Lewis Hamilton continues domination during Spanish FP2

Lewis Hamilton topped the times for the second free practice session, continuing his domination from FP1. There was drama before the session started as it was revealed that the problem which curtailed Sebastian Vettel’s FP1 was too big to fix ahead of FP2.  The team revealed on Twitter that the wiring loom had been damaged and that “the team will use the time to fix it to be ready for FP3 tomorrow”.

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg got out early in the session after missing out on a large chunk of time in first practice. It was the Mercedes duo who set the early pace, with Hamilton once again topping the times ahead of his team-mate. He was soon displaced by the sole Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo. Sauber made some changes to both of their cars before sending them out, in particular fixing the brake problems which caused Giedo van der Garde some problems in the first free practice session. Elsewhere Max Chilton had some software issues which confined his car to the garage.When he did get out he lost some of his rear bodywork by going over the kerbs. His session came to an end in the gravel following the chequered flag. He revealed there was nothing wrong with the car, he just locked up. McLaren and Mercedes both carried work out on their cars during the session, with McLaren adding ballast to Jenson Button’s car. Romain Grosjean’s Lotus stopped at the end of the pit-lane after an aborted practice start. The team asked him to stop the car and they came to retrieve him and wheeled him back down the pit-lane. He got out again but was brought in with ten minutes of the session remaining due to problems with their brakes. Team-mate Pastor Maldonado also had a lot of brake dust following a practice pit-stop. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg complained about lack of grip towards the end of the session. It was a disappointing end of the session for Maldonado and Jean-Eric Vergne. Maldonado returned to the pits with a gearbox problem while Vergne lost a rear tyre on the exit of turn one.

In the second half of the session, teams filled up the cars and started completing some long runs. Hamilton’s pace was much faster than anyone else but it is important to remember that cars will have been running with different fuel loads. As the later lap times were much slower than the laps sent early in the session, it meant that Hamilton’s earlier lap was enough to see him significantly faster than team-mate Rosberg and Ricciardo. Behind that trio was local hero Fernando Alonso who finished ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Next up were the McLaren duo led by Kevin Magnussen who was just a few hundredths ahead of Button. Felipe Massa and Maldonado who finished just behind the McLarens were also within a few hundredths of Magnussen’s time, indicating a close fight in the latter half of the top ten. Daniil Kvyat ended the session in tenth and rounding out the top ten.

Scrutineering: Professor Sid Watkins OBE

The Scrutineering feature is about looking closely at a particular driver, team, or personality in motorsport – looking in depth at their career, their season so far (if they’re still competing or play a role), and featuring views from the fans. However, this week’s edition will be slightly different, as Scrutineering takes a look at Professor Sid Watkins OBE as a tribute

Professor Eric Sidney Watkins OBE

(6th September 1928 – 12th September 2012)

The Formula One world was saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Sid Watkins on September 12th 2012. When the news broke Formula One drivers, team personnel, people involved with the sport, and the fans took to social networking site Twitter to pay their respects and leave tributes to the man who has done so much for the sport over the past thirty or so years. Professor Sid Watkins, or the Prof as he was affectionately known in the paddock, was a pioneer for safety and the treatment of drivers after accidents and it is because of him that the sport has seen no fatalities since 1994 – a fitting legacy in itself. After training as a neurosurgeon, he became the Formula One race doctor in 1978, and his first significant work came at the 1978 Italian GP. Ronnie Peterson was involved in an accident which saw his car engulfed in flames. He was aided by other drivers who had arrived on the scene, but by the time Watkins had got there the police had formed a barrier preventing anyone reaching Peterson, and Watkins was delayed in providing treatment. Peterson died in hospital the next day and this proved to be a trigger of a revolution for the way in which these events are handled in Formula One.

After this tragic event Watkins moved to demand better facilities – he wanted an anaesthetist, a medical car, and a MedEvac helicopter meaning that drivers could be reached and transported quickly, which could mean the difference between life or death. Today we still see the medical car line up behind the cars on the grid, incase there are any first lap or turn one accidents. Otherwise the medical car waits, during the race, at the end of the pit-lane, with the FIA’s chief medical delegate Dr Garry Hartstein on board. In 1980 permanent medical facilities at all race tracks became compulsory. In 1981, Watkins was appointed President of the newly formed Medical Commission. His job did not come without its own risks however, after he hurt his hands trying to save Riccardo Paletti at the 1982 Canadian GP when his car caught fire.

