Drama at the Belgian Grand Prix

September 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

When Lewis Hamilton breezed over the finish line at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in first place this weekend, it seemed he had claimed yet another victory for his team. However drama struck when officials later decided to impose a 25-second penalty on Hamilton, pushing him back to third place and giving the victory to Felipe Massa two hours after the race had ended.

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has already registered their intention to appeal the decision but for now it seems that Hamilton will remain in third place. Apparently after race stewards reviewed videos of the chaos that ensued after a short but heavy downpour near the end of the race, they ruled that Hamilton should be penalized for actions taken at the Bus Stop chicane. Hamilton collided with Raikkonen, who was in first place, and inadvertently cut the corner. However he subsequently slowed down and allowed Raikkonen to retake the lead, perhaps as part of efforts to ward off a penalty. Unfortunately if that was his goal, it didn’t work. The stewards have ruled that he gained an advantage due to his actions. However Raikkonen later spun off the track on the same lap due to a completely unrelated incident, leaving Massa to gain the most from the ruling.

The British driver had again proved that he was the best wet-weather driver on the track when a sudden shower turned the race into utter chaos during the last few laps. Hamilton kept his cool, took the lead with ease after Raikkonen spun of the track and finished in first place with Massa (Ferrari) hot on his tail in second place and Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) in third. After the penalty was imposed Massa was moved into first place and Nick Heidfeld was gifted with second place. The change now means that Hamilton only takes six points instead of the ten he would have got for first place in the championship. It also pushes his team a little further back in the Constructors’ Championship. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are currently second with 119 points after Ferrari with 131 points.

Massa Makes Light Work of Valencia Circuit

August 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

With the European Grand Prix starting at a new venue on Sunday, it was hard to predict who’d race the circuit the best and come out on top. The new circuit took the cars around the harbor streets of Valencia, Spain, providing a scenic backdrop to an exciting race. In the end it was Felipe Massa who took the checkered flag.

Massa didn’t just win the race – he dominated it. Starting from pole position, the Brazilian claimed the fastest lap time and also the victory before the day was done. The win has also pushed Massa up in his bid for the FIA F1 World Driving Championship, since he has now overtaken teammate Kimi Raikkonen and shifted from third to second in the rankings. Despite the fact that Massa was in the lead for the vast majority of the race, his position was not uncontested. Lewis Hamilton wasn’t going to give up without a fight and he chased Massa throughout the race, finishing hot on his tail almost six seconds behind. As if that wasn’t enough to threaten his position at the head of the pack, race stewards considered a Ferrari pit-lane infraction once the race was over; Massa’s pit team released him almost straight into Sutil on the second stop. There was a period of time where fans and crew members sat with bated breath, wondering if Massa would be stripped of his victory. In the end a fine of 10 000 euro was imposed on Massa which he took with a grin, remarking that the fine would ultimately give him an advantage over Sutil since it meant that he had to always let Massa pass him. After all that, Massa was finally able to claim the winner’s trophy.

Driving for BMW Sauber, Robert Kubica managed to finish third, having to first recover from a collision into Hamilton on the first corner. He was followed over the finish line by Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) and Jarno Trulli (Toyta). Kimi Raikkonen must have been very disappointed with his run as he was unable to complete the race when his Ferrari F2008 blew its engine just eleven laps from the finish line. He was kept in good company by Fernando Alonso, whose Renault suffered major damage after being smashed into by Kazuki Nakajima near the beginning of the race, and Adrian Sutil who overshot a corner and ended up in the tires.

German Grand Prix Review

July 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

The German Grand Prix was perhaps one of the most unexpected races of the season. The surprising part wasn’t that Lewis Hamilton took the winner’s trophy, it was that the Ferrari Team performed dismally, with Massa only just managing to scrape together a third place.

It is a well-known fact that while Formula One Racing might be considered to be a science, with the performance of carefully tuned high performance vehicles being improved year after year by small scientific discoveries, it is really the art of driving that makes the biggest difference between a good race and a great race. The sport is physically and mentally challenging for the driver and it takes endurance, fitness, alertness and, most of all, skill to run a good race to the finish. For years now Ferrari has been dominating the sport, taking home one winner’s trophy after the next and maintaining a seemingly vice-like grip on the “Constructors Title.” They had the best drivers, the best cars and won the most races. But lately it seems they have hit a giant oil slick in their racing strategies. The cars are not performing the way they should and the drivers are not racing to their fullest potential. It is sad to see, but it gives other teams a chance to truly shine. And that was exactly what happened at the German Grand Prix this weekend.

