Race Notes: Singpore Grand Prix 2009

2009 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix
Date: 27 September 2009
Circuit: Marina Bay Street Circuit
Location: Marina Bay, Singpore
(PitlaneFanatic) (GoogleCircuits)
Distance: 61 laps
Tyre choices (red): SS / S / M / H

Coverage: BBC One with BBC Radio 5 Live audio
Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Analysts: David Coulthard (DC) and Eddie Jordan (EJ)
Interviewers: Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie

R5 commentary: David Croft (Crofty) and Anthony Davidson (Ant)
R5 interviewer: Holly Samos

Coverage begins at 12.10pm.

DVR Notes

Jake – “Lights out in Formula One usually signifies the start of a race, tonight in Singapore it its lights on.”

Quick recap:
Four races to go including this one.
Button leads Rubens by 14, less than 30 pts cover the top four.
Brawn have a healthy lead over Red Bull.

DC says he didn’t appreciate the spectacle of a night street race last year, he was too busy working and preparing for driving. This year he’s been able to take it all in.

Recap of Singapore 2008’s Renault/Piquet race-fixing. Are we bored of this yet? I know I am, so let’s skip this bit other than to say title sponsor ING and associate sponsor Mutua Madrilena this week pulled out of supporting the team, I believe they might be still be a personal sponsor of Alonso but I’m not entirely sure.

EJ and DC are asked if it reminds them of any past incidents. They bring up Senna vs Prost at Suzuka in 1990 when Senna just drove Prost into the gravel at turn one to seal the championship. We get a replay – Murray Walker! More of this next week when we visit Japan, no doubt.

Jordan says we need to restore confidence in the integrity of F1. Agreed!

– Grosjean complained of brake issues. Knocked out in Q2.
– Fisichella yet to adapt to the Ferrari. “Not easy, nice to have one complete day of testing to feel better with the setup”. Meanwhile Raikkonen could only manage 13th.
– Button struggled with handling, he was out in Q2.
– Hamilton, Vettel and Rosberg were setting fast times until Barrichello hit the wall and ended the session. Rubens was 5th but will start 9th – firstly he had a 5-place penalty to 10th for an unscheduled gearbox change after worries about the unit at the last two races, but then Nick Heidfeld was found to be under-weight and was sent to the back of the grid.
– Hamilton’s time secured pole, with Vettel 2nd and Rosberg 3rd.

Hamilton, Vettel
Rosberg, Webber
Alonso, Glock
Kubica, Kovalainen
Barrichello, Nakajima
Button, Raikkonen
Buemi, Trulli
Sutil, Alguersuari
Fisichella, Grosjean
Pitlane start: Heidfeld

After Heidfeld was sent to 20th position for being underweight in qualifying, BMW elected to change his engine and gearbox and start him on full tanks from the pitlane.

To a recording bit with Hamilton earlier on race day. It is hot and humid in Singapore so he’s having to keep hydrated often. Says Singapore has great fan support (presumably for he and the team), second only to the British GP. He says his hotel blacked out his windows because the F1 personnel are staying on European time, so they are sleeping in the day, getting up at 2pm and going to bed at 6am.

Live with Ross Brawn:
“Fairly disappointing qualifying. Fine on Saturday morning, even Q1 we weren’t too bad. Out in Q2 with Jenson and it all started to fall apart. Heidfeld’s penalty puts us on the good side of the grid, small mercies. Difficult track, got to bide our time and hope opportunities come. Scoring some points would be a great result.”

Jake says this place is lit by 3 million watts of power. 500 million people are gearing up to watch this race.

DC saying “you really don’t want to get off-line, the dust sucks you into the wall, you saw what happened to Rubens yesterday.”

We’re hoping it won’t rain, as is possible. It is a long race anyway and who knows how it would affect the visibility, with glare from the lights reflecting on the track. This happened in Qatar last year for the MotoGP night race which had to be postponed a day.

Gridwalk with Martin Brundle.
– Lightning in the sky but the rainstorm is not heading for the race track.
– Rubens, P9: “Everything is okay. It looked bigger than it was [the crash yesterday], from here I need to move forward. Clean side of the track does make a difference, for the support race just standing on the pitwall you could see a lot of dust.”
– Brundle says to John Button while walking by.. “here I’ve got a present for Jenson, a glow stick, and make sure he eats his carrots!”
– Very quick line from the PM of Singapore, he tips Hamilton for the win.
– Martin says this will be a race all about saving the rear tyres. Trying to find “Teflonso” – ha!
– Rosberg, P3: “Looking forward to a strong race, I have more fuel than Sebastian and I’m on the better side of the grid. (Hamilton) looked strong in qualifying, will be difficult to beat him and he has KERS.”
– Vettel, P2: “Its a long race, 61 laps is a long way to go. First of all survive the first corner, first lap. Who knows what happens.”
We lost the gridwalk camera feed so he throws back to Jake in the pits.

Singapore National Anthem
Fact: Singapore has been an independent nation since 1965.
Unfortunately their anthem sounds like a lot of other anthems, or Eurovision Song Contest entries.

Shots of Ari Vataen and Jean Todt quickly shaking hands on the grid. Not a staged thing, looks like Todt and his entourage were walking through and Ari, alone, fights his way through to get a handshake..

Track Guide.. new pit entry and exit. The turns have been extended out into the runoff area and are tighter than last year, to create space for the pit access.
New kerbs at the turn 10 chicane.. last year we had saw-tooth affairs which were not good, this year we have kerbs similar to the new ones at Monza the other week. Chicane is a bit tighter than before, drivers not happy though. Turn 17 now known in F1 as Piquet’s Corner!

Ted Kravitz says Vettel has only 42kg of fuel on board, compared to 51kg for Hamilton. Lewis is quickest and heaviest of the frontrunners. Lots of stoppers between lap 17-21, Button is fuelled heavily to lap 28.

Mario Theissen! We like Mario. He looks like Ned Flanders. Talking about Heidfeld’s penalty:
“It was a mistake, we found out a ballast weight was not correctly placed. We indicated it to the FIA and the penalty was to go to the back of the grid. If it was intentional we would not have indicated it!”
Speaking of which we get Heidfeld team radio, which the BBC completely ignore in order to hear David Coulthard speak about tyre management. Both EJ and DC tip Hamilton for the win.

Grid reminder:
Hamilton, Vettel
Rosberg, Webber
Alonso, Glock
Kubica, Kovalainen
Barrichello, Nakajima
Button, Raikkonen
Buemi, Trulli
Sutil, Alguersuari
Fisichella, Grosjean
Pitlane start: Heidfeld

Live Notes

Engines firing.

1:00pm UK time – Formation Lap


L1 Hamilton clear in the lead. Everyone through turn one. Rosberg 2nd.

Alonso pushing Webber. Goes wide. Webber and Glock clear Alonso.

L2 Cars stringing out already.

Vettel had a lot of wheelspin on the dust. Slow away.
Webber ignored the kerb to pass Alonso on the wrong side of it – could get penalised.

L4 Grosjean pits and enters the garage.

L5 Hamilton radio “Possible KERS issue”. He’s told to disable the KERS.

L7 Webber told let Alonso through, for passing wrong side of kerbs.. He also let Glock through.

L8 Not sure why Crofty thinks it was Red Bull’s decision. He said it was “ultra-conservative” from them. Surely it was an order from Whiting…

On the replay Webber looks to take a good line through the corner, that kerbing is in a really strange place. If they moved it back that corner could make a good passing place!

