[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.]
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
Tyre selection (red): SS / S / M / H
[*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.
We start with a recap of the title race so far. Button leading early, but Vettel and Webber are catching up but the McLaren resurgence is helping Button retain his lead.
JH, DC and EJ are chatting. JH and EJ in pink shirts, which has been the theme for every Button win so far. John Button wears a pink shirt ‘for luck’ and early in the season Jake followed his lead.
Just over their shoulder the RTL guys are talking with Niki Lauda. M Schumacher is walking around – Eddie tries to grab his arm, misses, gestures to him, then runs off and grabs him and brings him to the camera!
MS is disappointed that he’s not in the car, say his fitness was far below the level to withstand the forces in the car. We can hardly hear him because of the engine right behind him.
Just a quick chat. Jake says we are all keen for him to get back in a car sooner rather than later…. errr, no Jake.
Story of qualifying: Badoer is subbing for Massa, leading to a Ferrari qualifying slowest on merit for the first time – they’ve been last before due to crashes/penalties, but not lack of speed;
Badoer says he’ll be better at the next race;
Webber’s car overheated the soft tyres. What’s the problem? “laptimes of other people”;
Alonso isn’t happy with 8th but says they did the maximum they could do;
Button says he’s not in a bad position, Vettel just in front, not too bad;
Barrichello thought he could put the car on pole;
Hamilton got pole position – a grinning Lewis says it has been a long time since they’ve battled for pole, this time they had the pace and were able to do it but the Brawns are still quick;
Now live with Lewis.
– Great feeling, very relaxed and casual for the team. Still very tough as always, Heikki did an excellent job next to me. Clean side of the grid, drag race with Heikki ‘cos he has KERS, same power same everything. He generally gets a good start so I have to make sure I start well.
Now a recorded segment with Lewis. Gushing platitudes for team. He’s visibly proud of having his own ‘bay’ in the factory for his car, says he came here as a kid and saw Mika, David, Juan’s bays and wanted his own. He reckons he notices each upgrade, asks when things will be tested, why haven’t things been tested yet.. Says he gets really involved with the team, learning about the car, can talk for ages about the car. Ropes Jake into doing pull-ups in the gym!
Martin Whitmarsh, first win a weight off your shoulders?:
“When you’ve got one win you want more. We’ve already forgotten what happened in Hungary, we feel we can win here. We hope we can win this afternoon.”
Jordan apologises for calling his car a dog earlier in the year. Whitmarsh says he always enjoys Jordan’s apologies.” From this evening after this race we’ll be looking at Spa, we need to win at a high-speed circuit, it is a great circuit and we are looking forward to it.”
He talks about drivers as well but we can’t hear him because engines are firing.
12.30 UK time. Pitlane is open.
Focus switches to Jenson, pre-record with Lee:
“I’ve got a 19 and a half point lead still. Its not easy, not a walk in the park as some people might think it is. We did a better job but I don’t think we had the best car all the time. Rest of the season will be very competitive. Red Bull are challenging, McLaren are very strong.”
He did a triathlon in London during the summer break, then went on holiday. It took his mind off it, and he says if you don’t take your mind off it you’ll go mad. He’s nice and refreshed now.
Jump into a Martin Brundle package on pit stops, a running feature for some races now. This time we’re looking at the layout of the pit lane. Fast lane for entry/exit, inner lane where work is carried out. 26 men waiting for the driver when he arrives. Tyre changers, jackmen, fire extinquisher, fuellers. We know all of this Martin, tell us something we don’t know.
– Expected the Safety Car last year, didn’t happen, maybe we’ll see it today.
We find Eric Clapton – “I don’t know what to make of [Badoer]. He’s got the experience but its going to be tough for him. If he can stay with the field its a great thing.”
MB – “I find it bizarre. Give him an Enzo for a month and put someone quick in.”
EC – “With the rules he’s just dropped in it so I thought he did really well considering – even if he gets around in one piece its a result.”
Martin says it feels like Bahrain temperature and humidity.
Bernie with the president or mayor or something, via translator.
Valencia has re-signed for a further 5 years.
Dignitary: “We’d like to make this one of the best Grands Prix in the world. We are very pleased that Alonso has made it after the penalty was rescinded.”
Rubens would love to win the race. He’s wearing a ‘cool suit’ which extracts the warm air away from his body. Ahem.
Barrichello: “Would you rather be less fuel on pole or not? We thought about it, the guys in front have KERS and they’d just overtake me, so it is a bit of a game in a way. I would love to win the race today and I think it’s my best chance.”