The 1994 San Marino GP at Imola was to be where everything changed for safety in Formula One. There were two, nearly three, fatal crashes that weekend which claimed the lives of Roland Ratzenberger and Watkins’ close friend Ayrton Senna. He saved Rubens Barrichello who also crashed. After that weekend the FIA set up the Expert Advisory Safety Committee, of which Watkins became chairman, and a decade later in 2004, three groups were merged to make the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety, with Watkins becoming President. There have been no fatalities in Formula One since that fateful weekend in 1994, and this can be put down to the work that not only Watkins pioneered, but with support from the likes of Jackie Stewart, Max Moseley and Bernie Ecclestone. We only have to look at Robert Kubica’s 2007 crash at the Canadian GP, Heikki Kovalainen’s crash at the 2008 Spanish GP, Mark Webber taking off during the 2010 European GP, and Fernando Alonso’s near miss at Spa in 2012, to name but a few in the last decade, where drivers have walked away with nothing more than minor injuries. That is a real testament to how far safety has come in Formula One, which is majorly down to the work of Watkins. Over the years, he has helped save many lives including Barrichello as stated above, but also Mika Hakkinen, Martin Donnelly, and Gerhard Berger, amongst others. Jenson Button recalled how, after he crashed heavily in Monaco in 2003, he woke up and saw Watkins looking at him and he “suddenly felt a lot more at ease and a lot more comfortable in his presence”.

Watkins only stepped down from his role as President of the FIA Institute of Motor Sport Safety in 2011, aged 83, but continued in an honorary role. He was awarded an OBE in 2002 and given an award for ‘Most Outstanding Contribution to the Motor Sport Industry’ in 2005, as well as the FIA Academy Gold Medal for Motor Sport at the FIA Gala prize-giving ceremony in 2011. His accolades are not only recent, however, as he was presented with a trophy in 1985 from the drivers which read:

“To the Prof, our thanks for your invaluable contribution to Formula One. Nice to know you are there”. 

as well as the Mario Andretti Award for Medical Excellence in 1996.

After his retirement a bronze bust of him was commissioned, which was displayed along with a book of condolences which the Formula One world could sign, at the Singapore GP. Before the race itself there was a minute silence for ‘the Prof’ while Sky Sports F1 and BBC both had moving tributes to him during their build up. After he won the race, Sebastian Vettel, who started racing after Watkins had retired from his medical positions within the FIA, dedicated his win to him stating “it’s thanks to all the work he [Watkins] did to bring safety advancements to the sport that we can race on circuits like this. He pushed the boundaries in terms of safety for all of us, so a big thank you to him”. It is not only drivers who have paid their tributes, with fans saying he “seemed to have a good relationship with drivers – nice to see so much respect for one man” and “his push for safety has made F1 what it is today and that is very admirable”. Watkins appeared at the British GP earlier in the season and was interviewed by both BBC and Sky, and it was to Martin Brundle he said the following:

Well as Bernie said, I worked myself out of a job

And it is for that we are all eternally grateful. RIP Professor Eric Sidney Watkins OBE.

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Next week’s Scrutineering features Timo Glock. Get involved by commenting, tweet me @hannahhouThe H Duct Facebook page or email thehduct@hotmail.co.uk. Share your thoughts on Timo Glock, his  career, his season so far, and your favourite memories by Tuesday 2nd October.

How to win a Formula One race in 2012

The 2012 Formula One season is proving to be unpredictable and incredibly difficult to call with six different winners from the first six races, not to mention ten different drivers on the podium from seven different teams. Considering only five drivers won in the whole of 2011 with Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari dominating the podium (apart from two secured by Renault) the two seasons are already incredibly contrasting even though there has only been just over a quarter of 2012. Already a number of pundits are stressing that “consistency” in a year like this is key, and that it is – Fernando Alonso has consistently scored points in every race so far and leads the championship. Lewis Hamilton is the only other driver to score at every round, but a couple of eighth place finishes and no wins, mean that he sits in fourth place and lags behind Alonso in the championship by thirteen points at this stage. But, how do you go about winning a race in this crazy season? The answer is simple: keep a low profile. Don’t believe me? The evidence is all there.