L10 Radio calls.. Sutil told to manage the engine due to overheating stuck behind Alguersuari, then Fisichella is told about Sutil’s message and to pass him!

L12 Buemi runs wide on to the dust, Raikkonen passes him.

L14 Liuzzi goes for Fisichella, they are side by side… yellow flag! Liuzzi has to back out. I’m unable to see the reason for the flag at that corner.

OK we see it now – debris from Glock’s Toyota (slowmo replay shows it falling off). In the wrong place as well, on the exit of the only decent passing place on the circuit! Always the way.

Order: Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Glock, Alonso, Webber, Barrichello, Kubica, Kovalainen, Button, Nakajima, Raikkonen, Buemi, Alguersuari, Sutil, Fisichella, Liuzzi, Trulli, Heidfeld.

L18 A brave (stupid?) marshal runs to collect the debris under double-waved yellows* – as Vettel pits to emerge in 7th behind Barrichello. I’m not sure you could pay me to do that – and these guys aren’t paid.
* single waved yellow warns the driver of danger, double flags mean slow down and be prepared to stop.

L19 Rosberg pits, he’s out ahead of Rubens but crosses the pit exit line early. Rubens passes him on the next corner. Penalty coming for Nico. Webber also pitted.

L20 Glock is in, so is Barrichello. Glock out behind Nakajima. Barrichello is just ahead of Raikkonen now.

L21 Hamilton pits – he beats Alonso who has yet to stop.
Drive-through penalty for Rosberg for crossing pit exit line. Replays showed him fully on the race track before he darts back across the blend line to pit exit side.


Sutil tries to pass Alguersuari and spins – as he tries to recover he t-bones Heidfeld and knocks Nick around. Adrian tried to continue the spin to turn it into a 360 but forgot to look for traffic. His fault, no question.
New front wing for Sutil. Heidfeld is out on the spot with broken suspension, he manages to clear his car to the escape road. This ends Heidfeld’s record run of races without retirement, he got up to something like 42 consecutive races! That’s more than two seasons!

L22 Lots more pitting. Button, Kovalainen, Alonso, Nakajima, more.
Alguersuari departs with his fuel hose attached! Stops but not before the equipment his fuel man is pulled down. He went before the stop board was lifted!

L23 New Order:
Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Glock, Alonso, Barrichello, Kovalainen, Button, Webber, Kubica, Nakajima, Raikkonen, Buemi, Trulli, Fisichella, Liuzzi, Alguersuari, Sutil.

Rosberg still needs to take is drive-through penalty. This SC has worked wonders for the one-stoppers who have come in now, but not helped the two-stoppers who have lost their track advantage. I have completely lost track of who that is. Who needs to come in again and who doesn’t? I should keep notes or something.

L24 Team radio : Rosberg will follow SC in to take his penalty.
Sutil pits under the SC, goes into the garage.

L25 GREEN FLAG – Rosberg did not take his penalty.

L27 No change in the order. A couple of little looks on the restart.
Race Control: Incident involving cars 6 and 20 to be investigated after the race. Sutil and Heidfeld.

L28 Rosberg takes his penalty and he’s now behind Trulli in 14th.

L31 Through half distance. If we get another Safety Car we’ll hit the 2hr limit.

L34 On 5Live, Sutil blames Heidfeld for driving over his front wing, unbelievable!

L35 Rosberg pits for tyres and fuel. He’s quite a way back now, out of contention. Shame.

L38 There’s not a great deal going on, though now Hamilton and Vettel are trading fast laps and are only half a second apart.

Replay: Vettel’s right wing mirror (and associated aero devices) have come off.

L39 Rosberg passes Alguersuari. Jamie just pulls over and lets him go.

L40 Vettel pits from Hamilton’s tail, and he’s back out behind Jenson Button for 7th.

22 laps to go. This isn’t a great race, but not the MOST boring I’ve ever seen. Try watching Valencia, Magny-Cours, Imola-with-chicanes and the before-they-fixed-it Hungaroring.

L41 Buemi pits twice in two laps, his fuel rig broke down and they had to use the backup.
Vettel – speeding in the pitlane!
Replay – he’s broken his rear diffuser on a kerb.

L44 Vettel takes his drive-through for pitlane speeding.

L45 Webber pits, lots of black dust from the brakes. He rejoins 14th behind Fisichella and Liuzzi.

L46 Glock pits from 2nd. He’s now behind Kovalainen in 6th. Button is catching this group.
Webber spins at turn 1! He’s backwards in the tyre barrier.

Hamilton take the opportunity to stop, in case of SC.

Brake failure for Webber – we saw it coming with that dust earlier.

Also pitting: Barrichello, Kovalainen, Nakajima, Fisichella, Liuzzi.

No Safety Car, track has been cleared. Alonso leads.

L48 Both Toro Rossos are pulled in retire – worried about brakes too? Seems so.

L50 Alonso pits from the lead. Hamilton now leads. Fernando is now 4th.

L52 Button pits from 2nd. Does he beat Barrichello? Yes! He is 5th after starting 11th.

L53 Raikkonen pits from 7th, he’s out in 10th, bad day for Ferrari.

9 laps to go. Top ten: Hamilton, Glock, Alonso, Vettel, Button, Barrichello, Kovalainen, Kubica, Nakajima, Raikkonen.

Vettel has brake problems – sister car crashed, sister team withdrawn setting fastest laps. He’s 6.3sec behind Glock. Glock is only 7.7sec behind Hamilton, a good race from Timo.

Heidfeld with 5Live: “Sutil started moving without switching his brain on. 42 races without stopping, pity it came to an end.”

L56 Clouds of black brake dust from Button’s car.

L58 Ross Brawn on the radio to Button, he’s told to back off and bring it home. Rubens then told about Button’s issues… “Can I catch him??” “Um, no, you’re 10 seconds down at the same speed.”
Actually he is over a 1sec lap faster, but he’s almost certainly going to have the same problem if he pushes and with 3 laps left there’s no point risking it to close a 10 second gap.

L59 The only battle remaining is Kubica-Nakajima-Raikkonen for 8th position and the final point.

Last Lap

Lewis Hamilton wins!
Glock 2nd, good run
Alonso 3rd
Vettel, Button, Barrichello Kovalainen and Kubica round out the points.
Nakajima somehow holds off Raikkonen in what is possibly the first time in a while I’ve seen him not simply wave the other guy past him..

Long cooldown lap.
Parc Ferme. Lewis happy!

Lots of post-race rambling from the trio in the paddock. Now the drivers:

Button with Lee: “I wish I’d done those laps in qualifying. Good race, I got stuck behind Heikki but got past him when he pitted. Happy to get Nakajima off the line, that was key for me.”
McKenzie throws him a curveball by asking him about the second safety car – there was only one, Lee! Jenson says he doesn’t remember the second one.. he’s very positive for Japan.

BBC main coverage is out of here double-quick time in order to show a rerun of Eastenders. Really? I mean.. really??? Come on.. No press conference. BUT we can hit the (free) red button service to catch more interviews, that’s where we find the conference. (UK TV has gone for interactive extra channels instead of a lot of HD, for now)

Conference with Peter Windsor:

Hamilton: “Very tough race. Race was pretty straightforward, managed to get a big enough gap. I knew I was 5 laps longer than [Vettel], all I had to do was keep him behind. Big thank you to the team and my family.”
Windsor: “You had trouble with the KERS button early in the race.”
Hamilton: “I had no problem in the car but the team said we had a fault, I had to disable it and re-engage it and it worked fine after that. Had pressure from Nico in the beginning. There’s corner after corner, there’s no real break here. The fans here are amazing.”