In the beginning Raikkonen seemed to have the fastest car on the track and he was doing well. Light rain brought into question the use of tires better suited to the conditions and Team Ferrari chose not to put on new wet intermediates. The decision was strongly disputed and in the end it proved to be Raikkonen’s downfall. The result was that other teams such as Honda and McLaren could push to the front. By the end of the race all eyes were on Lewis Hamilton whose McLaren Mercedes car was screaming around the track in first place, after carefully climbing his way forward. Being able to take home the win in his home country must have only added to the joy Hamilton experienced at the event. The 23-year-old was clearly ecstatic and critics are wondering if they are going to see this youth blossom into one of the greatest drivers Formula One has ever seen. However, the fact remains that since other first class drivers such as Raikkonen and Massa were out of the picture, it is hard to tell exactly how he would perform against these more seasoned drivers if they were driving at their peak. Only time will tell exactly how good a driver he has the potential to become.

Rubens Barrichello also made good use of the rain, managing to climb the overall ranks somewhat during the course of the race. In the end it was Nelson Piquet for Renault who took second, and Felipe Massa of Ferrari who took third. The three were followed by Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) and Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren Mercedes) respectively.

Hamilton Wins British Grand Prix

July 8, 2008 by  
Filed under News

The race day dawned with incredibly wet conditions that ultimately made for some wild racing, but it seems that Lewis Hamilton managed to overcome all the obstacles to take the checkered flag at the British Grand Prix this past Sunday.

Hamilton’s last two races in Canada and France were not so good and he didn’t manage to collect points at either event. If his performance at Silverstone was as dismal this Sunday Hamilton would probably have lost out on taking the overall Formula One title, but it seems that in the end he managed to pull himself together rather well. His win not only gained him the Silverstone trophy, but put him in the overall lead. However, the race wasn’t easy, as wet conditions made the situation tricky at best. While other drivers struggled to find the right tires to keep them on course, Hamilton managed to stay in control for the entire race. His McLaren seemed to cope with the trying situation with effortless ease as other cars veered off course or spun off the circuit. His visor gave him problems and he had very low visibility but still somehow managed to keep going. Yet despite this it was clear that he was in a league of his own from early on in the race and the 23-year-old Briton was leading the field from the fourth lap. By the time he was nearing the finish line he’d managed to lap all but two of the cars still in the field. His performance was so good under the trying circumstances, in fact, that the 90 000 fans present seemed to think it was worthy of a standing ovation! The win marks Hamilton’s first British Grand Prix trophy and is will no doubt have a special place in his heart – not only for surviving under such difficult conditions but because some of his best driving and his most impressive victory happened in his home country.

Hamilton now has 48 points in the Formula One series and is tied with both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari. However, he is in the championship lead because his finishes have been better than the other drivers’. Raikkonen only finished fourth.

French Grand Prix made for an Exciting Weekend

June 24, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Formula One racing fans no doubt already know the results of this weekend’s racing at Magny-Cours: Felipe Massa took the checkered flag followed closely by Kimi Raikkonen, with Jarno Trulli coming it at third place. Let us recap on this weekend’s magnificent racing.

The French Grand Prix started with Lewis Hamilton at 13th on the grid. After his recent atrocious accident in the pit lane in Canada, many would argue that it’s only fair that he starts further back than he is used to. The position is, in fact, the lowest grid placing he has ever had in his career. During the race he managed to wrack up another penalty by charging through the field a bit too early – he made up three places by the end of the first lap! Unfortunately for Hamilton, race stewards felt that his pass on Sebastian Vettel was not within the rules and so they penalized him and this crushed any hope of him finishing in the top eight. The Briton seemed to be so eager to make up ground that he even bumped tires with Fernando Alonso at one point. In the end he managed to finish tenth and he now trails winner Felipe Massa by just ten points.

As usual, the red Ferraris led the pack for most of the race. Felipe Massa and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen spent much of the race vying for first place and it was clear that they were in a league of their own. For much of the race it seemed that Raikkonen had the upper hand. He was able to pull away from his team mate after the first round of pit stops and it appeared as if Massa would not be able to catch him. However, with each passing lap Massa slowly closed the gap – mainly due to the fact that Raikkonen had managed to damage his rear tailpipe. Just past the halfway point, Massa was able to make his move and overtake Raikkonen, putting himself in first place. He stayed in first place for the rest of the race with Raikkonen only just managed to drift over the finish line in second after his tailpipe worked loose ten laps from the end of the race.

Massa’s victory at the Circuit de Nevers was no small feat. For the first time in his six-season career he is now leading the Formula One world championship; he is the first Brazilian to top the driver’s standings in 15 years. Massa’s hero Ayrton Senna was the last person from his country to do this. This was also the first time in ten years that a Toyota has been able to join the Ferraris on the podium. Jarno Trulli had to work really hard to keep McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen behind him in the closing laps, but he managed to do so despite some light rain. All in all it was a great and unpredictable race.

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