Lewis Hamilton gets championship back on track at British GP

Lewis Hamilton has got his world championship challenge back on track after winning the British Grand Prix. Hamilton, who won his home race for the first time since winning it six years ago, finished over 30 seconds clear of second placed man Valtteri Bottas. Daniel Ricciardo finished third after a long stint on the medium compound tyres, fending off a late charge from McLaren’s Jenson Button. Nico Rosberg retired from the race after leading most of it after suffering a problem with his gearbox.

There was drama at the start of the race up and down the grid. Felipe Massa – who is celebrating his 200th Grand Prix start this weekend – struggled to get away until his anti-stall kicked in. Further up the pack Sebastian Vettel lost out to the McLaren duo and Hamilton, while Sergio Perez spun after making contact with a Toro Rosso. The biggest drama came when Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen ran wide and, as he was making his way back onto track, hit a bump which sent his car into a spin. He made heavy impact – reported as registering at 47G – with the barrier and collected Massa as he spun across the track. Massa had to try and take evasive action and spun himself, preventing a much bigger accident. Raikkonen got out of the car with assistance from the medical team and was taken to the medical centre for checks. A Ferrari spokesman reported that he had hurt his ankle and was having x-rays as a precaution. As a result of the accident there was a lengthy red flag period while the barrier was repaired.

As a result of the red flag, cars returned to the grid ready to start again behind the safety car. Massa limped round the track with obvious damage to his car which the team tried to fix however he did not make the restart, being forced to retire. Max Chilton entered the pit-lane as the red flags came out, picking up a drive through penalty as a result. When the race got going again – an hour after the original start – everyone got away safely. There was some great racing, with Bottas tearing his way through the pack. Button and Fernando Alonso raced closely with the McLaren driver making his car as wide as possible as Alonso searched for a way past. Later on Alonso then had a spirited battle with Vettel, which led to a lot of angry team-radio messages. The FIA have been clamping down on drivers running their cars with all four wheels behind the white lines and Alonso picked up a number of warnings before being shown the black and white flag. It wasn’t Alonso’s first misdemeanour of the day, however, after he started well over his pit-box on the original start and was given a five second penalty as a result. Vettel eventually passed the Ferrari driver and finished over five seconds clear of him, after a lot of close moments between the pair, with neither wanting to give up.

Elsewhere, Kevin Magnussen held on to the Vettel/Alonso battle and finished a solid seventh ahead of Nico Hulkenberg who had a difficult afternoon in his Force India. Rounding out the top ten were the Toro Rosso duo of Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne. Esteban Gutierrez retired after making contact with Pastor Maldonado, causing the Lotus to become airborne. Maldonado later retired with smoke pouring from the back of his car. Marcus Ericsson retired with front suspension damage.

As a result of the race, Hamilton has now moved back to within four points of his team-mate. The next race is Rosberg’s home race – the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

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Stefano Domenicali resigns as Ferrari Team Prinicpal

Stefano Domenicali has resigned as Team Principal for the Ferrari F1 team, it has been confirmed.

The resignation, which comes following a disappointing start to their 2014 campaign, will take place with immediate effect. Ferrari have promoted Marco Mattiacci, the current President and CEO of Ferrari North America to the role.

“There are special moments that come along in everyone’s professional life, when one needs courage to take difficult and very agonising decisions,” Domenicali said. “It is time for a significant change. As the boss, I take responsibility, as I have always done, for our current situation. This decision has been taken with the aim of doing something to shake things up and for the good of this group of people that I feel very close to.”

“With all my heart, I thank all the men and women in the team, the drivers and the partners for the wonderful relationship we have enjoyed over all these years,” he continued. “I hope that very soon, Ferrari will be back where it deserves to be. My final words of thanks go to our President, for having always supported me and to all our fans. I only regret that we have been unable to harvest what we worked so hard to sow in recent years.”