Glock: “Really good race for me, the start was a bit messy but then then a good first stint. Before I came here I knew the driver can make a difference here. I lost the view of where the other guys are, my team did not say to me where I am, suddenly they said you are safe for P2 and I was really surprised!”

Alonso (collar unbuttoned in order to not show ING sponsorship!): “Result is great for us, first podium of the season. First lap was a little bit stressful side by side with Mark, then Timo took the benefit in turn 8, so the battle with Mark I lost a position to Timo and we finished right behind him but no complaints, fantastic for us, we had the pace all weekend.”

This coverage on the interactive channel continues for another hour, it is called the BBC F1 Forum and there is a lot more chat, interviews, F1 personalities come and pay a visit, all good stuff and far too long to note down here!! Interestingly in this one, Martin Whitmarsh may just have let slip that Kimi is coming in to replace Heikki simply by being terrible at denying a rumour put to him..giggling away like a schoolkid.. All good fun.

Race Result

Driver Gap Pts
1 Hamilton 61 laps 10
2 Glock 9.6sec 8
3 Alonso 16.6sec 6
4 Vettel 20.2sec 5
5 Button 30.0sec 4
6 Barrichello 31.8sec 3
7 Kovalainen 36.1sec 2
8 Kubica 55.0sec 1
9 Nakajima 56.0sec
10 Räikkönen 58.8sec
11 Rosberg 59.7sec
12 Trulli 73.0sec
13 Fisichella 79.0sec
14 Liuzzi 93.5sec
DNF Alguersuari Brakes
DNF Buemi Gearbox
DNF Webber Brakes
DNF Sutil Damage
DNF Heidfeld Accident
DNF Grosjean Brakes

Drivers’ Championship

Driver Prev SIN Total
1 Button 80 4 84
2 Barrichello 66 3 69
3 Vettel 54 5 59
4 Webber 51.5 51.5
5 Räikkönen 40 40
6 Hamilton 27 10 37
7 Rosberg 30.5 30.5
8 Alonso 20 6 26
9 Glock 16 8 24
10 Trulli 22.5 22.5
11 Massa 22 22
12 Kovalainen 20 2 22
13 Heidfeld 12 12
14 Kubica 8 1 9
15 Fisichella 8 8
16 Sutil 5 5
17 Buemi 3 3
18 Bourdais 2 2

Vettel keeps pace with the Brawn drivers but realistically this is now a fight between the two teammates – Seb needs to be out-scoring these two by some margin and he isn’t doing so. Equally, Rubens is 15 points behind Jenson now so has a lot of work to do. If Jenson scores 5pts more than Rubens in Japan he is Champion.

In the meantime, Hamilton manages to get a good score on the board while Raikkonen gets a big fat zero – the opposite to Monza – and so closes the gap once more, taking Rosberg’s position as he does so. Alonso and Glock take higher positions in the midfield bunfight.

Constructors’ Championship

Constructor Prev SIN Total
1 Brawn 146 7 153
2 Red Bull 105.5 5 110.5
3 Ferrari 62 62
4 McLaren 47 12 59
5 Toyota 38.5 8 46.5
6 Williams 30.5 30.5
7 Renault 20 6 26
8 BMW 20 1 21
9 Force India 13 13
10 Toro Rosso 5 5

Brawn have got this one pretty much sewn up now, with only three races remaining it is a tall order for Red Bull to catch up. There are 18 points available at each race if a team places first and second, that’s 54 points over the next 3 races with a gap of 42.5 between the top two.

The action is in the midfield where Ferrari and McLaren are after 3rd but seemingly not able to take big scores in the same race as their rival, and there’s a big fight for 6th where Renault may have started a late surge.

Next Event

The next race is the FujiTV Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka this weekend! An early start for this one, BBC TV should kick off at about 5am UK time with the race start at 6am. That’s 1am US Eastern, assuming they carry it live. I’ll be live-tweeting and live-commenting the race as usual, with blog notes appearing later in the week. In the meantime my Weekend Preview ought to be up on Friday. See you over the weekend!

Flag courtesy of 4 International Flags


Weekend Preview: 26-27 September 2009

Feature Events

FIA Formula 1

– 2009 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix
– Singapore
– (14/17)
– with FBMW Pacific and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia

A week after the FIA hearing into the Renault team and Nelson Piquet Jr, we return to the scene of the crime for the second F1 night race. Already we’ve had some fallout from this, with ING and Mutua Madrilena ending their sponsorship of the team with immediate effect (I think they may still be a personal sponsor of Alonso). It happened so quickly the stickers had to be removed on Thursday and the team clothing hasn’t been updated.

Some forecasts show rain during the weekend – how will that affect the lighting, will there be too much glare from the reflections on the track? Finally, with it being a street race you can expect at least one appearance from the Safety Car.

UK TV: LIVE on BBC ONE from 12.10pm Sunday.

US TV: LIVE on SPEED from 7.30am ET Sunday, repeated at 2.30pm.

American Le Mans Series

– Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda6
– Road Atlanta
– Brasleton, Georgia, United States
– (9/10)
– with Atlantic, Star Mazda, IMSA GT3 Cup

Peugeot and Audi rejoin the ALMS regulars for 12th running of the 1000 mile / 10 hour event which has quickly established itself as a sportscar classic. It looks like the Peugeots are faster over a lap, much like last year yet in 2008 Audi’s superior racecraft won the day. Can they repeat in 2009?
If these four cars suffer any kind of difficulty you can expect the Acura of De Ferran Motorsports to be in contention, too. Normally you would also bracket the Highcroft Acura with De Ferran, however Scott Sharp’s accident in practice destroyed the car and they are working overnight to build up a new car from the tub which was airfreighted in last night.
The GT2 fight will be as tight as ever too, this year with a much greater variety in the field than the previous Porsche vs Ferrari fights. You can add to those names BMW, Corvette and Ford, and don’t forget Panoz.
Remember, this race takes place on Saturday.

UK TV: LIVE on MOTORS TV from 4pm Saturday.

US TV: LIVE on SPEED from 11am Saturday. This year, for the first time, Speed will cover the entire race.

Also: www.radiolemans.com and Speed On-Board Pass

Other Events


Formula Nippon

– Sugo
– Japan
– (8/8)
– with Japanese F3

Season finale of the Japanese series.

Atlantic Championship

– Road Atlanta
– Brasleton, Georgia, USA
– (9/10)
– supporting Petit Le Mans along with Star Mazda

Stock Car:

NASCAR Sprint Cup

– AAA 400
– Dover International Speedway, Delaware, USA
– US TV: LIVE on ABC, Sunday 1pm ET

NASCAR Nationwide Series

– Dover 200
– Dover International Speedway, Delaware, USA
– US TV: LIVE on ESPN 2, Saturday 3pm ET (not covered in UK)

NASCAR Camping World Trucks

– Las Vegas 350
– Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
– US TV: LIVE on SPEED, Saturday 9pm ET (not covered in UK)

Sports Car / Touring Car:


– Petit Le Mans (see above)


Intercontinental Rally Challenge

– Rally Sanremo


World Superbikes

– Imola, Italy
– Eurosport

British Superbikes

– Silverstone
– Eurosport

* * * *
FORIX (sub req.)
Live Sport on TV
Series websites as mentioned
Autosport magazine

Why We Are Here

I’m a bit late catching up with my RSS reader, as I am with so many things. Nevertheless, I would like to associate myself with remarks made by Joe Saward recently. If you are disillusioned with the endless politicking in F1 and other motorsports be sure to give it a read – and also the comments, because the second comment is from motorsport historian Gerald Donaldson and there is also a comment from F1 PR man Nav Sidhu.
It is nice know that in a world where we can all write what we will, there is still a place for the professional writer to help us express ourselves more clearly.


