Thursday, August 30, 2007

Alonso on top at Monza

Fernando Alonso signalled his intent as he joined the second day of testing this week at the Monza circuit and finished fastest overall, despite only running in the afternoon. Alonso took over from Lewis Hamilton and went 0.3s faster. BMW's Nick Heidfeld was third fastest.

The weather was generally good at Monza, apart from a brief, light shower mid-afternoon. There were few disruptions to the day's testing, Mark Webber causing one in the morning when his Red Bull ground to a halt on track and at lunch time when Sato's Super Aguri stopped on track. Jarno Trulli finished fourth fastest for Toyota, showing more encouraging pace for the Japanese car manufacturer's chances at the Italian Grand Prix next week. Kimi Raikkonen was only fifth, 0.6s off Alonso's pace.Renault, Toro Rosso, Williams, Honda and Spyker were also in action today and testing continues at the Monza circuit tomorrow.


1. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:23.155

2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:23.454

3. Nick Heidfeld BMW 1:23.725

4. Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:23.759

5. Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:23.773

6. Heikki Kovalainen Renault 1:24.093

7. Sebastian Vettel Toro Rosso 1:24.266

8. Alexander Wurz Williams 1:24.356

9. Christian Klien Honda 1:24.595

10. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:24.701

11. Takuma Sato Super Aguri 1:24.976

12. Adrian Sutil Spyker 1:25.278

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dennis fears title win could be tainted

McLaren boss Ron Dennis fears that any world title success for his team at the end of the season will be tainted if it is not exonerated by the appeal court hearing into the spying saga next month.The Woking-based squad heads in to the final five races of the campaign with a healthy points lead over Ferrari in both championship races as it looks to end its eight year title drought. But Dennis believes any win could be damaged if the verdict goes against McLaren when the International Court of Appeal meets on September 13 to hear further information from Ferrari. "We are in Formula 1 to win," Dennis was quoted as saying in the British press on Tuesday."But the most important thing is not just winning, it is how we win. "I do not know what twists and turns are going to take place in the court of appeal."If we do not come out of that court of appeal with an unblemished reputation then the results of this season will be tainted. "Confidential Ferrari technical documents were found in McLaren's suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan's home, but the FIA World Motor Sport council ruled that McLaren shouldn't be punished as there wasn't enough evidence to suggest it had benefited from the data. Ferrari, through the Italian motor sport federation, appealed against the decision, with McLaren insisting there was no need for a second hearing. Dennis is now hopeful that the original decision will be upheld."I know the truth and the truth is that McLaren as a company are not involved in this matter," he said."And I just do not want to find through some process that our reputation is damaged."The rumours and spin that I have heard about this matter just leave me amazed."

Hamilton fastest again at midday of day 2

Lewis Hamilton continued to dominate the test at Monza this lunchtime, by clocking the morning's fastest time, a 1m23.454s, almost three tenths faster than his nearest challenger, Nick Heidfeld in the BMW. The Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen lay third at midday, with Heikki Kovalainen in the Renault winding up in fourth.Elsewhere down the field, Spyker gave their B-spec F8-VII its debut test at the hands of Adrian Sutil, with the German completing a fastest lap of 1m25.765s. After missing yesterday's test, Sutil completed 39 laps, as well as beating the Williams of Alex Wurz into last place.

1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:23.454, 49 laps

2. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:23.725, 49 laps

3. Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) - 1:23.773, 23 laps

4. Heikki Kovalainen (Renault) - 1:24.093, 40 laps

5. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) - 1:24.655, 38 laps

6. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:24.940, 39 laps

7. Takuma Sato (Super Aguri-Honda) - 1:24.976, 40 laps

8. Christian Klien (Honda) - 1:25.346, 41 laps

9. Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) - 1:25.484, 43 laps

10. Adrian Sutil (Spyker-Ferrari) - 1:25.765, 39 laps

11. Alexander Wurz (Williams-Toyota) - 1:25.964, 39 laps

Power struggles at Ferrari

Jean Todt is not usually very helpful to the Formula 1 media, unless he needs their help to make a point he wishes to be made. On Sunday in Istanbul he used his post-race media chat to let the world know tha the is "not prepared to retire". Todt says that he is still very motivated and says that he hopes that he can continue "or a few more years". He went on to make the point that he is 15 years younger than Bernie Ecclestone. The big question is why Todt felt the need for such a revelation. Last autumn Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo said that Todt would be "interim" managing director for the Ferrari F1 team and that a new generation would be moving up but there has been no sign of that this year with Todt at all the races. There remains a question mark over what is to happen with Ross Brawn. He was technical director of the team but stood down this year for a sabbatical. It has long been speculated that he would return to Maranello as the head of the sporting department. That could still happen with Todt in the chief role with the car company and Brawn incharge of the racing but Todt's comments suggest that he wants the racing hat as well. And that would mean that Brawn would not be able to take the role. He says he has no interest in returning in his former position."We are just discussing about his options, our options," said Todt."Maybe we will find some common point, maybe we will not find some common point. He has been doing a tremendous work at Ferrari and Ferrari have given him a lot. So our partnership has been good for him and good for Ferrari."Or to pout it another way, Ferrari owes Brawn nothing.

Dernie moves to Toyota

Aerodynamics specialist Frank Dernie will join the Toyota F1 team with immediate effect the Toyota team announced today. Dernie will become the team's sernior advisor on the aerodynamic and chassis-related matters.

Frank Dernie worked in Formula 1 until January 1st with the Williams Formula 1 team but was without a contract this season.At Toyota Dernie will add his considerable expertise to the continuous improvement of this year's TF107 car, as well as the development of the TF108, under the leadership of Senior General Manager Chassis Pascal Vasselon. Toyota's Executive Vice President Yoshiaki Kinoshita said: "We are delighted to welcome Frank to the team. He has a tremendous amount of experience in Formula 1 and, as we are a relatively young team, this will help us move closer to our goals. We are continually striving to improve and I am sure Frank will make a positive contribution."

Kimi looks on the bright side

Kimi Raikkonen was back on track at Monza for the first of the three days' testing on Tuesdasy. In between the action, the Finn found time to reflect on the Turkish Grand Prix.

"I went to Turkey hoping that I could reduce the gap to the leader and that is what happened," Raikkonen said. "Honestly, I thought reducing the gap by four points would have been possible if everything had gone perfectly well. But that wasn't the case, in one way or the other the gap came down by four points. That was the best thing at the weekend. After every race I get asked how the championships will proceed and my answer is always the same: we have to wait until the last race in Brazil to be able to say for sure, because anything can happen.""The most important thing was that the team gained as many points as possible, so there was no point in taking unnecessary risks," he added. "Anyway, we have reduced the gap: that is what we wanted, but just like in Budapest my race was quite boring. Thinking about what could have been done in a different way doesn't change anything. I made a mistake in my last attempt in Q3 and I paid the consequences. I hope that next time we will have a perfect weekend."

BMW still pushing 2007 car development

Despite it's 41-point lead over fourth-placed Renault in the constructors' championship, the BMW Sauber F1 team is still pushing the development of its 2007 car, according to technical director Willy Rampf.

