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Tag Archives: Fernando Alonso

WITH victory at this year’s British Grand Prix at the new pit complex Silverstone, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso equalled three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart’s tally of 27 Grand Prix victories. Only Nigel Mansell (31 wins), Ayrton Senna (41 wins), Alain Prost (51 wins) and Michael Schumacher (91 wins) have won more Grand Prixs.

Alonso’s 27th win. How fitting that he should achieve this milestone in a Ferrari.

This was also a special moment for the Ferrari team. Not only was this their first win since South Korea last year, but it was almost exactly 60 years ago to the day at the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, that the now 88-year-old Argentine José Froilán González won Ferrari’s first Grand Prix.

Alonso, the 2005 and 2006 world champion, took the lead from the reigning world champion and current runaway championship leader, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) during the second round of pit-stops. Both drivers were in the middle of the fight for the lead when the pair of them pitted for new tyres at the same time. The Ferrari pit crew flawlessly serviced Alonso’s car, but the Red Bull guys fluffed Vettel’s stop, thus letting the red car out ahead of the Red Bull. And in this case, having something red in front a Bull didn’t make it go any faster as Alonso raced off into the distance.

Vettel would now have his team-mate, Mark Webber, for company in the closing laps of the Grand Prix. Webber was using all of his years of experience to try and get past Vettel, but Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, told Webber to: “Maintain the gap.” To me, this says ‘Don’t take Vettel off Mark, he’s going to win the championship this year but we don’t trust you to try and pass him.’ Webber ignored these anti-racing orders but failed to pass Vettel, finishing third just 0.4-seconds behind him.

Further back, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton turned the last moments of his battle with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa into a banger race to the delight of his home fans, including me as well.

The 2008 world champion (Hamilton) had been told by his team that he needed to save fuel urgently. This allowed Massa to chase Hamilton down at a rate of at least a couple of seconds per lap. Massa got alongside Hamilton as they entered Vale corner for the last time. Hamilton missed his braking spot and the two made contact. Massa was forced wide and rounded the last corner, Club, on the run-off area while Hamilton forced his damaged McLaren around the right-hander and into fourth place, 0.024-seconds before Massa crossed the finish-line.

Felipe was faster, but Lewis’s use of brute force and ignorance won their race.

McLaren’s second home driver, 2009 world champion Jenson Button, didn’t get to the finish because of a blunder in the pit-lane. His front-right wheel hadn’t been attached by one of his mechanics when he was given the all-clear. Button knew something was wrong as soon as he turned out
of the pit-lane, but because he had crossed the line separating the pits from the track, his team couldn’t go and get him. Button’s race ended right there in rather embarrassing circumstances.

Sign of a p***ed off racing driver. He keeps his crash-helmet on.

The other British driver in the race, Scotland’s Paul di Resta (Force India) didn’t have much luck in the pit-stops either. When he came in for his first set of new tyres his team were expecting his team-mate Adrian Sutil instead. This meant di Resta had to wait for his tyres to be brought out and Sutil’s removed. This dropped him well down the running order, and he would soon come together with Toro Rosso’s Sébastien Buemi. Buemi’s left-rear tyre was damaged and ripped itself apart, causing the Swiss driver’s retirement from the race. di Resta would go on to finish 15th and out of the points, utterly negating the sixth place grid slot he had started the race from.

This race wasn’t the best British Grand Prix I’ve seen, and I was very disappointed to see McLaren slip behind Ferrari and even further behind Red Bull.

But hopefully the Silver Machines will find something special at the German Grand Prix, which this year is back where it belongs at the Nürburgring, but it’s only the GP-Strecke and not the mighty Nordschleife. I can dream can’t I?

By the way, because the start-finish line at Silverstone has moved to between Club and Abbey and is no longer between Woodcote and Copse, the race now starts in Buckinghamshire and not Northamptonshire.

