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Posts Tagged ‘Ferrari’

Kimi Raikkonen in Ferrari F60 at Bahrain

The four day tests at Jerez and Bahrain concluded on Friday, with the Bahrain running resumed after a two day sandstorm, and all teams starting to set some competitive lap times. In Spain, Sebastian Bourdais set a 1:17.472 in his 2008 car, whilst Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso battled it out for the fastest time in an ’09 car.

It was McLaren and Hamilton that came out on top, again by a small margin, but not quite as small as the previous day. His 1:19.632 was two tenths of a second faster than the R29’s best time. Alonso did a lot of work in the Renault and said afterwards: “Overall, we have to be very happy as we managed to do lots of laps and the car responded well to the set-up changes we made, so I think we’ve found some good solutions. Every day the driveability of the car is improving and although we still have a lot of work to do before the start of the season, we are definitely moving in the right direction.” Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber were having their own battle for third place. Rosberg put his Williams ahead by two tenths after Webber’s RB5 stopped out on track and brought out the red flags. Kazuki Nakajima was also out for Williams but, despite completing 34 laps, he failed to set a time, by driving through the pit lane on each attempt.

Meanwhile, Ferrari, BMW and Toyota were back in action at Bahrain, after being forced to sit out for two long days. Kimi Raikkonen posted a 1:33.325 in the F60. Of the days running, he said: “I immediately had a good feeling although it’s still too early to say where we are compared to our competitors. The car is improving and there are no especially critical areas. We used the KERS also today and I’m happy with how it works, apart from some minor childhood disease.” Jarno Trulli was out for Toyota and just a tenth down on Kimi’s time, whilst BMW’s Christian Klien was a further couple of tenths behind. Another four day test at Bahrain kicks off this Monday.

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Felipe Massa in Bahrain during sandstorm

The four day test in Jerez and Bahrain continued on Wednesday as, to nobodies surprise, Sebastien Buemi took to the top of the time sheets in his 2008 Toro Rosso at Jerez as he completed a full race simulation, whilst Heikki Kovalainen improved the pace from the previous day, and set the fastest time in an ’09 car.

Mark Webber took over from Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull and was just over half a second behind the McLaren in his first appearance in an F1 car after breaking his leg. Of the days testing he had this to say: “I’m very relieved of course. It has been a tough few months for me, but I’ve had good people around me and the team have been fantastic as well. There were a lot of questions asked going into today, but I answered some questions for myself and it turned out to be okay.” Nelson Piquet Jr once again sat at the bottom of the times, behind Williams and Kazuki Nakajima, who had taken over from Nico Hulkenburg and did the most running of anyone in a 2009 racer.

Meanwhile in Bahrain an unexpeted sandstorm severly reduced testing in the desert, where teams had headed to avoid bad weather, albeit rain, in the first place. Felipe Massa was fastest, but was only able to complete 14 laps. Robert Kubica and Timo Glock were out for BMW and Toyota, but all three now have some catching up to do.

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Ferrari F60 at Launch in Mugello

Ferrari became the first to reveal their 2009 challenger, after launching the Ferrari F60 on Monday. The launch took place at Mugello, having been moved from Ferrari’s test track at Firoano due to poor weather conditions. The F60 is the first of the new generation of F1 cars launched, featuring a radically different design to last year as required by the 2009 FIA technical regulations designed to make racing more exciting.

Both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were present at the launch, with the 2008 runner-up taking the F60 for it’s first few laps of Mugello. Team principle Stefano Domenicali said the season will be “stimulating from all points of view” and that the drivers will play a much bigger role in their success. He was quick to play down expectations of Ferrari though, saying their project for the upcoming season is very complicated and their aim is to stay among the top teams, citing McLaren, BMW and Renualt as their rivals. Technical director Aldo Costa spoke of the shift of development from 08 to 09 saying: “It’s a completely new car, starting from a white piece of paper. Fundamentally the biggest changes come from the new rules from an aerodynamic point of view and the introduction of new technology, which is the KERS system. Because of that we had to start work pretty early and to review the main concept of the car, so it was a very very intense and long job.” Massa has said that his last-lap failure to win the championship has only made him “more eager to win”, whilst Raikkonen said he has put 2008 behind him, and is heading into this season confidently and with the aim of winning a second world title.

Another change comes in the pattern of which Ferrari’s cars are named, with the title ‘F60’ adopted in recognition of the 60 years the Italian team have been competing for. Toyota are the next team to launch their new car, the TF109.

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Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil in VJM-01 at Hungaroring

Force India have dropped the Ferrari engines used by the team this year and by Spyker in 2007, in favour of Mercedes engines and a technical partnership with McLaren. As well as engines, they will also be using the same gearbox, KERS and other technical equipment used by the British team in 2009.

The scale of the deal looks like it will make Force India almost a McLaren B-team, much what was expected to happen to Prodrive, before the team decided not to enter the sport. The Indian outfit, however, will remain constructing their own chassis. Team owner, Dr. Vijay Mallya, has said “Force India Formula One team has been in existence for only one year, and inevitably our first season has constituted a learning period, but we said at the outset that we meant business and were not interested in merely making up the numbers.” Mallya also began to repeat similar predictions he made before the season began, saying the team will reach the podium for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011.