Back in the world of the bloggers, I also echo Alia’s response to that post:


I don’t wish to ride on their coat-tails, merely to pass on some good writing which deserves an audience. See you for Singapore.

Race Notes: Italian Grand Prix 2009

2009 Formula 1 Gran Premio Santander d’Italia
Date: 13 September 2009
Circuit: Autodromo Nazionale di Monza (PitlaneFanatic) (GoogleCircuits)
Location: Parco Monza, Milan, Italy
Distance: 53 laps
Tyre choices (red): SS / S / M / H

Coverage: BBC One / BBC Radio 5 Live[*]
Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Analysts in the paddock: David Coulthard (DC) and Eddie Jordan (EJ)

R5 commentary[*]: David Croft (Crofty) and Anthony Davidson (Ant)
R5 pitlane[*]: Holly Samos

[*for many years the BBC has held the UK radio rights to F1. In ’09 they also picked up the TV rights and they now offer an alternate feed on digital television, combining TV pics with radio commentary. I tend to use this feed.]

Coverage begins at 12.10pm.

DVR Notes

Monza. Home to the Tifosi. 5 races remain. 4 title contenders. Webber on 51.5, Vettel on 53, Barrichello on 56, Button on 72.

Eddie says the contenders are falling away, they aren’t making the most of Brawn not scoring.
David thinks lots of driver contracts have been agreed, they just haven’t been announced yet. This is the normal contract-signing time.

Singapore 2008
Alonso had a fast car but was only 16th after an engine problem. Renault gambled on a light fuel load. When Piquet crashed the SC came out, which was perfect because Alonso had just pitted and nobody else had.
Fast-forward to Hungary 2009 where Piquet was sacked. Piquet told the FIA he crashed deliberately because he was asked to by Briatore and Symonds. Alonso says he knew nothing.
[We’ve since learned the outcome of the hearing which you can read elsewhere on this blog, so I will skip this part of the notes.]

Two weeks ago Giancarlo Fisichella took pole for Force India, this week he’s sitting in a Ferrari.
Liuzzi has taken his Force India place.
Fisichella took 14th and Liuzzi bagged 7th, his team-mate Sutil took 2nd position which is his career-best starting place in F1.

Sutil could have had pole without a slide.

BMW suffered two engine failures within two minutes. Theissen says both engines were new, and they had the same failure.

Title contenders in the middle of the grid.

Webber, 10th: “Tough weekend, we can’t pass the KERS cars on the track so we’ll do something in the pit stops.”

Rubens, 5th: “Lots of the fuel in the car, wasn’t expecting the times, it was great.”
Jenson: “It felt good on a heavy fuel load, we’ll have that for most of the race.”

Hamilton says it will be anyone’s race and he has the best opportunity.

Ted: Raikkonen has a chance from 3rd. Kovalainen was the star of qualifying fuel-corrected.

Hamilton (pole), Sutil
Raikkonen, Kovalainen
Barrichello, Button
Liuzzi, Alonso
Vettel, Webber
Trulli, Grosjean
Kubica, Fisichella
Heidfeld, Glock
Nakajima, Rosberg
Alguersuari starts from pitlane after changing ‘performance parts’ on the car.

Jenson feature.
JB: “Season is very long, you have ups and down, you have to perform as well as you can as often as you can. You’re not going to be the best at every race, that’s never been done before. The last couple of races have been frustrating for one reason or another, we’ve got 5 to go, I’m not thinking of points at each race. I go thinking I wanna win.”
Says he also wants to have fun, there’s no point being here if you’re not having fun. There’s more but I can’t say I’m interested. We’ve had so many Jenson and Lewis features this season I’m failing to care any more.

Pitlane open.
We can no longer hear the pundits because they are standing in pit lane.

EJ visits his old team Jordan, now Force India, in their pit garage.
Chief engineer Dominic: “We showed we’ve really got performance in the car here and at Spa. We almost got pole. I think Adrian’s got certainly the measure of all of them. [Tonio] has been a revelation all weekend, he’s very well placed.”
Team manager Andy Stevenson: “We’ve had a tough season but the boys have been developing very well, we’ve got more parts coming in Singapore to give us more speed.”

Live in the pitlane again. Kevin Pieterson, cricketer for England. Blah blah blah, why are we talking to him?

Walk to the grid..

Brundle & DC Gridwalk!

MB: “Cars have a lot of front wing but a skinny rear wing.”
DC: “30% less load on the car here than at a typical Grand Prix track.”
Drivers concerned about the first chicane but the main focus for the driver is getting a clean start.

Sutil: “1 stop and 2 stop is very similar time on the simulation so we stick on this plan, we’re confident. I have to defend my position quite hard, 3 KERS cars around, big fight at the start.”
He’s not concerned about Raikkonen a row behind, despite all the times they’ve come together in races.

Rubens, gearbox ok? “Everything’s fine, the gearbox was not a problem for the whole Spa race.”
They talk about the coolpack Rubens is wearing.
Bernie, who’s your money on: “I hope its somebody driving an Indian car.”
He’s not worried about Renault, we’ll have to wait until the 21st.

Good gridwalk today.

Italian National Anthem

Anthem from a brass band, sounds terrible, perhaps they are being distracted by the dead crows on their heads.

Track guide with MB and MW.
Turn 1, Variante del Rettifilio. Large kerbs with heavy braking.
They skip the Curva Granda and the second chicane to go to the Lesmos, specifically Lesmo 2 which is tricky tight corner.
Variante Ascari is skipped (what??), to talk about the Parabolica. Webber says you just have to try and find a line, then the track opens up and away you go so you’ve got to the get the right line all the way through.

Ted repeats Kovalainen is the favourite to win as he was fastest fuel-corrected. He needs to be no more than 15sec behind Hamilton at Lewis’ first stop.

We’ve got three two-stopper cars at the front on a completely different strategy to the rest, the heavy one-stoppers.

Formation Lap
Switching to 302 for 5Live audio. Love their coverage of the formation lap. The main TV feed is very dry and boring, big gaps while they try and fill for time, while on the radio feed it is action all the way, pumped up music and rapid-fire scene-setting.

Live Notes

Grid set.!

Someone missed chicane.
Webber in the wall!
Liuzzi passed Kovy.
Lots of passing! Can’t keep up with notes.


Kimi on the outside passes Sutil.
Glock went through chicane.
Alonso alongside Liuzzi in turn 1, can’t quite make it.

Back live and Alonso passes Kovalainen who is dropping like a stone it seems.

We are on Lap 5. Rosberg pits for a front wing endplate.

Replay: Kubica tagged Webber and turned him around.

We can see damage on Kubica’s front wing similar to what was just repaired for Rosberg.

Hamilton is setting very quick laps. Only the first few cars are on light fuel so expect them to pull away.

L8 Black and orange flag for Kubica’s front wing.

Hamilton, Raikkonen, Sutil, Barrichello, Button, Liuzzi, Alonso, Kovalainen, Kubica, Vettel, Heidfeld, Fisichella, Nakajima, Trulli, Glock, Buemi, Alg, Grosjean, Rosberg

L10 Kubica pits for a new nose.
Sutil sets a purple fastest sector 1!

Radio to Grosjean… “2nd gear in turns 1 and 2, we have hot gearbox”

This race is flying by!

L13 Radio conversation with Hamilton. They will take the harder tyre in the next stint.

