Race Notes: 2008 Japanese Grand Prix

2008 Fuji TV Japanese Grand Prix
Fuji Speedway, Sizouka, Japan
4.563km (of which 1.5km is the main straight!)
Scheduled distance: 67 laps

ITV1 *live*
Anchors/Analysts: Martin Brundle & Mark Blundell
Commentary: James Allen & Martin Brundle
Pitlane: Ted Kravitz & Louise Goodman

Martin is pulling double-duty this weekend, Steve Rider was at Wembley yesterday for a football World Cup qualifier against the mighty Kazakhstan. England won 5-1.

The usual one hour pre-race show got under way at 4.30am UK time, obviously I said “screw that” so I’m joining coverage just before the cars leave for the formation lap (it’s now 5.25am or so).
There will be no long preamble from me today and I might struggle to get all the usual details. I don’t do mornings well.
(I later came back and edited for spelling, results and penalties)


Q3: Hamilton, Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Alonso, Massa, Kubica, Trulli, Glock, Vettel, Bourdais
Q2: DC, Piquet, Webber, Nakajima, Rosberg
Q1: Heidfeld, Barrichello, Button, Sutil, Fisichella

Massa is starting on soft tyres, everyone else on the hard. It is not raining.!

Kimi takes the lead but is immediately passed by Hamilton who pushes through.
BIG impact, Coulthard hard in the wall, car is destroyed and he’s out. Nakajima is damaged in the same incident. Safety Car? There was a lot of debris.

Starting Lap 2 Kubica somehow leads?? Kimi was pushed wide and lost positions. Naka pits for new wing.
Hamilton on Massa, gets him but Massa had nowhere to go and spins Hamilton around! Martin Brundle called it half a second before it happened. Lewis has to wait for the field to pass and rejoins last, and actually he pits.

Lap 3 – replays: Martin says Massa was always going to come back over, Lewis didn’t give enough racing room even though Felipe was a long way across.

Lap 4 – Kubica, Alonso, Kova, Trulli, Kimi (who sets Fastest lap), Bourdais(!), Massa, Glock, Piquet, Vettel, Sutil, Button, Heidfeld, Webber, Barrichello, Fisichella, Rosberg, Hamilton, Nakajima

Replay of the start – Lewis locked the brakes in turn one, which pushes both Ferraris and McLarens wide, which is how they all lost positions. Coulthard’s suspension was broken before he hit the wall. Failure or contact in turn one?
Lap 5 – Glock pits for a slow stop – his team didn’t expect him.

Lap 6, short laptimes here – ITV are taking ad breaks already?
Lap 7 (ads) – can see on live timing that Glock is in again. The text says he’s getting out of the car.
We’re back on lap 8. NO replays or mention of Glock. We do get a replay of Kimi passing Trulli for 4th.

Lap 9 – Sutil pulls off the road with big damage to the right rear wheel. Tyre failure Brundle thinks, maybe caused by debris from the Coulthard crash.

L10 – Martin says Lewis Hamilton did the whole start badly and ‘we hear he flat-spotted his tyres down to the canvas’ – hence the pit stop.

L11 – Replays of Fisi, Rosberg, Button. We see a lot debris on the main straight which is very dangerous, the cars are at top speed, top downforce. Martin says this actually must be where Sutil’s tyre failure came from as he pulled over at pit exit.
L12 – Caption: “Incidents involving cars 1, 2, 22 under investigation.” Kimi, Massa, Lewis, prompts further replay. Martin says Massa was always going to come back but James says “but you’re supposed to stay on the track” which Massa did not, his opinion is Massa just drove off road and took out Lewis.
L14 – Hamilton one minute behind the leaders but catching the back of the field at 2 seconds per lap. He’s up to 16th due to early attrition.

Kovalainen and Raikkonen are not making in-roads on Kubica and Alonso. BMW struggled in qualifying, Heidy started 16th and Kubica was nearly out early in qualifying as well, he scraped through each session and did a decent lap in the last one.

L15 – Louise with Sutil. Lots of debris in the road from the Coulthard incident, he went wide in turn 6 and over the grass, caused it to jump in the air (the car not the grass), when it landed it broke the suspension.
Rosberg passes Fisichella for 13th, they’ve now dropped Button.

L17 – ad break as they cross the line and Kimi’s timing goes purple, he’s still fastest out there but only 0.1s better than the 3 ahead.

L18 – We’re back just as Kubica and Raikkonen pit and we’re told Massa and Hamilton have been given McDonalds penalties. Drive thru. Kubica beat Raikkonen in the pits.
Hamilton takes his penalty.
L19 – Alonso pits after leading one lap. Massa pits for his stop. We’re not being shown where cars come out, other than Massa who is ahead of Barrichello meaning he’s 10th.
Heikki is slow.. he pulls over! He was running quickly up front and taking points from Massa, helping Hamilton. McLaren did NOT need this.
L20 – Massa takes his penalty.
Hamilton’s penalty was for forcing a car off-track at turn one. Massa’s penalty for colliding with Hamilton.

L21 – Lewis is lapped by Trulli who leads. Alonso is told “Kubica is 5 laps longer, fuel 4, push like hell mate”. Martin reckons ‘fuel 4’ is the quickest setting. Not sure how he knows as each car is different.
L22 – Trulli pits. Ted says we don’t often see a penalty for pushing a car wide, Martin says he needs to see another camera angle, the stewards have more angles available than we do.
Should note here that ITV do not control the pictures unless they interject with their own camera in pitlane/paddock, they don’t do that often.

EDIT – Fuji TV is doing the TV work here, not the usual FOM, which is why we missed pit exit a lot today. This is a hangover from the old days when each country would have a ‘host broadcaster’ providing pics and a director who would invariably focus on that country’s ‘star’ driver or team. When Renault were winning a lot in 2005, we sat through an entire GP of just looking at Renaults. FOM only took over in the last 2 years as the contracts ran out. Japan and Brazil I *think* are the only two remaining. Notice how we looked at Nakajima a lot in qualifying.

L24 – Fisichella is pushed into the garage. Bourdais Leads! Piquet is 2ND! Vettel 3rd, no, he pits. This would be why teams run longer..

Vettel is out alongside Heidfeld, defends the position. He’s now 8th.

Recap top 10: Bourdais, Piquet, Alonso, Kubica, Kimi, Webber, Trulli, Vettel, Heidfeld. Alonso is the leader in the clubhouse, those who have stopped for fuel. Massa 13th, Hamilton 14th. Championship contenders will not score at this rate.

Louise with Heikki as Rosberg passes Rubens: Heikki says it was an engine failure.
Rubens re-passes Nico! Bourdais pits and drops to 7th.

L27 – Hamilton unlapped himself when the leaders pitted and he’s catching Massa quickly – Massa is behind Button and losing time. Piquet leads because he’s not stopped.

L29 – Piquet is in, rejoins.. 6th, Bourdais goes to pass him! Doesn’t make it.
Louise with Coulthard now: ‘I went inside of Bourdais, found myself between two cars, lots of bumping.’ ‘We were all bumping together.’ Whatever damaged was caused there sent him out.
Massa takes Button. We go to an ad break to avoid hearing Alonso’s radio again. Alonso leads from Kubica and Raikkonen.