Australia
Race winner: Jenson Button

Pre-season testing as usual presented the F1 world with a number of questions about the form of the teams. Who would come out on top? Who would struggle? McLaren certainly seemed like the team to beat going into round one and they started the season with a front row lock-out in qualifying with Lewis Hamilton on pole position. All eyes were on Hamilton to take the first win of the season but it was his team-mate who availed with Sebastian Vettel rising from sixth on the grid to take second while Hamilton slipped to third. It was the right team that won, but not necessarily the expected driver.

Malaysia
Race winner: Fernando Alonso

After a strong showing in Australia, McLaren were definitely the favourites going into the Malaysian GP. The Ferrari on the other hand looked to be a real handful, despite the fact Fernando Alonso finished the Australian GP in fifth. If anyone predicted the race result for this race, well they should be playing the lottery, because that is exactly what it was.    Alonso won with Sergio Perez in second. A Ferrari and a Sauber on the top two steps of the podium, with Lewis Hamilton (who was once again the lead driver in a McLaren front row lock-out) in third. No-one saw that coming!

China 
Race winner: Nico Rosberg

For the first two rounds Mercedes looked fast in qualifying, but their race pace seemed to disappear. Fernando Alonso had won last time out, and despite the fact that Ferrari felt the damp conditions had flattered their car, there was still talk of whether or not they could do it again. McLaren were still there or there abouts with Lotus threatening to be quick, but it was Nico Rosberg who snatched pole position and lined up beside his team-mate (because of a Lewis Hamilton gearbox penalty). Rosberg went on to win the race, despite rumblings of dismissal from people who thought that once again Mercedes’ form would fade.

Bahrain
Race winner: Sebastian Vettel

With three different race winners from three races, predicting the next winner became increasingly difficult. After a win for Nico Rosberg in China he was the prime candidate to make it two wins. 2010 and 2011 world champion Sebastian Vettel was languishing a bit further down the order than he was used to and had been beaten by his team-mate in qualifying. He took a surprising pole and went on to win the race to make it four different winners from four races – not an entirely unexpected win, but not exactly the driver that had been touted for Bahrain.

Spain
Race winner: Pastor Maldonado

Lotus secured a double podium in Bahrain, with Kimi Räikkönen coming close to a race win, but not quite close enough. During free practice for the Spanish GP, Sky commentators David Croft and Anthony Davidson confidently stated that Lotus were the fastest car in terms of race pace and would be the team to beat, for sure. What happened? Pastor Maldonado took pole (after Lewis Hamilton was sent to the back of the grid) and he won the race – despite assumptions that Fernando Alonso would easily jump him and win. Räikkönen  was on the podium but it wasn’t a win.

Monaco
Race winner: Mark Webber

After his win in Spain and because he stated that Monaco was his favourite race, people were touting Pastor Maldonado for a second win of the season. Other names in the frame included Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen, and Romain Grosjean. Red Bull had won the last two Monaco GPs but it was generally reckoned that it would probably be a Lotus or McLaren victory. Who won? Mark Webber. Grosjean and Maldonado failed to complete a lap, Hamilton slipped to fifth, and Räikkönen finished a disappointing ninth. Once again the victor was not who everyone expected.

Canada
Race winner: ???

Not long after the chequered flag fell in Monaco I saw a headline stating Jaime Alguersuari had said Lotus were the team to beat in Canada – that’s them out then. Lewis Hamilton has won twice here before (including his first ever F1 win) so he probably won’t win. Michael Schumacher has won in Canada seven times, drives car number seven, has seven world championships and this is round seven – yeah, he probably won’t win either. Red Bull’s floor was deemed to be illegal so they’re changing it – they’ll probably win amidst the controversy. Or not now that I’ve said it. Who knows?

