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.

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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′: Singapore

McLaren finished with both cars in the points at the Singapore Grand Prix. The team took a gamble with their strategy, hoping a podium might be possible. It proved to be too much for both Jenson Button and Sergio Perez when their tyres fell off the cliff. Coupling that with the fact the cars behind were on much fresher tyres resulted in both cars dropping from their 3rd and 5th spots to finish 7th and 8th.

Button said after the race that he had found the strategy “good fun”. “We have to take risks if we want to get podium finishes this year,” he revealed. Perez agreed with his team-mate. “I think we should be satisfied with today’s result,” he said. “P7 and P8 was probably the best we could have achieved today”.

McLaren’s 11 points moved them 14 clear of championship rivals Force India.

It was a very different story for the team in Singapore back in 2009. In a season dominated by Brawn GP, in particular Jenson Button, it was Lewis Hamilton who won the Singapore Grand Prix for McLaren. Joined on the podium by Timo Glock (Toyota) and Fernando Alonso (Renault), it proved to be the only podium of the year (up until that point) that had not features a Red Bull or Brawn GP driver. Singapore is one of the 28 Grand Prix McLaren have won at, but 2009 is their only victory there to date.

The H Duct Lap League: Brazil Edition: Champion Revealed!

So, here we have it. The 2012 Formula One season has drawn to a close and we have seen Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull crowned champions once again. But… the champion of the inaugural H Duct Lap League is yet to be revealed! Basically, The H Duct Lap League looks at the amount of laps a driver completes over the course of a race weekend – from Free Practice 1 through to the end of the race – and points are awarded on the basis of who completes most. So, say Vettel completed the most laps over the course of a weekend, he would get 25 points. The points system is exactly the same as the real championship. So, read on to find out who came out on top in Brazil, and who won the league overall! It went down to a head-to-head between Nico Rosberg and Pastor Maldonado…

The Big Movers

Mark Webber was the biggest mover at the end of the league, jumping five places, and in doing so moving into the top ten. He finishes the year in seventh. Michael Schumacher went out on a high, moving up two places to finish the season in eleventh in the Lap League, just eight points off Vettel in tenth. Vettel dropped two places, along with Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa, who finished twelfth and thirteenth respectively. Timo Glock overtook his team-mate, moving up one place, while Daniel Ricciardo moved up one place to finish the year in third overall. Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi both dropped a position each.

In the team league Toro Rosso finished in third, swapping positions with Lotus who dropped to fourth, while Red Bull and Ferrari also swapped between sixth and seventh. There were no other movers in the team league.

Point Scorers

Nico Rosberg 25
Mark Webber 18
Daniel Ricciardo 15
Nico Hulkenberg 12
Michael Schumacher 10
Jean-Eric Vergne 8
Sebastian Vettel 6
Jenson Button 4
Kamui Kobayashi 2
Timo Glock 1

Mercedes 35
Red Bull 24
Toro Rosso 23
Force India 12
McLaren 4
Sauber 2
Marussia 1

Due to Pastor Maldonado’s non score and Nico Rosberg taking maximum points, NICO ROSBERG becomes The H Duct Lap League Champion 2012! Mercedes scoop the double by outscoring Sauber heavily in the final race, making them the team league champions! The H Duct Lap League will continue in 2013, but with some changes… keep an eye on The H Duct for updates!

You can see the full standings here!

2012: Brazilian GP: FP1

*denotes drivers who set their fastest laps on 2012 Pirelli hard tyres

Lewis Hamilton topped the times in the final first free practice session of the year, going just 0.009s faster than Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton was on the experimental 2013 Pirelli tyres while Vettel, along with team-mate Mark Webber and a handful of other drivers, set their fastest lap-times on the regular 2012 hard tyres. The top four, which included Webber and Jenson Button were separated by under a tenth of a second, with Fernando Alonso just two tenths back on Hamilton. The top ten were separated by just under a second, with Michael Schumacher in 11th place just six hundredths off Nico Hulkenberg’s time. The overall field spread was 3.764s when the session ended with Narain Karthikeyan in 24th place. Valtteri Bottas and Giedo van der Garde got their final practice runs at Williams and Caterham respectively, in place of Bruno Senna and Heikki Kovalainen.

Before the session started there were two driver announcements made, bringing the 2013 grid ever closer to completion. As was expected,  Esteban Gutiérrez was confirmed as Sergio Perez’s replacement, partnering Hulkenberg at Sauber. This now means that Kamui Kobayashi is out of a drive there. 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robin Frijins has been signed up as the team’s test and reserve driver. Another driver announcement saw Charles Pic confirmed at Caterham on a ‘multi-year deal’. Neither Kovalainen or Vitaly Petrov have a contract for next year, and with van der Garde waiting in the wings, they could both find themselves without drives next year.