The 66th British Grand Prix Top 10

  1. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 52-Laps in 1:28:41.194 @ 128.951-mph. Alonso also set the fastest lap of the race on lap 41 with a 1:34.908 (139.095-mph) lap. 25 Points.
  2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), +16.511-seconds. 18 Points.
  3. Mark Webber (Red Bull), +16.947-seconds. 15 Points.
  4. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), +28.986-seconds. 12 Points.
  5. Felipe Massa (Ferrari), +29.010-seconds. 10 Points.
  6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), +1:00.655. 8 Points.
  7. Sergio Pérez (Sauber), +1:05.590. 6 Points. His best finish in F1.
  8. Nick Heidfeld (Renault), +1:15.542. 4 Points.
  9. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), +1:17.912. 2 Points.
  10. Jamie Alguersuari (Toro Rosso), +1:19.108. 1 Point. Despite not making it out of Q1 in the last four races, this is the third consecutive points finish for him.

 

Congratulations to Daniel Ricciardo (HRT) on finishing his debut race. He was classified 19th and last of the runners and was 3 laps down on Alonso at the end, but he finished. My one concern about him is that he is Red Bull’s and their sister-team’s (Toro Rosso) test driver. So in a way, Red Bull have five drivers out on track when they should only have two.

PS – This is my 250th post! 😀

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 9/19 Races.

Pos

Driver

Constructor

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

204

2

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

124

80

3

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

112

92

4

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

109

95

5

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

109

95

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

52

152

7

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

40

164

8

Nick HEIDFELD (GER)

Renault

34

170

9

Vitaly PETROV (RUS)

Renault

31

173

10

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

28

176

11

Kamui KOBAYASHI (JAP)

Sauber

25

179

12

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

10

194

13

Jamie ALGUERSUARI (ESP)

Toro Rosso

9

195

14

Sergio PÉREZ (MEX)

Sauber

8

196

15

Sébastien BUEMI (SWI)

Toro Rosso

8

196

16

Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Williams

4

200

17

Paul DI RESTA (SCO)

Force India

2

202

 

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 9/19 Races.

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

328

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

218

110

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

164

164

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

68

260

5

RENAULT (ENG)

Renault

65

263

6

SAUBER (SWI)

Ferrari

33

295

7

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

17

311

8

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

12

316

9

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

4

324

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Fernando Alonso celebrates winning the first ever (South) Korean Grand Prix.

FERNANDO ALONSO of Ferrari won his third Grand Prix in four in what was a highly eventful first ever Korean Grand Prix (24 October). The 2005 and 2006 World Champion won the 55 lap race in a time of 2:48:20.810, at an average speed of just 68.350 mph! This is because the race was suspended for over 45 minutes due to torrential rain and standing water on a newly laid track surface. Alonso also set the fastest lap of the race with a lap of 1:50.257 (113.919 mph), which was almost 15 seconds slower than Sebastian Vettel’s (Red Bull) pole time. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton finished in second place, while Alonso’s team-mate Felipe Massa came home in third.

The race’s original start time of 15:00 local time was put back by ten minutes as the race stewards debated over whether or not the race should start under the Safety Car. This ended up being the case, and the SC took Sebastian Vettel and the other drivers around for three laps before the race was red flagged because it was descending into a farce. Alonso radioed the Ferrari pit wall telling them: “These are the worst conditions I’ve ever driven in.

And they’re off…kind of.

As I mentioned earlier the race was suspended for over three quarters of an hour before the rain eased up enough for the SC to lead the cars around again. This was the situation from laps four to the end of lap 17. In my opinion they should have been racing at least two or three laps earlier. Hamilton told the McLaren pit wall that: “It’s almost good enough for inters.” [intermediate tyres] just before the SC came in.

The race started for real at the end of lap 17 with Vettel leading from his team-mate Mark Webber and Alonso. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) passed Robert Kubica (Renault) at the first corner, and his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg overtook Hamilton at Turn 3 after slipstreaming him on the long straight between Turns 2 and 3. Schumacher meanwhile spent the rest of the lap hassling reigning World Champion Jenson Button (McLaren) and Massa.