"Quite obviously, our current car is subjected to ongoing improvement," Rampf revealed. "Despite our good championship position, we will have new developments for the forthcoming races. Monza is a low-downforce track while Spa requires medium downforce. At the same time, we also will have new components for the final rounds of the season." "Last year's race at Monza went surprisingly well for us," he added. "Therefore, we expect to again be rather competitive, there. And Spa is similar to Montreal or Indianapolis, when it comes to the downforce. At these venues, we have been successful in the past. Furthermore, Spa is a very challenging track for the drivers and this certainly will suit us well, too."

Renault makes discoveries at Monza

Renault got its development programme under way again today on the Monza circuit in the north of Italy. While the priority was to prepare for the next two races on European soil, in particular the Italian GP, the team concentrated on the 2008 electronic set-up on its first day of testing.

Nelson Piquet at the wheel of the R27 went out without any driver aids to provide the team with his initial impressions. He did several runs - generally long ones - and concentrated on setting up the car in this configuration. The data recorded will be analysed by the team this evening, and again when it gets back to the factory in the framework of its 2008 project development programme. "The car was not really different; it was just a bit less predictable and slightly trickier to drive as it is less forgiving!" exclaimed Piquet Jr. "It's difficult to be consistent as the laps unfold but I think I got to grips with it fairly quickly. We've revised the braking load to adapt the car to 2008, and we concentrated on setting it up in this configuration. I think we've done a good day's work today with a lot of laps covered." Christian Silk, chief test engineer commented, "It was really heavy today at Monza. Our programme went off with any hitches, and we've recorded interesting data on our first day's testing in 2008 configuration. The car was reliable and the new on-board electronic systems worked without any problems so we managed to cover a lot of laps. In the late afternoon we began our preparation for next week's race as we're afraid that track conditions will disimprove from tomorrow onwards."

Hamilton sets opening pace at Monza

Lewis Hamilton recovered from his Turkish Grand Prix drama to clock the fastest time on the opening day of testing this week at Monza as almost all the teams started work on the low-downforce configurations they will run at the Italian Grand Prix in a fortnight.

Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest, just over 0.1s behind Hamilton and BMW's Nick Heidfeld was less than 0.02s behind the leading Ferrari. Jarno Trulli gave Toyota some hope by going fourth fastest. Williams, Toro Rosso, Renault, Honda, Red Bull and Super Aguri were all in action today on a relatively uneventful session. The weather remained good until late in the afternoon when rain began to fall. Testing continues tomorrow.

Briatore would love to have Alonso back

Flavio Briatore says he would love to have Fernando Alonso back behind the wheel of a Renault car as speculation continues to cast doubt over the reigning champion's desire to see out his current contract at McLaren.

"I can't deny that I think Fernando is great, but he has a contract with McLaren," Briatore told the Spanish Marca newspaper. "He is a very special driver and we had a great relationship at Renault that was always transparent. Although he signed for McLaren we remain friends.""Of course I'd love to have him in the team, I think everyone would want to have him because he is exceptional," Briatore added. Renault has yet to confirm its drivers for 2008 but is expected to make some kind of announcement mid-September when an option on current driver Giancarlo Fisichella has to be taken or released.

Spyker surprised with bankruptcy stories

Spyker Cars N.V. has reacted with surprise to reports of bankruptcy claims being filed against the Dutch car manufacturer. A Dutch newspaper reported this morning that two companies had filed for bankruptcy against Spyker. But speaking to a spokesperson said the company itself has not received any information regarding a file for bankruptcy.

A Spyker Cars spokeswoman told "I have no idea where these reports came from this morning. Insurance company Zürich was mentioned as someone we owe money. We have an issue with them that we are talking about as they came with an invoice that was higher than expected but as I said we still talk to them about it and I'm sure we will come with a solution. And regarding this individual person that claims we own him money we have no idea who that person would be." The news about Spyker Cars seems to come out of nowhere. But it does come at a very bad time. The manufacturer's Formula 1 team is struggling at the back of the grid and had to delay it's latest B-Spec car in Turkey. The team is currently testing at Monza with the new car and will enjoy its debut in two weeks at the same Italian track.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Kovalainen hopes to stick with Renault

Heikki Kovalainen is in his first year in Formula 1. The Finn faced a difficult start of his career with an uncompetitive Renault F1 car, but halfway into the season he found the pace and is now scoring points on a regular basis. Kovalainen's contract ends at the end of the season, but he hopes the team will extend his contract with another year.

Kovalainen did well in Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix. He scored three points for the team, which moved him ahead of teammate Giancarlo Fisichella in the championship standings. "We all have our sights set high and experiencing a weekend at the sharp end was brilliant," said Kovalainen about his race weekend. "There is no doubt that Renault are one of the strongest teams in the championship and I am sure we will be back next year. The car will definitely be competitive again and I would love to be part of it," he furthermore said in his BBC column. "The team are due to make a decision about my future around the Monza weekend in September. I've seen the rumours linking Alonso with a move back here, but I have not talked with anyone about that. I just know that this team will be up there again next year and I think we could achieve good things together so I will wait for their decision."

Dutch companies file for Spyker bankruptcy?

At the court in Maastricht, The Netherlands two parties have filed a bankruptcy claim against Spyker Cars N.V. according to a Dutch newspaper. One of the parties that filed bankruptcy for Spyker is insurance company Zürich and the other party is named as an indivudual. They have been trying to claim over 300,000 euros from Spyker.

According to Spyker founder Victor Muller there is nothing to worry about. He told Dutch newspaper AD: "We are having discussions with Zürich about the insurance premium. I am sure we can solve this with them, but we won't let them pressure us with these kinds of actions. Bankruptcies are filed hundreds of times a day." Spyker Cars is currently investigating how it could split its Formula 1 company 'Spyker F1' from its car manufacturer company. It has been said Michiel Mol is one of the possible buyers of the team.

Todt praise for Hamilton

Ferrari team principal Jean Todt has come out again in support of Lewis Hamilton saying he felt the McLaren driver was unlucky to have a tyre problem, but still lucky to finish fifth and salvage four points.

"Lewis did a fantastic race. After what happened he was quite lucky to bring four points home but when you look at what he has done this season he is doing a great job," Todt said. "He was even quite successful when he had a problem today. It can happen to us, and it is part of racing." Looking back at the Turkish Grand Prix weekend, Todt admitted that good qualifying is vital, so does getting pole position carry too much importance? Should the rules be changed? "That is why it is very important and difficult to achieve. It is very difficult to change. We already know that it will be difficult. We know it is better to be in the front. It is such a high level of competition but everything must be perfect if you want to achieve it. I don't see what can be done at the moment to improve the situation."

Dennis warns McLaren will fight back in Italy

McLaren team boss Ron Dennis did not seem too upset after Alonso finished third, behind the two Ferraris and a tyre failure for Hamilton meant the championship leader could do no better than fifth. Dennis suggested that had Hamilton not suffered the tyre failure, he could have at least given Raikkonen a run for his money in the closing stages of the Grand Prix.

"There was a failure at the wrong time," Dennis said. "We had five laps more of fuel than Ferrari and we stood a real chance of catching them in the last stop. Temepratures in the right-front tyre wall were high for everyone, unfortunately we had the failure on the tyre." "Good to get points for fifth and Fernando did a good job to get third," he added. "We knew this was a circuit we might be a bit weaker on, but we'll definitely be a lot stronger in Italy."