L33 – We’re back and hear Alonso asking who they are racing, maybe that was the call we missed. Renault reply: “Kubica!” ITV disagree – Kimi is only 5sec behind Kubica and is quick. I agree with ITV.
L34 – Hamilton passes Button for 13th on the straight, candy from a baby. Webber pits, the only frontrunning guy not to have done so. Ted says his rear tyres are very worn. He’s out in 10th but shouldn’t need another stop.

L37 – Martin: If the results stay like this McLaren will have to worry about Kubica (in the points), add 8 points to his score and he’s only 12 behind Hamilton.
L38 – Nakajima pits.
More adverts! I swear they didn’t used to have this many in the early morning races.

We’re back on L40. Nothing has changed other than the Hondas pitting, nobody cares about that.
James tells us that Alonso is setting identical laptimes consistently. 1:19.2 every. single. lap. Says something about ‘the drive of a champion’.

L41 – Heidfeld pits. Massa takes Webber for 10th! Hamilton pits. The green grooves were wearing off of Hamilton’s tyres. Martin says Lewis has completed his stops, Massa has one more to make and points are definitely on – also mentions Massa will have to pass Webber again because Mark isn’t planning on stopping again.

L43 – Raikkonen had fallen back from Alonso but is now quicker again. Rosberg pitted unseen by us. Hamilton passes Barrichello.
L44 – Alonso pits from the lead. “Tweak of front wing” says Martin. He’s out behind Bourdais who was lapping a Honda at the time.

Kubica radio: How’s the balance? “Understeer, understeer, poor traction.”
Martin: “That’s both ends sliding then, that’s tough to fix.”
I missed the second part of the radio while typing that..

L46 – Kimi sets new fastest lap. He’s got 10 this year already, if he gets his 11th at this race that’s a new record for fastest laps in a season.
L47 – Kubica pits so Kimi leads. Robert is out behind Vettel, 7th.
James says ‘Alonso is now looking good for the win’. Martin says ‘good stop from BMW, now Kimi has to nail his out-lap to beat Kubica for 2nd.’
L49 – Kimi pits. Kubica JUST beats Kimi! Pulls away a little with momentum. Massa has just set fastest lap.
Martin mentions that Piquet and Bourdais have done a very good job today and are going to be rewarded. They are up front but yet to stop, Bourdais is pretty fast too.
L51 – Trulli pits. Massa sets a 1m18.8 – oh no! Bourdais exits the pits and hits Massa! Replay: looks like Massa cut across into Bourdais – Sebastien had nowhere to go, he was on the inside line. Massa’s fault.
L52 – Raikkonen has caught Kubica. Piquet pits. Kimi tried to pass Kubica into turn one, Robert defends that one. Not sure where Piquet is now.

L54 – Kubica and Raikkonen side by side! Kimi gets pushed wide.
Massa pitted during that, we don’t see where he gets out. Timing shows Piquet is still up in 4th, good run from him.
L55 – Caption – Incident involving cars 2 and 14 to be investigated after the race. Massa and Bourdais..
Piquet had passed Trulli in those stops and is CATCHING the Kubica/Raikkonen fight! We go to ads again. I reckon Piquet is driving for his career, there have been rumours di Grassi or Grosjean will replace him.

L58 – Piquet radio: “you’re 1 second quicker than Raikkonen, let’s see if we can overtake him”

10 to go: Alonso, Kubica, Raikkonen, Piquet, Trulli, Bourdais, Vettel, Webber, Heidfeld, Massa, Rosberg, Hamilton, Rubens, Button, Nakajima.

L61 – Martin can see that Kimi’s rear tyres have gone away, the fight now is Massa vs Heidfeld, we cut to it – Massa passes Heidfeld on the main straight! P9 now, Webber is next up but is somewhat slower after chewing up his tyres one-stopping.
Slowmo close-up of Webber’s front tyres, he’s worn the grooves away! No wonder he’s slow.

L63 – Piquet has dropped away from Raikkonen. Ted reports Lewis has been slow all day due to damage to his bargeboards and other aero devices on lap one.
L65 – Massa passes Webber for 8th position and one point, bit of a risky move against the pitwall, he could have gone the other side of Webber. Martin says that’s what Raikkonen should have done against Kubica!

L66 – Renault guys run across pitlane to climb on the wall. Hamilton unlaps himself from Alonso. Martin: It may seem pointless but if anyone breaks down on the last lap he’ll gain a position or two.


Two in a row. Well driven. Kubica 2nd, Raikkonen 3rd, Piquet, Trulli, Bourdais, Vettel, Massa, Webber, Heidfeld, Rosberg, Hamilton, Barrichello, Button, Naka.

Cars roll into pitlane. Alonso climbs on to his car in his usual style. Ted is with Alan Permane, the guy on Alonso’s radio. “We’re going for four in a row!”
Top 3 are making their way upstairs. Bit of water.. that’s right make sure you tidy up your overalls, get that money in.. and outside to the podium..
Spanish anthem for Alonso.
French anthem for Renault (though the cars are made in Britain). Alonso chatting to Kubica through this one.
Points mean prizes, Alonso gets given something so big he can put his 50″ plasma screen on it.

7:30am, I’m going back to bed. I’ll add full results and points later. I might even watch the afternoon rerun to watch the pre-race and post-race talking. I half-listened to the post-race, ITV did get out of there pretty quickly, I was speedily re-reading this for errors but I can’t take in any more information.. will proofread again later!

EDIT – Provisional Race Results
(from autosport.com)
01. Alonso 67 laps in 1h30:21.892 [10 points]
02. Kubica +5.283 [8]
03. Raikkonen +6.400 [6]
04. Piquet +20.570 [5]
05. Trulli +23.767 [4]
06. Bourdais +34.085 [3]
07. Vettel +39.207 [2]
08. Massa +46.158 [1]
09. Webber +50.811
10. Heidfeld +54.120
11. Rosberg +1:02.096
12. Hamilton +1:18.900
13. Barrichello + 1 lap
14. Button + 1 lap
15. Nakajima + 1 lap
DNF Fisichella
DNF Kovalainen
DNF Sutil
DNF Glock
DNF Coulthard

Fastest Lap: Massa 1:18.426 (Kimi will have to wait to claim that record)

World Driver’s Championship Points
01. 84 Hamilton
02. 78 Massa
03. 72 Kubica
04. 63 Raikkonen
05. 56 Heidfeld
06. 51 Kovalainen
07. 48 Alonso
08. 30 Trulli [+1]
09. 29 Vettel [-1]
10. 20 Glock & Webber
12. 18 Piquet

The title gap reduces by 1 point. Kubica is still closing in on the main protagonists. Alonso is rapidly catching Kovalainen.

World Constructor’s Championship Points
01. 141 Ferrari [+1]
02. 135 McLaren [-1]
03. 128 BMW
04. 66 Renault
05. 50 Toyota

McLaren scored zero here, Ferrari get 6 and BMW 8 to gain on the pair of them. The biggest points haul was Renault with 15.

