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Archive for October, 2008

Lewis Hamilton has taken a dominant win at the Shanghai International Circuit. It’s his fifth win of the season for McLaren, but not enough to take the championship as his rival, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, finished in second place. Robert Kubica secured sixth place, but it wasn’t enough to keep him in the running for the title in Brazil.

The race started with little drama as Hamilton led from the start, with Kimi Raikkonen unable to take him at the first corner. Heikki Kovalainen took Fernando Alonso for fourth, only to lose the place again down the back straight. Jarno Trulli and Sebastian Bourdais made contact at the first corner and fell to the back of the grid. Trulli eventually retired, as did Adrian Sutil who had gearbox problems. Hamilton pulled away at the front, and despite his speed, Raikkonen was unable to catch him. The Finn gave up second to Massa, so he could take two cruical extra points. Heikki Kovalainen also retired after a puncture ruined his race.

Hamilton’s win puts him seven points ahead going into the championship showdown at Interlagos. Ferrari’s second and third places increased their lead in the constructors battle to 11 points.

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Ferrari have threatened to pull out of Formula 1 if the plan to standardise engines after 2009 goes ahead. They are the second team to make such a threat after Toyota warned the standard engines would leave the manufacturers with little interest in the sport.

A statement released by Ferrari said “The Ferrari Board of Directors expressed strong concerns regarding plans to standardise engines as it felt that such a move would detract from the entire raison of a sport with which Ferrari has been involved continuously since 1950 … The Board of Directors expressed the opinion that should these key elements be diminished, it would have to re-evaluate, with its partners the viability of continuing its presence in the sport.”

Despite this, FIA president, Max Mosley, appears to be going ahead with the engine homogenization, inviting any intrested parties to submit a tender to supply engines and/or transmission by November 7th. FOTA have confirmed none of the six manufactuers currently taking part in F1 (Toyota, Ferrari, Honda, Renault, Mercedes and BMW) will submit a tender.

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Lewis Hamilton continued his pace from the morning into Free Practice Two ahead of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, setting the fastest lap, a 1:35.750, on his first attempt. He was 0.2 seconds faster than his former teammate and Japanese Grand Prix winner, Fernando Alonso, who finished second for Renault.

Nelson Piquet Jr rounded up an excellent session for Renault, setting the third fastest time of the afternoon. Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber put further distance between the main championship rivals, with Felipe Massa in sixth and Robert Kubica way down the order in twelfth. Kimi Raikkonen couldn’t improve on eighth place, behind the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso of Sebstien Bourdais. Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg and Timo Glock all sat in the middle with roughly the same time, and Heikki Kovalainen only managed to put his McLaren in thirteenth, ahead of David Coulthard, Sebastian Vettel, Kazuki Nakajima, Giancarlo Fisichella, Adrian Sutil, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.

Lewis Hamilton has dominated Friday action, but can his pace continue into Saturday?

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Lewis Hamilton has started his crucial Chinese Grand Prix weekend by setting the fastest time on Friday’s first practice session. His McLaren lapped a 1:35.630, beating his main title rival, Felipe Massa, to first by three tenths of a second.

Ferrari and McLaren laid down their authority in Free Practice One, with Kimi Raikkonen third for the Italian team and Heikki Kovalainen taking up fourth. Robert Kubica, also in the hunt for the title, and Fernando Alonso, who could play a decisive role in the last two races, finished in fifth and sixth. Nick Heidfeld finished with Sebastien Bourdais behind and beating his teammate, Sebsatian Vettel, who completed the session in tenth. Nelson Piquet Jr sat in ninth after making an eerily similar diversion as Hamilton last year, and running into the gravel at the pit lane entrance. Jenson Button has always been strong at Shanghai, and placed his Honda in twelfth. After the disappointing result at his home race last week, Kazkuki Nakajima starts his weekend in thirteenth. The Red Bull’s sat in eleventh and fourteenth ahead of Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock, Rubens Barrichello, Jarno Trulli, Adrain Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella.

McLaren and Ferrari dominated FP1, but can the best-of-the-rest teams brake through during the second practice session?

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The French motorsport federation have announced today that they will withdraw next years French Grand Prix from the 2009 championship for financial reasons, despite being included on the official calendar to hold round eight from June 26th to 28th.

In an earlier statement, the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile (FFSA) announced “After examining the economic situation, the FFSA renounces to be the financial promoters of a Formula One Grand Prix.” With no other race promoters available, this is likely to spell the end of F1 racing at the Magny-Cours circuit in France, which has been under threat of removal since 2007. The French Grand Prix has been an event in every Formula One championship, excluding 1955, and the race has been held at Magny-Cours since 1991. Whether the FFSA are considering hosting the French race at a new venue in the years following 2009 has yet to be announced.

This leaves next years calendar with just 17 events after the removal of the Canadian Grand Prix last week.

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Sebastien Bourdais has had 25 seconds added to his Japanese Grand Prix finishing time after making contact with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on lap 52. The penalty demotes him to 10th place, after finishing the race in sixth, meaning he looses three world championship points.

The incident occurred as Bourdais was leaving the pit lane. He entered the first turn at the same time as Massa, who was setting fastest laps to try and get past his rivals in the pits at the time. The French driver tried to get out of the Ferrari’s way, but the two made contact and Massa spun round, losing the time he had made up in the previous laps.

Crucially, this gives Massa an extra point in the race, which decreases Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead to five points. Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld also benefit from the decision, promoted to sixth, eighth and ninth.

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Fernando Alonso has won the Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji Speedway on a day when the championship closed up for in preparation for an epic conclusion. Alonso was gifted second after the cars in front of him ran wide at the first corner and took race leader, Robert Kubica, at the first round of pit stops to win his second race in a row.

At the race start, Kimi Raikkonen immediately took Lewis Hamilton and started to pull away down the main strait. Hamilton made a desperate attempt to regain the lead at turn one and went strait on, braking heavily, and forcing the Raikkonen wide along with Heikki Kovalainen and Felipe Massa, who were just behind him. This allowed Alonso through, but he was also affected by Hamilton’s manoeuvre and Kubica got past and into the lead. David Coulthard’s rear suspension broke after making contact at the start and he went head-on into a wall. Massa got past Hamilton and on the second lap Hamilton tried to pass his main rival but was spun by the Brazilian, and fell to last place. Hamilton was given a drive-through penalty for his actions at the start whilst Massa was given a drive-through for spinning the McLaren and both championship rivals found themselves at the back.

Raikkonen made his way back through the field and climbed to fourth behind Robert Kubica, who was just managing to keep ahead of Alonso and Kovalainen. Alonso easily got past at the first round of pit stops, though, and took the lead while Kovalainen sufferd an engine failure and retired. After his second stop, Alonso was comfortably leading and a battle emerged for second between Kubica, Raikkonen and Nelson Piquet Jr. Meanwhile, Massa was the fastest man on track and chasing down points, but he spun after contact with Sebastien Bourdais, and when his rivals rejoined, he could only fight his way back to eighth for one point. Kubica hung on to second ahead of Raikkonen, Piquet, Jarno Trulli, Bourdais, Sebastian Vettel and Massa.

This shrinks Hamilton’s lead from Massa in the championship to 6 points, while Kubica catches up with his second place and is now 12 points behind the Brit. Despite third place, this race sees the end of the reigning world champion’s title hopes. Ferrari take back the lead in the constructors’ championship from McLaren.

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