Hamilton stops on lap 16. He’s out between Button and Liuzzi.

Kubica pits and retires.
Rosberg has had another stop.

L18 Sutil pits, he’s out between Alonso and Kovy. Heikki tries to use to KERS to pass but not enough room! As soon as Sutil’s tyres come in, he just drives away from the McLaren.
Just Raikkonen left of the light runners. Button gets a message that he’s only 1sec behind Raikkonen on strategy and closing nicely. As the message ends Kimi pits and he’s out between the 1-stopping Liuzzi and Alonso.

L20 Alguersuari is being wheeled back into the garage, he is out.

L21 The Brawns are currently leading by 12 seconds but they are actually racing Hamilton for position after the stops shake out – remember their stops will be longer than Hamilton’s.

L23 Lewis being told he’ll need 3 or 4 tenths to beat the BRawns.
Oh no! Liuzzi has stopped off track!! Car failure. Parks it at the Roggia.

L25 Barrichello is gradually opening it out against Button.

L27 Alonso is the first 1-stopper to pit.

L28 Kovalainen and Vettel pit. Heikki is out behind Nakajima and Trulli – Alonso beat both of them, but only just. We’re not shown where Vettel emerges.
Before that stop Barrichello sets fastest lap.

L29 Button pits. Thermal image!

Liuzzi says he had gearbox problem.

L30 Barrichello pits. His stop is half a second faster than Button’s! Great job for both cars.

This puts Hamilton back into the lead – but he still has to make his second stop, as do Raikkonen and Sutil. Hamilton has 14 seconds on Barrichello and that’s not enough.

L31 Fisichella pits from 7th. A long line of cars mug him as he’s at pitlane speed..

L33 Buemi passes Fisichella for 13th. Hamilton sets the fastest lap of the race.

L35 Hamilton makes his second stop. 7.7sec. Barrichello passes him… so does Button! Hamilton 3rd!

L36 Nakajima and Trulli are in.
L37 Fastest lap from Sutil!
L38 Raikkonen and Sutil just half a second apart and both pit together.
Raikkonen still leads between the two and emerge into a clear track, looks like they should be 4th and 5th behind Hamilton.

Sutil had a slide into his box and hit one of his men, who knocks off his right wing mirror.

L40 Race between the two Toyotas! Trulli ahead of Glock.

L42 Crofty says if Heidfeld finishes it will make 41 consecutive race finishes.

Things have gone into a stalemate now.

Barrichello leads by 4s over Button, then 1.6 to Hamilton who is pushing Button, then 12.7 down to Raikkonen and Sutil running very close together.

L47 Button responded to Hamilton on the last lap with a personal best, he’s catching Barrichello gradually.

L49 Big Toyota fight! Glock and Trulli fighting each other after Trulli was pushed out wide by Nakajima. Trulli then off track and loses a lot of time.

L51 Hamilton pushing hard and catching Button, but there isn’t enough time.

L53 Final lap.

Hamilton crashes at the Lesmos on the last lap, BIG hit, debris everywhere!

Yellows out, SC boards. No overtaking on the last lap – shame..

Rubens Barrichello wins!

Slowdown lap.. cars picking their way through Hamilton’s debris.. I have no idea if the SC actually went out, there wasn’t much point if it did, being the last lap..

Parc Ferme

Rubens makes a Bolt-style arrow motion..

R5L coverage ends, back on main feed.

Newly-beardless Rubens makes his way upstairs to the little room behind the podium.


Should be a popular victory for the Italians after his Ferrari stint. Air horns!

Brazilian anthem
British anthem

Absolutely love the track invasion at Monza. Great atmosphere.

Ross Brawn: “You could see it was tidy, Lewis was pushing him, Jenson looked very smooth I felt he had it under control.” Says he’ll demand his drivers fight for the title fairly if/when it comes down to them for the the championship. New experience and new pressure for Jenson, a pressure which is a privelidge.

with Peter Windsor once again, because James Allen was called away for some reason.


“It feels great, I have no words. I had a tough night, we didn’t know the gearbox and this and that, there are some concerns. Had a great start. Kovalainen was coming fast with the power button, I had to defend wide, great first lap. Pace was there, brakes were great. Felt great.”


“It was a messy (first) lap, we made up a position which was fantastic. Kovalainen was struggling a little bit, through the second chicane, through Lesbo 1 (!!) and I put nose in by Lesbo 2 (!!) so it was a much needed move. It’s nice to be back up here, 2nd position, would rather be where Rubens is sat but 2nd is good. “

He said Lesbo instead of Lesmo. Everyone’s childish side breaks down sniggering. The press in the conference room must be struggling to contain themselves.

Kimi with what looks like a new mullet:

“Got a very good start then somehting happened with Lewis, he slowed down so I had to back off. It didn’t really change the end of the race because in the end he went off. Good points for us when we need that. Bit disappointing to drive as well as you can every lap and not make any difference. Good for the fans to be on the podium. We’re gonna keep pushing. “

Adrian Sutil is talking to the BBC, he said he thinks he did well against the KERS cars – I agree with him, it was a good drive.
Hamilton tell us he was pushing like a qualifying lap, apologises to the team. Says there are upgrades coming which means instead of pushing 130% he can push 110%… Cut back to Jake, “well if anyone can manage 110% I’d be impressed”. Ha!


* heavily delayed on the final lap by the debris from Hamilton’s accident

Driver Gap Pts
1 Barrichello 53 laps 10
2 Button 2.8sec 8
3 Räikkönen 30.6sec* 6
4 Sutil 31.1sec* 5
5 Alonso 59.1sec* 4
6 Kovalainen 60.6sec* 3
7 Heidfeld 82.4sec* 2
8 Vettel 85.4sec* 1
9 Fisichella 86.8sec*
10 Nakajima 162.2sec*
11 Glock 163.9sec*
12 Hamilton accident
13 Buemi DNF
14 Trulli 1 lap
15 Grosjean 1 lap
16 Rosberg 2 laps
DNF Liuzzi transmission
DNF Alguersuari gearbox
DNF Kubica engine
DNS Webber accident

Good result for Sutil and Force India. Heidfeld gets another good result, too. Fisichella out of the points in the Ferrari but significantly better than Badoer in the same car.

Drivers’ Championship

Driver Prev ITA Total
1 Button 72 8 80
2 Barrichello 56 10 66
3 Vettel 53 1 54
4 Webber 51.5 51.5
5 Räikkönen 34 6 40
6 Rosberg 30.5 30.5
7 Hamilton 27 27
8 Trulli 22.5 22.5
9 Massa 22 22
10 Kovalainen 17 3 20
11 Alonso 16 4 20
12 Glock 16 16
13 Heidfeld 10 2 12
14 Kubica 8 8
15 Fisichella 8 8
16 Sutil 0 5 5
17 Buemi 3 3
18 Bourdais 2 2

The title surely must now be between the Brawn drivers. Kimi is continuing his recent march towards the front as he tries to catch the Red Bull drivers. This was another race where the lower order are scoring instead of the midfield.

Constructors’ Championship

Constructor Prev ITA Total
1 Brawn 128 18 146
2 Red Bull 104.5 1 105.5
3 Ferrari 56 6 62
4 McLaren 44 3 47
5 Toyota 38.5 38.5
6 Williams 30.5 30.5
7 BMW 18 2 20
8 Renault 16 4 20
9 Force India 8 5 13
10 Toro Rosso 5 5

Major step for Brawn in the points, Red Bull are going to have to work hard. Renault and BMW are having a nice fight. There isn’t much else of interest at the moment.