So there you go – don’t become a ‘favourite’ for the win and it seems that you then win. Don’t get me wrong, I am not taking anything away from the six drivers who have won already. All of their wins were great in their own ways. This is just a general observation, and really a little bit of fun. The season has been thrilling so far and it would be great to see more drivers win!

The Spanish GP in Numbers

Statistics from the Spanish GP weekend

Total number of laps completed (by driver)

Kamui Kobayashi 168
Nico Rosberg 168
Pastor Maldonado 157
Kimi Räikkönen 156
Jenson Button 154
Daniel Ricciardo 154
Lewis Hamilton 150
Felipe Massa 149
Sebastian Vettel 149
Fernando Alonso 149
Vitaly Petrov 148
Mark Webber 146
Jean-Eric Vergne 146
Nico Hulkenberg 141
Timo Glock 136
Romain Grosjean 135
Pedro de la Rosa 129
Heikki Kovalainen 129
Sergio Perez 124
Paul di Resta 124
Charles Pic 113
Michael Schumacher 95
Bruno Senna 80
Narain Karthikeyan 53

Total number of laps completed (by team)

McLaren 304
Caterham 302
Ferrari 298
Toro Rosso 298
Red Bull 295
Sauber 292
Lotus 291
Force India 286
Mercedes 263
Williams 261
Marussia 249
HRT 201

Number of race laps: 66
Number of safety cars: 0
Number of race starters: 24
Number of classified drivers: 19
Number of retirements: 5
Number of drivers on lead lap at chequered flag: 9
Number of teams scoring points: 8
Number of times lead changed hands: 8
Most places gained: 16 (Lewis Hamilton)
Number of visits to pit-lane: 68

Check out The H Duct Lap League!

2012: Spanish GP: Review

Pastor Maldonado won the Spanish GP ahead of home favourite Fernando Alonso and Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen. Tradition suggested that the winner would be one of the front row starters and Maldonado was able to keep the Ferrari at bay to pick up his first win, and Williams’ first in a number of years. Lewis Hamilton, who had qualified on pole but was sent to the back of the grid due to stopping out on track and being unable to provide a fuel sample to the FIA, made a two stop strategy work for him to finish in eighth place – just ahead of team-mate Jenson Button who had qualified outside the top ten. Button was the last driver on the lead lap, with ten additional finishers. Five drivers retired from the race with Michael Schumacher and Bruno Senna involved in an accident, and Sergio Perez, Narain Karthikeyan and Charles Pic also failed to finish the race.

As expected, Alonso took the lead into the first corner at the start of the race, with Maldonado slotting into second place. Räikkönen jumped to third with Button moving from tenth to eighth. Felipe Massa, who had qualified in a disappointing 17th (16th after Hamilton’s penalty), rose to 11th in the order with Hamilton gaining four places on his grid position to move into 20th. Pic was seen spinning while Perez was forced to pit after picking up a left rear puncture. He put on the hard compound tyres during the stop. He later retired from the race, however, his team-mate had a much better afternoon finishing in fifth after demonstrating some of the wheel-to-wheel action he became popular for.

It was a bittersweet weekend for McLaren as their blunder during qualifying left Hamilton fighting from the back. Button struggled with his car all through practice and qualifying and he ended up qualifying 11th – fractionally missing out on the top ten. Hamilton pulled off a two stop strategy to finish in eighth – a fifth consecutive points finish. Button gained a position on his grid slot to finish ninth – meaning that the team still remain behind Red Bull in the championship. They seem to have got on top of their pitstop problems, although Hamilton did have a slow getaway during his first after tagging one of his old tyres, but it did not hamper him too much. He ran out of laps at the end when he caught Nico Rosberg but was unable to find a way past on the final lap. Ferrari also had mixed results with Alonso finishing on the podium, and maintaining his 100% point scoring record in 2012, while Massa had another weekend to forget qualifying 17th and picking up a drive through penalty in the race after he failed to acknowledge yellow flags by slowing down. He ended the race in 15th place and a lap down on the leader. Sebastian Vettel was another driver who found himself with a drivethrough penalty for the same reason. He, along with team-mate Mark Webber, were also forced to make an extra stop due to a problem with their front wings. Webber was the first to make a scheduled stop and he spent most of the afternoon racing to get out of the mid-field and into the points. He failed to do so and ended the race in 11th, with team-mate Vettel in sixth place having made a late charge past Button, Hamilton and Rosberg.

