The F2007 is the fifty third single-seater built by Ferrari specifically to compete in the Formula 1 World Championship.
The project, known internally as the 658, represents the Scuderia's interpretation of the technical regulations that apply for 2007, wîth changes principally concerning safety, through the introduction of more stringent front and rear crash tests and the addition of a composite material structure to provide lateral protection to the sides of the driver. These modifications have led to a significant increase in the weight of the car, in the region of just under ten kilogrammes.
The F2007 chassis has been significantly modified when compared to the 248 F1. The design was revised to accommodate a new front suspension that represents a major conceptual innovation, mainly in terms of aerodynamics. The shape of the side-pods and their openings are also revised, based on modifications to the cooling system, which also implies exits for the radiators on the upper part of the bodywork, while the engine air intake is also substantially different. The car has a longer wheelbase than its predecessor. The rear of the car is much narrower, taking advantage of the more sculpted shape of the gearbox housing, which again this year is made from carbon fibre. The gearbox itself, which is still mounted longitudinally, is fitted wîth an innovative quick-shift system (seven plus reverse). The rear suspension is similar to that on the 248 F1, but a significant development programme is planned in this area, in order to get the most out of the system, based on making progress in understanding the behaviour of the 2007 tyres. The front and rear aerodynamic configuration is also expected to change considerably before the start of the World Championship. The position of the rear view mirrors seen on the 2006 car remains unchanged and the same goes for the exhaust system. In accordance wîth the regulations that come into force this year, the basic structure of the engine remains the same as the one homologated at the end of last season. Therefore, the 056 engine continues as a load bearing member and is again mounted longitudinally. Based on what is permitted in the regulations, the following modifications have been carried out to the engine signed off wîth the FIA in October 2006:
the combustion chamber, the valves, the inlet and exhaust chambers, all aimed at optimising the torque curve, given the engine rev limit of 19,000 rpm;
the piston, the piston pin and the piston cooling jets to aim for the best possible reliability when running at the limit of 19,000 rpm;
Engine : 2.4 L., 8-cylinder
the fluid systems (water and oil) and components to facilitate the integration of the 056 into the new car.
As usual, during the design and development phase of the complete car, the technical partners played an important role. A significant part was played by Shell in terms of fuel and lubricants, by the Fiat Research Centre in the use of simulation systems and by Brembo in developing the braking system. As is now traditional, a great deal of attention was paid to the performance and optimisation of the materials used, to the design stage and to quality control, striving to maximise the performance level and to ensure the highest possible standard of safety.
Aldo Costa, Head of the Chassis Department of the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, and Gilles Simon, Head of the Engine Department, started a series of meetings wîth the press on the day of the preview of the new F2007.
Aldo Costa: 'The methodology of the project and the development of the car has been under the sign of continuity. Last year we adopted an aggressive approach and this year we will work wîth the same rhythm in development as in 2006. This was our aim and we hit our target.
The aerodynamics have been completely remodelled; above all the front suspension, the air inlets on the main body and the rear axle are tighter and more tapered, to benefit also from the new architecture of the gear box. We worked a lot on the chassis considering the new crash tests, which are much more severe. With satisfaction we can say that we have reached excellent results in terms of safety. The suspension has been revised also under the aspect of new tyres, while the gear box has a new quick shift system, which will avert time loss during gear-changes. This system lowers the time of gear change, works for all gears and in every condition. We have also modified the disposition and the inclination of the radiator. As far as the rear suspension is concerned, it is continuing to evolve.
At the chassis department there are around 200 people working: an exceptional and enthusiastic group. They work wîth determination and respect; without a doubt producing great team work. Obviously I can't name everybody, but I have to mention Nikolas Tombazis, our Chief Designer; Tiziano Battistini, Head of the Technical Department, John Iley, Head of Aerodynamics, supported by Marco De Luca; Marco Fainello, Head of the Car Performance Division; Simone Resta, Head of the R&D Department and last but not least Davide Terletti, responsible for the crash tests.