Lauda tells Alonso

Triple champion Niki Lauda has told Fernando Alonso to stop complaining about McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton and concentrate on driving if he wants to keep his Formula One title.The Spaniard, seven points behind Hamilton going into Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix, has been unhappy with his treatment at McLaren and feels unrewarded for what he has brought to the championship- leading team.

"Instead of complaining, moaning and bitching, which is what Alonso is doing at the moment, all he needs to do is concentrate on driving quicker," Lauda told /BBC Radio/ Five Live from Istanbul.

"He is using all kinds of excuses. He should have done this after the second or third race of the season after he realised how quick Hamilton is. He didn't do that.

"My worry is if he continues to find the reasons somewhere else, and not in his right foot, he will lose out because Hamilton is doing a perfect job, simply concentrating on his driving and he's quick. It's what Alonso should do.

"Hamilton, 22, has made an astonishing impact this season with three wins from his first 11 races and 10 appearances on the podium.Former McLaren driver Martin Brundle, now a commentator for British /ITV/ television, also criticised Alonso in the /Sunday Times/ newspaper for getting "annoyed like a spoilt child".

"The Spaniard has to stop moaning and get on with it," the Briton wrote.Lauda believes Hamilton could go on to emulate Michael Schumacher, the most successful driver in Formula One history.

"If he keeps on developing his experience and his speed he can certainly be better, might be better, than Schumacher but he is certainly on the right road because nobody has been so impressive coming into Formula One," he said.

Lauda, who was also a champion with McLaren, said that the rivalry between teammates was healthy for the sport."McLaren has the two most competitive drivers fighting each other like crazy to go quicker. All the politics before and after don't really count," he said.

"There is always mistrust between drivers in the same team."I had the same thing with (Alain) Prost in the old days when we were fighting the whole year and I won the championship by half a point," said the Austrian.

"You cannot trust your teammate."

Sepang to remain on calendar until 2015

Malaysia will continue to host a Formula One Grand Prix until 2015, following the signing of a new agreement between the country's Motorsport Comission and Formula One Management (FOM). Although it was announced four months ago that the race would continue, no official deal had actually been signed. But any doubts as to the race's future beyond 2010 have now been laid to rest after FOM, run by Bernie Ecclestone, and the race organisers, reached a formal deal.

"It is very pleasing to note that the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to Formula One, this will not only provide long term benefits to tourism," said Azman Yahya, the Malaysian Motorsports Comission's chairman.

"It will also help us in expanding the already substantial motor sport industry in line with the Government's objective of turning Malaysia into a regional hub for motorsport."

One possibility is that the race will be held at night in a bid to fuel Ecclestone's desire to see events held at times kinder to European TV viewers. That possibility had not existed in the previous agreement. The track chairman though, Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir, said that a huge lighting system, which had yet to be approved, would have to be installed to make this a reality.

"FIA has not told us about the specifications for the night race," he said. "They have engaged a company, which would be conducting a test in Paul Ricard Circuit in September."

Malaysia has held a Formula One race since 1999. Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver in the race's history with three wins

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Really good race for me : Heikki

The ING Renault F1 Team enjoyed a strong performance during the 2007 Turkish Grand Prix. After frustrating races at the European and Hungarian Grands Prix, the drivers demonstrated the worth of recent developments to the R27 by putting in consistent, competitive drives over the 58 lap distance. Both cars ran two-stop strategies, and ran longer than their rivals in the opening stint which allowed them to gain positions.By the chequered flag, Heikki Kovalainen had out-performed the BMW of Robert Kubica and was closing down the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton, while Giancarlo Fisichella put in a strong drive and would have scored points were it not for a first-corner incident that cost him time and track position. Nevertheless, the race marked a welcome return to form for the ING Renault F1 Team, and we will be hoping for further improvements in two weeks' time at the Italian Grand Prix.

"This was a really good race for me," Kovalainen said. "The start was quite exciting, as Heidfeld pushed me very wide on the run to the first corner, and I had to back off quite a lot. But I defended my position aggressively and once the tyres started working properly after a few laps, the car balance was stable and the pace was consistent. Both types of tyre worked well on our car today, although it felt a little more comfortable in the final laps on the softer one. The team did a great job with the pit-stops, and the strategy was spot on. Ever since Nürburgring when we introduced some new developments, we have been looking for the chance to prove they were a step forward, and I think this race has done that. Now, we need to get our heads down and try to make another step at Monza."

"My race was compromised by what happened at the first corner," Fisichella commented. "Jarno braked very suddenly in front of me, I had nowhere to go and ended up hitting him, which cost me positions and made him spin. That ruined his race, and I am sorry, but it also cost me the chance of finishing in the points. After that, it was tough: I just had to drive flat out, and hope for retirements. Unfortunately that didn't happen, but the pace of the car was not too bad."

BMW finished with both cars in the points

For the seventh time this season and the fifth time in a row the BMW Sauber F1 Team finished with both cars in the points. Nick Heidfeld was fourth in the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul and Robert Kubica eighth.

"I am very happy about this result, as the team did a fantastic job," said Heidfeld. "The race strategy, the tyre choice and the pit stops - everything worked perfectly. We made the most out of everything. The start especially was great fun. As the lights went out it wasn't so good, because I was on the dirty side, but then I was able to overtake the others on the outside. I was braking very late for turn one and, once again, I came very close to Fernando Alonso. Of course I dreamt I could keep him behind me over the distance, but we knew he would refuel later than me. After the stop he was in front of me and he was also faster. I pushed very hard for the whole race, and only in the very last laps I felt a little less pressure." Robert Kubica commented, "It was a very hard race and I just hadn't got enough speed. Also when I was lighter in the first stint I could not build up a big enough gap. Every time I pitted someone was overtaking me. I did not have enough speed throughout the whole race, and this also meant I was not able to overtake. I suppose my problems were a bit of everything and I just found the car difficult to drive." Team boss Mario Theissen added, "For our team it was a mixed result. For Nick our strategy worked. Without technical problems and without a slower car in front of him he was able to run his race as planned. For Robert we decided before qualifying to try a different strategy. We wanted to give him the chance with a short first stint and soft tyres to attack the front runners, but soon after qualifying we figured out, even with a lower fuel load, the expected times would not be possible. Beside that, in the race he was unlucky both times when he came out after his pit stops - the first time he was right behind Heikki Kovalainen and the second Nico Rosberg. Six points for our team is good."

Rosberg for 2 point

Williams team had a points-scoring finish to the Turkish GP in Istanbul today, with Nico Rosberg proving highly competitive in the tightly contested rivalry between BMW, Renault & Williams by finishing in 7th place and advancing his position in the driver's championship by two places. Strong racing and intelligent strategy saw Rosberg leapfrog the BMW of Kubica in his second pit stop. Alex Wurz climbed three positions from his grid slot with a solid run, but starting in P14 meant that he had little opportunity to promote his cause beyond his eventual finishing position of 11th.

