Notes From the Television Screen: F1 @ Bahrain

Sebastian Vettel took his first win of the 2012 season at the Bahrain Grand Prix, holding off an occasionally charging Kimi Raikkonen. Romain Grosjean made it a double Lotus podium after a lightning start while Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg completed the top five. Lewis Hamilton dropped well down the order to finish eighth through two extraordinary long pit stops from McLaren while teammate Jenson Button was forced to retire with an engine or exhaust issue just two laps from the end. Rosberg’s Mercedes was also sickly, with the team telling him of his own exhaust issue. He is under investigation after the race from the stewards for incidents involving both Hamilton and seventh-place finishing Fernando Alonso. Both Germans in the top five pulled immediately off at the pit lane exit after crossing the line to finish the race. Paul Di Resta managed a career best sixth place finish. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher managed to scrap a single point despite starting twenty-second. Read the full race report at Formula1Blog…

Vettel (1:32.422) won pole in a thrilling post-session duel between himself, second place starter Hamilton, and third place starter Webber during Saturday’s qualifying. Button would have been the last man to cross the line, but scrapped his lap after a locking moment cost him a faster lap time. He qualified fourth. Rosberg, the weekend’s golden boy after Shanghai, managed only fifth fastest but was considerably better off than teammate Schumacher who got knocked out in Q1 by Heikki Kovalainen. In other champions’ news, Raikkonen dropped out in Q2, qualifying only eleventh, and Alonso just squeaked through to qualify ninth. Read the full qualifying report at Formula1Blog…

However, Rosberg led two of the three practice sessions (both Friday afternoon [1:32.816] and Saturday morning [1:33.254]). Though Hamilton (1:33.572) led Friday morning’s session, the real consistency came from the Red Bull teammates. Vettel was amongst the top five in all three sessions and Webber in two of them. Despite dusty conditions and plenty of complaining about a lack of rear grip, there were no damaging incidents in any of the practice sessions or qualifying. Most teams seemed quite happy to throw the softer tyre on early in qualifying, both looking for pace as the track evolved and seemingly not concerned with using the compound more than absolutely necessary during the race.

Force India did sit out the second practice after an incident involving team personnel and protestors occurred on Thursday. Instead, the team used that time to switch over their cars to Saturday set up and left the circuit before darkness fell. Di Resta qualified tenth and Hulkenberg thirteenth, though there were no shots of the cars seen on the world feed during qualifying.

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F1 Abu Dhabi Race Results & Full Report: Vettel Wins Race, Championship as Abu Dhabi’s lack of Passing

What Happens When It’s the Renaults That Surprise

9:55am EST — Sebastian Vettel won the 2010 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi and became the youngest F1 Champion in one fell swoop, only giving up the lead through a pit stop and finishing ten seconds ahead of second place finisher Lewis Hamilton, who spent much of his race bottled up behind Robert Kubica.  Jenson Button finished third after taking a position from Fernando Alonso on the start and holding the lead after Vettel gave it up to stop.  Button made his soft tires last nearly two thirds of the race.  Nico Rosberg and Kubica, who made his own tires last all but the final few laps, completed the top five.  Alonso finished seventh after losing that position at the start and getting bottled up behind sixth place finisher Vitaly Petrov for nearly all of the race, with Chris Dyer of Ferrari tweeting afterward, “It was our fault, we asked Fernando to be defensive.”  Mark Webber finished eighth, after being forced to pit early, having tagged his right rear on a barrier charging after position.  The race was also paused by an early safety car after Michael Schumacher spun on the first lap and was run over by Tonio Liuzzi.  Both were unhurt.

Vettel won another pole in a nail-biting finish to Saturday qualifying in Abu Dhabi.  Fellow title contenders Hamilton, Alonso, and Webber joined him in the top five starters, with Button helpfully slotting into fourth for teammate Hamilton.  Vettel looked to have pole in hand, but Hamilton and Alonso both had time for another lap after the session had ended.  Alonso jumped from fifth to third on that lap.  Kubica had the surprising lap time to be knocked out by teammate Petrov in Q2.  If the race were to finish in the starting order on Sunday, Alonso would still win the championship, with the points as such: Alonso, 261; Vettel, 256; Webber, 248; Hamilton, 247.  For more championship calculations, read the F1B championship points charts.