* *
Next up is Singapore on the 27th of September, let’s hope it isn’t as controversial as last year! Despite being a night race it will be on at the usual start time for a European GP due to the timezones. During the race I will be on Twitter and Sidepodcast.com as usual while taking the lights-to-flag race notes – I’ll see you then!

Flag courtesy of 4 International Flags

FIA Release Audio of Renault/Piquet Hearing

In a first for the FIA in this new post-McLaren penalty transparency, they have released an audio recording of the World Motorsport Council meeting in which Nelson Piquet Jr and the Renault F1 team were called to answer charges of race-fixing.

You can listen to the near 77-minute hearing and the 7 minute conclusions, as well as read the 91-page dossier of evidence and the 20-page WSMC decision, on the following link:


Delayed Race Notes: Belgian Grand Prix 2009

[Preface – Due to studies I fell behind with the editing of these posts. They were written live as usual, but needed a lot of work to make readable. Anything in italics in square brackets was written during the edit, just like this paragraph.]

2009 Formula 1 ING Belgian Grand Prix
Date: 30 August 2009
Circuit: Spa-Franchorchamps (PF) (GC)
Location: Francorchamps, Belgium
Distance: 44 laps
Tyre choices (red): SS / S / M / H

Coverage: BBC One / BBC Radio 5 Live[*]
Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Analysts in the paddock: David Coulthard (DC) and Eddie Jordan (EJ)

R5 commentary[*]: David Croft (Crofty) and Anthony Davidson (Ant)
R5 pitlane[*]: Holly Samos

[*for many years the BBC has held the UK radio rights to F1. In ’09 they also picked up the TV rights and they now offer an alternate feed on digital television, combining TV pics with radio commentary. I tend to use this feed.]

Coverage begins at 12.10pm.

DVR Notes

Spa. They’ve been racing here for 80 years. Need balls to be fast here. DC and EJ walk down memory lane recalling classic moments they were involved in during their careers – DC’s ’98 crashes, Jordan’s 1-2 in the same race which he calls the greatest day in his sporting history. Brundle says it rewards you if you attack it and respect it.

This is the longest lap of the year.

Points recap:
Button leads Barrichello by 18.
Brawn ahead of Red Bull by 27.5 but the battle for 3rd is worth watching.

Jake says Spa is what Formula 1 is all about.

Ted’s Qual Report:
Spa is more kebab and chips than champagne and canapes. Fans bought tickets expecting to see Schumacher.

Badoer qualifed last for the 2nd race in a row: LB “the last lap was a lot of traffic, everybody was waiting, one Toro Rosso overtake me when I was waiting” (for space).

Button – couldn’t get grip on the soft tyre, says he had oversteer.

Ted says Spa isn’t as reliant on aero as many circuits, so it favours teams used to making their tyres work to make up for their aero package, like Force India.
Hamilton says he’s losing a lot of time in the middle sector.

Barrichello only has fuel for 9 laps but could only get 4th. (If 9 laps doesn’t sound like much, just remember how long this place is.) Rubens says he’s looking for great overtaking.

Fisichella was by no means the lightest car on the grid, so it was a genuine surprise for pole.

Fisi: “Guys in the factory did a fantastic job, with our limited budget.”

Fisichella (pole), Trulli
Heidfeld, Barrichello
Kubica, Raikkonen
Glock, Vettel
Webber, Rosberg
Sutil, Hamilton
Alonso, Button
Kovalainen, Buemi
Alguersuari, Nakajima
Grosjean, Badoer

Proper chat with Fisichella now. His last pole was in 2006! Says a pole with a good car is fantastic for sure – to do it with a small team, limited budget, is amazing.
Expected top fifteen, difficult to get to top ten, and got pole!
Says the Ferrari stories are just rumours and they haven’t called him, and even if they did he’d have to think about it.

Back to Jake and David who rubbish that – he’d jump at it, they say.

They waffle on for a bit, then we go to a package with EJ and Rubens meeting at a big house in Portugal. Is it his? Rubens brought wine!
Rubens says if he cries on the podium, so what? It’s for him. Valencia was like he was reading a book, very consistent that weekend.

EJ is only wearing shorts, my eyes, my eyes!
They go for a round of golf. Seemingly lots of man-love between EJ and Rubens.
Qualifying means a lot, JB has been qualifying well all season. Says he loves JB as a man but hates him as a driver..

OK this feature is way too long.

This is better. Lewis Hamilton walking the circuit with Martin Brundle
Eau Rouge. Compression, can only see the sky! They are breaking a sweat just walking up it.

Pouhon, downhill, just drop a gear, wait for car to settle and power on. No braking at 170mph with the wall outside.

Feature on tyres. Not BBC graphics, maybe supplied by Bridgestone and then voiced by DC? Completely ripping off that Sony ad with things bouncing down hills – tyres bouncing to the same (or similar) song.
This isn’t being presented well for TV, very dry. Four different dry tyre types. Graphs of optimum tyre temps and bumpiness of circuits.

Back to the guys. Eddie Jordan very proud of his old team for getting pole position.

Brundle is talking conspiracies. First 7 drivers on the grid don’t have a drive next year. BMW leaving, Toyota threatening, Force India low on money – he says it is rubbish, they all just happen to be working very well.

Trulli (P2): “To win you need a good start, good first lap, avoid trouble.” Says he will win the race.

Fisi (P1): “I was saving fuel so I didn’t push (going to grid). GOnna be difficult to keep the pace of the other people, good for us to score points and go for podium. We are on pole, that means something very important.” He’s looking for Rubens, Kimi and Jarno to come up from behind.

Heidfeld (P3), surprised?: “Yeah definitely, thought we’d have a good result but thought P5 would be maximum. The view is a bit unusual for me this season, we usually have better starts than the Toyotas and will try to get by Fisi with a longer strategy.”

Rubens (P4): “Crucial for strategy to have a good gap when I comes out of the first pitstop. You gotta go and try to win the race, if you’re too cautious it isn’t going to work.”

Running after Jenson!
Button, (P12): “Difficult qualifying. Tough position around Spa. We got a Force India on pole so I’m sure we could have a good race here. Couldn’t get radio working, might need that this race, it’s all good now.”

National Anthem
Jake introduces the anthem as the Spanish National Anthem. We are in Belgium, Jake. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard it before. They are doing it in the style of a jazz club? Nice.

Fuel weights to the tune of Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer!! Ha!! Gotta love Ted Kravitz.
If you equalise the weights it was Jarno Trulli who was fastest, with Vettel 2nd then Heidfeld. Fisi would be 4th. Barrichello the lightest car on the grid, stopping on lap 9. Many front-runners are stopping on lap 12.

Lee with unknown FIFI man: “[Fisi] is in good shape. We’ve been on the pace all weekend, we took a good aero package to Valencia but it wasn’t a circuit where we could show it. We came here expecting top six and that’s where we’re hoping to end up in the race.”

Howett, Toyota: “All year our car is more competitive than our qualifying results have shown.”

Mario T! “We are confident of our race performance, anything can happen, we hope we can put one car on the podium today. We need some luck, maybe we have it.”

Ted with Christian Horner, RBR: “Glitch with front wing, reset electronics and its looking good. Good opportunity to score points, key is to survive first lap, we’re heavier on fuel, Kimi is a factor.”

Chris Dyer, Ferrari: “If we get a good first lap we’re in with a chance.”

Pundit tips?
Eddie Jordan says Kimi is strong but wants an ex-Jordan driver to win, doesn’t matter which.
David Coulthard goes for Kimi to win.