In an incident reminiscent of years gone by, Schumacher’s race was ended after a collision with Senna. The Mercedes driver drove straight into the back of the Williams which sent them both spinning into the gravel. Senna had looked very slow into the corner and it seemed like Schumacher had misjudged it. Schumacher has since received a five place grid drop for it. Rosberg had a fairly quiet race, but appeared to drop off the pace at the end when he was caught and easily passed by Vettel and nearly Hamilton. Maldonado had his best race to date, not fading under the pressure put on him by Alonso and Räikkönen. He lost the lead during pit-stops but always regained it and defended well. It is only his second season in the sport, however, last year Williams did not have the car. From Australia he has shown flashes of his skill but incidents have meant he hasn’t finished as high as he could. Next race is at Monaco – his favourite track and where he was on for strong points last year, before an accident took him out. Lotus followed on from their strong Bahrain showing with another podium in Spain and Grosjean in fourth. They are beginning to cement their third place in the championship, ahead of Ferrari and Mercedes. After the race Räikkönen rued his tyre choice but his position was enough to move him into fourth in the championship. Grosjean had another solid drive.

Nico Hulkenberg finished in tenth and therefore picked up a point, however, Paul di Resta finished outside the points. Both Caterhams finished the race, with Heikki Kovalainen running as high as fifth in the race before his pit-stop. Both Toro Rossos also finished albeit outside the points. Karthikeyan and Pic both retired from the race but Timo Glock and Pedro de la Rosa finished, with de la Rosa the last classified finisher.

After 66 laps, Pastor Maldonado crossed the line to win ahead of Alonso and Räikkönen. Grosjean, Kobayashi, Vettel, Rosberg, Hamilton, Button and Hulkenberg were the other point scorers.

A side note: After the race a fire broke out in the Williams garage. Teams worked together to put out the fire and it has been reported that other teams are giving Williams equipment they need for Monaco – a great demonstration of teamwork, and how, despite all the competition they can still work together as one big group.

Championship Standings

1. Sebastian Vettel 61 (↔)
2. Fernando Alonso 61 (↑)
3. Lewis Hamilton 53 (↓)
4. Kimi Räikkönen 49 (↑)
5. Mark Webber 48 (↓)
6. Jenson Button 45(↔)
7. Nico Rosberg 41 (↓)
8. Romain Grosjean 35 (↔)
9. Pastor Maldonado 29(↑)
10. Sergio Perez 22 (↓)

1. Red Bull 109 (↔)
2. McLaren 98 (↔)
3. Lotus 84 (↔)
4. Ferrari 63 (↔)
5. Mercedes 43 (↔)
6. Williams 43 (↑)
7. Sauber 41 (↓)
8. Force India 18 (↔)
9. Toro Rosso 6 (↔)

The action continues in two weeks with the glitz and glamour of the Monaco GP.

2012: Spanish GP: Qualifying

*Pastor Maldonado will start from pole position after Lewis Hamilton was penalised due to the team underfuelling his car. He will start tomorrow’s race from 24th.

Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race on pole after coming out on top of an exciting qualifying session full of unexpected results. He lines up on the front row with Pastor Maldonado who had been threatening to challenge for pole all through free practice and the first two phases of qualifying. Local hero Fernando Alonso put his Ferrari third on the grid – a stark contrast to his team-mate who will start 17th. Bruno Senna dropped out in Q1 when he ended up in the gravel while both Jenson Button and Mark Webber failed to make it into the pole position shoot out. The focus was placed on tyres and the possible strategies for tomorrow’s race as a couple of drivers chose not to set times in Q3. Narain Karthikeyan qualified outside of the 107% lap-time so it is now down to the stewards if he will be allowed to race. His team-mate was well within the time.