Today's car is the one that will debut and has the same wings as the one in 2006. The car, which will go to start at the first GP, will have optimized wings, while this is just a provisional version. The F2007 is however definitive in its structure.
In constructing and developing this race car the FIAT research centre is of very high importance, as it gives us a huge amount of support. We have worked a lot wîth the simulator they developed over the last couple of years and we will continue on that road.'
Gilles Simon: 'As according to the rules the engine 056 has remained the same. But we were able to adapt it to the rev limits of 19,000 rpm. We have revised the combustion chamber, the valves, the crank shaft and the piston, to optimize the available output before arriving at the rpm limit. Further we have worked on the integration of the engine into the car: the water and oil inlets have been revised, as has the positioning of some accessories, to adjust to the very compact rear axle of the 658.
We have collaborated strongly wîth Shell, and we are continuing to work on the fuel development. As far as the fuels are concerned we have been continuously progressing. The lubricants have been helping us for a long time in terms of reliability, while from March onwards we also want to work on bettering the performance.
On the 1st March we will hand over a sealed engine, to which we can't do anything else. We will then try to work on the accessories, the air inlet and, as I just mentioned, the fuel and the lubricants.'Source - Ferrari
FERRARI'S F2007: 'Nothing's changed'
Ferrari effectively said to the world, 'What's the big deal?' Despite no Michael Schumacher, his ninety race wins, nor his seven driver's championships, the official car launch had the appearance of an informal meeting rather than a ceremony hosted by a team supposedly in transition. Ferrari's car launch on January 14th seemed to say loud and clear, 'Nothing's changed'. And yet, a lot has. Besides not seeing Michael Schumacher clad in a Ferrari red driver's suit, the low-key ceremony this past weekend at Ferrari's home base in Maranello was also void of something else—the car. Jean Todt, now overall CEO, introduced the F2007's specs and drivers Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. The car, in fact, did not debut to the public, sort of, until the next day at Ferrari's Fiorano track. The team did release some photos of the F2007 before the test and first impressions were that it was just the 248 of a year ago only now branded with a different identifier. However, upon further inspection, the new car's design boasts of many changes and refinements and is, in all practicality, a brand new machine. One of the interesting things about this year's Ferrari entrant is that it is rather void of some of the aerodynamic tweaks other teams seem to be jumping to employ on their cars. As an example, the F2007 maintains a center pillar design instead of abandoning the design in favor of a pillar-less design. The cascading front wing design, developed for the 248 last year and a variation of Renault's original concept, remains on the new car. The F2007 keeps the same mirror set-up as last year's where they are placed further out on the sidepod instead of nearer the cockpit. Also, this year's Ferrari employs the controversial rear-wheel aero shrouds that Ferrari claims aids in rear brake cooling and not aerodynamic efficiency. Finally, the F2007 retains the full width wing profile attached at the back of the engine cowling that has been in use now for the last few years. Of the things that changed, the Scuderia F2007's overall appearance is the biggest. In comparison with its predecessors, the F2007 is red, definitely red. With Vodafone gone and tobacco advertising under fire, the usual sponsorship branding is gone. Therefore, the Ferrari red really stands out. Marlboro does, however, remain on the car but in a much more subliminal way. As to the design changes on this year's F2007, they're found in the details. The overall length of the Ferrari's wheelbase has been increased over the 248. The front suspension has been refined much to the delight of Ferrari's engineers. Ferrari boasts that these changes to the front suspension could yield such great gains aerodynamically that it will be evaluated throughout the year to determine whether the same changes will be made to the rear suspension. The front wing is virtually unchanged from the 248's wing during the late stages of the 2006 season but is expected to be updated by the team arrives at Melbourne in March. The nose, however, has already been restyled. The barge boards and diffuser strakes have been refined to provide better airflow to the