Sunday, September 23, 2012

Vettel Night Rides to Singapore Grand Prix Win

Photo source: Pirelli Photo

The only time that the Formula 1 cars dazzle auto racing with the spectacle of night racing, the Singapore Grand Prix on the 5.073-kilometer Marina Bay Street Circuit has a history for creating some memories worthy of shining a light on. For 2012, the Singapore Grand Prix plays host to a driver's championship where Ferrari's Fernando Alonso has secured a healthy lead leaving competitors such as defending Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel desperate to cut into the deficit in the final six races.

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, 2012 Formula 1 tour's most recent race winner in Monza, grabbed pole on Saturday ahead of Williams-Renault driver Pastor Maldonado. While the race started well for the front row starters, both Hamilton and Maldonado would be brought to grief by mechanical problems to their respected race cars. Suffering a gearbox failure, Lewis Hamilton's chance to repeat a win from pole in the second straight Formula 1 race of the season was defeated after completing just 22 laps. Pastor Maldonado's race was ended on lap 38 by a hydraulic issue on his Williams F1-fielded race vehicle.

Photo source: Pirelli

Starting in 3rd, Sebastian Vettel was promoted into prime position leading the Singapore Grand Prix. Vettel's skill would be put to the test as two safety car periods erased his lead. On lap 33, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG safety car was summoned onto the race course when the HRT-Cosworth of Narain Karthikeyan ended up in the wall. Shortly after the first was allowed to resume under green, a second safety car period was called as a result of contact that Mercedes GP's Michael Schumacher made on Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso-Ferrari. With both Schumacher and Vergne out of the race due to the collision, Formula 1 stewards also assessed a 10-grid position penalty to Schumacher to be served after qualifying for the next grand prix in Japan.

Following through with a trouble-free race with the help of two pit stops from the Red Bull Racing mechanics, Sebastian Vettel coasted at the Marina Bay Street Circuit to race his second-straight Singapore Grand Prix. In post-race, the German Vettel dedicated the victory to the late Professor Sid Watkins. A man who served four decades in the medical and safety of Formula 1 racing, Watkins was remembered by Vettel by saying, "It’s thanks to all the work he did to bring safety advancements to the sport that we can race on circuits like this."

Winning the Singapore Grand Prix with a commanding 8.9-second lead over Jenson Button's McLaren-Mercedes, the third win of the season for Vettel allowed him to cost 10 points into the lead of Fernando Alonso in the Formula 1 driver standings. Alonso drove his Ferrari to the final podium spot at Singapore retaining a 29-point lead in the driver's points heading to the Japanese Grand Prix.

Driving to a personal-best Formula 1 drive with fourth, Paul di Resta just missed the podium in Singapore as a race pilot of the improving Force India team. Powered as a customer to Mercedes-Benz engines, the Force India car of di Resta finished ahead of the sole-surviving Mercedes GP car of Nico Rosberg in who crossed the finish line fifth.

The Lotus F1 Team enjoyed a rather safe event in Singapore race with Kimi Raikkonen leading teammate Romain Grosjean across the Marina Bay Street Circuit for sixth place. Finishing seventh, Frenchman Grosjean's return behind the wheel of the Lotus-Renault race car was an effective effort after his one-race suspension by the FIA for dangerous driving in the opening lap of the Belgium Grand Prix. In the constructor standings, the Lotus F1 Team sits fourth in 2012 with only 14 points separating itself from third place Ferrari.

Photo credit: Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic

Honourable mention for the Singapore Grand Prix also goes to Timo Glock and his Marussia F1 Team. Finished twelveth, the Marussia-Cosworth crossed the finish line more than five seconds ahead of the Sauber-Ferrari of Kamui Kobayashi. Marussia F1 Team was one of three teams added to the series in 2010 under what was supposed to be a new cost-effective race formula. As of the Singapore 2012 race, the three teams (Maruassia, Caterham and HRT) have yet to score a point on the Formula 1 tour.

2012 Formula 1
Singapore Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car #/ Driver/ Car
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
4 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
5 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
6 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault
7 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault
8 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
9 16 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
10 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
11 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
12 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth
13 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
14 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
15 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault
16 25 Charlie Pic Marussia-Cosworth
17 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT F1
18 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault
20 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
21 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
22 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT F1
24 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hamilton Blazes to Monza Pole for McLaren

Photo Credit: Pirelli

Last week's 2012 Formula 1 tour returned to action at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps after a in-season long hiatus. However, only one week separated to Belgian Grand Prix and the Italian Grand Prix weekends at another famed race course. A 5.793-kilometer Monza race course with a historic linage in Formula 1, the high-speed circuit is one track where teams trim out their race vehicles for minimal downforce.