But there was to be potentially championship deciding drama on the next lap. Mark Webber – who was leading the championship going into this race – took too much curb exiting Turn 12 and slid across the track and into the wall before bouncing back across the road. Alonso missed the Red Bull, but Nico Rosberg was not so lucky. He tried to squeeze his Mercedes past the Red Bull but didn’t quite manage it, and was taken clean out by Webber who would not be adding to his points total in South Korea. This crash brought out the SC for its third stint in only two racing laps.

Will this cost Mark Webber the title?

Normal service was resumed at the end of lap 23 with Vettel leading from Alonso and Hamilton. Further down the field Schumacher passed Button at Turn 3. Button decided to gamble and pit for inters on lap 27. But unlike in Australia his gamble didn’t pay off as he was unlucky enough to exit the pits right in the middle of a mid-filed scrap.

Lap 29 saw Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) punt off Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus. But whereas Kovalainen would finish the race Buemi wouldn’t. His race ended just two laps later when he T-boned Timo Glock’s Virgin car at Turn 3. Glock was also forced to retire and the SC came out yet again.

The leaders seized this opportunity to pit with: Hamilton, Massa and Schumacher all going for inters. Race leaders Vettel and Alonso pitted for inters in the next lap, but Alonso’s pit-stop was slow and Hamilton took second place away from his former McLaren team-mate while he was exiting the pits.

Racing got underway again at the end of lap 34. Hamilton went wide at Turn 1 allowing Alonso to retake second place. Massa fancied a run at Hamilton down the straight but the Englishman was wise to what the Brazilian was intending to do at Turn 3, and legally blocked him from trying anything.

Jenson Button’s race went from bad to worse when Adrian Sutil forced him off track on lap 36, causing him to lose yet more places and ground in the title race.

Renault’s Vitaly Petrov had a heavy shunt at the last corner on lap 40 wrecking his car. The replays showed that the impact was indeed hefty, yet to my sheer annoyance Petrov was left there to make his own way out of the car and back to his pit. Absolutely nobody went up to his car to see if he was hurt or not, or to help him back to the Renault garage. What if he was hurt or passed out while walking? Who was there to help him?!

My mood was much improved however when – at the start of lap 46 – the Renault engine in Vettel’s Red Bull began to sound ill. The same had happened to him while he was leading in Bahrain, and just like in the season’s first race Alonso passed him for the lead. Vettel continued to slow through Turns 1 and 2, and just a Hamilton pulled out to take second his engine went BANG! 😀 After parking his car at a marshal’s post on the straight the German grabbed a fire extinguisher to put out the flames that where engulfing the engine just like Heikki Kovalainen did in Singapore. Once again Red Bull failed to take advantage of their epic qualifying speed and their superior race pace.

Will this cost Sebastian Vettel the title?

A lap later Sutil ended his race by crashing into Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber whilst trying to outbrake him at Turn 4. It later came to light that Sutil knew he had brake problems and was fined $10,000 (£6,400) for dangerous driving. Personally I’d have banned him from the Brazilian Grand Prix to send a message out to the drivers that such actions are both intolerable and stupid. Sutil and Buemi have also been handed five-place grid bumps for the Brazilian GP for causing their respective crashes.

Back to the race now, and a new problem…the light. Because we westerners don’t want to get up too early in the morning on a Sunday the power/s that be decided to start the race at 15:00 Korean time. That coupled with the slow race pace and 45 minute delay meant that the Sun had pretty much set over the track, and the drivers were out there in near darkness. Hamilton didn’t mind this at all mind you.

McLaren pit wall: “Lewis, how is the light?