Domenicali has been involved with Ferrari for a long time, having joined the team in 1991. In 2003 he became Sporting Director before taking over from Jean Todt as Team Principal in 2008. Ferrari’s President, Luca di Montezemolo thanked Domenicali for his time with the team. “I thank Stefano Domenicali, not only for his constant dedication and effort, but also for the great sense of responsibility he has shown, even today, in always putting the interests of Ferrari above all else,” he said. “I hold Domenicali in esteem and I have watched him grow professionally over the twenty three years we have worked together. I now wish him every success for the future.” In his first year as Team Principal, Domenicali successfully navigated the team to the Constructors Championship, although they have failed to win a Drivers Championship in the six years with him at the helm. Ferrari currently lie fifth in the championship – with their drivers fourth and twelfth – and di Montezemolo reportedly left in the middle of the Bahrain Grand Prix, signifying his dissatisfaction.

Di Montezemolo also spoke highly of Mattiacci. “I also want to wish all the best to Marco Mattiacci, whom I know to be a highly regarded manager and who knows the company well,” he concluded. “He has accepted this challenge with enthusiasm.”

It is unclear as to where Domenicali’s future lies, but at least his situation with Ferrari is clear. Martin Whitmarsh, who had a similarly long career with McLaren, lost his job as Team Principal at the start of the year and McLaren are as yet to make comment as to what he is doing now.

Jamie Hamilton secures Wilson Craig deal

Jamie Hamilton will ride for Wilson Craig Racing this year it has been confirmed this morning. The Ballyclare rider will ride Honda bikes in the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport classes this year, having split with KMR Kawasaki at the end of last year.

He will compete at the North West 200, the Isle of Man TT and the Ulster Grand Prix as well as a number of Irish Nationals. As well as the fleet of Wilson Craig bikes Hamilton will ride a Stewart Smith owned bike in the Supertwin class.

Jamie Hamilton finished second in the Supertwins race at last year's North West 200
Jamie Hamilton finished third in the Supertwins race at last year’s North West 200

Hamilton has impressed in his short road racing career so far – picking up Best Newcomer at the TT in 2012 and securing podiums at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix. In 2013 he was Supersport and Supertwin champion in the Irish Road Racing Championship and came third in the end of year Duke Road Race Rankings.

Hamilton described the move as a “dream come true”. He joins an impressive list of riders to have ridden for Wilson Craig since the teams inception in 2008. He follows Cameron Donald, who has raced for the outfit for the past three seasons, as well as Guy Martin, William Dunlop and Keith Amor.

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′: History in Hungary

Of the 19 races in 2013, McLaren have won 16 of them at one stage or another. Wins in Bahrain, Korea and India have as yet alluded them. In terms of number of wins, Hungary ranks in the top five, behind the big guns of Monaco, Belgium, Great Britain, and the US. First held in 1986, McLaren are the most successful team at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with 11 victories to their name. The first of these came in 1988 and the most recent was in 2012 when Lewis Hamilton won for the third time.

In the early days of the race it was a happy hunting ground for Williams, with the team securing a number of front row lock-outs in qualifying, getting numerous podiums and winning seven races in 12 years. From the late 90s, however, McLaren started to edge ahead in the statistics and are now the most successful constructor there, in terms of wins and podiums. They have 22 podium finishes in Budapest, including their 11 wins, as well as eight pole positions and five fastest laps. Ferrari and Williams are not far behind, however, with seven and six podiums respectively, with Williams leading the fastest laps tally with nine in total.

Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton are the most successful drivers for McLaren around the Hungaroring. Senna won the race in 1988, 1991 and 1992 while Hamilton was successful in 2007, 2009 and 2012. Hamilton’s 2007 victory came under a shadow, however, after he refused to let team-mate Fernando Alonso through in qualifying. The Spaniard retaliated by staying in the pit-box longer than he should and subsequently ruining any chance Hamilton had of completing another lap. Alonso was demoted on the grid and Hamilton started from pole and went on to win. Another McLaren driver with more than one Hungarian Grand Prix victory is Mika Hakkinen (1998 & 1999), as he won the race on the way to his two world championships. Kimi Raikkonen won it in 2005 while fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen took his one and only Formula One victory there in 2008. Last, but by no means least, is Jenson Button who won in 2011.

Both Button and Hamilton are also race winners at the Hungaroring for other teams. Button’s maiden Grand Prix victory came in 2006, driving for Honda while Hamilton took his first win with his new team – Mercedes – at this year’s race. The Hungarian Grand Prix could well be on the calendar through to 2020, so who knows how much more success McLaren and its drivers can enjoy there!

