pair at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix, Massa revealed that he was always called baby in China.

From the funny to the emotional now. When Massa lost out on the 2008 world championship by the narrowest of margins, he shared an emotional moment with his race engineer over the team radio.

Smedley: “I think you’ve done, what I can only say is, a very good job. You’ve done a very very good job. Well done son, I’m very very proud of you.”

A tearful sounding Massa replied: “I am very proud of you anyway. I would have been even more with the championship but anyway, thank you”

And who can forget the infamous, and very pointed, “Fernando is faster than you” message from Germany 2010? “Can you confirm you understood that message?” Smedley asked, after clearly stating the above. When Massa resisted defence and let Alonso pull a move on him Smedley came back on the radio. “Ok mate, good lad. Stick with him now. Sorry”.

In the feature broadcast by Sky Sports F1 over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, Smedley referred to things that annoyed him about Massa but said, like having a wife, you just get used to them. He also recalled Massa’s horrific accident during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Smedley called that the “darkest moment of [his] career. What you’ve seen is, you’ve nearly seen your mate get killed.” The pair recalled a time Smedley had gone to visit Massa in hospital. “You were asking about Valencia, which was going to be a week after that,” Smedley revealed. “It was kind of like when you go and visit a very old relative who you kind of just have to appease by going ‘yes, yes that’s right, we’re going to do that’.”

What is clear is that the pair have become very close during their time working together. What is unclear, is what is next for the pair of them. They still have seven races left together at Ferrari, when they can hopefully provide more moments like “Felipe baby”. But after that… who knows? Will Smedley become Kimi Raikkonen’s engineer? Will he move onto another team? He has been with Ferrari for ten years, having previously worked for Jordan F1 and the Williams British Touring Car team. Of course there is also the possibility that Massa gets a drive elsewhere and Smedley joins him, and the Massa/Smedley story continues for a while yet…

Scrutineering: Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica is a Polish racing driver who raced in Formula One between 2006 and 2010 (inclusive) before a rally accident in the build up to the 2011 season brought an end to that period. He has since returned to a racing car and recently won the Ronde Gomitolo di Lana, a provincial rally held in Italy. Driving a Subaru Impreza he finished a minute ahead of his nearest rival. This week’s Scrutineering will take a look back at Robert Kubica’s racing career and include some fan views and thoughts!

Pre-Formula One

As is commonplace with the majority of Formula One drivers, Robert Kubica started racing in karts. When he got his first kart he was too young to compete in the Polish Karting Championship but when he eventually did he was hugely successful and won six titles in three years.  He also enjoyed success in the Italian Junior Karting Championship, the European Junior Karting Championship, the Junior Monaco Kart Cup, and the International German Karting Championship, meeting the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta along the way.

After karting he took part in Formula Renault, the Formula Three Euro Series where he finished the season 13th due to a delayed start, and Formula Renault 3.5 – a series which he won. He also took part in the Macau GP where he came second on two occasions.

Formula One (2005 – 2010)

After winning the World Series by Renault championship, Kubica was given a test drive role within the Renault F1 Team in 2005. He moved to BMW Sauber for 2006 as a test driver but, after Jacques Villeneuve was unable to continue, Kubica was promoted to a race seat and impressed on his Formula One racing debut. He completed the final six races of the year and picked up six points. He finished on the podium at the Italian GP and became the first Polish driver to stand on the Formula One podium.

Kubica was retained for 2007 and he had an impressive season, ending the year in sixth place. It was a mixed year for Kubica, and a horror crash in Canada saw him forced to sit out the US GP on medical grounds. It was a true testament to the safety of modern day Formula One cars when he emerged from a crash which saw his feet hanging from the front of his broken car, and many fearing the worst, with nothing more than concussion and a sprained ankle. He had eleven points scoring positions during the year, including a fourth place at his return to racing at the French GP.

2008 saw Kubica challenging for the championship and finishing in fourth place, tied on points with Kimi Räikkönen. He appeared on the podium seven times throughout the year, including taking his first ever win, at the Canadian GP which had proved to be so dramatic for him just a year earlier. He remained with BMW Sauber for 2009 but slipped down the standings to 14th with just 17 points and only one podium – a second at Brazil.

For the 2010 season Kubica made a move to the Renault F1 Team to replace his friend, Ferrari bound Fernando Alonso. He partnered Vitaly Petrov and scored the majority of the team’s 163 points, which saw them finish fifth in the championship. Kubica finished the year in eighth place with a further three podiums to add to his tally. He was due to continue his campaign in 2011, but a pre-season rally accident saw his racing career thrown into doubt.

Formula One Statistics

Poles: 1
Wins: 1
Podiums: 11
Points Finishes: 46/76
Fastest laps: 1

Now? 

After winning his first rally, as mentioned at the start, Kubica has been linked with a move to the World Rally Championship. He still has problems with the mobility of his arm, meaning he is restricted in what he can race, ruling single seaters out. Hopefully he will be able to continue racing, wherever it may be, as he has demonstrated raw speed and skill, which allowed him to fight with the best in Formula One.

What the fans say and like!

  • It is great to hear he is back in action after his crash – a talent like his would be a shame to be wasted
  • Formula One is worse without him
  • His win at the Canadian GP a year after his crash was very fitting
  • He was the first Polish driver in Formula One
  • His 2006 Italian GP podium
  • Would have definitely been a championship contender

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In a slight change to Scrutineering, the next edition will be a special so keep an eye out on Twitter @hannahhou/@thehduct and The H Duct Facebook page for ways to get involved!