Sebastien Bourdais has been given a 25-second penalty for causing a collision with Felipe Massa on exiting the pitlane. I wish I was making this up because that’s bullshit! He wasn’t given the racing room, Massa tagged him not the other way around.

This drops Bourdais from 6th to 10th and gives Vettel, Massa and Webber an extra point each. The affected section of the results:

06. Vettel +39.207 [3]
07. Massa +46.158 [2]
08. Webber +50.811 [1]
09. Heidfeld +54.120
10. Bourdais +34.085 + 25.000s = +59.085s

Revised WDC Points
01. 84 Hamilton
02. 79 Massa
03. 72 Kubica
04. 63 Raikkonen
05. 56 Heidfeld
06. 51 Kovalainen
07. 48 Alonso
08. 30 Vettel & Trulli
10. 21 Webber
11. 20 Glock
12. 18 Piquet

Vettel places ahead of Trulli on ‘quality of results’, i.e. if you are on the same points the decider is your best finishing position.

Revised WCC Points
01. 142 Ferrari [+1]
02. 135 McLaren [-1]
03. 128 BMW
04. 66 Renault
05. 50 Toyota
06. 36 Toro Rosso
07. 29 Red Bull
08. 26 Williams
09. 14 Honda
10. 0 Force India & Super Aguri

The next race is the Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai next weekend, the penultimate round of the Championship!


Preview: 2008 Japanese Grand Prix

Preview: 2008 Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix

This weekend sees the second visit to the revised Fuji Speedway (owned by Toyota) after many successful years at Suzuka (owned by Honda). I always enjoyed the racing at Suzuka. It was unique for being the only figure-of-8 layout in major motorsport as well as being a demanding circuit for the drivers. This was because it was designed as a test track for Honda in the 1960s by the same guy who did the original Zandvoort (not the current Zandvoort).

F1 visited Fuji twice before, in 1976 and 1977. These races I know very little about except that one of them was held in appallingly wet conditions and that one of them was a title decider between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. It might have been the same race because I remember Lauda pulled out of the wet race saying it was too dangerous.

Fast forward to 2007 and the return to a massively redeveloped Fuji for a race held in appallingly wet conditions. Modern safety rules being what they are, the cars circulated behind the Safety Car for the first 19 laps (yes, 19 out of 67, not a typo!), and it was the right decision – the conditions were dreadful with almost zero visibility. If the 70s guys had the same stuff I don’t blame Lauda for stopping in those pre-Safety Car days.

The conditions were such that we didn’t actually see a lot of the circuit redevelopment on TV, there was just too much spray. I hope we’ll get to see it this time so that we can properly criticise it on Sunday. I mean really, ditching Suzuka? What were they thinking?

The distinguishing features of Fuji are that is has a 1.5km main straight, possibly the longest in F1? I’m not sure because next week we go to Shanghai which also has a ridiculously long straight. The rest of Fuji is made up of unremarkable corners with acres of run-off, from what I recall. To be fair to the designers they wanted to stay reasonably close to the original design, and the topography of the land didn’t offer many options. The track is very close to Mount Fuji so it is in a mountainous region. We didn’t see anything of the mountain last year because of the clouds blocking the view, I really hope we get to see the place at its best this year despite my reservations about the circuit layout.

We’ll see the cars back at Suzuka in 2009 as the two circuits have agreed to alternate, just as Hockenheim/Nurburging do in Germany. I hope this doesn’t set a trend where we’ll alternate the entire calendar in future!

The 2008 Japanese Grand Prix gets under way at 13.30 local time which is 05.30am here in the UK. At this time of year I have no idea what DST is doing around the world, I think that makes it 00:30 Eastern in the US but you should check.
Wherever you are * remember it starts on the half hour *.

Qualifying is at 14:00 local, 06:00 UK, and that is on the hour as usual.

F1 News
Bridgestone have added green grooves to all tyres this weekend to promote eco issues. That’ll work, well done boys. It won’t really mean the majority of fans asking “why is there green paint all over the tyres?”, and “isn’t all this extra paint very much eco-unfriendly?”.
The softer compound will continue to be marked with a white groove as well as the green. We can add this to the long list of reasons why I’ll be glad to see slicks again next season!

Just days after I was wistfully remembering the late 90s and the days of the rumoured engine deals among the mid- and back-field teams, Force India is rumoured to be switching from Ferrari to Mercedes engines! I swear I can see the future in my dreams. I AM Isaac off of Heroes, although I blog instead of paint. Painting with words.

Ferrari has announced they will no longer use their ‘traffic light’ pit signalling system for the remainder of the year – meanwhile Honda have erected a different design at their pit boxes in Fuji for use this weekend, I’m not sure if they are testing it in practice or if they intend to use it in the race too.

Blog News
Sorry for the delay in writing this preview, I was shattered yesterday after a long and boring day learning about tax and financial statements – I will attempt to do the Chinese preview on Wednesday unless I’m still doing homework by then!

I ditched the clock thing because it didn’t work well for this site, and I rewrote the bottom panel. I now have flags of my county, nation, country and continent because unlike most people in this country I am actually proud to represent all of those things rather than just one or two.

See you Sunday.

GP2 Catch-up: Hockenheim

I tell you what, it was really refreshing to watch an open-wheel race without sitting here tapping out a load of notes about it. I did find my concentration lapsing, my short attention span causing me to drift away. I’m not sure if this is because the race was so old (July), because I don’t care enough about the participants this year, or because I’m now used to note-taking during the racing.

This is a short summary of the two races.

Feature Race
This was fairly tedious most of the way through, the drivers just couldn’t make a pass work. I swear there was more passing in the F1 race the next day and that NEVER happens with GP2. There was the odd good move but it was pretty much decided in the pits and a faultless drive from Romain Grosjean – until the rain fell with just 5 laps remaining. Chaos!
Senna and di Grassi, who were running about 5th, took to the pitlane for wet tyres and fell some 25 seconds behind the remaining leaders including Grosjean and Pantano, who stayed out and tried to hang on.
The rain held at one end of the circuit, yet it was fairly dry at the other end (at the pits). The race became a question of whether the guys who stopped would catch the guys who didn’t – and whether the latter would spin out – before we ran out of laps.
Several drivers spun out, most of whom were on dry tyres, but Grosjean and Pantano held on to finish 1st and 2nd respectively. I believe the top wet-shod finisher was Senna in 4th. Parente was 3rd and I can’t recall if he pitted or not.

The result was short-lived as Grosjean was later given a time penalty for overtaking under yellow flags during the wet-weather period – and there were a lot of yellow flags. The penalty reversed the top two positions giving Pantano maximum points (inc. fastest lap).

Sprint Race
Sunday’s race was more eventful with some good moves both at the hairpin, and at the Mercedes… err… bit. It stayed dry throughout so it looks like several guys made some good calls on setup.
The best drive of the day was Mike Conway who after a dreadful Feature race had to start this one from 24th. He finished 9th without the aid of the Safety Car!
Giorgio Pantano was out early with a broken steering arm after a hit with Soucek. Lucas di Grassi was out shortly afterwards when Maldonado used him as a brake at the hairpin. This was time for the others to claim valuable points.