There’s a queue for Seb.. haha, Brundle pushes in front of Sky Germany to get to Vettel! She’s not impressed…
Vettel: “Not a secret that this track is not the best for us. 4th is not a disaster. Our focus is on Rubens, Jenson, Kimi.”
Martin walks away and apologises to German TV as he leaves..
Horner: “Our priority is to beat both Jenson and Rubens. Mark isn’t happy with the car, the stop/start nature of the track doesn’t suit our car.”
Rosberg says he has more fuel than the guys ahead of him, is worried slightly about Kimi and his KERS but may be saved by the short run to turn 1.
Err, we stop for the Spanish national anthem but are unable to hear it, it fades up a little but very quiet. Shouldn’t it be the European anthem? This is the European GP. We can now hear the Spanish anthem in the background but enough time has passed that maybe they played the European song first.
Jake says Martin is in serious trouble with Tanya from German TV, he’ll be lucky to make it out alive..
Fuel-corrected quali report with Ted – to the tune of Push It by Salt’N’Pepa! I am not making this up! Haha.
Rubens would have been quickest on equalised fuel, so he has the best strategy. Kovalainen looks better than Hamilton on strategy. Both McLarens (and Vettel) are stopping ahead of the rest. He tips Barrichello for the win with a slightly later stop.
Ross Brawn: “The start will be what it is, thereafter it’ll be making the tyres last. It’ll be marginal for us with our fuel load.”
Pundits, pick a winner: EJ says Hamilton by a big margin. DC says McLaren.
Hamilton (pole), Kovalainen
Switching to 5 Live audio. I love the 5Live coverage of the formation lap. BBC1 is just the two guys filling to almost dead air while they wait for the cars to come around. 5Live has music, rapid-fire scene-setting, a real tension-builder.
Lights are 18.104.22.168.5…GO!!
Badoer up four places before turn 2!
Someone loses part of the front wing.
5Live says Grosjean,
Button runs off course.
Button tries to repass Alonso, goes too deep.
Grosjean, Glock and Buemi all pit for damage repairs.
L3 (2 laps done, we’re on lap 3) Badoer is now 17th, he’s fallen back behind the guys he beat at the start.
L5 Badoer spun?
Webber on the radio, he says Button should be behind him because Jenson cut the chicane.
L8 Things settled down really early. Not much going on. I didn’t expect it to be this boring so early!
L10 Grosjean has a half-spin.
L14 According to official live timing at f1.com there has been no change of position since lap 5. Literally NOTHING has happened.
L17 Here we go, Hamilton pits. Vettel and Kubica are also in.
L18 Kovalainen and Alonso pit.
Vettel is also in again, looks like the rig may have failed on the last stop!!
Fastest Lap from Rubens Barrichello on lap 18. The BBC guys tipped him for the win earlier, said he had the best fuel load / position.
L20 Raikkonen and Button pit.
L21 Barrichello pits and he’s out between the two McLarens!
Webber also pitted, he’s out in front of Fisichella and Button but Giancarlo has yet to stop.
L22 Rubens has gone for another stint on the harder of the two tyre choices. Hamilton is on the softer tyre.
L23 Heidfeld and Sutil pit. Confirmation from Holly Samos that Vettel had a fuel rig problem and didn’t get any on that first stop. Ant says this has cost him 20-30 seconds.
Hamilton told to ‘lift and coast’ to keep rear temps low
L25 ANOTHER engine failure for Vettel!
He manages to pull over to the side of the road and into an escape road, track is clear although there may be oil.
L29 The heavier runners are about to make their stops.
Badoer and Grosjean pit. Clean stops, but Badoer pulls to the right and isn’t accelerating, Grosjean drives past him!! Badoer then momentarily puts his wheels over the white line where the pitlane joins the racetrack. Big no-no!
Grosjean not at fault there, clearly if a car slows and pulls to the side he’s in trouble (even if he wasn’t really).
L32 Drive-thru penalty for Badoer for crossing the white line on pit exit.
Rubens told he must cut the deficit to Hamilton from 4.5sec to 2sec in 8 laps.
L33 Glock has pitted and Badoer takes his penalty. Luca is 18th.
L34 New FL from Rubens. Button is also fast, catching Webber.
L37 Badoer spins..again.. Braked too late at turn 17.