A week after his McLaren F1 Racing teammate Jenson Button commanded the Belgian Grand Prix with a pole and flag-to-flag victory, Lewis Hamilton grabbed the top spot in Italy ith a 1-minute, 24.010-second lap in Q3 time trials. Hamilton is eager to turn around misfortunes of last year that concluded with an early exit from the Belgian Grand Prix after getting caught up in the first corner wreck in Belgium. Related to that incident, Lotus F1 Team's Romain Grosjean has been suspended for the Italian Grand Prix replaced by the team's third driver Jerome d'Ambrosio. Just over a tenth of a second slower than Lewis Hamilton in qualifying, Jenson Button produced an all-McLaren front row for the Italian Grand Prix.

While a Scuderia Ferrari car on the second row of a 2012 Formula 1 race grid is not an unfamiliar sight, previous events in the season would have the name of current drivers championship points leader Fernando Alonso mentioned. However, in a first time feat in 2012, Brazil's Felipe Massa will hold the top position for Ferrari in front of his teammate. Alonso's Ferrari starts in 10th place at the Monza circuit.

In fourth place for the start of the Italian Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher drove his Mercedes GP car to an almost 0.26 second gap over Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull Racing entry. Despite turning over 20 laps a piece, the Red Bull-Renaults currently leading the Formula 1 constructor points were noticeably outperformed in qualifying. Sebastian Vettel qualified 5th for tomorrow's event while Mark Webber missed the final Q3 round of Saturday's time trials settling into a 11th place spot on the Italian Grand Prix grid.

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

Though registering a fourth-fastest time in qualifying, Paul di Resta will start five positions deeper in the field in 9th place driving his Force India-Mercedes. Along with Schumacher as well as Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Kamui Kobayashi were also promoted a position in the grid for Sunday's main event.

Set for 53 laps, the Italian Grand Prix at the Monza circuit is set to start at 8 am eastern time. Race conditions are expected to be sunny with temperatures up to 28 degrees Celsius possible.

2012 Formula 1
Italian Grand Prix
Starting Lineup

Pos # Car #/ Driver/ Car
1 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
3 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
4 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
5 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
6 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
7 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault
8 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
9 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
10 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
11 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
12 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
13 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault
14 16 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
15 10 Jerome d'Ambrosio Lotus-Renault
16 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
17 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault
18 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault
19 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth
20 25 Charlie Pic Marussia-Cosworth
21 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT F1
22 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT F1
24 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Following Major First Lap Crash, Belgian GP is Dominated by Button

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

A 44-lap contest at the popular 7.004-kilometer Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix is the first of 9 races over a 13-week run on the Formula 1 calendar. Taking pole in Saturday's qualifying, Jenson Button driving the McLaren-Mercedes claimed his first top starting spot since 2009 as he seeks to turn around an inconsistent 2012 campaign. Experiencing the absolute opposite, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has been collecting points and the occasional win throughout the 2012 season heading into the 12th race of this year's tour.

When the start lights went out at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps grid, the first Formula 1 grand prix in a month commenced but was almost immediately interrupted by a major incident. A massive first corner pile-up involved many front-running race cars including the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton's Mclaren overshadowed the Belgian Grand Prix. Both championship-contending drivers were unable to continue. For Alonso, the retirement ends a 22-race streak of point-scoring finishes. The Ferrari's early out also meant Fernando Alonso's 2012 title rivals still running in the Belgian Grand Prix had a chance to capitalize.

Including Alonso and Hamilton, Romain Grosjean's Lotus-Renault as well as the two Sauber-Ferrari racecars were involved. Sergio Perez's race was ended early but the front-row starting Kamui Kobayashi was able to continue finishing a disappointing 13th following what had been a solid weekend for the Japanese driver. “This is a terrible race result after we had been doing so well in qualifying. There was nothing I could do when a car came flying into mine after the start. I had to pit once for some repairs and then again after seven laps because of a slow puncture. During the race I didn’t really know how bad the damage to the car was, but I could see a tyre print on the cockpit all the time." said Kobayashi in post-race.

Seen as the trigger to the early race crash at the Spa-Francorchamps track, Romain Grosjean was targeted after the race. "I got a good start - despite being disturbed by Pastor’s early launch, which I think was the case for everybody at the front - and was heading into the first corner when the rear of my car made contact with the front of Lewis [Hamilton]’s." said Grosjean in post-race comment. The Frenchman described the incident saying, "I honestly thought I was ahead of him and there was enough room for both cars ; I didn’t deliberately try to squeeze him or anything like that. This first corner situation obviously isn’t what anyone would want to happen and thankfully no-one was hurt in the incident. I wish to apologise to the drivers who were involved and to their fans. I can only say that today is part of a process that will make me a better driver." Following the multi-car accident, Formula 1 took the extraordinary step of suspending Romain Grosjean for the next event at Monza.

Fortunately with no driver injuries, the carbon fiber carnage was cleaned up from the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and the race was restarted. Polesitter Jenson Button controlled the pace of the Belgian Grand Prix. Pitting only one time on lap 20, the McLaren-Mercedes led from start-to-finish; a rare feat even in Formula 1. At the end, Button held a 13.6 second advantage over the Belgian Grand Prix's runner-up.