Hamilton: “Light’s good!” 😉

Now, I’ve always gotten up for races and qualifying ever since I was a small boy. True fans would get up to watch the race no matter how early it is. Here’s an idea for a regulation next year: All races with the exception of Singapore and Abu Dhabi will start at 14:00 local time. Not 15:00, 16:00 or 17:00, 14:00. Singapore will start at 20:00 local time, Abu Dhabi at 17:00 local time. What do you reckon?

Anyway, Alonso managed to navigate his way through the darkness to win the longest Grand Prix since Monaco 1960 (Lotus’s first win). He now leads the championship by 11 points from Webber, 21 from Hamilton, 25 (a race win) from Vettel and 42 from Button who finished down in 12th place.

The next race is Brazil at the weekend. The Interlagos circuit has seen the last five championships decided, and can see this run continue in favour of Fernando Alonso if:

  • He wins, with Webber no higher than 5th.
  • He is 2nd, with Webber no higher than 8th, as long as Vettel or Hamilton don’t win.
  • He is 3rd, with Webber no higher than 11th, as long as Vettel or Hamilton don’t win or come 2nd.

Red Bull can win their first ever Constructor’s Championship if they finish first and second. But this is F1 2010. Absolutely anything can happen.

DRIVERS’ STANDINGS (17/19 GPs)

Pos

Driver

Constructor(s)

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

231

2

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

220

11

3

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

210

21

4

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

206

25

5

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

189

42

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

143

88*

7

Robert KUBICA (POL)

Renault

124

107*

8

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

122

109*

9

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

66

165*

10

Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Williams

47

184*

*Can’t win title.

There are 50 points still available

CONSTRUCTORS’ STANDINGS (17/19 GPs)

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

426

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

399

27

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

374

52

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

188

238*

5

RENAULT (FRA)

Renault

143

283*

6

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

68

358*

7

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

65

361*

8

SAUBER (SUI)

Ferrari

43

383*

9

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

11

415*

Yet to Score

LOTUS (MAL), HRT (ESP), VIRGIN (ENG)

Cosworth (All)

0

426*

*Can’t win title.

There are 86 points still available

FERNANDO ALONSO made it back-to-back victories for Ferrari by winning last Sunday’s (26 September) Singapore Grand Prix around the Marina Bay Street Circuit. The Spaniard won the 61 lap night race in a time of 1:57:53.579 (97.822 mph). He also set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:47.976 (105.023 mph) lap. Alonso led every lap of the race, and because he started from pole-position, he completed his first ever Grand Slam. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel chased Alonso hard for the entire race, finishing just 0.293 seconds behind the Ferrari. World Championship leader Mark Webber (Red Bull) finished third, thus extending his points lead.

He’s happy isn’t he?

The start saw Alonso move across the track to block any chance Vettel had of passing him into the first corner. Reigning Champion Jenson Button traded places with his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton, and having started last, Felipe Massa (Ferrari) came into the pits at the end of the lap in order to get his pit stop out of the way.

On the third lap the Safety Car was deployed so as the rescue crew could fetch Vitantonio Liuzzi’s Force India by the infamous Turn 10. He had collided with the Sauber of Nick Heidfeld who was starting his first race since Abu Dhabi 2009. Several drivers took this as their opportunity to pit, including Mark Webber. But when the race got back up to speed at the end of lap five the Australian found himself down in 11th behind Timo Glock’s Virgin, which he passed with ease later on in the lap.

Webber continued to climb up the order, passing Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber and Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes.

The next high profile action came at the end of lap 28. Lewis Hamilton pitted and Webber went though, leaving the 2008 World Champion down in eighth place.

Next time around both Alonso and Vettel pitted. Both pit crews were flawless, as was Alonso’s get away. But Vettel was in the wrong gear and almost didn’t get away at all, losing vital ground on the man he had been chasing all night.

The SC was back out on track on lap 32 after Kobayashi ended his race in the wall at Turn 18. He was then joined in the barrier by the HRT of Bruno Senna, who was going so fast he would probably have hit the wall anyway.

