Tag: 2007

Spotlight: Lewis Hamilton’s first F1 victory – ten years on

Ten years ago, on the 10th June 2007, Lewis Hamilton took his first ever Formula One victory.

The 22 year old McLaren driver had already made quite the impact on the F1 world before arriving in Canada. He was tied at the top of the championship on points with team-mate Fernando Alonso. In 2007 points were awarded for positions one to eight, with ten for the winner, and both McLaren drivers were sitting on 38 after five rounds.

Five podiums from five starts had demonstrated Hamilton’s immense rookie talent but he had not as yet stood on the top step of the podium. He had finished second to Alonso’s first twice – including at the Monaco Grand Prix where the pair dominated the field and lapped everyone bar Felipe Massa in third. Everything was about to change in Canada, however, and the tilt shifted in Hamilton’s favour.

It was Alonso who topped the first two practice sessions before Hamilton took charge in FP3. He was three tenths faster than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen before they headed into qualifying. It proved to be a McLaren front row lock out – the second race in a row – but, for only the second time that season, it was Hamilton in front of Alonso and by nearly five tenths of a second. All eyes were on Hamilton after securing his first F1 pole position – would he be able to convert it into a victory?

In a race which saw four safety car periods – including for Robert Kubica’s big accident – Hamilton kept his cool and went on to win, beating BMW’s Nick Heidfeld by just over four seconds. Alexander Wurz finished the race in third place. Hamilton was in control through the whole race not letting any of the safety car periods phase him. It turned out that Hamilton did not have to wait long for his second victory which came just a week later at the US GP at Indianapolis.

Since the Canadian Grand Prix, Hamilton has won 55 Grand Prix putting him second on the all time list. He has taken at least one victory in every season since 2007 – the fewest being two in one season (2009) and the most being 11 in 2014.  He won 21 races with McLaren and has so far won 34 for Mercedes.

This weekend will see him go for a sixth victory at the Canadian Grand Prix. Following his debut win in 2007 he also won there in 2010, 2012, 2015, and 2016.

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End of an Era: Sebastian Vettel & Red Bull

Prior to the Mercedes domination of 2014, there was one partnership eclipsing the competition. That was, of course, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing.

Over his six seasons driving for the team Vettel has 44 pole positions, 65 podium finishes and 38 wins, not forgetting the small matter of four world championships. Ever since making his race debut with Sauber at the 2007 US GP, the young German has demonstrated his considerable talent. Winning his first race at a wet Monza in 2008 set Vettel on an incredible journey.

Vettel made his Formula One debut with Sauber – the team that has given us Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen amongst other drivers – and it wasn’t long before he was breaking records. In fact, six seconds is the amount of time it took him. As he drove down the pit-lane in Turkey in his first ever Formula One session he broke the speed limit. He continued 2006 as a test driver for Sauber before making his first race appearance for them at the 2007 US GP, standing in for an injured Robert Kubica. Vettel went on to pick up a point – his first of many – before swapping to Toro Rosso for the remainder of the 2007 season. 2008 brought with it a solid first full season in Formula One as Vettel finished eighth in the standings and he was rewarded with a seat at Red Bull Racing for 2009.

Vettel wasted no time in getting involved in a championship battle as he finished runner up to Jenson Button in 2009. The gap was 11 points by the season’s end and Vettel racked up four wins on his way to second place. In 2010 he went one better and won his first world championship. Winning the Abu Dhabi GP saw him win the title in emphatic style, especially as he had not led the championship at any stage during the season, instead just being on top when it mattered most. 2011 was a stark contrast as Vettel led the championship start to finish with a pole position and victory at the season opener in Australia giving a sign of what was to come. He won 11 races and only failed to finish on the podium twice – a fourth place at his home race in Germany and a DNF in Abu Dhabi. He finished 122 points clear of his closest rival – Jenson Button. 2012 was another 2011-esque year as Vettel went head-to-head with Fernando Alonso and not with a clear advantage. He overcame a 44 point deficit to his rival to eventually win by three points. A nine race in a row victory streak at the end of 2013 saw him once again beating Alonso, this time wrapping up the championship by round 16 and over 150 points clear of second place.

While Vettel has been linked with Ferrari in the past it still came as somewhat of a shock when he confirmed that he would be leaving Red Bull. A lacklustre 2014 season which saw Vettel beat by new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo resulted in Vettel ending the year in fifth. His contract with Red Bull denied him the chance of driving for Ferrari at the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, but he was spotted in the back of the garage. He then made his on track debut with his new team at Ferrari test track Fiorano in the F2012. Ferrari had a disappointing year in 2014 but Vettel’s new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen suggested that next year’s car is moving in the right direction. It is the dawn of new era for the German driver who, at the age of 27, still has a lot to give in Formula One.

2014: Ferrari launch F14 T

Ferrari have become the second team to officially launch their 2014 challenger.