There are a number of different helmet designs for this weekend for many different reasons. Romain Grosjean is running a helmet with photographs of his race crew on it while Felipe Massa has a new red/orange helmet design as a dedication to his dad, who he referred to as his “hero”, who used to race in touring cars. Lewis Hamilton, who this weekend is driving his last race for McLaren, has a special nod towards the team with “Thank You McLaren” written on the top. And finally Michael Schumacher, who will retire after this race, has “life is about passions – thank you for sharing mine” on his.

During practice Hamilton reported that the experimental tyres for next year were overheating, a problem which he had continuously through the session, while others reported that the tyres offered more mid-corner grip. Kimi Räikkönen was confined to the garage for most of it after an engine problem and his spark plugs being changed. Red Bull have a new alternator for this weekend, after Webber had an alternator failure, which wasn’t their first of the season, in Austin. A number of drivers had off moments, taking to the run off areas, with Massa and Glock spinning on track. Paul di Resta and Kamui Kobayashi came close to touching while Kobayashi’s team-mate Sergio Perez, who seemed to be struggling with front locking, had his brake pads and discs changed during the session.

2012: Brazilian GP: Preview

It is hard to believe, but after 19 races, eight different race winners, and 13 different drivers on the podium, here we are at the last race of the season. Brazil will once again hold the season finale, which this year will see two men go head-to-head for their third title. Sebastian Vettel leads Fernando Alonso by 13 points with everything still to play for given that anything can happen, and in Brazil it generally does. Red Bull wrapped up their third Constructors’ Championship at Austin so all focus will be firmly on making sure Vettel can beat Alonso. All Vettel has to do is finish fourth and he will be champion, regardless of where Alonso ends up. But Interlagos, as the circuit is often referred to despite officially being called Autódromo José Carlos Pace, often throws up plenty of drama and so Vettel cannot rest on his laurels and think that is all he has to do. Here are the different championship permutations:

Sebastian Vettel is champion if…

  • He finishes the race in fourth or higher
  • He finishes seventh or higher if Alonso is second or lower
  • He finishes ninth or higher if Alonso is third or lower
  • Alonso does not make the podium
  • It goes to count-back as he has more wins

Fernando Alonso is champion if…

  • He wins the race and Vettel finishes fifth or lower
  • He finishes second and Vettel is eighth or lower
  • He finishes third and Vettel is tenth or lower

Brazilian GP Stats

Circuit Name: Autódromo José Carlos Pace
Number of Laps: 71
Circuit Length: 4.309km
Lap Record: 1:11.473 J P Montoya (2004)
2011 Results: 1. Mark Webber 2. Sebastian Vettel 3. Jenson Button

Previous Brazilian GP winners still on the grid: Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Kimi Räikkönen and Michael Schumacher.

Last Time Out

Formula One made a triumphant return to America with the inaugural race at the new Circuit of The Americas, won by Lewis Hamilton. Before the race Ferrari played a strategic move by breaking the seal on Felipe Massa’s gearbox, resulting in him taking a five place grid drop. They did this in order to move Alonso, who had been out-qualified by his team-mate and was due to start on the dirty side of the track, up a position to start on the clean side in the hopes he would have a better start. It worked as Alonso was fourth after turn one and he eventually finished third, minimising the amount Vettel extended his lead by. Vettel lost out in a race long battle with Hamilton, who pulled off a great move in the DRS zone to take the lead with 14 laps left. Massa fought back to finish fourth, with Hamilton’s team-mate recovering from a disappointing qualifying session which saw him start 12th but finish fifth. There was some great racing up and down the field with Kimi Räikkönen going wheel to wheel with Button, and the two Williams drivers also getting close. There were only two retirements from the race which were Jean-Eric Vergne due to broken suspension and Mark Webber because of an alternator failure.

Not only will this weekend’s race provide the battle ground for the championship decider, as well as the season finale, it is also a special race for a number of other people. For Felipe Massa and Bruno Senna it is their home race. Massa is yet to win a race this season. In fact, his last victory came at this very track back in 2008 when he was fighting Hamilton for the championship. However, after a strong showing at Austin, this could be where he gets his first win. He knows the track well, he has won here twice before, and it would be a fitting end to his season. For Lewis Hamilton it will see the end of his long relationship with McLaren as he prepares to move to Mercedes for 2013. He has been with McLaren for six seasons and he won his 2008 championship with a crucial last corner pass on Timo Glock in Brazil. He won at Austin and says he wants to end his McLaren career with a win, but McLaren haven’t won in Brazil since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2005, can he do it this weekend? And finally, as he did back in 2006, Schumacher will hang up his helmet after this weekend’s race as he retires for a second time. Mercedes have been having a barren spell in terms of points but it would be nice to see Schumacher return to the points one last time before he retires.