"Before this weekend started, I didn't expect that we would finish the race in 7th, so I am very pleased - it was a great race," said Rosberg. "I am also very happy to have beaten Kubica in the BMW - I didn't expect him to pit before us and we beat him fair and square. Towards the end of the race it became more difficult, but the car handled pretty well and the tyre graining was there for a shorter time than I anticipated, so I could continue to push hard. It was great to win two points for both Championships and now I am looking forward to Monza, hoping that we can add to our points tally."Alex Wurz commented, "My start was good and I felt comfortable on my first set of tyres which allowed me to attack. After the first stop, however, it was really close because a lot of people who were on a one-stop strategy went past me and that obviously cost me a bit of time. Ninth may have been possible and so I was pushing from first to last lap, heat is never an issue for me, even if mentally it was a bit tough today. But my nature is always to push! Congratulations to Nico who really had a fantastic drive."Technical director Sam Michael added, "Nico had a good drive today and did everything right. He also had a good strategy which earned him a place, so we have gained a couple more useful points. Alex did the best job he could from his starting position on the grid and it was also good to have no problems on either car."

Don't worry, said Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton insisted his Turkish Grand Prix puncture was just a minor setback in the championship, that was to be expected. The McLaren driver saw his right-front tyre fail just before his second pit stop on the opposite side of the Istanbul circuit. He crept back to the pits and only lost two positions - eventually finishing fifth.

"It was a bit unfortunate but the team did a fantastic job all weekend," said Hamilton. "We had the pace of the Ferraris all race, but when you're behind them you lose aerodynamics and are just matching them. I saw some bits flying off the car and then I went into the gravel. I couldn't stop the car, so I had to try not to go too quick, but keep the car out of the barrier and on the track to get back to the pits." "It's just a little bit of a problem, you always have setbacks and we won the last race and we still have five races, so it's not over, don't worry," he insisted. Hamilton saw team mate Fernando Alonso pass him to finish on the podium and cut his championship lead down to five points.

Spaniard prayed for a miracle

Fernando Alonso revealed he was left praying for a miracle after he finally managed to clear both the BMWs which beat him off the line into the first corner of the Turkish Grand Prix. By that stage the Spaniard was 14 seconds behind team mate Hamilton and lapping at a similar pace in fourth.

"The start didn't go as we planned, to be overtaken by two cars and find yourself sixth in the first corner is not great and the race is a bit over at that time," Alonso said. "I was following Heidfeld for seventeen laps and it's very difficult to overtake - you need to wait for a mistake from the car in front of you, but Nick was very consistent, driving very well and I had to wait for his pit stop for the race to start." "I just managed my pace then and waited for a miracle which only happened with Hamilton's tyre problem," he added. "Then I just drove for the podium. It's the best result we could have got from the weekend."

From Pole to Win

Felipe Massa took a dominant fifth career win in the Turkish Grand Prix as he led home a Ferrari one-two with Kimi Raikkonen second. Fernando Alonso recovered from a poor start to take third place while a puncture relegated championship leader Lewis Hamilton to fifth.

The heat was definitely on at Istanbul Park as the four title contenders lined up in the first four places on the grid. Ferrari had the better start from the clean start of the grid, Massa keeping the lead as Raikkonen passed Hamilton on the run down to the first corner. McLaren's starting woe was compounded when both BMWs beat Alonso into the first corner. While qualifying promised so much, the first ten laps were anticlimactic as Massa and Raikkonen led and built a three-second lead over Hamilton. Kubica and Heidfeld ran their BMWs steadily fourth and fifth frustrating Fernando Alonso in sixth and costing him a second a lap on the Ferraris.

Alonso's frustration eased slightly on lap 12 when Kubica pitted from fourth but at the front Massa and Raikkonen were exchanging fastest laps as they squeezed the gap to Hamilton up to four seconds. Alonso had to wait until lap 17 for Heidfeld to pit and release him. He was due in on the next lap and put in personal best times in the first two sectors of his in-lap, making enough time to rejoin ahead of the BMW. In the meantime both Ferraris pitted, Raikkonen, then Massa - the Brazilian getting baulked by Kovalainen - the temporary race leader - as he rejoined the race. Of all the front runners Hamilton was the last man to pit, staying out until lap 20.

After the first round of pit stops Massa retained the lead from Raikkonen, Hamilton, Alonso, Heidfeld, Kovalainen and Kubica. And that's the way it stayed until the second round of pit stops when Kimi Raikonen had closed to within half-a-second of Felipe Massa's rear wing. Raikkonen was the first to blink, pitting from second place on lap 41, Massa from the lead on lap 42 and the Ferrari pair resumed the status quo - the Brazilian leading the Finn.

The race that promised so much drama, delivered a shocking moment on lap 43 when Lewis Hamilton's front-right tyre punctured in the mid-sector. The championship leader coaxed his car back to the pit lane but in that time, was passed by Alonso who pitted ahead of him. McLaren frantically replaced the tyres and refuelled Hamilton's car and sent him back on his way, rejoining the race in fifth, behind Alonso and Heidfeld.

Felipe Massa cruised home to take his fifth career victory ahead of team mate Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso third. Nick Heidfeld held onto fourth and Lewis Hamilton found just enough to save fifth place from Heikki Kovalainen by one second. Nico Rosberg drove another strong afternoon to claim two more points for Williams and Robert Kubica salvaging one final point for BMW after his early first pit stop.

Race Result:

1. F. Massa Ferrari 1:26:42.161

2. K. Räikkönen Ferrari + 2.275

3. F. Alonso McLaren + 26.181

4. N. Heidfeld BMW + 39.674

5. L. Hamilton McLaren + 45.085

6. H. Kovalainen Renault + 46.169

7. N. Rosberg Williams + 55.778

8. R. Kubica BMW + 56.707

9. G. Fisichella Renault + 59.491

10. D. Coulthard Red Bull + 1:11.009

11. A. Wurz Williams + 1:19.628

12. R. Schumacher Toyota + 1 laps

13. J. Button Honda + 1 laps

14. A. Davidson Super Aguri + 1 laps

15. V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 laps

16. J. Trulli Toyota + 1 laps

17. R. Barrichello Honda + 1 laps

18. T. Sato Super Aguri + 1 laps

19. S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 laps

20. S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 + 2 laps

21. A. Sutil Spyker F1 + 5 laps

Did not finish

22. M. Webber Red Bull + 49 laps

Fastest Laps : Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari : 1:27.295

Massa stole pole from Lewis

Felipe Massa stole pole position from Lewis Hamilton in the final moments of qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix by less than half a tenth of a second. In a thrilling climax to qualifying Kimi Raikkonen ended third ahead of Fernando Alonso.

Qualifying got underway in very hot and sunny conditions with air temperature 35 degrees Centigrade and the track 45 degrees. The heat wasn't on for very long for Liuzzi, Ralf Schumacher, Sato, Vettel, Sutil and Yamamoto as all six were knocked out in the first session. The second session claimed the scalps of Davidson, Webber, Coulthard, Barrichello, Button and Wurz. Massa set the early pace in the pole position shootout ahead of Raikkonen and Alonso, but there was still time for everyone to have one more flying lap. Pole switched between the leading drivers in the final moments but it was Massa who pulled it out of the bag taking pole from Lewis Hamilton by 0.044s. Kimi Raikkonen made a mistake in the final sector of his flying lap and slipped to third while Fernando Alonso couldn't improve his time and ended up in fourth. BMW lined up on row three with Kubica leading Heidfeld ahead of Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg, Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella rounding off the top ten.