Like McLaren, Ferrari’s launch took the form of photographs and videos being uploaded to the team’s website. The F14 T – named by a fan vote – is the sixtieth car built by Ferrari and has been in the works for over two years. The design features some similar aspects such as pull-rod front and rear suspension; however the most obvious changes are at the front and rear of the car.

Regulation changes to lower the chassis and nose have led to teams running what has been dubbed an ‘anteater’ nose, but Ferrari have offered a different interpretation. The rear wing has also changed significantly to encompass the rule changes. As well as the obvious changes inside, there are a number of changes outside to accommodate an intercooler for the turbo-compressor system and to manage heat rejection from the ERS. The F14 T also has a redesigned braking system.

“I think that this year, that the technical challenge is, as far as I remember, the biggest one we have had in the last decade of Formula One,” Team Principal Stefano Domenicali said. “Connected to the challenge is the opportunity to make sure that this challenge will be taken in the right way from our group of engineers. We have a total new powertrain; we have a new set of regulations that are very interesting, but you really have to look carefully in depth to be sure we take the opportunity to improve the level of performance.”

“The most important thing that we have to avoid is to fall under the big pressure that we have,” Domenicali concluded. “This has been very clear with my people. We need to stay very focused on the job, we need to make sure that we do the very best job that we can.”

This year Ferrari will have a formidable line-up in the form of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. Alonso has been with the team since 2010 and is entering his fifth season with the team, while Raikkonen returns having left the team at the end of 2009. 2014 will be his fourth season with the Scuderia. Both drivers are world championships, with Raikkonen winning his with Ferrari in 2007. He has spent the past two years driving for Lotus, having spent two years out of Formula One following his Ferrari departure.

“It’s nice to come back to the Ferrari team,” returnee Kimi Raikkonen said. “It’s the place I won my championship in 2007 and obviously the aim is the same – we want to do the best that we can. We will try to win the world championship but time will tell what will happen.”

“If we are the strongest team? I hope we are going to be,” Raikkonen continued. “Obviously I think we both drive very well and we’ll both want to win. Time will tell what will happen and if we can bring the championships back.”

“Schumacher won in the fifth year here with Ferrari and I’m in the fifth year now,” Fernando Alonso said. “Hopefully I can repeat some of the success he had. Obviously in the last four years we’ve had some opportunities – in 2010, 2012 we were very very close in the championship – so this year we will try again and hopefully this year will be the good one.”

Full details of the car, including photographs and videos can be found here: http://f14t.ferrari.com/en/#countdown. The team will be on track next week in Jerez.

Paul di Resta secures Mercedes DTM return

 

Mercedes-Benz has announced that Paul di Resta will be returning to their squad for the 2014 DTM season.

Di Resta, who previously drove in the series between 2007 and 2010, lost his Force India drive in Formula One after three seasons with the team. He will partner McLaren test and reserve driver Gary Paffett, driving DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupe in the up-coming season.

Both di Resta and Paffett are DTM champions, with Paffett winning in 2005 and di Resta in 2010, the year before he left to become a Formula One driver.

The Scottish driver had a successful three years in DTM, with six wins, six poles and seven fastest laps from 42 races. He also finished on the podium a further 15 times.

“It feels really good to be back in the DTM and to see so many familiar faces again,” di Resta said. “The DTM is a fantastic racing series with three strong premium brands, a very competitive field and a very evenly matched bunch of drivers. I’m really looking forward to working with the whole Mercedes-Benz DTM team and being part of another championship challenge”.

“Much has changed since my last DTM race in Shanghai in 2010 with new cars, a new set of rules and a third manufacturer,” he continued. “But what has not changed is my enormous appetite for success. Mercedes-Benz has given me a car that I can use to fight for wins and titles”.

The former champion went on to admit that it will not be an easy season. “My competitors already have two years of experience with the new generation of vehicles but, starting with today’s first test [in Portimão], I’ll be going flat out in order to be capable of winning at the Hockenheim season opener in early May.”

Toto Wolff said: “Paul di Resta has been a member of the Mercedes-Benz family for many years, and we are delighted that he is returning to the fold this season to further strengthen our DTM squad. Paul has learned a lot during the past few years in Formula 1 and, together with Gary Paffett, we now have two experienced drivers in our team, who have already won the DTM title with Mercedes-Benz and can put their knowledge to good use on the track, whilst passing on hints and tips to our Mercedes juniors”.

Mercedes-Benz has been a part of di Resta’s racing career for a long time. He won the McLaren Mercedes Champions of the Future karting event in 2000 and went on to become a Mercedes junior in 2004. In 2005 he competed in the Formula 3 Euro Series, which he won with a Mercedes engine, beating Sebastian Vettel. In Formula One he competed with Force India who used Mercedes engines.

It is also a special time for Mercedes-Benz, as Daimler prepares to mark its 120th anniversary of competition in motor racing – 80 years of the Silver Arrows and 30 years of DTM.