Charging from a sub-par qualifying effort that resulted with his Red Bull-Renault placed 10th on the grid, Sebastian Vettel was able to take advantage of the one-lap crash that eliminated several other vehicles as well as an incredible drive to fly up to 2nd. Placing a second Renault-engined racecar on the podium, Kimi Raikkonen hold station to the third place spot where he started from at the beginning of the Belgian Grand Prix.

Photo source: Lorenzo Bellanca/LAT Photographic

Just outside of the podium-scoring position, Nico Hulkenburg finished 4th just 2.5 seconds behind Raikkonen with his Force India-Mercedes. Hulkenburg climbed from 11th in a final race position just ahead of the Ferrari driven by Felipe Massa. With rumours indicating the Brazilian driver is on the verge of losing his ride with the Italian race team, Massa came from 14th to 5th during the 44-lap race.

In the Formula 1 drivers' standing, Fernando Alonso continues to hold an advantage but saw his gap on second place shrink as a result of the first-lap retirement. Taking second in overall points away from teammate Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull Racing is now 24 points behind Alonso.

Next race for the 2012 Formula 1 is the Italian Grand Prix being held at the fast Monza race track September 9th.

2012 Formula 1
Belgian Grand Prix
Race Result

Pos # Car #/ Driver/ Car
1 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
3 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault
4 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
5 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
6 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
7 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
8 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
9 16 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
10 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
11 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
12 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault
13 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
14 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault
15 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth
16 25 Charlie Pic Marussia-Cosworth
17 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault
18 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT F1
19 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT F1
20 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault
21 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
22 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
23 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
24 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Button Presses into Belgian GP Pole Position

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

After almost one month break, the Formula 1 returns to strength for the final nine-race ran to the end of the 2012 season.

Despite concerns that the Ferrari race car was unsuited for competition in 2012, two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso challenged early season beliefs. Collecting 3 wins with the famous red car, Alonso's combined consistency has allowed him to hold a 40-point advantage over Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button with McLaren as well as the Red Bull-Renaults has been pressuring the Spaniard's attempt to lock up a third World Championship.

A pleasant surprise so far this season has been the progression of Mercedes GP, Lotus F1 Team and the Sauber F1 Team who have remained podium-contending efforts throughout 2012. While highlights off the racetrack have taken a negative turn for the Lotus Group, the 2012 effort of the Formula 1 race team has been a definite bright spot. A 2012 Formula 1 season dominated by unusual feats and some regular superstars being humbled by a new batch of drivers, the Belgian Grand Prix weekend was eagerly awaited upon.

A track regarded with some racers as a favourite, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps features high speed and high G-Force loads for the car as well as driver competing on the 7.004-kilometer (4.352-mile) complex. Spending Friday splashing on a rainy track, Formula 1 competitors were treated to a dry Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for Saturday's qualifying.

Prevailing in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, Jenson Button sailed around the race course with a 1 minute, 47.573 second lap. For some, it might be hard to believe that the pole position for Jenson Button is the Englishman's first feat since the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix when he drove for Brawn GP (now Mercedes GP). Joining the McLaren team after has 2009 championship-winning season in Formula 1, the pole is Button's first with a McLaren-Mercedes race car.

A team that  barely scraped together enough funds to keep racing a few seasons ago, the Sauber F1 Team had been showing a potential winning package through certain 2012 races. In Belgium, the month-long layoff from Formula 1 competition might have given the Sauber F1 Team the time to stumble on the winning formula. Fastest on Friday on the wet Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Kamui Kobayashi backed-up his performance on Pirelli slick tires on Saturday with a 1 minute, 47.871 second time. Three-tenths of Button, the fast lap was enough for Japanese driver to receive a front row starting spot for Sunday's main event.

While the Williams-Renault race car of Pastor Maldonado was third-fastest in Belgium, the driver was dropped to 6th by Formula 1 stewards following an earlier incident in qualifying with Nico Hulkenburg. The penalty against the Williams F1 team entry promoted Kimi Raikkonen to 3rd in the Lotus-Renault race car. In fourth, the second Sauber-Ferrari piloted by Sergio Perez outran Fernando Alonso's Ferrari.

Photo Source: Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic

Placing themselves deeper in the field, the Red Bull-Renault of Mark Webber and the Mercedes GP of Nico Rosberg both suffered five-grid position penalties for gearbox changes. Webber will start 12th while Rosberg will be second to last on the grid in 23rd spot.

With the Formula 1 racing grid set for the 44-lap main event, the Belgian Grand Prix is set to start at 8 am eastern time.

2012 Formula 1
Belgian Grand Prix
Race Line-up

Pos # Car #/ Driver/ Car
1 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
2 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
3 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault
4 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
5 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
6 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault
7 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
8 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault
9 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
10 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
11 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
12 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
13 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
14 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
15 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
16 16 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
17 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault
18 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault
20 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth
21 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT F1
22 25 Charlie Pic Marussia-Cosworth
23 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT F1