Live Notes


Fisichella, Trulli
Heidfeld, Barrichello
Kubica, Raikkonen
Glock, Vettel
Webber, Rosberg
Sutil, Hamilton
Alonso, Button
Kovalainen, Buemi
Alguersuari, Nakajima
Grosjean, Badoer


Radio 5Live audio with BBC1 pictures.!

Great start from Fisi, all tangled at the start and one car tagged.. Fisi great lead up the hill!

Les Combes – BIG accident!
3 or 4 cars in the wall. Button spins. Grosjean and Hamilton and an STR are in the wall, suspension damaged.
Toyota wing damage, continues.

Replays: Someone tagged Button from behind and sent him into the pack.

Safety Car – first one since Barcelona! Trulli pits for repairs, it was his front wing.

Button, Grosjean, Hamilton and Alguersuari are out of the race.

Replays: Barrichello slow at the start. Sutil tagged someone and suffered damage at La Source.

Kimi had somehow made it from 6th to 2nd in that.
Fisi, Kimi, Kubica, Glock, Webber, Heid, Ros, Vet, Alo, Kov, Bue, Nak, Bad, Tru, Bar, Sut

Lap 4 (3 complete, we’re on 4) – SC in at the end of this lap.


LOVE that onboard with Kimi as we chase Fisi! Kimi makes the pass on the Kemmel straight. KERS in action.

L6 Barrichello took Trulli on the restart, now a replay of taking Badoer at the Bus Stop, 13th now..

Webber is ahead of Heidfeld now. This is a great opportunity for Button’s rivals to take points off him in the title race!

L7 Barrichello passes Nakajima with a great run through Eau Rouge and Raidillon to take him with momentum on the straight.

L8 Holly with Lewis: “What can you do? We got off to a bad start, when it goes bad it goes bad. No biggie, not challenging for the championship so not the end of the world.”

Sutil passes Badoer around the outside, off the circuit to pass him. Might get a penalty for passing him?

Sutil just clears Nakajima in the same way Barrichello did, really easy pass. Kaz just sits there and lets it happen, doesn’t react at all.. Is Naka really heavy or is he not bothered?

L10 Kimi had set some fast laps to get a gap, Fisi is now holding him at 1.8sec. Kubica a similar gap back to Fisi.

L11 Button: “Alongside Kovalainen into the corner and got whacked in the rear wheel. Was an avoidable accident, I think it was braking too late. Made up places at the start, I wasn’t too far behind Webber, 5 positions, now I’m out no points. At least it happened here not somewhere where we’re competitive.”

L12 Kova radio: “Fuel-corrected your pace is as good as the leaders, keep it up you’re in contention for 6th place.”
He’s now 10th.

Kubica and Glock pit.

13 laps gone. Heidfeld sets fastest lap in 1:47.738.
Alonso is being told to push to stop Fisi coming out ahead of them after the stops.

Replay of Glock stop: Slow stop, the original fuel hose did not work, had to use backup.

L15 Raikkonen, Fisi, Webber and Heidfeld all pit!!
Kimi out first, Fisi 2nd, Webber JUST beats Heidfeld who has to brake hard. Red Bull get could penalised for that, you’re not supposed to release into the path of another car.

Heidfeld passes Webber at Les Combes!
Rubens takes Mark around the outside at Blannchimont!

L17 Webber has been given a drive-thru penalty. Vettel pits. He’s out ahead of Heidfeld cleanly.

L19 Rosberg pits from his temporary lead. Webber is in for his drive-thru.
The accident on lap one will be investigated after the race.

Crofty says Toyota told him they are aware their engine is not as good as some others, they knew they’d be c30 horsepower down on Merc and Ferrari which hurts on the long uphill straight here.

L21 Trulli stops again and is last due to his earlier wing change.
ALonso (3rd) and Kova (5th) still need to stop, so do Naka and Badoer at the back.

L22 Kimi radio: “Fisi could be same lap or one lap longer so we need to open a gap.”
Ahh, Jarno Trulli is out of the race. He’s parked it in the garage.

L24 Fisi radio: Needs a tenth per lap, Raikkonen has been told to push.
Alonso has been told they will fit the softer option tyre. He pits now.
Problem! Left front wheel fairing is not engaging. STUPID devices. They are banned next year, Crofty calls for them to be banned immediately.

Replay, onboard Alonso: Sutil spinning on the first corner, his nose hit Alonso’s left front wheel and damaged the fairing thing.
L26 Alonso’s spinner fairing is now flailing around, he’s having to drive slowly to the pits to get it fixed.

L27 Kovalainen pits. He’s out alongside Vettel and beats up up the hill.

L28 Alonso makes it back. He’s out of the race. Barrichello in from 6th. He beats Nakajima out, Kazuki still hasn’t stopped – so Rubens made up an entire stop length on him!
Nakajima stops a lap later.

L29 Kimi and Fisi are just a tenth or so different lap to lap. If Fisi wins this, he’s earned it.

L30 Kubica pits from 3rd and rejoins 5th, ahead of Glock and Webber.

L31 Kimi and Fisi pit together! Prime tyre for Fisi. Option for Kimi. They rejoin in the same order, Kimi may win this on the better tyre.

L32 Heidfeld pits from 2nd, this’ll drop him back behind Kimi/Fisi. Vettel leads with a stop to make, he is projected by 5LIve to beat Kubica.

L34 The harder tyre seems to work for Fisi – he is catching Kimi!! It WAS the quicker tyre in qualifying though…

Fastest lap from Heidfeld: 1:47.541
Webber pits and he’s out between Rosberg and Glock.

L36 Vettel pits. Does he beat Kubica?? Yes!

More quick laps from Nick. Quick Nick, gradually catching Kubica. Next lap Vettel goes quickest, 1:47.3361 and 0.7s faster than Kimi and Fisi and only 6sec behind them.

L39 Sutil tries it on Glock – no.

L41 Onboard with Vettel as he catches the leaders… homing in.. not quite within sight but it won’t be long. Play the Jaws music!

L42 Cut to Barrichello who is chasing Kovalainen. Rubens’ car is a bit smokey yet he’s still catching Heikki. More smoke now, he has to lift, he’s backing off to make the final two laps. He does not pit, can he make it last and get a point or two?

Penultimate lap. He’s still running, has been told to look after the engine.. Vettel seems to have backed off.

L44 Final lap. Rubens is told it is an oil leak, telemetry is fine.

Fisichella 2nd!
Vettel 3rd
Kubica, Heidfeld, Kovalainen, Barrichello makes it back, and Rosberg rounds out the points positions.

6 winners in 6 races. And F1 is boring is it?

No cooldown lap at Spa because it would take too long, drive back up pitlane the wrong way into Parc Ferme.

Fire!! Barrichello’s car has caught fire. We cut away and don’t see it get extinguished..

Fisi doesn’t know where to go!


Finnish anthem (has been a while), Italian anthem.
Nice anthem combo.


BIG cheer for Fisichella’s 2nd place trophy.


What a great result for Fisichella and Force India. The rumour is Giancarlo will be in a Ferrari for Monza in a fortnight – is that true, or will he prefer to drive the improved Force India?

The team manager for FIFI is on the BBC, he says they are here to stay now, they are very quick in a straight line so look for them to do well at Monza. Excellent, bring it on!


Kimi Raikkonen, winner:

Hasn’t been easy year for us, behind straight away at first race, then made a big step in Barcelona. Long time since I last won, it was perfect, my aim was to win at least one race and keep 3rd in the championship. We probably were not the fastest in laptimes but overall we were fast and managed to keep everyone behind. Hopefully we get good results after this race.