The race was back on at the end of lap 35 with Alonso still leading followed by: Vettel, Webber and Hamilton. But Webber had both Virgin cars in his way, and as he was lapping them Hamilton got close enough to be able to pull alongside and ahead of him on Raffles Boulevard. But on the entry to the Nicoll Highway left-hander, Webber (who was on the inside) hit Hamilton’s McLaren and broke it’s suspension. The Englishman limped into the run-off area at Turn 8 and retired from his third race in four. 😦

I was livid with Webber when I saw this happen live, but having seen it again and again, I now realise that it was a very 50/50 incident.

On lap 54 Robert Kubica (Renault) passed Massa having already seen off his team-mate Vitaly Petrov. Kubica would soon go on to pass Adrian Sutil’s Force India and Nico Hülkenberg’s Williams. For you see, he had pitted later than these drivers who had older and more worn out tyres than him, so he had a huge grip advantage.

While I’m on this group of drivers, you may have seen Sutil finish in eighth place, in front of Hülkenberg and Massa. But it was Massa who took eighth place after the results had been classified. Sutil was given a 20 seconds penalty for illegally gaining an advantage at Nicoll Highway on the first lap, and Hülkenberg was also given a 20 seconds penalty for gaining and advantage illegally after Force India complained. I thought you didn’t get time penalties for stuff that happened on lap one?

The drama was not over yet however. With just one lap to go, Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus’s Cosworth engine burst into flames. The Finn decided it would be a bad idea to bring the car into the pits, so he parked it on the start finish straight by the pit wall. He then jumped out of the car (as you would) and bravely tackled the blaze with a fire extinguisher handed to him by someone on the pit wall.

Singaporean cuisine is harmful to Finns...Official!

Alonso and Vettel avoided this last obstacle, and the former took his 25th Grand Prix victory. This now puts him ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio (24 wins) and level with Jim Clark and Niki Lauda. The only drivers who have won more Grand Prixs than these three are: Sir Jackie Stewart (27), Nigel Mansell (31), Ayrton Senna (41), Alain Prost (51) and Michael Schumacher (91).

The next race is the Japanese Grand Prix on the weekend of the 8-9-10 October at the legendary Suzuka circuit. Will you be getting up to watch it live? I will.

DRIVERS’ STANDINGS (15/19 GPs)

Pos

Driver

Constructor(s)

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

202

2

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

191

11

3

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

182

20

4

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

181

21

5

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

177

25

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

128

74

7

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

122

80

8

Robert KUBICA (POL)

Renault

114

88

9

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

47

155*

10

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

46

156*

*Can’t win title.

There are 100 points still available

CONSTRUCTORS’ STANDINGS (15/19 GPs)

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

383

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

359

24

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

319

64

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

168

215*

5

RENAULT (FRA)

Renault

133

250*

6

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

60

323*

7

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

56

327*

8

SAUBER (SUI)

Ferrari

27

356*

9

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

10

373*

Yet to Score

LOTUS (MAL), HRT (ESP), VIRGIN (ENG)

Cosworth (All)

0

383*

*Can’t win title.

There are 172 points still available

Alonso gives Ferrari their first Italian Grand Prix win since 2006.

FERNANDO ALONSO won last Sunday’s (12 September) Italian Grand Prix at the legendary high-speed Monza circuit, giving the Ferrari Tifosi the win they wanted. The Spaniard won the 53 lap event in a time of 1:16:24.572 (149.651 mph). The reigning World Champion, Jenson Button (McLaren) came home in second place just under three seconds behind Alonso, whose Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa finished third just behind Button. Alonso also set the fastest lap of the race with a lap time of 1:24.139 (154.031 mph). This was the first Hat-Trick (a driver taking: pole position, fastest lap and the win) of the season.