Qualification Result:

1. F. Massa Ferrari 1:27.329

2. L. Hamilton McLaren 1:27.373

3. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:27.546

4. F. Alonso McLaren 1:27.574

5. R. Kubica BMW 1:27.722

6. N. Heidfeld BMW 1:28.037

7. H. Kovalainen Renault 1:28.491

8. N. Rosberg Williams 1:28.501

9. J. Trulli Toyota 1:28.740

10. G. Fisichella Renault 1:29.322

11. A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:28.002

12. M. Webber Red Bull 1:28.013

13. D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:28.100

14. R. Barrichello Honda 1:28.188

15. J. Button Honda 1:28.220

16. A. Wurz Williams 1:28.390

17. V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:28.798

18. R. Schumacher Toyota 1:28.809

19. T. Sato Super Aguri 1:28.953

20. S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:29.408

21. A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:29.861

22. S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 1:31.479

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Alonso a free agent for 2008?

Fernando Alonso, who is at daggers drawn with his McLaren co-driver Lewis Hamilton, has been told by boss Ron Dennis that he can leave McLaren at the end of the season, a report claimed on Tuesday. The double world champion's future is up in the air as his relationship with Hamilton broke down at the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend when he was penalised for his part in trying to prevent the Briton from starting in pole. The Times quoted what the paper described as a 'well-placed' source as confirming Alonso may quit the team two years ahead of schedule.

"My understanding is that he's been told he can go because they're so fed up with him. Ron is just very pissed off with both of them," the unnamed source said.

These comments follow Alonso's confirmation that his future at the British team was uncertain. The unsettled Spaniard, asked by sports daily Marca if he was planning to stay with McLaren, replied:

"I don't know."Two likely destinations for Alonso if he were to sever his ties with McLaren are Renault, with whom he won his two world titles, and BMW, who are yet to confirm Nick Heidfeld for 2008.

Ferrari want Lewis in 2008

ImageIt is being reported in the Italian sports daily, Tuttosport,that Ferrari wants to sign Lewis Hamilton.Tuttosport reported on Monday that Ferrari are prepared to offerHamilton US$35 million to defect in 2008.Apparently Ferrari feel that Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa havefailed to convince the team that they can fill the void left byMichael Schumacher.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Paris, 13 September 07

The FIA has set the date for the latest development in the F1 spy scandal - Ferrari's appeal against the World Motor Sport Council's ruling and the decision not to punish McLaren.

The International Court of Appeal will meet in Paris on Thursday 13 September and the FIA has invited members of all the teams participating in the championship to attend.

Spaniard to leave VMM ??

Fernando Alonso's future at McLaren has been cast in doubt following the weekend's events in Budapest. The qualifying embargo left the double-world champion not talking to Lewis Hamilton, according to the 22-year-old, whilst team principal Ron Dennis is nursing strained relations with both of them.

It is more than evident that McLaren is struggling to harbour two fiercely competitive championship contenders now that the team has a car capable of challenging for titles. Dennis' and McLaren's long-running philosophy of equality between team-mates is being tested to the limit and the word at the moment is that Alonso might be the one to leave - as early as at the end of the year.When quizzed by reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix about whether he would see out his contract - which expires at the end of 2009 - he replied: "I don't know." Then when asked if he would think about it he just repeated; "I don't know."The only reassurance Dennis could offer is that he hopes both drivers honour their contracts: "There is an inevitability that these things are rumoured and discussed in other teams. We have two drivers who are contracted for several years into the future. We will respect our part of that bargain and that part of the situation. We hope that the drivers respect theirs because that's what a contract is about."As for possible destinations for Alonso, the Spaniard has been linked to BMW Sauber, who is yet to confirm Nick Heidfeld for next season and might be keen to add the double-world champion in its attempt to bridge the gap to Ferrari and McLaren.

Moreover, Alonso has been linked to a return to Renault, where he enjoyed a strong working relationship and number-one status. Renault's engineering chief Pat Symonds did not rule out such a move when interviewed by F1 Racing magazine recently, saying: ""He is a damn good driver and we'd happily have him back. I'd love to think that one day he might come back." Team principal Flavio Briatore is also yet to confirm Renault's drivers for next season.

Grandstands at the Shanghai that were damaged

Grandstands at the Shanghai International Circuit that were damaged by a storm last Friday might not be repaired before the Chinese Grand Prix on 7 October.

No one was injured during the storm but gusts of wind around 140 kph damaged four grandstands at the 270,000 capacity venue, the Shanghai Daily reported."We may not repair the damaged stands this year as dismantling the seats, clearing debris and rebuilding work all require time," Wang Ying, deputy general manager of Shanghai Circuit, told Youth Daily a local newspaper."Even if we finish before the Chinese Grand Prix, we may still be short of time to carry out safety tests on the repair work."Shanghai Circuit denied the accusation that it used light-weight alloys on the grandstands, which would not have been able to withstand the storm. The company also re-assured ticket holders that those designated to the damaged stands will be offered seats in other parts of the track and grandstand prices - which range from US$100 to US$500 - will not go up.

Mansell has criticised

Former British Formula 1 world champion Nigel Mansell has criticised the McLaren team for letting its drivers go public with their problems. Mansell believes these things should've been kept internally.

"It's something for the team to deal with. It's not something for the public to be part of," Mansell told BBC Sport. "It's no different to what happened years ago but it's publicised more. I drove with Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg. They were all world champions and they are not going to be your best mates. "I just feel some of the things that are happening and the way certain things are being managed would have been managed far differently a few years ago and it is a great shame. Too much is said sometimes, but that seems to be the way of the world." Mansell furthermore said he doesn't understand why the FIA came in between the McLaren drivers on Saturday night. The FIA punished Alonso with a grid penalty and prevented the team from scoring any constructors' points in the race. "The thing I find extraordinary is that the powers that be are intervening. It's between two drivers from the same team and it shouldn't affect anyone else," he said. "If they want to cause problems between themselves, then it's surely up to them."

A lot of Tension

McLaren team boss Ron Dennis looked worn out as he left the Hungaroring after a trying weekend for his team. Before he left he did concede that there is a lot of tension within McLaren, as a result of the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

"There's a tremendous amount of tension in the team and that comes from two guys who are phenomenally competitive and are currently heading the world championship points and looking for every advantage they can get in a system that doesn't give that," Dennis said of the battle between Alonso and Hamilton. He went on to insist that McLaren would continue to give both drivers the same equal treatment, despite what either of them might think "There's frustration with both of them and sometimes mistrust and it's tough from us but we will not deviate away from equality, it's the foundation of the company," he insisted.

The Championships will not be won

Jean Todt says it is time that Ferrari gets its act together if it wants to win the championship. The team principal is satisfied that the Maranello-based outfit has all the necessary ingredients to be the best but has grown disgruntled at how the team wastes its potential.