Giancarlo Fisichella, 2nd:

Great result for us. A great day, I was quicker than Kimi he could overtake me just because of KERS after the restart, I’m a little bit sad for that, I was quicker than him, keeping his pace. We did exactly the same strategy, its great to have second, actually we could have won the race.

Sebastian Vettel, 3rd

If you look at the championship it was a very good result. Not an easy place to start from in the middel of the pack, first lap was a little conservative when I saw Nick off track, I lost position to Nico which I got back on restart. I was pushing every lap like qualifying, it was a pleasure to drive the car, was very nice. Strong pace, quicker than the guys in front.


Driver Gap Pts
1 Räikkönen 44 laps 10
2 Fisichella 0.9sec 8
3 Vettel 3.8sec 6
4 Kubica 9.9sec 5
5 Heidfeld 11.2sec 4
6 Kovalainen 32.7sec 3
7 Barrichello 35.4sec 2
8 Rosberg 36.2sec 1
9 Webber 36.9sec
10 Glock 41.4sec
11 Sutil 42.6sec
12 Buemi 46.1sec
13 Nakajima 54.2sec
14 Badoer 102.1sec
DNF Alonso retired
DNF Trulli brakes
DNF Button accident
DNF Grosjean accident
DNF Hamilton accident
DNS Alguersuari accident

An interesting podium and a good result for BMW!

Drivers’ Championship

Driver Prev BEL Total
1 Button 72
2 Barrichello 54 2 56
3 Vettel 47 6 53
4 Webber 51.5
5 Räikkönen 24 10 34
6 Rosberg 29.5 1 30.5
7 Hamilton 27
8 Trulli 22.5
9 Massa 22
10 Kovalainen 14 3 17
11 Glock 16
12 Alonso 16
13 Heidfeld 6 4 10
14 Kubica 3 5 8
15 Fisichella 0 8 8
16 Buemi 3
17 Bourdais 2

Despite Button’s non-score he retains a large lead over his team-mate, while the lower positioned Red Bull driver prior to this race was the one to pick up points, Vettel overtaking Webber once again in the standings.
Raikkonen is really making great strides forward now – can he bridge the gap to the leading four?
Fisichella picks up his first points of the year with his 2nd position (I probably should have reversed his position with Kubica’s on the ‘quality of results’ rule).

Constructors’ Championship

Constructor Prev BEL Total
1 Brawn 126 2 128
2 Red Bull 98.5 6 104.5
3 Ferrari 46 10 56
4 McLaren 41 3 44
5 Toyota 38.5
6 Williams 29.5 1 30.5
7 BMW 9 9 18
8 Renault 16
9 Force India 0 8 8
10 Toro Rosso 5

Red Bull claw back a small amount of the deficit to Brawn, it isn’t enough to make the fight interesting though.
Ferrari are solidifying their 3rd position. Realistically they will not catch those ahead of them, they can only reduce the gap. McLaren are in a similar position, it will be interesting to see which team emerges in 3rd position at the end of the year!
BMW’s haul form this race doubles their score for the season to date and jumps them over Renault, while Force India’s score means every team has now registered a score.

That’s all from the fantastic Spa-Francorchamps, one of the highlights of the year. Next up is the historic circuit of Monza on 13th September for which notes will be up as soon as I can do them.

Flag courtesy of 4 International Flags

Goodbye Flav

Monday saw the FIA World Council meet to hear the case of Renault, Briatore, Symonds and Piquet Jr conspiring to fix the result of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix by Piquet crashing his car, guaranteeing a Safety Car period and thus giving Fernando Alonso the lead and the race win.

FIA statement:

Renault F1 stated at the meeting that it had conducted a detailed internal investigation, which found that: (i) Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr. had conspired to cause the crash; and (ii) no other team member was involved in the conspiracy.
The FIA has conducted its own detailed investigation and its findings correspond with those of Renault F1.

Further, the FIA statement reveals Renault made the following points:

– it had accepted, at the earliest practicable opportunity, that it committed the offences with which it was charged and cooperated fully with the FIA’s investigation;
– it had confirmed that Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds were involved in the conspiracy and ensured that they left the team;
– it apologised unreservedly to the FIA and to the sport for the harm caused by its actions;
– it committed to paying the costs incurred by the FIA in its investigation; and
– Renault (the parent company, as opposed to Renault F1) committed to making a significant contribution to FIA safety-related projects.

Nelson Piquet Jr. also apologised unreservedly to the World Motor Sport Council for his part in the conspiracy.

The verdict is therefore unequivacal: guilty
What of the sentence?

The World Motor Sport Council considers that offences of this severity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship. However, having regard to the points in mitigation mentioned above and in particular the steps taken by Renault F1 to identify and address the failings within its team and condemn the actions of the individuals involved, the WMSC has decided to suspend Renault F1’s disqualification until the end of the 2011 season. The World Motor Sport Council will only activate this disqualification if Renault F1 is found guilty of a comparable breach during that time.

This is an interesting penalty. Renault last week removed Briatore and Symonds from the company and are very much distancing themselves from what happened, saying it was between Briatore, Symonds and Piquet Jr. This is believable. If you read the transcript of the radio calls during the race it seems even the race engineers did not know.

It should be noted that Renault (that is the parent company, not Renault F1) will be paying the FIA’s legal costs as well as making an unspecified contribution to the FIA’s safety work.

Flavio Briatore has not escaped so lightly. He is still maintaining his innocence despite all evidence to the contrary, of which the FIA takes a very dim view. Therefore he has been issued with a penalty I have never seen before – a total ban for an unlimited period. That’s not just from running a team, it extends to his driver management programme and his GP2/GP3 involvement as well!

I have never before seen the FIA make a statement like this:

As regards Mr. Briatore, the World Motor Sport Council declares that, for an unlimited period, the FIA does not intend to sanction any International Event, Championship, Cup, Trophy, Challenge or Series involving Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever, or grant any license to any Team or other entity engaging Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever. It also hereby instructs all officials present at FIA-sanctioned events not to permit Mr. Briatore access to any areas under the FIA’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, it does not intend to renew any Superlicence granted to any driver who is associated (through a management contract or otherwise) with Mr. Briatore, or any entity or individual associated with Mr. Briatore. In determining that such instructions should be applicable for an unlimited period, the World Motor Sport Council has had regard not only to the severity of the breach in which Mr. Briatore was complicit but also to his actions in continuing to deny his participation in the breach despite all the evidence.

Wow!! Flav’s a goner! Not only that, but all of the drivers he manages will be refused a licence until they change their representation. That means Webber, Alonso and I think Grosjean as well, and there are probably more. They have until the Singapore Grand Prix sessions begin on Friday..

Symonds gets a near-identical penalty to Briatore, the only difference being his is limited to 5 years and that was because he admitted guilt. He’s lucky not to have more, in fact given he’ll be in his 60s when this ban ends it could have ended his career so it could effectively be a life ban, too. Both men thoroughly deserve their penalties.

Piquet Jr was granted immunity by the FIA in exchange for his evidence, which is a shame because as far as I can see he should get a suspended ban, if not a full ban, for his part in all of this. Regardless of the pressure he was under he could have refused, or simply not done it when the time came.

Fernando Alonso has been “not in any way involved in Renault F1’s breach of the regulations” and was thanked for his cooperation. He surely must have thought something was up when he was put on a light fuel load, it can’t be proven that he knew or didn’t know what was going on. I’ll cautiously give him the benefit of the doubt but will remain sceptical.

Here is the FIA WMSC decision in full.