Alonso lost his pole advantage at the start. He got a bad getaway and Button took the lead going into the first chicane – the Variante del Rettifilo. Alonso struck the back wing of Button’s McLaren causing a piece of it to fly off, affecting his aerodynamics for the rest of the race. Mark Webber (Red Bull) lost many places due being too cautious at the first corner. However, championship leader Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) had the worst start of anybody (apart from Kobayashi (Sauber) whose gearbox broke). Hamilton got a flying start and was up into fourth place when he tried to dive up Massa’s inside at the Variante della Roggia. But Massa didn’t realise he was there and the two cars banged wheels. Hamilton’s steering arm was broken as a result, and his race ended in the gravel trap at the next corner (the First Lesmo). This crash was Hamilton’s bad. He should have pulled out and tried to get a run on Massa later in the lap.

Button, Alonso and Massa led the way at the end of lap one and began to pull away to form their own race within a race. Mark Webber overtook Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) into the Rettifilo chicane but the seven-times World Champion came back at him through the Curva Grande. Webber had the inside line however for the Roggia chicane and kept the place.

The cars continued to pound their way around the track without much drama until lap 21. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) was heard screaming over his radio about his engine losing power. This allowed his team-mate Webber to pass him. To add insult to injury, Vettel’s Renault engine soon burst into life again and he was back on the pace.

McLaren decided to bring Button into pit on the end of lap 36. Ferrari then pitted Alonso on the next lap. As the Ferrari driver exited the pits, Button was charging down the front straight. But to the delight of the Tifosi it was Alonso who made it into the first corner first. Sakon Yamamoto (HRT) had to take evasive action so as not to block the pair. I can’t help but wonder if he wasn’t in front of Button when he was gunning it down the straight, the McLaren may just have beaten the Ferrari to the Rettifilo. Anyway, Massa pitted soon afterwards and exited the pits in third, right behind Alonso and Button.

While all this was going on, Nico Hülkenberg (Williams) was making life a challenge for some of the other drivers. When he exited the pits after his stop he came back on track right in front of Robert Kubica’s Renault. The Polish driver had to brake hard and lost enough speed to allow Mark Webber to pass him as they went around the Curva Grande. Later on in the race, Webber became angry with young Hülkenberg for continually cutting the chicanes, but the Stewards didn’t take any action against the Williams driver. Justice was done in my opinion on lap 50, when Webber finally past Hülkenberg.

Learning from what Sauber did with Kobayashi in Valencia, Red Bull didn’t pit Vettel until the very last lap of the race in order to gain track position. This worked out brilliantly for the Austrian team, as the German exited the pits ahead of: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Webber, Hülkenberg and Kubica to gain 12 vital points for finishing fourth.

But it was Alonso who took the full 25 points for the race win. I don’t like seeing a Ferrari win at all, and at Monza is even worse, but Alonso stuck with Button all the way to the pit stops and deserved his win this time.

This was also Alonso’s 24th Grand Prix victory. He is now equal eight on the all-time list of Grand Prix wins with the legendary five-times Champion Juan Manuel Fangio.

We now jet off to Singapore for F1’s third night race. Nick Heidfeld will take part in his first race of the 2010 season, having replaced Pedro de la Rosa at his old team, Sauber.

DRIVERS’ STANDINGS (14/19 GPs)

Pos

Driver

Constructor(s)

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

187

2

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

182

5

3

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

166

21

4

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

165

22

5

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

163

24

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

124

63

7

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

112

75

8

Robert KUBICA (POL)

Renault

108

79

9

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

46

141*

10

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

45

142*

 *Can’t win title.

There are 125 points still available 

CONSTRUCTORS’ STANDINGS (14/19 GPs)

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

350

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

347

3

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

290

60

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

158

192

5

RENAULT (FRA)

Renault

127

223*

6

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

58

292*

7

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

47

303*

8

SAUBER (SUI)

Ferrari

27

323*

9

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

10

340*

Yet to Score

LOTUS (MAL), HRT (ESP), VIRGIN (ENG)

Cosworth (All)

0

350*

 *Can’t win title.