Karun Chandhok put in a very good drive against Andi Zuber to claim a deserved win, with Senna fighting up to 3rd and Grosjean 4th.
There was some pretty good racing throughout the field, which didn’t spread out as much as it often does. I wonder if that was down to the lack of pit stops in the sprint?

I won’t detain you with the points standings for a 3-month old race but I would like to keep posting these little summaries until I complete the season. I’m considering covering A1GP in the same way which I’ll only begin when I’ve done GP2. I haven’t decided on GP2 Asia yet, last year’s Asia series was so dull I’m not too bothered about it.

Come back soon for my preview of F1’s Japanese Grand Prix featuring green grooves!

2009 F1 calendar: Canadian GP dropped!

The FIA has today released the final schedule for the 2009 Formula 1 season. A provisional calendar was announced in June.

The big surprise was that the Canadian Grand Prix has been removed. GrandPrix.com suggests that Norman Legault, organiser and promoter of the CGP, has struggled to meet the $$$ demands made by the F1 Group. This doesn’t surprise me because a lot of F1 promoters are struggling at the moment, such as Germany.

There are also the recurring problems with the track surface at Circuit du Gilles Villeneuve. Year after year they struggle to produce a suitable racing surface and this year things finally came to a head when the track was almost declared ‘unraceable’, before some overnight repair work just about solved things – and there were still concerns throughout the race that perhaps the surface would not last.

I do have some sympathy with them as it must be a hell of a problem to try and beat the temperature fluctuations which are said to be huge, between very low in winter to very high in summer. It causes all kinds of havoc with the asphalt. But still.. you kind of expect that the event organisers would know about the local conditions by now?

On the whole, I think the F1 community was willing to put up with a crappy track surface because they need a North American round, although they might have started to push for an alternative venue if it had happened again. This is why my thoughts return to this being a problem securing the money.

I can’t say it has ever been my favourite venue partly for the annual track surface issues, partly because it seems to breed Safety Cars and carnage. Someone should spend a shed load of money developing Mont Tremblant, the sole Champ Car race there was excellent. I say ‘developing’ not ‘redeveloping’ on purpose! I’d like to see extra run off etc., rather than a complete reworking.

Turkey is moved into Canada’s slot in June, which frees a gap in August for the annual summer break which was largely missing this season. Italy and Belgium jump around a bit so that Valencia and Spa are back-to-back with Monza a fortnight later.

As previously announced, there will be a new event in Abu Dhabi, details of which are sorely lacking. It was supposed to be a race around a marina, part street track and partly on a purpose-built racetrack. That plan was canned a few months ago and I don’t believe their current plans have been announced, I would expect that to change when we get to November and the T minus 12 months marker.

Here is the 2009 calendar from the formula1.com announcement:

29 March – Australia
5 April – Malaysia
19 April – Bahrain
10 May – Spain
24 May – Monaco
7 June – Turkey
21 June – Great Britain
28 June – France
12 July – Germany
26 July – Hungary
23 August – Europe (Valencia)
30 August – Belgium
13 September – Italy
27 September – Singapore
11 October – Japan
18 October – China
1 November – Brazil
15 November – Abu Dhabi

(funny, you’d think the offical F1 site would be all over the event sponsors, oh well maybe they don’t want the publicity)

F1 driver market as at 6 Oct ’08

The driver market is falling into place, certainly in F1 anyway, while IndyCar is getting there and obviously GP2 as usual won’t sort itself out until the weekend of the first race (and we’ve got GP2 Asia to sort out first!).

This is how I see things in F1 right now:

Ferrari – Kimi & Massa (both confirmed to 2010)

McLaren – Lewis & Heikki (is Heikki confirmed?)

BMW – Heidfeld & Kubica (both confirmed today)

Renault – unconfirmed, I think Alonso will stick around now that the other options are dried up. I would tip either Romain Grosjean or Lucas di Grassi to replace Piquet Jr, they’d probably go for Grosjean although I do like di Grassi.

Toyota – Trulli & Glock (not sure if these are confirmed)

Honda – Barrichello & Button (not sure if these are confirmed)

Williams – Rosberg & Nakajima (confirmed last week)

Red Bull – Webber & Vettel (confirmed last month)

Toro Rosso – not confirmed, I’m going to say Bourdais and Buemi.

Force India – not confirmed, I’m going to say Fisichella and the other seat could contain frankly anybody. I like Sutil but I’m not sure he’s matching or beating Fisi enough times.

So there are still some seats to fill. Something I miss about the 1990s is the speculation about which team will have which engines, I always enjoyed that even if the teams didn’t! I miss wondering whether Jordan will have Honda or Cosworth engines.

I’m not going to broach the subject of ‘test and reserve’ drivers, or ‘third’ drivers, at least not until early next year. I’m sure there will some hype about that when winter testing kicks in later in the year when the junior series winners get their ‘reward’ tests and others are evaluated.

Other series:
I’d like to do an IndyCar post like this soon, it is too early now especially with the goings on with Helio Castroneves which could unlock a few moves, but I’m ahead of myself there – I hope Helio stays. Obviously we know about Dixon/Franchitti at TCGR and I’m sure the 4 at AGR will stay the same. Wheldon at Panther. Meira at Foyt. I make that 9 confirmed, or 10 counting Helio. Luczo Dragon are due to make an announcement tomorrow. Actually that’s better than I thought and maybe better than this time a year ago?

GP2: I think half the grid is signed up for the Asia Series, the tail enders won’t get there until race week as is the tradition of GP2 and F3000 before it. Many drivers will have dual-deals, in that they will be signed up for the 08/09 Asia Series as well as the 2009 Main Series. As things stand I have no idea who has done what and I’ll try to get some answers before the first round of GP2 Asia in China alongside the Formula 1 race next week.

I haven’t forgotten about the mini-notes / summaries of the 2008 season, I just haven’t had time to watch the races yet. I may yet can the idea because the races were weeks ago and any blog posts about them will be well out of date, so you might have to wait for a season review post in a couple of months.

A1GP and Superleague operate a revolving door policy so we won’t touch those.

I don’t do NASCAR. I enjoy sportscars but that driver market is way too complicated for the likes of this blog. I’ll catch up again in a few days and let you know what I’ve been watching while we wait for the Japanese F1 race.

News and Notes to October 4th

Apologies for the sparseness of updates since Singapore, I know a fair amount has happened this week however I’ve been focussed on other things. It’ll likely be this way until June when I’ve completed my accountancy course. Hey this ain’t a news site, I don’t need to keep to schedule.

So let’s recap, with the aid of Sonador 1556, a lovely Cab Sauv / Merlot blend red wine from Argentina which I picked up cheaply from a booze warehouse near Calais a couple of months ago, and with Winamp running at random through my 2500 MP3s (check out my Last.fm profile – get one yourself!), as the autumn wind and rain hammer at the window.