Pirelli will bring their hard and medium compound tyres this weekend, as well as an additional two sets of 2013 prototype tyres for each team to test in Friday Practice. Weather reports suggest there could be rain this weekend meaning the intermediate and wet tyres may also come into play. Altitude plays its part as the track sits 800m above sea level meaning engine power is reduced. 2012 has been a season full of twists and turns, surprises, and plenty of drama – will there be one more twist in the tale on Sunday?

Schedule

Local Brazilian time

Free Practice 1 10:00 Friday
Free Practice 2 14:00 Friday
Free Practice 3 11:00 Saturday
Qualifying 14:00 Saturday
Race 14:00 Sunday

Don’t forget to check The H Duct for Free Practice, Qualifying and Race reports with a post-race discussion over at EnterF1.

Scrutineering: Timo Glock

Timo Glock made his Formula One racing debut way back in 2004, when he replaced Giorgio Pantano for four races; however, it was not until 2007 that his current stint started when he joined BMW Sauber as test driver, before moving to Toyota as a full time driver for 2008. In the gap he spent his time racing in the Champ Car World Series and in GP2, before becoming an F1 test driver for BMW Sauber in 2007. This week’s Scrutineering takes a look at Glock’s career, his season so far and what the fans say and think about him!

Pre Formula One (2000 – 2003)

Like most other F1 drivers, German driver Timo Glock made his racing debut karting. In 2000 he became champion in the BMW ADAC Formula Junior Cup, and repeated this feat in the Formula BMW ADAC a year later in 2001. He is not the only F1 driver to have won that particular championship as Nico Rosberg, two times world champion Sebastian Vettel, and Nico Hulkenberg have also taken that accolade. In 2002 he came third during his debut year in the German F3 championship, losing out to current McLaren test driver Gary Paffett. In 2003, Glock moved to the Formula 3 Euroseries, where he competed against the likes of Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica.

Formula One (2004, 2007 – 2012)

Glock was signed up as a test driver for the Jordan Grand Prix team, taking part in four races for them. He scored points on his debut at the Canadian GP, ending up in seventh. After a couple of years away, Glock returned to F1 in 2007 when he became BMW Sauber’s test driver. In 2008, he made the step up to a full-time race seat with Toyota, as the GP2 champion. During that season he took his first podium – a second place in Hungary – as well as five other point scoring finishes. He ended the season tenth in the championship. Glock was retained as a driver for the 2009 season along with Jarno Trulli. He added two further podiums to his collection with a third in Malaysia and a second in Singapore. Glock’s season was brought to a premature end after an accident during qualifying for the Japanese GP. He had sustained injuries during the crash which prevented him from racing for the final three races (including Japan) but thankfully these were not too serious – he was replaced by Kamui Kobayashi. In 2009 Glock finished in the points in nine races and this was enough for him once again to finish tenth in the championship. He holds the record of most successful Toyota driver in terms of average points per race. At the end of 2009 Toyota pulled out of the sport and Glock was signed up by Virgin Racing, where he still races today, although they are now known as Marussia. At the Singapore GP in 2012 he took the team’s highest finish – 12th – which was enough to move them into tenth place in the constructors which is vital in terms of money won. If there was a separate championship for the three teams at the back, based on the same point system, it would currently look like this:

Heikki Kovalainen 257
Vitaly Petrov 232
Timo Glock 204
Charles Pic 165
Pedro de la Rosa 124
Narain Karthikeyan 79

F1 career statistics

Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Podiums: 3
Career Points: 51
Fastest Laps: 1
Classified Finishes: 67/85 starts – 78.82%

Between Formula One (2005 – 2007)

In 2005 Glock moved to the Champ Car World Series and drove for the Rocketsports team. He finished the year eighth with a best finishing position of second in Montreal. In 2006 he joined the GP2 championship, driving for BCN Competicion before moving to iSport during the season. He finished the season in fourth, and when he returned for iSport in 2007 he took on F1 drivers such as Bruno Senna, Pastor Maldonado, Lucas di Grassi, Kazuki Nakajima, Karun Chandhok and Sebastien Buemi, beating them all and other drivers on his way to becoming GP2 champion. He then graduated to Formula One in 2008.

What the fans say and think!

  • Timo deserves the chance to be fighting for points again and maybe Marussia can provide a car for this over time
  • He has been in the sport for quite a long time, in relation to some other drivers – it is good to see him always there and getting a chance
  • His twelfth place in Singapore – moved Marussia up the table – edging closer to that elusive first point
  • He was impressive in junior days
  • His tweeting – informative and funny at times
  • One of five Germans on the grid
  • He has a nice helmet design
  • Singapore 2009 when he went from seventh to finish second on the podium

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Next week’s Scrutineering will be taking a closer look at Team ESRacing.com. Get involved by commenting, tweet me @hannahhouThe H Duct Facebook page, email thehduct@hotmail.co.uk or share your comments via the Scrutineering page in Features. Share your thoughts on Team ESRacing.com, their time in the BTCC, their season so far, and your favourite memories by Tuesday 9th October.