The light was already beginning to fade for the day into night, final race of the 2010 season as the lights went out, Vettel led into the first turn, and Button taking position from Alonso, who didn’t let him pass, but did kkep his own car safe for finishing.  Vettel was taking quite a lead as the saftey car was deployed.  Schumacher had spun and Liuzzi ran directly into him, his Force India climbing over the top of the Mercedes.  Both were uninjured, though it was a scary incident with Liuzzi’s nose nearly hitting Schumacher’s helmet.  Rosberg, who didn’t quite bump his teammate into that spin, and Petrov, Algerusuari, Senna, and Klien all pitted as well.  Before the restart, Vettel led Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Barrichello, Kobayashi, Sutil, and Kubica as the top ten.  On their way back to the garage, Schumacher and Liuzzi seemed jovial.  Under the safety car, Hamilton was continually checking with the team that everything was ok on his car. Continue reading

F1 Silverstone Quali Results & Full Report: Vettel Leads Red Bull Front Row

What Happens When Things Become Predictable

9:04am EST — Sebastian Vettel won another pole for Red Bull, with Mark Webber to start second in a Red Bull front row for the starting grid of the 2010 British Grand Prix.  Fernando Alonso led the charge of the other teams to qualify third, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg rounding out the top five.  Felipe Massa only barely outqualifed countryman Rubens Barrichello, who continued the Williams’ resurgance, qualifying seventh.  Meanwhile, Pedro de la Rosa also managed a coup, making Q3 in his Sauber and beating out Michael Schumacher to ninth position.  It was disaster, with little knowledge of why, for Briton Jenson Button who did not make it out of Q2, qualifying fourteenth.

Red Bull led again in the final, Saturday morning practice session, despite a loose nosecone on Vettel’s car on his final run, just after he set the session and weekend leading time of 1:30.958.  Webber was second fastest, with Alonso, Rosberg, Massa, Kubica, Hamilton, Schumacher, de la Rosa, and Barrichello rounding out the top ten.  McLaren had, somewhat controversially, completely removed it’s blown rear wing setup for the weekend after being quite low in the pace, though it did not seem to be improving their positions, at least in the practice, dramatically.

Q1:
With a surprisingly dry Silverstone, qualifying got underway with no great haste, as Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli were the first men onto the circuit in Q1. Petrov was the early leader, with Button soon bettering his time.  Alonso, Massa, and Schumacher had taken over five minutes into the session.  Then Rosberg went fastest, with Barrichello second.  Webber soon took over with Red Bull’s dominance, even as Alonso goes for the lead.  It was Red Bull and Alonso fighting for fastest in a session where it meant very little. Continue reading

F1 Silverstone FP1&2 Results and Full Report: Red Bull Again Tops the Timesheets in Friday Practices

What Happens When the New Meets the Old

10:37am — Red Bull was fastest during both Friday practice sessions, though Mark Webber neatly eclipsed teammate Sebastian Vettel in the second session with the German’s old chassis.  Thought Lewis Hamilton was second quickest in the first session, the changing surfaces seemed to catch him (and many others) out, as he dropped to eighth fastest in the second session.  McLaren did not fare so well this Friday practice, though, as always, the use of the sessions as tests make it difficult to note just what will happen in qualifying and the race.  The Ferraris were off the pace in FP1, but rallied in the second, moving up to the top five.  Meanwhile the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher appeared just on the cusp of a racier set-up.

FP1:
Sebastian Vettel was the man fastest at the end of the first Friday practice session at the new Silverstone layout, with a 1:32.280, ahead of Lewis Hamilton who was second fastest.  The Briton might have beaten the German, but for issues with the bump connecting the new layout to the old at the Abbey corner.  Many drivers had problems there, and at the Village loop, which was slippery. Robert Kubica, Mark Webber (in Vettel’s old chassis, apparently the only extra one the team has), and Adrian Sutil were the fastest five in the first session, which could mean anything or everything in the test sessions Friday practices have become.  In the teammate battles, Jenson Button ended the session eighth fastest, Vitaly Petrov twelfth, and Paul di Resta fourteenth.  Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were thirteenth and seventeenth for Ferrari, respectively, while Nico Rosberg was was again faster than teammate Michael Schumacher, the Germans sixth and ninth. Continue reading

F1: Updated Results for the European GP After FIA Assesses Penalties

What Happens When Very Little Changes

1:43pm EST — The FIA has given five second penalites to those drivers investigated after the race for speeding under the safety car.  Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Nico Hulkenberg, Robert Kubica, Vitaly Petrov, Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Buemi, Pedro de la Rosa, and Tonio Liuzzi were all labeled in the latter half of the race [read the full race report here at OASTD] as under investigation.

The FIA handed gave each driver their penalty, resulting in the following updated standings as the results of the European Grand Prix.  Alonso gained one position over Buemi, Rosberg gained two, Massa gained three, Alguersuari gained two, Schumacher gained one, and Chandhok gained one as Glock was given a twenty second penalty for disregarding blue flags.