– Helio & the Taxman
I’m sure you’ve all read about Helio Castrovneves (et al) and the trouble with the tax authorities in the US. Like all racing fans I truly hope Helio is innocent in all this, that he got screwed by a manager or advisor or someone. In saying that, I have a bad feeling about it, that maybe he isn’t entirely clean. Just my gut, hope I’m wrong.

The official position of Too Much Racing is this: Let’s wait and see, we don’t have enough info as yet.

– Gerry & the Lawyer
Since the Helio story broke the otherwise big news of Paul Tracy suing Gerry Forsythe has hit the backburner. Basically, Tracy wasn’t paid monies due by Forsythe according to the contract between them. Will at IsItMayYet? looks like he has some good access on this.

I don’t trust Forsythe as far as I can throw him, though he has some good people under him. I was amazed when he announced his Indy Lights team.

The official position of Too Much Racing is this: “Go Paul Tracy!” I hope he gets the money owed to him, plus interest. I also hope he hooks up with an intelligent sponsor for the ’09 season. I still think he’d do wonders for KV or Conquest. There’s a part of me that still wants him to join an ex-Champ Car team, it wouldn’t seem right any other way, and right now I can’t countenance his o/w career being over.

– Andretti & the Europeans
Michael Andretti is in the Netherlands, apparently choosing to go to Zandvoort for his new A1GP venture rather than see his team’s last attempt (for now?) at Petit Le Mans. I respect that decision greatly, it would have been easy for him to just go to Petit, but he wanted to see his A1 team off from the start despite the much-reported troubles of the series as a whole right now, despite AGR’s involvement apparently only existing for mere weeks.
Make no bones about it, his presence and that of AGR boosts A1GP immensely right now, perhaps more so than Ferrari given it is they who seriously dropped the ball on car supply.

We’re two weeks after the scheduled series start, which was cancelled, and still five teams are unable to participate due to lack of cars. Four teams this weekend have seriously struggled because their cars only arrived at the circuit on Friday, meaning some of the teams missed practice. A1Team.China still hasn’t turned a wheel as I write this. A1GP had to schedule an extra practice on Sunday to compensate. This is after they introduced a ‘dropped score’ rule to compensate for the guys who don’t have a car to run.

Back to Andretti. I’m pleased it is he who got the US franchise. He has unfinished business over here and it would clear his name, especially if he attends most of the races, gets his face about. The F1 fraternity has branded him as tainted after his McLaren run so Europeans often see him in that light rather than based on his Indycar credentials. Yes I know most of A1 takes place in Asia but most of the teams and personnel are European.
It is a big step for A1 to have an American team, rather than Brits in US clothing as most teams are (or have been – actually I’ve lost track of who runs what team now). More A1 teams should take this step. It is also better to have a true racing guy running the team rather than some businessman we’ve never heard of.

I’ve seen many blog posts deriding the choice of Marco and Danica. I disagree. I think it is huge boost to A1GP to have these more established drivers race rather than a bunch of younger guys who’ve grown out of F3 but couldn’t get the budget for GP2 or WSbR, as it has been lately. No offence to Charlie Kimball who is a talented guy, I hope AGR gives him an IndyCar test. Also my nerdy-senses are tingling at the prospect of those two up against Bleekemolen, Carroll, and Jani who in my book are the clear frontrunners and are no slouches.

The official position of Too Much Racing is: to wish A1 well, after all it is a superior concept than Superleague. When the season gets under way properly, all problems ironed out, it’ll be something to watch. I intend to find a way to watch it, albeit delayed, as I cannot afford Sky’s prices. Apparently there is no US TV coverage at all so you’ll have to use the same methods as me.

Hey – maybe Paul Tracy could be the driver for A1Team.Canada!

– F1 Fans & the Annual Survey
For the last few years, the FIA in association with AMD and F1 Racing have offered a survey to the fans of Formula 1. The questions were usually loaded so they got the answers they were looking for, but it was still worthwhile.
The new survey is out and apparently drops the association with the FIA. This year it is run by F1 Racing and ING (sponsor of RenaultF1 and several GPs).


I’ve just completed it and it seems less loaded than in years past.
I strongly recommend to anybody who watches F1, complete this survey, tell them what you think, and forward the link to your friends or your own blog. It doesn’t matter if you religiously watch every race or just a handful every year, this is your chance to be heard. All I ask is you don’t put in stupid answers to fuck up the results, let’s make this count people.

– TMR & the Bloggers
I’ve only been blogging for 8 weeks or so so I’m no old-hand, but it is always nice when you visit a site or blog you’d never taken the time to read before (for whatever reason) and find that you’ve been linked. One such blog is The Open Wheel. Having just read the last few updates I wish I’d known about it sooner. Thanks for the link, consider yourself reciprocated.

It is just as good, perhaps better, to find yourself linked at places you’ve been reading for months and – so I’d like to thank Pressdog, MyNameIsIRL and Meesh (you’re blog name is too long!) who’s links are in my sidebar already.
Final mention goes to The Starting Grid, who like this shit so much they invited me to post it at their site! My latest post is the thing about Singapore, check back there soon for a report about Petit Le Mans from Void who is there right now. I’m assuming he’s doing a report. If I had a blog I’d be doing a report. Oh. I do have a blog.

While I’m here, check SniffPetrol.com on October 10th for the monthly update. Brit-biased, lots of in-jokes for regular readers, and very much Not Safe For Work (or kids). Meantime, spend a little time reading the history. You’ll love it.

Given the wine consumed I think this last section has been the blog equivalent of the drunken “you’re my besht mate, I luv you”.

Sorry, I know blog posts are supposed to be short and snappy and I could have done 3 here, that’s not how I do things.

One thing I’ve learned today: red wine improves my writing. Must do this again sometime.
Catch you later.

Race Notes: 2008 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix

2008 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix
Marina Park Circuit, Singapore
5.07km street track

Welcome to the first ever night race in Formula 1!

What we learned in qualifying:

The lighting works well. The drivers are more worried about the bumpiness of the circuit, which is high. The track is quite wide and there are a lot of corners.

Laptimes in qualifying were 1m44s or so, which is what they do at Spa’s 7km circuit – Singapore is only 5km so that’s how much slower it is.

Joining ITV coverage.

Anchor/Analyst: Steve Rider & Mark Blundell
Commentary: James Allen & Martin Brundle
Pitlane: Ted Kravitz & Louise Goodman

The humidity is very high, at least the temperatures are lower than daytime. They are worried about rain which has appeared during the week. If it rains at night there will be a lot of glare from the lights reflecting on the track.

Short package of Button making a ‘Singapore Sling’ cocktail which he says is very alcoholic and may be the most expensive drink in Singapore!

ITV Qualifying Report with James Allen
– Massa is becoming a street racing specialist after results in Monaco and Valencia.
– Button and DC knocked out in Q2.
– Hamilton struggled in Q2 and only just made it through in 10th.
– Massa’s 0.6sec advantage in Q3 suggests he is fuelled lighter than the opposition. Hamilton is 2nd, Kimi 3rd.