L38 Hamilton in. Early stop? Pit stop is slow, tyres were not ready! He’s lost a place to Rosberg, and lost a good 4 seconds on a usual stop time.
Rubens needs to PUSH HARD now to take advantage of this.
RB sets another fastest lap of the race.
L39 Kovalainen pits.
L40 Puncture for Nakajima, rubber everywhere. SC?
Rubens should pit now just in case of Safety Car..
So far it is covered with a waved yellow flag, and white flag. Rubens does pit.
RB is back out, wow that’s a huge gap to LH.
Nakajima makes it back to the pitlane for a replacement set of tyres. Yellows clear.
Message from Holly in the pits, the pitwall called in Hamilton but the garage was not ready..
L43 Button and Alonso pits. Kimi has passed Heikki, was that through the stops? I missed it.
L44 Rosberg is in. Webber and Heidfeld in, a spinning Toro Rosso! We cut away to see the stop of Webber, who rejoins the track some way behind Button. Jenson’s quick laps and shorter stop really gained him some ground.
The spinning STR was Buemi, Ant says it looks like his brakes were too hot…
Barrichello, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Rosberg, Alonso, Button, Kubica! Where’d he come from?
New Fastest Lap from Button. 1:38.874 Catching Alonso.
10 laps to go.
Rosberg is setting personal best times, so is Webber, and Button is still catching Alonso. They are going to run out of laps.
5 laps now. The only action in this race was during the pit stops, the intervening parts have been pretty dull… Not for the drivers who have been pushing like hell, drivers who have been pushing like hell, unforunately that’s not very interesting when they are running by themselves.
3 to go.
Drivers are setting the odd personal best sector here and there as the fuel loads come down and the rubber is being laid on the track. The gaps aren’t really changing much, we’re talking tenths.
Glock sets Fastest Lap! He did pit a 3rd time so maybe down to low fuel and new tyres.. He is 14th and 22sec down on Trulli in 13th.
Rubens Barrichello WINS!
Brawn on the radio: “Fantastic, just like the old days, fantastic.”
I can’t make out Rubinho’s response! He’s crying??
Applause in the pit lane for Rubens.
Congratulates the mechanics.. up the stairs, kisses the camera, little dance on the way to the podium!
Brazilian national anthem.
British anthem for Brawn.
Another stealthy podium from Kimi. We hardly saw him all race.
Whitmarsh denies the pitstop was the reason for losing the race, and says it was down to race pace. The error only lost 2 seconds, he says, they weren’t quick enough on race pace.
I don’t agree with that! They lost more than 2 seconds and there would have been a fight, Lewis may not have won it without it, but he may have done….
Brawn says it was one of Barrichello’s best races. Could have been more aggressive on strategy, worked for Rubens not for Jenson.
Conference with James Allen:
(ex-ITV commentator Allen now does the conference, Peter Windsor has his USF1 job so can’t work for F1/FOM due conflict of interest)
“It’s been fantastic, a weekend I will never forget. After 5 years you don’t forget how to do it. The car has been perfect, I want to thank the team for that.”
“We win and we lose together. We’ve had a tremendous effort to get us here, we had extraordinary pace in the last 2 or 3 races, it was a tremendous race for everyone. We’ll keep pushing, we need to catch these guys.”
“We needed to go 100% all the time, we knew on Friday I had a good feeling from the car. We know we are not where we want to be, we’re not bringing new parts to the car but usually we can fight for 3rd place and if something weird happens we can fight for the win.”
Kimi is happy with a podium.
Okay, that’s all from me. Here are the stats:
Barrichello makes a big gain on Button, and both Brawns extend their advantage over the Red Bulls.
Hamilton and Raikkonen are well and truly up and running with big scores now expected at every race, they ought to reel in Rosberg fairly soon (even with Nico scoring well) and then set about closing the gap to the Red Bull drivers.
Kovalainen is starting to make his presence felt in the middle order now.
Brawn now have a 27.5 point lead over Red Bull, not insurmountable but we will quickly run out of races to pull that gap back over the coming stretch.
Ferrari and McLaren have overtaken Toyota, and given Toyota’s current form it is unlikely they will mount a challenge. Realistically this table has broken into a series of team vs team battles. Brawn & Red Bull, Ferrari & McLaren, Toyota & Williams (along with maybe Renault), then the tail-enders.
The next race is the Belgian Grand Prix at the fantastic Spa-Francorchamps, the middle of the 3-race close to the European F1 season before the flyaways resume. I hope to have notes up soon.