 

Adrian Sutil joins Sauber for 2014

Sauber have confirmed that Adrian Sutil will join them for 2014. Sutil, who has spent all of his Formula One career so far with Force India (previously Midland and Spyker), will enter his seventh season in the sport with the Swiss team.

“I am very happy that we found common ground,” Sutil said. “Although I have known for a while where I wanted to go, in the end the negotiations took a bit longer than planned. However, now I will have all the more reason to celebrate during the Christmas season.”

Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn said that the team were pleased to sign Sutil as they have been wanting to work with him for ‘a while’. “Adrian has already visited the factory at the end of September to have a look at the infrastructure,” she revealed. “He is not only very fast, but also brings a lot of experience, which is very important looking at the new regulations for next year.”

“We welcome Adrian to the Sauber F1 Team,” she continued. “And are looking forward to a successful collaboration”.

“I’ve been in contact with Monisha for a while,” Sutil said. “She always gave me the feeling my qualities are valued. After six good years driving for Force India, with a lot of highlights, it is now time to embark on a new challenge. I am determined to do my part in order to have a successful future together with the Sauber F1 Team. The long and successful tradition in motorsport, combined with an impressive factory and one of the best wind tunnels in F1, have been fascinating me for a long time. Thank you to Peter Sauber and Monisha Kaltenborn for your trust in me.”

Sutil’s team-mate will be announced at a late date.

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.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: The Journey

Bruce McLaren once said:

The luck thing – really there’s no such thing as good luck. It’s good preparation and hard work.

It is certainly not luck that led McLaren to be the company they are today, growing from the humble beginnings of Bruce McLaren Racing Ltd. 50 years on McLaren as a racing team have won a number of championships (not just in Formula One), McLaren as a manufacturer have designed and created some of the most iconic road cars ever, and McLaren as a group have developed technologies which have become an integral part to many sectors.

Reflecting on McLaren’s 50th anniversary, Ron Dennis, summarised the following:

McLaren started as the dream of one man, and it’s since grown to encompass the hopes and dreams of more than 2000 men and women, who work as tirelessly as Bruce McLaren himself once did to ensure that everything we do reflects well when compared with everything we’ve ever achieved.

It has been quite a journey in the last 50 years, just like these past 50 days have been a journey for me. While collating all the information for the 50 posts I learned a lot and rediscovered forgotten memories. In the past 50 days we’ve looked at the men who have led McLaren – Bruce McLaren, Teddy Mayer, Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh. We’ve looked at McLaren F1’s 19 race winners, from Bruce himself to John Watson, and from Gerhard Berger to Jenson Button. Seven men have won the world championship for McLaren including Emerson Fittipaldi, Ayrton Senna, and Lewis Hamilton, while the team have had great success at certain races such as in Belgium, Monaco and in Great Britain.

Of course, with only 50 days to play with, it means A LOT of McLaren’s history has not been covered. Key team personnel, or other countries in which they have been victorious, and drivers who have not won races. That is not to say they are not an important part of the McLaren journey, there just wasn’t time in this particular instance.

2013

2013 has been a difficult for McLaren in Formula One. Taking the wrong direction at the start of the year has resulted in them scrapping for fifth place in the championship and not finishing higher than fifth during the year. It has been a baptism of fire for new recruit Sergio Perez. Without a podium or win in sight, it looks set to be their worst season as a team for a while. Of course, it has not always been plain sailing for the Woking-based squad, but somehow they always seem to salvage something in the past couple of decades. A brief overview of their past 23 years (1990 – 2013 inclusive, unless stated otherwise) in Formula One shows this:

Total wins: 102
Total podiums*: 192
Points finishes (from 811 starts): 507
Retirements**: 213
Average championship position***: 2.4
Winless seasons***: 4
Podiumless seasons***: 0

* additional to wins
** not including races where retirement came in last 10%
*** excluding 2013 which is still in progress

It is difficult to quantify a year as the ‘most disappointing’ for McLaren. Is it a year full of retirements? Is it a year with no wins or podiums? Is it 2007 when they were excluded from the championship? McLaren have endured winless seasons before and bounced back, and there are still four races from which they can achieve a podium. It’s all part of the journey.

What next?

McLaren have plenty coming up in the future, as the group continues to grow. For example…

  • In Formula One they are reuniting with Honda, as the Japanese company will be supplying their engines once again, starting in 2015.
  • McLaren Electronic Systems are providing the electric motor, transmission and electronics for the brand new Formula E series, due to launch in 2014.
  • McLaren Applied Technologies has establised a HQ in Singapore.
  • McLaren Automotive has established itself in China with the introduction of appointed retailers in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou.
  • McLaren Automotive also revealed today that the first delivery of the McLaren P1, which goes from 0-100km/h in just 2.8 seconds, has taken place.

The future looks bright for McLaren and, after 50 years of success both on and off the track, here’s to another 50 years on the McLaren journey!

You can catch up with all fifty posts here!