Q3 Massa, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Kubica, Kovalainen, Vettel, Glock, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Nakajima
Q2 Trulli, Button, Webber, DC, Alonso
Q1 Piquet Jr, Bourdais, Barrichello, Sutil, Fisichella

Note – This includes Heidfeld’s 3-place penalty for impeding a car, he blocked Barrichello when entering pitlane. It wasn’t intentional, the pitlane entry and exit positions are not ideal here and are actually quite dangerous.

Alonso was FAST in qualifying and looked good for the front row, until mechanical failure in Q2 meant he didn’t set a time.

Fisichella will start from pit lane following accident damage in qualifying.

ITV take us to an onboard lap with poleman Massa. He’s fast and the back end is sliding!

After the lap, Mark Blundell tells us the Ferrari looks much easier to drive over long runs, he’d much rather be driving that this weekend than any of the other cars.

Ted has been talking to mechanics and team personnel about having breakfast at 4.30pm, lunch at 11pm and evening meal at 4am. Pat Symonds of Renault says it is working surprisingly well. They are displacing their routines by the same amount of time as the sessions. It doesn’t faze Kimi though.
Raikkonen – “I sleep when I feel like it and I wake up when I feel like it.”

Louise is with the physio at Williams, talking about how tough this track is. They will lose 2-3kg of bodyweight. With this European timezone routine everyone is only getting 4 hours of daylight which is tough on the bodyclock. Fatigue could be a concern.

We’re now going over the McLaren/Hamilton penalty hearing. I’m reading yesterday’s quotes on Autosport.com instead.

12:30 Cars are heading to the grid. Pitlane will close in 15 mins.
It seems strange sitting here at ‘normal’ race time, early afternoon and looking at the screen where it is night. I’m used to the reverse, sitting here with it dark outside while looking at Australia or Japan in broad daylight.

Webber and Vettel are taking in the sights of Singapore. Vettel says they are trying everything they can to close the gap on the other teams.
Mark Blundell says Sebastian’s doing a fantastic job.

Steve Rider says they analysed Heidfeld’s block last night and said the penalty was harsh, because of the nature of pitlane entry. I’ll add that there isn’t a proper deceleration lane here and they have to slow down on the racing line impeding anyone behind, it was unavoidable really.

Martin’s Gridwalk
– This will be a very tough race. The humidity is high, the track is bumpy and it’ll be a long race at 1 and 3/4 hours.
– Felipe: “It was a great pole position, it is always great to start a difficult race from pole, we have to do the same over 61 laps.” Martin notes he has a clear visor rather than tinted.
– A rep from ING, Renault sponsor, shouts out “ITV! ITV! How does our logo look at night?” Ha! He says ‘same as it does in the day, looks fine’.
– Bumps into Bernie who shuffles him to the Prime Minister of Singapore. They talk about the weather.
– Ross Brawn who’s just been looking at a Ferrari: “If you go off line into 7 you’re in trouble, there’s only one line. Brake wear could be a problem, we’ll manage but I don’t know about other cars.”
– Quick word with Tamara Ecclestone who doesn’t want to take all this over when Dad retires, then we’re back with Steve and Mark.

Ted is with Glock (P7): “Quite a lot of oil on the last corner turn-in but it should be okay. We are in the right window with brakes so should be okay.”
ITV completely ignoring the local national anthem but then so is everyone else. F1 people don’t care really.

Louise with Rosberg (P8): “It’s gonna be a good race, tough on the car, we have a good chance starting 8th to score some points.”

We are expecting Safety Car appearances. Personally I can’t see how we’ll get through the chicane of turns 1-2-3 without damage of some kind in lap one, and then the jagged bumps at 10-11-12 is sure to take someone out.

During our final pre-race ad break, a reminder of the start order:


Massa is 1 point behind Hamilton going into this race, both are opening a big points gap on the field.

Loading live timing at http://www.formula1.com.

Official Swirly F1 Graphics means 5 minutes to go, we cross to James Allen and Martin Brundle. James – “No sign of a credit crunch here!”
James was told by Pat Symonds of Renault that “..this race could take up to 1hr 50 minutes to complete.”
A reminder then that F1 has a two-hour rule to satisfy international TV windows, if we hit two hours we get the chequered flag regardless of number of laps completed. If there is a Safety Car here we will almost certainly hit the limit.

DC radio. He forgot to put a drinks bottle in! He’ll need that today, so he might suffer later.

The ‘spinners’ on the wheels have been removed to aid brake cooling. Funny, I thought they were to aid brake cooling.

13:00 BST / 20:00 Singapore – Cars are under way for the formation lap.

James – “It looks like everyone is on hard tyres except for Fernando Alonso.”.
He could be going for an early attack with the extra grip from those tyres.

Distance: 61 laps or 2 hours


Massa has a clear lead out of T3. Heikki lost places and is fighting Glock.
Everyone gets through the ‘traffic calming’ part undamaged.
Alonso 12th from 15th.

Rosberg is also on soft tyres, ITV haven’t spotted it yet. Radio to Rosberg: “Need to pass Trulli or it’ll be the end of the day.”

Replay of the start. Martin – The front were very well behaved, the back were two and three abreast.
There was a nudge from Kubica on to Heikki, which is how Heikki dropped back.

Massa is running fast, pulling out a gap. This fits the light fuel theory.

Lap 4 – Rosberg goes for Trulli but he’s in too fast, Jarno takes it back.
L5 – Williams are telling Nakajima that he needs to pass Trulli. Rosberg needs to do it first and he tries again… no.

Trulli is always a tough guy to pass which is why he often takes a heavy fuel load, this is known as the Trulli Train. The Trulli Train currently consists of 7 or 8 cars which are falling away from Massa at 5 seconds per lap, and from Heidfeld at 2 seconds per lap. Heidi is the next car up from Trulli.

There’s a piece of brake duct on the track, local yellow out the back somewhere.

L7 – Massa leads by 3.1s over Hamilton, with Raikkonen 5.3s further back and Kubica another 3.4s. Vettel is next, Kovalainen fell to 7th and is still behind Glock, then we have Heidfeld and a gap of 13s back to the Trulli Train.
Cars are now no more than 1sec apart from Trulli in 10th back to Sutil in 19th with Fisichella not far off the back after starting from pitlane.

L8 – We come back from an ad break to find Rosberg and Nakajima have passed Trulli. Rosberg down the inside into T7, bumpy.
Massa has run over some debris which is now wedged under the car.
Alonso passes Trulli into 7. Webber now on his tail.

Trulli has gone for a very long strategy and everyone else seems to be much shorter.

Kimi Raikkonen sets the fastest lap on lap 9, he’s gained 1sec on Hamilton.

Report from Ted: ‘McLaren think they can get Hamilton to run two laps further than Massa so they are keeping the gap stable at 3.3 seconds.’
Meanwhile Kimi is catching, he just set another FL. Martin is expecting Massa to stop on lap 16 or so, Alonso a touch earlier.

James – “Each of these 1800 lights is 2000 watts run from standalone generators not connected to the power grid.”
I’m sure the locals appreciate not having this added to their monthly bill.