McLaren ’50 in 50′: History in Brazil

With 12 victories to their name and 31 podiums, more than any other constructor, Brazil has been a happy stomping ground for McLaren over the years. First held in 1973 as a Formula One World Championship race, Brazil has firmly established itself on the F1 calendar.  Originally held at a longer, 4.9 mile long, Interlagos, the race was moved in 1981 due to safety concerns. The Brazilian Grand Prix had been held at Jacarepaguá in 1978, and it was there that the race took place from 1981 until 1989. Interlagos was shortened considerably and renovated and Formula One returned there in 1990, when local star Ayrton Senna was riding high.

Championships won and lost

Since its move to the end of the calendar, Interlagos has also played host to a number of tense title deciders. The race was previously held at the start of the season but in 2004 moved to the end. McLaren have seen titles won and more often lost in Brazil. In 2005 Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso arrived at the Brazilian Grand Prix fighting for the title – Alonso on 111 points and Raikkonen on 86. With three races left, including Brazil, Raikkonen needed to win the race with Alonso finishing lower than fourth to keep himself in contention. It had been a difficult year for the Finn, losing a number of potential points due to car unreliability. In the end Juan Pablo Montoya led home a McLaren 1-2, after Alonso started on pole with Raikkonen in fifth. Alonso finished third and became, at the time, the youngest ever Formula One world champion.

In 2007 the McLaren duo of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton arrived at the Brazilian Grand Prix with the possibility of coming away as champion. Hamilton was leading the way with 107 points, Alonso had 103 and Ferrari’s Raikkonen had 100. A fifth place was enough to secure Hamilton the championship but after a problem filled race he slipped to seventh after starting from second. Alonso finished in third, behind Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, meaning it was another lost opportunity championship wise, this time by just one point for both drivers. 2008 was a different story, however. Hamilton arrived at Brazil, the last race of the year, with a seven point advantage over Massa. A win or second place would be enough to secure him the championship, regardless of where the Ferrari driver finished. If Massa won the race, Hamilton would need to finish at least fifth to be champion. Massa qualified on pole position while Hamilton lined up in fourth. It looked like another title was slipping from his clasp when, in the final stages, as Massa was charging for the finish line in first, Hamilton was overtaken by Sebastian Vettel, dropping him down to sixth. It was Timo Glock who proved to be the turning point, however, after staying out on the wrong tyres, and struggling to control his car in the wet. Hamilton overtook him at the final corner on the last lap to take fifth place. It was McLaren’s first championship since 1999 when Mika Hakkinen won.

Race wins

As mentioned earlier, McLaren have more wins than any constructor in Brazil. They won at the original Interlagos, Jacarepaguá and then again at updated Interlagos. Their first Brazilian Grand Prix came courtesy of their Brazilian driver (and champion) Emerson Fittipaldi. He had won the first race in 1973 and did it for McLaren in 1974. They had to wait a whole ten years until another Brazilian Grand Prix victory came their way, and this time it was with Alain Prost behind the wheel in 1984. He took back-to-back victories when he won again in 1985. Prost won the race again a further two times for McLaren in 1987 and 1988, making him their most successful driver there.

Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna won the race on two occasions – 1990 and 1993. Back-to-back wins for Mika Hakkinen in 1998 and 1999 brought McLaren’s win tally to nine in Brazil. David Coulthard won it in 2001 and Juan Pablo Montoya secured victory in 2005, following his win for Williams there a year previously. Between 2006 and 2011 it was all Ferrari or Red Bull wins. Hamilton qualified on pole position for the 2012 edition of the race, with his team-mate Jenson Button making it a front row lock-out. Later in the race, Hamilton was hit by Nico Hulkenberg while they battled for the lead of the race. This resulted in Hamilton’s last race for McLaren ending with a DNF. Button went on to win ahead of Alonso and Massa.

Race drivers

A number of Brazilian drivers have raced or driven for McLaren, in one form or another, over the years. Of course there are the obvious drivers such as their first world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, multiple race winner and champion Ayrton Senna, and Nelson Piquet who drove for the works McLaren team BS Fabrications. Ricardo Zonta, who currently races in the FIA GT Series, was a McLaren test driver back in 1998.