There are 215 points still available

Alonso’s first win since Bahrain this year, and most controversial since Singapore 2008.

FERNANDO ALONSO of Ferrari took his second win of the season at last Sunday’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. The 2005 and 2006 World Champion won the 67 lap event in a time of 1:27:38.684, at an average speed of 130.367 mph. However he only won the race because Ferrari ordered his team-mate Felipe Massa to move out of his way, just as they had done to Rubens Barrichello in Austria in 2002 (Barrichello was ordered to move over on the last lap and let Michael Schumacher win). Massa ended up finishing second – a year to the day after nearly being killed in Hungary – and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (who was one of six Germans in the race) came home in third. Vettel also set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:15.824 (134.934 mph) tour.

Vettel started the race from pole, but when the lights went out he immediately moved across the track and tried to squeeze Alonso into the pit wall. This gave Massa (who started third) a clear run into the first corner and took the lead. Alonso stood up to Vettel and snuck through on the inside meaning that the Ferraris were first and second. On the run down to the best overtaking place on the track – the turn four ‘Hairpin’ – Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) passed Mark Webber (Red Bull) to take fourth place. Nearer the back of the field both of the Toro Rosso’s made contact. Jamie Alguersuari broke too late and knocked off Sébastien Buemi’s rear wing, causing him to retired. Oops!

The top five of: Massa, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton and Webber began to pull away from sixth place man Jenson Button (McLaren) and at the end of lap 12 Vettel made his pit stop. He came back out in sixth place and more importantly, into clean air. The rest of the leaders came in soon afterwards giving Button the lead, with the only real looser being Mark Webber who came out in traffic.

Lap 16 saw Alonso try and pass Massa at the Hairpin but the Brazilian held his position. Alonso’s next big move came on lap 21 when he and Massa were lapping backmarkers. One got in the way of Massa on the exit of turn three and Alonso got into Massa’s slipstream as they tore down the straight before the Hairpin. Alonso pulled out from behind Massa and got about a quarter of a car length ahead. But Massa had the better entry position for the corner and kept the place again. Alonso almost had the pair off when he had a look on the entry to turn five but correctly decided not to risk a massive crash. While all this was going on Sebastian Vettel was right behind the two Ferraris and worrying Alonso. A few laps later Button pitted and Massa led from Alonso and Vettel.

The race chugged along for the next 25 laps or so, as the watching millions wondered when Alonso would try and make his move on Massa.

Then on lap 48, Formula 1 was taken back to a time that I personally wish to forget. Felipe Massa’s loyal race engineer Rob Smedley told Massa: “Fernando, is, faster, than, you. Can you confirm you understood that message?” Smedley sounded like he was talking and holding back rage at the same time. Those who knew what Ferrari did in the past knew what was about to come next.

Sure enough, on the very next lap as they exited the Hairpin, Massa slowed down and Alonso blew past him and into the lead. On the next lap the watching millions heard Smedley again talk to Massa, but this time to simply tell his driver and friend: “OK mate good lad, stick with him now…sorry.

The race continued, with the only real incident being Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber) and Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus) making contact with each other and the Finn retiring as a result.

On the podium it was very clear to see that Massa was fuming as he stood next to Alonso (who as you can see from the above picture had a smile a mile wide). Ferrari team boss, Stefano Domenicali, brought both drivers back out onto the podium for a group hug in front of the press. This only just rubbed it in. It was like they didn’t even care.

By making Massa give way to Alonso Ferrari broke the rules. Article 39.1 states that: “Team orders that directly affect the result of the race are prohibited.” They were fined $100,000 and will face the World Motor Sport Council later in the year to face charges of manipulating the outcome of a race…again.

Cheated – Rubens Barr… (sorry) Felipe Massa (right).