L12 – Alonso pits. Very early and he’s fuelled for a long middle stint. Martin doesn’t think it worked because he was stuck behind Trulli.
Ted at Renault – “the super-soft tyres grained heavily, they’ve switched him from a 3-stop to a 2-stop strategy.” Martin says if they are graining that heavily it’s a good thing they’ve got them out of the way now.

Bourdais goes up the escape road and loses two places. James tells us he’s the only man in the field with single-seater experience at night after winning twice at Houston, although he seems to think Houston was in the IndyCar Series.

BIG CRASH – Nelson Piquet hard in the wall. Webber and DC pitted.


Webber and DC pitted before the SC came out. Barrichello is in as well, not sure if he made it before the SC. If you can get into the pits before the SC comes out, you won’t get a penalty.

Piquet is out of the car and runs across the track. Replays show he hit the wall on his right and it bounced him around to the left wall at speed.

Rosberg pits and will get a penalty as the pitlane is still closed. James tells us Lewis Hamilton needs to pit, will the pitlane open before he gets there? We don’t know because ITV take the chance to take an ad break, so I watch live timing..

According to timing Barrichello has lost a lap and is stopped in sector 2.

L16 – Kubica has pitted, everyone else continues. I believe the SC came out on lap 15.

L16 (still) – We’re back from adverts and we can see Rubens helping marshals to push his car out of the way. We don’t know why he’s out.

As this is such a long track the SC laps are taking about three minutes each.

L17 – Pitlane is open. Martin says some of the cars can switch to just 4 cylinders and save fuel that way.
Everyone pits who hasn’t already. OH! Massa! The fuel hose is still attached as he leaves!! He’s drive down pitlane with the hose still attached, knocks a man over as he pulls away, he stops at the end of the pitlane to wait for his guys to run down and remove it.
Ted says it is a 500 metre sprint while the McLaren guys cheer them on as they run past!
They’ve arrived and the hose is stuck, they can’t get it out of the car. Finally they get it out of the car and Massa is on his way in last place.

Replay: He did get the green light from Ferrari’s traffic light system, and they weren’t even trying to release the fuel hose when he went. Not again! Sutil JUST avoided Massa. Not again! Huge Valencia deja vu.

L18 – Bourdais pits.
Massa will move up after the ‘pits closed’ penalties are applied, but ITV speculate that Massa will have a penalty for unsafe release from pits. He currently runs last, behind Bourdais, and was lucky not to lose a lap.

Rosberg leads with a penalty to follow. Trulli and Fisichella have not yet stopped and run 2nd and 3rd. Kubica is 4th and will have a penalty. Alonso appears to be the leader after penalties and stops.



Vettel loses some ground running wide.

Raikkonen lost time while Ferrari were sorting out Massa, Kimi runs 16th. Kovalainen dropped to 14th.

James – “This race is now anybody’s.”

L20 – Massa ran wide at the last corner. Nobody is stopping for penalties yet, they will lose 30 seconds (including 10 sec stationary) so are pushing hard to pick up some ground. They haven’t been officially notified yet. When they are notified they have 3 laps to come in or they will be disqualified.

Fisichella in 3rd is holding everybody up, allowing Rosberg to make up a big gap.

Louise with a Ferrari rep: “Most important thing is the guy is okay, he is in the medical centre. I cannot tell you anything that happened I’m sorry, I haven’t seen the replay, I have been taking car of the injured guy.”

Rubens throws his gloves into the water instead of the crowd!

Louise with Nelson: “Basically I lost the back end. The car was really heavy, it was touching the floor. I was trying to push, I touched the rear on the wall.”

Massa penalty – ‘unsafe release from pit stop’. He has passed Bourdais but nobody else. He takes it immediately. This was a drive-through penalty.

L25 – Rosberg – 10 second stop/go for refuelling when pitlane closed.
Kubica – ditto. These guys must pit and stop for 10 seconds at their own garage.

L27 – We’ve taken an ad break and come back, Kubica and Rosberg have not taken their penalties yet. Alonso radio: “We’ve no idea what’s happening, push like hell to the end of the race.”

L28 – Kubica is in for his penalty and emerges last. We see that Massa has caught Bourdais again.
Webber has run wide and loses several places, maybe 5 or 6 places.
L29 – Rosberg pits for his penalty. He needs to beat Alonso…. he does not, he gets out ahead of Coulthard who is 5th.

Trulli, Fisi, Alonso, Rosberg, DC. The first two need fuel soon.

These pitlane closure rules officially suck. I don’t mind closing the pits, but you’ve got to at least let them get half a second of fuel without penalty if they are running out and need to pit.

Ted: It wasn’t Mark Webber’s fault, it was mechanical, he’s on his way back to the garage, they are going to pit him and retire.

L30 – Fisichella pits and fits the softer tyre.
L31 – Renault tell Alonso that Trulli will stop in 4 laps time. Alonso was FAST in qualifying until mechanical failure.
Kubica passes Massa! Ted says Massa is out of fuel, and indeed he pits. He’s fuelled to the end from the reserve rig and he has the soft tyres. This is an unplanned stop.

L33 – Looking at timing and everyone is slow, over 3 seconds slower than Kimi’s fastest lap from earlier. A couple of guys up front are slightly faster.
L34 – Trulli pits for his only stop of the day. He’s out alongside Nakajima and takes the place, which is… 9th.

Bourdais and Kubica are also in.

Fisichella has somehow dropped to 16th, he shouldn’t be there after being 3rd not long ago…

Massa passes Bourdais for 14th.

L35 – Kovalainen pits. Martin has been looking at Rosberg’s penalty, he’d been wondering how he emerged only losing a few places. Turns out the gap to 4th was 23 seconds because Fisi had been holding everyone up, so it was legitimate.

L36 – Hamilton is working his way up, he’s 4th now and looking good for points against Ferrari who are currently set for zero.

L37 – Alonso, Rosberg, DC, Hamilton, Glock, Vettel, Heidfeld, Trulli. Kimi 10th, Kovi 13th, Massa 16th.
Hamilton is close behind Coulthard, who is 11sec behind Rosberg, then 7sec up to leader Alonso.
L38 – Nakajima passes Trulli, Kimi tries to follow but runs out of room.
L39 – Kimi now takes Trulli, who is again fat with fuel. Kimi is now 9th and goes looking for Nakajima who has driven away.

L40 – Things have been fairly flat for a while, other than Kimi making up places. Alonso has an increasing lead. Rosberg pits, switches to the super-soft tyres and is out behind Heidfeld in 7th.

For once we don’t know how long it will be before anybody stops. Everyone came in under that yellow meaning we could only follow a few people – and the F1 teams aren’t as forthcoming as the IndyCar teams.

L42 – Alonso pits, he has a big lead and does not lose the lead as he emerges from the pits JUST ahead of DC and Hamilton.
Hamilton passes Coulthard! He’s now on Alonso’s tail but he does need to stop again, he pits now and so does Coulthard.
Coulthard went too soon but stops it, he’s away after a minor delay but he lost position to Trulli.

L44 – Vettel and Heidfeld pit now from 3rd and 4th. I don’t see where they come out, we’re in adverts.