The announcement comes days after chief technical officer, Mike Gascoyne, and team principle, Colin Kolles, were dropped from Force India as Mallya restructured the team following a point-less season. This is the first time Mercedes will supply engines to a team other than McLaren.

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Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa in F2008 at Shanghai

Despite the heartbreak of Felipe Massa coming so close to becoming a champion and failing, Ferrari do have a reason to celebrate after winning their 16th constructors’ championship. With Massa finishing first and Kimi Raikkonen finishing third, the Italian squad easily clinched the title from McLaren by 21 points, despite BMW making it the closest constructors’ battle in recent years.

This is the teams second consecutive title since the downfall of Renault, and their eighth since 1999. The rest of their wins come from 1961, 1964, 1975-77, 1979 and 1982-83. Williams are the closest rival to Ferrari’s tally of 16, having won 9 titles.

A full list of constructors champions can be found here.

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Felipe Massa on Podium at Interlagos

Felipe Massa has won his home race, the Brazilian Grand Prix, after a flawless drive. Massa was also on course to win the 2008 F1 championship until Lewis Hamilton passed Timo Glock at the last corner of the race, and beat Massa to the title by one point, leaving emotional scenes on the podium for the local hero. Fernando Alonso finished second, as one of the most dramatic races in F1 history unfolded at Interlagos.

The race began with a sudden unexpected downpour of rain which caught everyone by surprise whilst the drivers were just getting ready to go off on the parade lap. The race start was delayed 10 minutes, and almost every driver switched to the wet tyres. Most of the pack got away cleanly at the start, with the front-runners staying in position (Massa first, Hamilton fourth). David Coulthard’s final F1 race came to an abrupt end after Nico Rosberg spun his Red Bull into the path of Kazuki Nakajima, ending their races. Nelson Piquet made it past the first two corners but also retired by the time his Renault got to turn 3. The safety car was deployed and Giancarlo Fisichella was the first to enter the pits for dry tyres, pushing his Force India right up to fifth place. Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso pitted on lap eight, Massa on lap nine, and Hamilton on lap ten. McLaren were waitng to see what Massa did but it was a bad move as Hamilton found himself seventh at the restart. The positions ahead of him were now occupied by Massa, Vettel, Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Fisichella and Jarno Trulli.

Trulli went wide at turn one and Hamilton got the better of him. The Toyota driver, after his second place start, now found himself in seventh. Hamilton then made a bold move on Fisichella and pulled it off, now back into the fifth place he required to take the championship. Vettel was putting as much pressure on Massa for the race lead as he could, but was forced to pit and Alonso was promoted to second, Raikkonen to third and Hamilton to fourth. Timo Glock was starting to put pressure on Hamilton’s fourth, but also pitted. Massa was next in and Ferrari fuelled him to the end of the race. The rest of the race leaders then pitted for the final fuel stint. Vettel then pitted for the third time and fell to fifth behind Hamilton. The championship looking likely to go Hamilton’s way now. That was until more rain was predicted.

5 laps to go and the first drops of rain begin to fall. Everyone comes in for wet tyres, with Hamilton only just ahead of Vettel but knowing he could let the German past, retain fifth, and win the championship. That was until Timo Glock decided to not pit and stay on the dry tyres. Glock moved up to fourth, and Hamilton left the pits in fifth with Vettel right behind him and lapping faster. The race order now Massa, Alonso, Raikkonen, Glock and Hamilton just hanging on to a championship winning position, with Vettel trying to get past and demote him to sixth, which would give Massa the title.

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Felipe Massa has taken pole position at his home race which will decide whether the championship goes in his favour or not. Jarno Trulli made a surprise in qualifying and will line up on the front row for the first time since 2005. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, will start the race from fourth on the grid. Massa’s pole lap of 1:12.368 was a full four tenths of a second faster than Trulli’s and a further one tenth better than Hamilton’s.

Kimi Raikkonen is also on hand to help Massa’s title bid in third place, with Hamilton’s teammate in fifth. Fernando Alonso proved to be best of the rest in sixth and both Toro Rosso’s again made it to Q3, with Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais lining up seventh and ninth for the race. Nick Heidfeld managed to slot in between the Toro Rosso’s and Timo Glock rounded up the top ten. Nelson Piquet Jr couldn’t quite make it into Q3 and will start from eleventh ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and BMW’s Robert Kubica. David Coulthard will start his final F1 race from fourteenth. Rubens Barrichello just scraped through to Q2 but could do no more and settled for fifteenth. Both Williams failed to get past the first qualifying session so Kazuki Nakajima, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil will start the race from the back of the grid.

Massa has done all he can to try and secure the championship, and with Trulli and Raikkonen behind him, he looks likely to take the win. The question is, can Hamilton make no mistakes under pressure and not fall behind fifth place? The 2008 Formula 1 championship will be wrapped up in the next 24 hours and everyone is on the edge of their seats. The sport is waiting to find it’s 30th drivers’ champion, and it could still go either way. It all comes down to the chequered flag in Interlagos tomorrow and there can only be one winner.

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