"We have all we need - the team, the car and drivers - but we have not always been able to put them all together to the best effect," Todt said. "If we don't manage it, the championships will not be won."Todt is unwilling to see McLaren's points penalty (15 in the end) as a consolation and the team principal says that both Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa must now finish on the podium in every remaining race to have any chance of winning the championship. However the main priority, believes Todt, is to sort out Ferrari's poor qualifying form.

"A second and thirteenth place are a meagre reward for this weekend," Todt admitted. "There is a slight bitter taste at seeing how competitive we were in the race with Kimi, as it showed yet again that starting from the front is vital, especially at a track like the Hungaroring where overtaking is almost impossible."Of course, Felipe was even more heavily penalized because of the negative outcome of qualifying, given that he was constantly stuck in traffic. We knew this track would not suit us that well. Now we need to try and get both our drivers on the podium all the time to try and make up the gaps in both championships for the remaining third of the season."

The Brazilian drops to 21 points

Felipe Massa suffered a dismal Hungarian Grand Prix and was only able to better his starting position of 14th by one place. Massa rued having to overtake slower cars on a difficult track such as the Hungaroring, getting sucked into costly scraps with the likes of Takuma Sato's Super Aguri.

The Brazilian now drops to 21 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who lapped him during the race, but remains confident of turning things around in Turkey in three weeks time."It was a horrible race," Massa said. "There are no other words to describe it. At the start, I managed to pass some cars but at the exit to Turn 1, I lost position again. Then, at the next corner, I tried to pass Wurz but I ran wide and Sato also got past me. "At that point, any hopes I had just evaporated. I had a very heavy car and lost downforce every time I tried to close on other cars. "It's been a weekend to forget but I have not lost confidence. We know we have a good car and we must return to winning as soon as possible, starting in Turkey. We must not give up."

Qualifying incident 'unacceptable'

McLaren team boss Ron Dennis says his team's strategy of treating both drivers equally will not change despite the fact it has led to controversy several times this season, most recently at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"What happened on Saturday was really unacceptable," Dennis told ITV of the Hungarian qualifying incident. "We have very, very strong commitment to parity and it was one of those times when as hard as you try, and we do, there was a deviation from our plans and that put the team in an extremely difficult position which has cost us all our constructors' championship points in the event our appeal doesn't follow through." "That matter will be discussed on Monday," he added. "I don't think either driver was blameless in this situation and we could have been a bit more aggressive in handling the situation but that's not really my style. The truth is we're under phenomenal pressure in the last three minutes of qualifying and we time these things to very small margins and you only have to see that Fernando crossed the line with two seconds to go to get his final flying lap in which shows it wasn't a contrived approach, but pushing our system to the limits and sometimes you go over the limits."

Spyker new car

Spyker Formula One Team's Adrian Sutil put in a spirited drive in today's Hungarian Grand Prix to secure 17th position overall. Demonstrating the improved relative pace of the Spyker F8-VII, Adrian enjoyed a race long fight with the two Hondas to finish 3.6secs ahead of Barrichello.

"This race we showed we were quite competitive with the cars in front of us," said Sutil. "We could race Honda, which meant I really had to push and attack every single lap. We did keep them behind until the end, which is a little success with this old car. Let's see what we can do in Turkey now - we know we are much closer in races, so hopefully with a new car we can be even better."Sakon Yamamoto commented, "After the start I really pushed but suddenly I lost rear grip in turn 11 and spun and crashed. I just made a mistake so I am really disappointed with this result as I wanted to finish the race, but I will keep working hard and focus on the next Grand Prix, where we will have the new car."Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer added, "A good and bad race for us. Sakon made a mistake early on, which is a shame as he'd had a good weekend until that point. Adrian on the other hand had a very good race, showing we were able to match the speed and beat the works Hondas. For a team with our limited resources we can be quite proud of this. We know that the race pace is better than we show in Qualifying, so we must improve this area, but we can look forward to the updated car in Turkey where we can hopefully finish in front of some more people."

McLaren barred from Hungary podium

Just half an hour before the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix, race stewards issued a statement explaining that McLaren representatives would be banned from the podium if one of their drivers won the race.

The move came after McLaren officially appealed the stewards' decision to dock the team any constructors' championship points after yesterday's qualifying incident. The team have been provisionally given the points in the rankings pending the outcome of the appeal, due to be resolved before the next race in Turkey.

Nothing can stop us

Lewis Hamilton was delighted to win the Hungarian Grand Prix and put the qualifying fracas from yesterday behind him. He jumped for joy on the podium - very much reminiscent of how seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher used to. He was also particularly congratulatory to Nick Heidfeld, who just held off Fernando Alonso for third.

Hamilton revealed that it had been a hard race fending off the challenge from Kimi Raikkonen but he is convinced that the result shows that the team is not going to be brought down by the weekend's events."It's been an eventful weekend and quite emotional for all the team," Hamilton admitted in the press conference. "You can imagine with all the drama that has happened over the weekend - it's been a massive downer. It would be easy to lose focus but the great thing is the team remains positive and it just proves that nothing can stop us. Obviously I know how to win races - I've experienced Kimi on my tail before. But nevertheless it has been a hard race."The 22-year-old now moves seven points clear of Alonso in the standings

Hamilton Win Hungarian GP

Lewis Hamilton took a lights-to-flag victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and BMW's Nick Heidfeld. Fernando Alonso recovered from his grid penalty to finish fourth but the spectre of McLaren's appeal in the constructors' championship and the fall-out from the qualifying drama will hang over the sport for the rest of the season.

Lewis Hamilton makes a strong start as Heidfeld struggles on the dirty side of the track allowing Raikkonen up to second. Rosberg maintained fourth ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Kubica got ahead of Alonso on the run down to the first corner. As Hamilton pulled away from Raikkonen in the lead, Alonso was struggling and slipped down to eighth in the final corner. The reigning champion regrouped and next lap round blasted past Webber for seventh down the inside of turn one - although he had already slipped nine seconds behind Hamilton who continued to extend his lead. Alonso was on a mission though and it was just one lap further before he had lined up and passed Kubica into turn one for sixth place. He could make no more progress and was stuck behind Ralf Schumacher's Toyota until he pitted on lap 17 along with Heidfeld and Rosberg, the first frontrunners to refuel. Hamilton and Raikkonen went two laps further before making their stops. The race order then stabilised with Hamilton leading Raikkonen, Heidfeld, Rosberg and Kubica getting ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Alonso during the pit stops. Hamilton was coming under increased pressure from Kimi Raikkonen, just a second separating them on lap 29. There was no change until the second pit stops when Alonso finally managed to clear Ralf Schumacher for sixth. At the front Hamilton continued to lead Raikkonen and Heidfeld. After Heidfeld, Rosberg and Kubica made their third and final pit stops of the afternoon Alonso was up to third, just 0.5s behind Heidfeld with 12 laps remaining. That's the way it stayed until the chequered flag. Hamilton took his third F1 victory ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Nick Heidfeld kept Fernando Alonso at bay to take third place from the reigning champion. Robert Kubica recovered to fifth ahead of Ralf Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and Heikki Kovalainen.