In Q1 most drivers chose to sit in their garages for the start of the session as the track was dusty. While most drivers went out initially on hard tyres, they swapped to the softer compound as the session progressed. Red Bull chose to wait in their garages and go out for their first runs on the soft tyres. Their cars seem to be struggling in straight line when compared to others. As had been the case in practice, Jenson Button continued to complain about the amount of understeer he had. Lewis Hamilton, who had set an early lap on the hard tyres went fastest with a late charge, after hovering dangerously close to the drop zone towards the end of the session. Bruno Senna found himself in 18th and out and as he pushed to complete a flying lap he lost control of his car after taking too much kerb and ended up in the gravel with his team-mate Pastor Maldonado much higher up the grid. Narain Karthikeyan failed to set a lap-time within the 107% rule while Charles Pic managed to out-qualifying Timo Glock, who made a mistake at Turn 1, for the second time in as many races. Vitaly Petrov qualified ahead of Heikki Kovalainen for the first time.

Q2 saw Lewis Hamilton go out and set a very fast time – 1:22.465. He had enough time in hand over his nearest competitors that he had time to get out his car with five minutes remaining and get back in to go and set another lap towards the end of the session. His team-mate, however, continued to have problems with his car as this time he complained that he was struggling with the rears under braking. This time it was the two Lotus drivers who waited in the garage before going out to set lap times. Times were fiercely competitive and Pastor Maldonado put in a late flier to top the times while Button lost out on a place in the pole position shoot out by just four hundreths of a second, with Mark Webber also dropping out. The Red Bull driver was told over his team-radio that he had set a good lap and they were not going out again which proved to be costly. Felipe Massa finished a disappointing 17th place and he looked emotional as he removed his helmet when he got out of the car. Kamui Kobayashi was solidly within the top ten however had to park his car at the side of the track with an hydraulics issue meaning that he could take no further part in qualifying. This meant that there would be one McLaren, one Red Bull, one Ferrari, one Williams, one Sauber, two Lotus’ and two Mercedes battling for pole position.

The start of Q3 was a somewhat bizarre affair with Sebastian Vettel waiting at the end of the pit-lane for two minutes before the green light came on and going out to set sector times only. Michael Schumacher went out to do the same thing as it looked like drivers had chosen to focus on the race rather than qualifying in relation to their tyres. Lewis Hamilton set a qualifying time which saw him on provisional pole. Towards the end of the session cars streamed out on track with new soft tyres meaning that there would be a shoot out after all, although with Kamui Kobayashi out of the running and Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher choosing to sit in their garages, it was between seven drivers. Fernando Alonso was first over the line to take pole from Hamilton, with Kimi Räikkönen only fast enough for second. Sergio Perez went third fastest, pushing Hamilton down to fourth with Romain Grosjean then going second and Pastor Maldonado pulling one out of the bag to go fastest overall. Hamilton went even faster on his final lap to secure pole by five tenths of a second, however, he was asked by his engineer to stop the car at the side of the track as he had a problem. This is McLaren’s 150th pole position in total. It was a close session with particularly impressive laps from Hamilton, Maldonado and Alonso. The race is sure to be interesting tomorrow with murmurs of rain playing a possibility.

2012: Spanish GP: FP3

Free Practice 3

The weather conditions remained hot and sunny for the third and final practice session before qualifying for the Spanish GP. Teams directed their attention to preparing their cars for qualifying and the race. Sebastian Vettel ended the session on top with a late flier after an electrical problem, just pipping the Williams of Pastor Maldonado by 0.168s. The Sauber duo of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez put in a strong showing to finish third and fifth respectively. Lotus did not have the best of sessions when Romain Grosjean’s car stopped out on track. It was retrieved and returned to the garage but was unable to get out again. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa complained about a lack of grip while both McLaren drivers had their quick laps compromised by traffic – with Lewis Hamilton encountering Narain Karthikeyan at the end of a lap which could have seen him go fastest. The first phase of qualifying could prove to be tricky with traffic due to the tight and twisty nature of some of the track and its short length. Who will be on pole is anybody’s guess as a number of teams and drivers have looked like they can put the lap together – but who will do it when it most counts?