L45 – Alonso, Glock, Rosberg, Kimi, Hamilton, Trulli, Vettel, Heidfeld, DC, Nakajima. Heikki is 12th, Massa is 15th.
Glock needs to stop, I think Kimi does as well.

L46 – Massa overshoots turn one. Kubica just passed Fisi and Massa was trying to do the same. Massa and Kubica seem to have lost all speed since their penalties.
Glock pits, TV director misses where he rejoins.
This moves Rosberg up to 2nd with a gap of 15.5 seconds behind Alonso.

We miss Coulthard’s radio while Ted reports on something. James said he is complaining of losing his brakes.

L49 – James is worried that we won’t get all the laps in, there is about 25 minutes of running to complete the race and we are just short of 25 minutes remaining. “This is like the old days when the races used to take half the day!”
Martin – “Good though isn’t it!”

L50 – Alonso, Rosberg, Kimi, Hamilton, Glock, Trulli, Vettel, Heidfeld. Kimi needs to stop.
Trulli is slow at a chicane, he gets running again.
L51 – Kimi stops, he’s out in a large gap between Glock and Vettel.
Trulli seems to be in trouble.

Oh no! Kimi spins, a Force India is in the barrier. Looks like liquid on the track.
Trulli has pitted to retire from the GP, Ted tells us a gearbox problem.

L52 – Massa it was that spun, he was watching Trulli who was slow on the inside. The water came from the barrier, it was there to absorb the impact. The Force India slides sideways into the barrier.

Trulli is out of the car and soaked in sweat.

L53 – Louise with Mark Webber – “We lost 7th and then 5th gears, it cost us a great result. Would have been nice to share the podium with Alonso. We had some good pace, I’ve never suffered gearbox problems with this car.”

Order: Alonso, Rosberg, Hamilton, Glock, Kimi, Vettel, Heidfeld, Coulthard, Nakajima, Button, Kova, Kub, Fisi, Massa, Bourdais
The crashed Force India was Sutil.


Alonso drives away, no position changes on the restart.
Rosberg has good traction, he’s fine.
Coulthard vs Nakajima, DC stays ahead.

L56 – Alonso is on it, he’s running 1m45s while everyone else is back in the 1m47s or worse. Hamilton is faster than Rosberg but can’t catch him on the long run to turn 7, the favoured overtaking spot so far.

Martin – “Glock is keeping Hamilton honest, he’s improved all through the season.”
James reminds us he raced against Hamilton in GP2 in 2006.

L57 – Alonso has dropped his pace to match the others.
Ted – This won’t go to a timed race.

Five laps to go. 10 minutes to go, James says he didn’t allow for the parade lap before the race, the time starts when the red lights go out.

Raikkonen in the wall!! He caught the kerbs everyone has been complaining about. He manages to drag it around the corner to safety, no Safety Car required.
Replays: he hit the second kerb and ran into the wall. Four points down the drain.

Not Ferrari’s day today.

Martin – Lewis Hamilton looks like a man very happy with the lowest stop on the pdoium today, he’s not hustling the car.

Three laps to go.

Martin – Raikkonen’s accident is classic street circuit stuff, you take your eye off the ball and you’re off.

There’s a close battle between Vettel and Heidfeld, the TV director is choosing to focus on Alonso.

Final lap.


Rosberg 2nd, Hamilton 3rd, Glock 4th, Vettel 5th, Heidfeld 6th, Coulthard 7th, Nakajima 8th. Massa comes in 13th, only one from last.

Flavio Briatore on the radio! Alonso contratulates the team.

Martin says Nico Rosberg is his Driver of the Day after overcoming a stop/go penalty to finish 2nd. Ironically Alonso’s strategy only worked because of his teammate’s accident.

The cars are back in pitlane, Alonso stands on his car!
Everyone’s rear tyres look very worn.
Kimi doesn’t look happy – applause to the top three drivers from the grid girls!
Alonso relaxes in a chair with a bottle of water, take a break Fernando. A brief handshake with Hamilton.. surprised at that after last year..

Flav speaks to Alonso in Italian.

Podium ceremony, Spanish and French anthems, trophies, champagne!
Great trophy.

Martin: A great success but I hope they don’t make them all night races in this part of the world, it’ll lose the novelty.

We cross back to Steve and Mark as the champagne is dropped from the podium to the mechanics, the Renault guy drops theirs!

Press Conference
Alonso: “Fantastic, 1st podium for the season and first victory, extremely happy. Unlucky in qualifying and lucky in the race. The start was good, not good enough, but the pace was there. The car was super today.”
Interesting that he has the UNICEF logo on his race suit.

Rosberg: “I had a difficult start on the dirty side, dropped behind Jarno who was heavy with fuel. It was quite a hairy moment [passing Trulli], very bumpy. After that it was qualifying laps all the way. Car felt good, it was strong on this track, it was a great feeling.”

Hamilton: “My pitstop went well, I had to wait for some cars to come past and lost a little bit of time, we had great pace generally but got stuck behind DC. It was difficult to get close because he drove a fantastic race, so did these guys here.”

Race Result

01. Alonso 61 laps [10 pts]
02. Rosberg +2.9s [8]
03. Hamilton +5.9s [6]
04. Glock +8.1s [5]
05. Vettel +10.2s [4]
06. Heidfeld +11.1s [3]
07. Coulthard +16.3s [2]
08. Nakajima +18.4s [1]
09. Button +19.8s
10. Kovalainen +26.9s
11. Kubica +27.9s
12. Bourdais +29.4s
13. Massa +35.1s
14. Fisichella +43.5s
15. Raikkonen + 4 laps

Trulli + 11 laps
Sutil + 12 laps
Webber + 32 laps
Barrichello + 47 laps
Piquet + 48 laps

Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen 1 minute 45.599 seconds

Kimi was officially classified as a finisher by completing more than 90% of the distance.
Vettel collects yet another points haul! Great for him, and also excellent to see Rosberg and Williams on the podium. Glock also had a good result and it is nice to see DC scoring again. In all a great race for the underdogs!

Driver Points
01. 84 Hamilton
02. 77 Massa
03. 64 Kubica
04. 57 Raikkonen
05. 56 Heidfeld
06. 51 Kovalainen
07. 38 Alonso
08. 27 Vettel
09. 26 Trulli
10. 20 Glock
10. 20 Webber
12. 17 Rosberg

Hamilton extends his lead by 6 points as the three drivers behind him fail to score. Heidfeld is looking to pass Raikkonen for the 4th position.

Constructor Points
01. McLaren 135
02. Ferrari 134
03. BMW-Sauber 120
04. Renault 51
05. Toyota 46
06. STR 31
07. RBR 28
08. Williams 26
09. Honda 14

McLaren regain the lead in the table by one point from Ferrari, this one is going to the wire. BMW are still lurking should the top two make any further mistakes although they didn’t have a great day themselves.

Next Race
Next up is the Japanese Grand Prix from Fuji on October 12th. No luxury of an afternoon race for us this time, we’re looking at 5am here in the UK.
One week later is China, followed two weeks later by the season finale in Brazil.
Look out for my race previews on the Thursday or Friday of each race weekend.