Race Result:

1. L. Hamilton McLaren 1:35:52.991

2. K. Räikkönen Ferrari + 0.715

3. N. Heidfeld BMW + 43.129

4. F. Alonso McLaren + 44.858

5. R. Kubica BMW + 47.616

6. R. Schumacher Toyota + 50.669

7. N. Rosberg Williams + 59.139

8. H. Kovalainen Renault + 1:08.104

9. M. Webber Red Bull + 1:16.331

10. J. Trulli Toyota + 1 laps

11. D. Coulthard Red Bull + 1 laps

12. G. Fisichella Renault + 1 laps

13. F. Massa Ferrari + 1 laps

14. A. Wurz Williams + 1 laps

15. T. Sato Super Aguri + 1 laps

16. S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 laps

17. A. Sutil Spyker F1 + 2 laps

18. R. Barrichello Honda + 2 laps

Did not finish

19. V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 27 laps

20. A. Davidson Super Aguri + 29 laps

21. J. Button Honda + 35 laps

22. S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 + 65 laps

Fastest Lap : Raikkonen Ferrari : 1:20,047 Lap 70

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Dennis: Hold up is Hamilton's fault

Ron Dennis has blamed Lewis Hamilton for the pit-lane fracas that ended with the FIA deciding to investigate Fernando Alonso's holding up of the 22-year-old. The team principal revealed that it was Hamilton in the first place who actually disobeyed team orders during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Dennis claims that Hamilton was supposed to let Alonso past on track at the start of Q3 because it was the Spaniard's turn to benefit from "the longer fuel burn".

"They were out of sequence because Lewis should have slowed and let Fernando past," Dennis explained to reporters after qualifying. "But he didn't, he charged off. That's how we got out of sequence."He further explained: "We have various procedures within the team and prior to practice we determine how it is going to be run, what our strategy is, and how that's going to be enacted on the circuit."In this instance, it was Fernando's time to get the advantage of the longer fuel burn. The arrangement was, OK, we're down at the end of the pitlane, we reverse positions in the first lap. That didn't occur as arranged. That was somewhat disappointing and caused some tensions on the pitwall."So this really started from that position, and from our drivers not swapping position to get the right fuel burn in order to arrive at the point where we cut the end result to the end."With regards to why Alonso then seemed to cynically wait in the pits with Hamilton needing to fuel quickly to get in a final flying lap, Dennis purported that it is the engineer's decision when the driver leaves.

He said: "He was being counted down by his engineer. He's under the control of that engineer. He (the engineer) determined when he (Alonso) goes. That's the sequence and if you think that was a deliberate thing, then you can think what you want. I have given you exactly what happened." Dennis added that Hamilton will just have to live with the sequence of affairs and accept McLaren's way of doing things.He added: "Obviously Lewis feels more uncomfortable with the situation than Fernando. That's life, that's the way it is, and if he feels too hot to talk about it then that's the way it is."

More Q2 success for Super Aguri

Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson once again made it through to the second session for today's qualifying at the Hungaroring. Takuma Sato's chances were foiled by a long visit to the weighbridge during Q1, however the pair will start the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix in 15th and 19th positions tomorrow.

Takuma Sato said: "It was a tough Qualifying. We planned to do three runs. The first one was to check the car from the practice because I wasn't really happy with the balance, so we wanted to check the car with the prime tyre. I then got called to the weighbridge, which took an unusually long time because when I had to go back into position to fire up the marshals put me in the wrong position, so I had to back up again. So we then lost the opportunity to go for the first planned option tyre run, so I only had one opportunity in the end with the proper Qualifying fuel on board. It was a decent lap, but then unfortunately it was quite gusty and the wind upset the balance of the car and I had a massive wash out and ran wide. Hopefully though the car is performing well and so I hope that we can have a good race tomorrow."

Anthony Davidson commented: "It was a very good day. I feel that I got the best out of the car and with the engineering team I feel that we managed to find a good Qualifying set-up, which is obviously vital around this circuit. The car had a nice balance all the way round and I was comfortably through to Q2 and looking forward to improving my position in the second session. Unfortunately I could only match the time that I set at the end of Q1 and 15th was the most the car had in it today, so I'm happy with our performance."

Tricky qualifying for Renault

Renault F1 struggled in today's qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix and its drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen will have to start from eighth and 12th in tomorrow's race. Whilst Fisichella was lucky to make it into Q3, his Finnish team-mate was left scratching his head why his preferred tyre compound did not bring him the feeling in the car he expected.

Giancarlo Fisichella said: "I was caught up in traffic and that made things really difficult. I lost a lot of time and I just managed to squeeze though into Q 2. Things then improved and I had a good lap setting a competitive time to make it into Q 3. The car handled well throughout the session and I think we've got every reason to be optimistic for tomorrow's race. It won't be easy so we're going to have to have an aggressive strategy."

Heikki Kovalainen commented: "It was a very disappointing qualifying session. I still don't really understand what happened. Everything went fine in Q 1 and then we put on the super soft compound for Q2 before going back to hard tyres on which I'd felt more comfortable at the start of the session. It seemed a logical decision. But unfortunately, I couldn't find the same feeling: the car wasn't the same and now we have to work to find out why so we can defend our chances tomorrow."

Massa start from 14th

Felipe Massa suffered a comedy of errors in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix and will have to start down in 14th position. Massa failed dismally to get through Q2 after the Ferrari crew forgot to put fuel in his car. The Brazilian realised before exiting the pits and stopped to be pushed back and refuelled. Eventually Massa rejoined the track but claimed cold tyres were the reason for not making the top ten.

"What happened in Q2 is very frustrating," Massa said. "I made a mistake at the final corner on my first run, but then, when I came back to the pits, there was a misunderstanding over refuelling and they let me go without fuel. That's why I stopped and had to be pushed back to our area by the mechanics. "I went back out again, but the tyres were very cold and I was not able to do a time good enough to stay in the top ten. Tomorrow, I expect a very difficult race, as this is one of the worst places to start from a long way back. Massa is particularly ruing his qualifying considering that the Hungaroring is a very difficult track to pass, making grid position vitally important.He added: "I will try and do my best and to get the car home as high up the order as possible. From what we have seen today, I don't think I could have been on the front row, but third place would have been a realistic target. Now we have to look at ways of using strategy to improve our situation. It's a shame starting this far back given that the car has a very good race pace."

Stewards investigate

Stewards of the Hungarian Grand Prix are to investigate Fernando Alonso's holding up of McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the pits during qualifying for tomorrow's race. The FIA summoned Ron Dennis after qualifying to call into question the affair and will now examine the team's radio communication.

At the end of Q3, the McLaren pair entered the pits before one final run - Alonso ahead of Hamilton. Alonso seemed free to go but waited, holding Hamilton up. The Spaniard eventually set off but Hamilton had lost too much time and was unable to beat the chequered flag for one last flying lap to defend his provisional pole. Meanwhile, Alonso beat Hamilton's fastest lap to take pole.In a heated press conference after the race, Alonso blamed the team whilst Hamilton appeared fuming under his cool exterior saying: "Not much to say there. You saw what happened."Last season, a similar incident happened at qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix where Michael Schumacher parked his car at Rascasse, blocking anyone from going faster. Ironically it was a fuming Alonso who was held up then. Schumacher was consequently penalised by the FIA and sent to the back of the grid.