In my opinion, Ferrari have gotten off too lightly. It was because of their actions in Austria and America in 2002 that Article 39.1 was brought in to the rules, banning team orders that affect the outcome of a race like this. Even my mum (a casual F1 fan) said after the race that: “They spoil it when they do that.

My dad (lifelong F1 fan) said that Ferrari should be banned for three races for bringing the sport into disrepute again. This would see them miss: Hungary, Belgium and worst of all for them, Italy.

I wouldn’t be that harsh, but what I would have done is leave the race result alone but take away the points scored by Alonso and Massa.

What would you have done?

PS: I know Hungary qualifying is tomorrow but I just haven’t wanted to write this blog because I felt so reluctant to watch any highlights of it because of what Ferrari did.

DRIVERS’ STANDINGS (11/19 GPs)

Pos

Driver

Constructor(s)

Points

1

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

157

2

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

143

3

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

136

4

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

136

5

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

123

6

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

94

7

Robert KUBICA (POL)

Renault

89

8

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

85

9

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

38

10

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

35

CONSTRUCTORS’ STANDINGS (11/19 GPs)

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

1

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

300

2

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

272

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

208

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

132

5

RENAULT (FRA)

Renault

96

6

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

47

7

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

31

8

SAUBER (SUI)

Ferrari

15

9

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

10

Fernando Alonso with his 22nd winners trophy. He is now equal 10th on the all time list with Damon Hill

FERNANDO ALONSO won today’s Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa, with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton coming home in third. World Champion Jenson Button came in seventh.

Vettel’s Red Bull led from pole into the first corner, where Alonso passed Massa for second. Confusion reigned behind them as Mark Webber’s Red Bull blew a cloud of excess oil into the path of the cars following him, sending Robert Kubica (now at Renault) spinning into Adrian Sutil’s Force India.

It was a race weekend to forget for most of the new teams and drivers. Hispania’s Chandhok crashed after just one lap, Virgin Racing’s Lucas di Grassi’s gearbox let him down a lap later and both of the Saubers went out with hydraulic problems. Petrov (Renault) damaged his suspension; the gearbox in Timo Glock’s Virgin Racing VR-01 broke on lap 17 and Bruno Senna’s Hispania’s hydraulics failed on the next lap. But both Lotuses made it to the finish (15th & 17th), as did Nico Hülkenberg in his Williams (14th).

It was going well for Vettel for the majority of the race. He was keeping both Ferraris behind him and seemed to be heading for the win. But on lap 33 he lost power due what was thought to be a cracked exhaust (later identified as spark plug faliure) and both Alonso and Massa passed him easily, Hamilton following a few laps later. But Vettel hung onto fourth keeping Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes at bay. Further back Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) had a pretty uneventful race in sixth until the Button vs. Webber fight caught him, but he managed to stay just in front of them in his first race since Brazil ’06.

In the end Alonso won the 49 lap race with a total race time of 1h:39m:20.396 (115.744mph). He was just over 16 seconds ahead of Massa, with Hamilton 23 seconds behind him. Alonso also set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:58.287 (119.120mph) tour.

McLaren have a bit of improving to do for the next race in Australia (March 26-27-28), where I’m sure we’ll have a much better race. Bruno’s F1 career has started out much the same as his uncle’s. Ayrton Senna retired from the 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix on lap 8 with turbo problems, so Bruno actually lasted longer in his first race. 🙂  

Drivers’ Standings

  1. Alonso 25pts
  2. Massa 18pts
  3. Hamilton 15pts
  4. Vettel 12pts
  5. Rosberg 10pts
  6. Schumacher 8pts
  7. Button 6pts
  8. Webber 4pts
  9. Liuzzi 2pts
  10. Barrichello 1pt

 

Constructors’ Standings

  1. Ferrari 43pts
  2. McLaren 21pts
  3. Mercedes 18pts
  4. Red Bull 16pts
  5. Force India 2pts
  6. Williams 1pt