Raul Boesel was awarded a test drive with McLaren after impressing in British F3 in 1981. He finished the year in third place, behind Jonathan Palmer and Thierry Tassin. Following his test with McLaren, where he impressed with his times, Boesel was signed up to drive for March. He moved to Ligier for 1983 but that proved to be the end of his short F1 career as he moved to America to compete in CART. Mario Haberfield is another Brazilian driver associated with McLaren. He won the British F3 championship in 1998 by quite a margin, beating fellow Brazilian drivers Enrique Bernoldi and Luciano Burti. In 1999 he moved to Formula 3000, driving for West Competition alongside Nick Heidfeld. West Competition was a team ran by the McLaren Formula One team, as part of their young driver development programme. Heidfeld was their test driver at the time.

What next?

The Brazilian Grand Prix is going to be on the calendar until at least 2020. Interlagos have recently signed a new contract which includes rennovations to the existing circuit and facilities. This year has been a difficult one for McLaren so a win or podium will probably not be on the cards for them in Brazil this year. Saying that, anything can happen at Interlagos, and it normally throws up an appropriate amount of drama. So who knows…

McLaren ’50 in 50′: David Coulthard

David Coulthard  is another of McLaren’s 19 race winners. He is also their most successful non-championship winner with 12 victories during his eight years with the team. He is also McLaren’s longest serving driver to date, starting 150 races for the team from 1996 until his departure in 2004.

Scottish born Coulthard started racing in karts aged eight before rising through the single seater ranks. He raced in Formula Ford in 1989 and went on to win the inaugural McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year award, the prize of which is a test with the McLaren Formula One team. Before his Formula One race debut he also raced at Macau and competed in Formula 3000 in 1992. A test driver role was waiting for him with Williams in 1993 and from there he quickly became a race driver for them.

It was under rather unfortunate circumstances that Coulthard made his F1 debut in 1994, replacing Ayrton Senna after his fatal accident at Imola. With big shoes to fill, Coulthard’s debut at the Spanish Grand Prix was a disappointment after he retired. He took points at Canada and at his home grand prix before retiring from the next two races. It was a strong end to the season with points in Belgium and Italy, and taking his debut podium in Portugal. He finished behind his team-mate Damon Hill and ahead of his future team-mate Mika Hakkinen. Coulthard remained with Williams for 1995 and added a further seven podiums to his tally. As well as that he went one better in Portugal, having finished second the year before. He qualified on pole position ahead of Hill, set the fastest lap during the race and won. He finished the year third in the championship. Early in the year he signed for McLaren, to partner Hakkinen.

1996 was a baptism of fire for Coulthard at McLaren, after the team produced a car which was not up to scratch. Two podiums and a handful of points finishes saw him finish seventh in the championship with just 18 points. 1997 was a better year and Coulthard finished on the podium four times, including a win at the Italian Grand Prix. He finished the year in third place. 1998 and 1999 saw Hakkinen winning the drivers’ championship, with Coulthard finishing third in ’98 and fourth in ’99. It was another third place in the championship in 2000, despite fighting hard with his team-mate and Michael Schumacher. In 2001 he finished runner up to Schumacher in 2001, albeit 58 points down. There was a new team-mate for Coulthard in 2002 when Kimi Raikkonen joined the fray.

In 2002 Coulthard extended his stay with McLaren but faced a new challenge with young-gun Raikkonen pushing him. He never quite reached the heights of challenging for the title again, and between 2002 and 2004 he took nine podiums, including wins in Monaco and Australia. After it was announced that Juan Pablo Montoya would be joining the team for 2005, Coulthard left and moved to Red Bull Racing.

Over the course of his time with McLaren Coulthard had 150 race starts of which 12 resulted in victories and 39 further podiums. He retired from Formula One at the end of 2008 and took up a commentary role with the BBC for their coverage. He also drove in DTM until retiring from that in 2012. As part of the BBC’s celebrations for McLaren’s 50th anniversary, Coulthard reunited with his former team-mate Hakkinen to drive some of their classic cars.