Controversial pole for Alonso

Fernando Alonso stole a controversial pole position from Lewis Hamilton at the Hungaroring this afternoon after he appeared to block his McLaren team-mate from completing a final flying lap. This allowed the Spaniard to take pole ahead of his team mate and Nick Heidfeld in third.

Under sunny skies and hot conditions the first qualifying session got underway. Lewis Hamilton set the early pace with a 1m19.570s to finish clear of the rest of the field while Button, Barrichello, Sato, Vettel, Sutil and Yamamoto all dropped out. In the second session Massa suffered a technical problem as he tried to leave the pits and his Ferrari just ground to a halt. Mechanics sprinted down to the stricken car and quickly hauled it back to the garage. The team got the Brazilian back out on track with just three minutes remaining, but something still wasn't right and he could only manage a lowly fourteenth, dropping out with Coulthard, Kovalainen, Wurz, Davidson and Liuzzi. Lewis Hamilton set the early pace in the final pole shoot-out on a 1m19.781s lap but there was quite some drama to come. For the final run, Alonso came in ahead of Hamilton - the British driver waiting behind him. The mechanics lifted Alonso's lollipop, but the reigning champion did not respond. He stood his ground in the pits, holding Hamilton up for several seconds while the McLaren pit wall waved furiously at him. The net effect was Hamilton could not get out in time to complete another flying lap while Alonso went through to take pole by just over 0.1s. McLaren boss Ron Dennis was furious at the end of the session, collaring Alonso's personal trainer and marching him back to the team's motorhome. With the fallout to await, Alonso took pole ahead of Hamilton and Heidfeld in third. Kimi Raikkonen couldn't manage better than fourth for Ferrari while Nico Rosberg was a strong fifth for Williams. Ralf Schumacher took sixth ahead of Kubica, Fisichella, Trulli and Webber.


1. F. Alonso McLaren 1:19.674

2. L. Hamilton McLaren 1:19.781

3. N. Heidfeld BMW 1:20.259

4. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:20.410

5. N. Rosberg Williams 1:20.632

6. R. Schumacher Toyota 1:20.714

7. R. Kubica BMW 1:20.876

8. G. Fisichella Renault 1:21.079

9. J. Trulli Toyota 1:21.206

10. M. Webber Red Bull 1:21.256

11. D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:20.718

12. H. Kovalainen Renault 1:20.779

13. A. Wurz Williams 1:20.865

14. F. Massa Ferrari 1:21.021

15. A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:21.127

16. V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:21.993

17. J. Button Honda 1:21.737

18. R. Barrichello Honda 1:21.877

19. T. Sato Super Aguri 1:22.143

20. S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:22.177

21. A. Sutil Spyker F1 1:22.737

22. S. Yamamoto Spyker F1 1:23.774

Free Practice III

Felipe Massa finished the last practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix as the quickest driver for Ferrari with a 1:20.183s. Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton of McLaren were around two tenths behind in second and third. Nick Heidfeld muscled out the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen to come fourth fastest.

Nico Rosberg of Williams was sixth ahead of the Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher. Red Bull's Mark Webber and Alex Wurz completed the top ten in the warm and dry conditions. The first half was mostly uneventful with several drivers still struggling to find the optimum set-up on the slippery track - Adrian Sutil, Jarno Trulli and Heidfeld all having off moments as Kubica complained of tyre graining again over the radio, saying there was "no grip". Hamilton was fastest with a high 1:20 but only just to Raikkonen and Alonso, who still needed to find a tenth of a second to match the young Brit. The Finn duly did and went top by a mere 0.023s. With 20 minutes remaining the McLaren drivers showed that the track conditions were improving - Alonso with a 1:20.414s and Hamilton with a 1:20.576s. The anonymous Massa took this on board to carve out a low 1:20 and clear the McLaren pair. The Toyotas were beating the BMW Saubers to best of the rest with Schumacher and Trulli anchored around the 1:21 mark in fifth and sixth - Kubica was particularly struggling with grip still and down in 13th. Sakon Yamamoto deserves mentioning at this point for having set a very respectable 1:24.062s and was just two tenths slower than Adrian Sutil after the same amount of laps. The last five minutes however prompted a mass exodus. Heidfeld jumped ahead of Raikkonen for fourth but Kubica seemed to be struggling to get into the 1:20s unlike most of the top ten.


1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:20.183

2. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:20.414 +0.231

3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:20.461 +0.278

4. Nick Heidfeld BMW 1:20.565 +0.382

5. Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:20.741 +0.558

6. Nico Rosberg Williams 1:20.868 +0.685

7. Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:20.878 +0.695

8. Ralf Schumacher Toyota 1:20.933 +0.750

9. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:21.220 +1.037

10. Alexander Wurz Williams 1:21.323 +1.140

11. Anthony Davidson Super Aguri 1:21.501 +1.318

12. Robert Kubica BMW 1:21.652 +1.469

13. Heikki Kovalainen Renault 1:21.666 +1.483

14. David Coulthard Red Bull 1:21.752 +1.569

15. Takuma Sato Super Aguri 1:21.839 +1.656

16. Vitantonio Liuzzi STR 1:21.909 +1.726

17. Giancarlo Fisichella Renault 1:22.131 +1.948

18. Jenson Button Honda 1:22.202 +2.019

19. Sebastian Vettel STR 1:22.394 +2.211

20. Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:22.596 +2.413

21. Adrian Sutil Spyker 1:23.560 +3.377

22. Sakon Yamamoto Spyker 1:24.062 +3.879

Friday, August 3, 2007

Free Practice II

Alonso went fastest in the second Friday practice session in Budapest this afternoon with a best of 1:20.919s. The Spaniard was over three tenths of a second quicker than surprise second-fastest Heikki Kovalainen in the Renault. Lewis Hamilton was third and over four tenths adrift of his McLaren team-mate's time.

Free Practice II Result:

1. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:20.919

2. Heikki Kovalainen Renault 1:21.283 +0.364

3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:21.338 +0.419

4. Nico Rosberg Williams 1:21.485 +0.566

5. Nick Heidfeld BMW 1:21.517 +0.598

6. Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:21.589 +0.670

7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:21.620 +0.701

8. Giancarlo Fisichella Renault 1:21.698 +0.779

9. Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:21.857 +0.938

10. Robert Kubica BMW 1:21.906 +0.987

11. Ralf Schumacher Toyota 1:21.912 +0.993

12. Alexander Wurz Williams 1:21.987 +1.068

13. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:22.325 +1.406

14. David Coulthard Red Bull 1:22.483 +1.564

15. Anthony Davidson Super Aguri 1:22.510 +1.591

16. Jenson Button Honda 1:22.550 +1.631

17. Takuma Sato Super Aguri 1:22.556 +1.637

18. Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:22.727 +1.808

19. Vitantonio Liuzzi STR 1:23.136 +2.217

20. Sebastian Vettel STR 1:23.148 +2.229

21. Adrian Sutil Spyker 1:23.673 +2.754

22. Sakon Yamamoto Spyker 1:26.307 +5.388