Updated Results for the European Grand Prix:
1. Vettel
2. Hamilton
3. Button
4. Barrichello
5. Kubica
6. Sutil
7. Kobayashi
8. Alonso
9. Buemi
10. Rosberg
11. Massa
12. de la Rosa
13. Alguersuari
14. Petrov
15. Schumacher
16. Liuzzi
17. di Grassi
18. Chandhok
19. Senna
20. Trulli

F1 Valencia Unofficial Results & Full Race Report: Vettel Leads From the Start With a SC and Penalties to be Assessed

What Happens When the Results Aren’t Official, Yet

9:52am EST — Sebastian Vettel won the European Grand Prix at Valencia with Lewis Hamilton second, despite an early safety car that disrupted the race order dramatically.  Caused by a huge and high-flying shunt when Mark Webber ran into Heikki Kovalainen and flipped over, the safety car had drivers diving for the garage and the running order turned on it’s head.  Making things more confusing are the nine divers under investigation by the stewards after the race for speeding behind the safety car, many of whom finished int he top ten.  Jenson Button (being investigated) was third, with a strong fourth for Rubens Barrichello.  Kamui Kobayashi finished seventh with a clever pit strategy by Sauber that kept him from stopping until the final few laps.  Ferrari was shuffled back during the safety car, with Fernando Alonso finishing ninth and Felipe Massa fourteenth, though they hold hope for post-race penalties.  Michael Schumacher finished sixteenth. [to see the updated results after the FIA assessed five second penalties to all those drivers labeled as under investigation, click here]

Sebastian Vettel brought Red Bull back to pole position during Saturday’s qualifying session for the European Grand Prix, with teammate Mark Webber to start next to him on the grid.  Just behind will be Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, with Felipe Massa rounding out the top five starters.  As Rubens Barrichello predicted, both Williams drivers made it to Q3 and will start eighth and ninth, with Barrichello out-qualifying Nico Hulkenberg.  Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov had great qualifying effort, starting sixth and tenth, respectively, with the Pole just taking sixth from Jenson Button, who will start seventh.  Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg had a bad Saturday, neither making Q3.  Schumacher had a power steering issues that caused him to qualify fifteenth with Rosberg starting twelfth.

The drivers got away with Vettel leading Hamilton and then Webber into the first turn, though both Alonso and Massa attempt to overtake the second Red Bull, and do so.  Webber has dropped to fifth from his second starting position, then dropping to ninth as a fighting Kubica and Button overtake him.  The Pole had gotten around Button for sixth, only to move to fifth with Webber’s distress.  While Hamilton noted on the radio that he was hit by Vettel (Hamilton’s front wing damage was noted by Ferrari on Twitter, as well), at the end of the second lap, Vettel led Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Kubica, Buttton, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, and Buemi as the top ten.  Schumacher had moved up to eleventh from his fifteenth place start. Continue reading

MotoGP Jerez, Results & Full Race Report: Lorenzo Led at the End, but Pedrosa Dominated from Pole

What Happens When It’s the Beginning and the End That Are Exciting

8:58am EST — Jorge Lorenzo won a race that looked as though it were in the sole possession of countryman Dani Pedrosa, who led from pole until halfway through the final lap and finished second after some close fighting with Lorenzo.  Valentino Rossi finished third, with Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner’s Ducatis rounding out the top five.  While the MotoGP Spanish GP from Jerez did not live up to the incredibly exciting racing of the season opener in Qatar, the two young Spaniards made up for it at the end.  Mika Kallio had a great race to finish in seventh, while the satellite Yamaha’s of Colin Edwards and Ben Spies did not fare so well, finishing twelfth and not at all, respectively.

Despite a postponed race last weekend due to the volcanic ash cloud, qualifying showed the bike mad Spanish crowds the sort of show they wanted, with the end result being two Spaniards on on the front role, with Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, and Valentino Rossi the top four qualifiers.  American Ducati rider Nicky Hayden seems to have shaken off the gremlins from his first season at Ducati, qualifying fifth.  Pedrosa’s problems with the Honda continued, as he changed chassis and set up multiple times, despite his good qualifying.  Rossi still suffered from his injured shoulder and cracked humerus, while Lorenzo’s thumb seemed to be quite healed, though still not 100%.

Pedrosa got a good start from pole, maintaining the lead into the first turn, with Rossi just behind from the second row.  Hayden also got a fabulous start, slotting into a solid third and challenging Rossi for second.  Behind, Stoner was behind Lorenzo in fifth, with Ben Spies very close behind. Randy de Puniet, meanwhile, had a terrible start, sliding backward amongst the pack. Continue reading