radiator and around the car. The radiator openings have been redesigned while the sidepods themselves have been reshaped providing gentler and more aerodynamic curves from the nose bulkhead on back. The sidepod flicks remain but are refined to help turn the air around the sidepod. The airbox above the driver's head has been reshaped and the cowling at the engine cowling's rear features a more shrink-wrapped design which helps the airflow exit past the rear wing. Some of the other notable features of the F2007 are the addition of cooling slots to help expel the heat produced by the V8 Ferrari engine and the re-designed chimney and T-wing arrangement. Ferrari has also opted to use the zero-keel design instead of its single-keel design. It is wondered, given struggles teams have had in the past, whether this move will allow Ferrari to capitalize on its advantage it believes it has, being a long-time Bridgestone partner. The keel design causes the wishbones to be raised and has caused other teams trouble when trying to maximize their tire's wear. Ferrari will also use its quick-shift system this year, something it abandoned last year citing its heavier weight and unreliability as the reasoning. So, while the new F2007 bears a strong resemblance to its predecessor it is quite new. The same goes for Ferrari on a whole. The team continues to forge its way ahead. Yet, this year is filled with questions despite the presence of Kimi and the up-and-coming Felipe Massa. In many ways this year's car represents Ferrari as a team. Many changes have been made. Some things have been added, others retired. The question is whether the changes will gel into a formidable force, both in the car and the team.By Jeremy McMullen
Australian Grand Prix - Resounding Victory for Kimi Raikkonen
Ferrari's new recruit Kimi Raikkonen scored a resounding debut victory in the 58 lap Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne on Sunday, beating Fernando Alonso's McLaren Mercedes by 7.2s after easing up the closing stages.
Starting from his 12th pole position, the Finn was only headed during pit stops, and admitted that his only problem was a radio failure before the race started, although after the race his team reported a slight water leak. Rivalling Raikkonen for the title of star of the show was Formula One rookie Lewis Hamilton who led his McLaren teammate for much of the race but finished a fine third. Felipe Massa came charging through from the back of the grid to finish sixth.
Raikkonen went straight into the lead on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Albert Park, but behind him, Nick Heidfeld followed him up into second place, then came Hamilton who had pushed his own teammate back to fourth. Robert Kubica was fifth followed by Giancarlo Fisichella in the Renault, Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli.
In the opening laps, Raikkonen gradually eased away to hold an 8.1s lead by ten laps. Heidfeld was next, around two seconds ahead of Hamilton who just kept a similar margin to teammate Alonso. Kubica was falling back gradually, while Fisichella was around three seconds further back.
On lap 14, Heidfeld became the first to pit which elevated Hamilton to second, but he was already 14s behind. Alonso was tailing his teammate, wîth Kubica next up and then Fisichella wîth Webber now in sixth, but a further 13s behind the Italian Renault driver.
The pit stops began in earnest on lap 19, wîth Raikkonen coming in first, then Fisichella on lap 20, Kubica on lap 21, and then the two McLarens on successive laps. The stops reduced Raikkonen's lead by four seconds to 11s, while the younger McLaren driver was still shadowed by his teammate. Kubica rejoined ahead of Heidfeld, who had certainly lost out wîth his early stop. Fisichella was next from Trulli who had yet to stop.
At half distance, Hamilton lost three seconds so that Raikkonen had a 17s lead over the McLaren pair. Further back, Massa had climbed up through the field magnificently and held seventh place but pitted on half distance, having opted for the softer choice of tyre for his opening stint.
The lead gap remained fairly static up to the second round of pit stops which began on lap 42 when Raikkonen pitted. Crucial, however, was whether Alonso could get ahead of Hamilton, but that was decided by a backmarker who held up the second placed McLaren driver which mean that Alonso emerged ahead at the second pit stop.
Raikkonen allowed his 14s lead to halve during the closing stages, but came home a resounding winner from Alonso in second place, while a graining front tyre meant that Hamilton dropped back to finish 11.3s behind his teammate after an impressive debut.
Heidfeld salvaged fourth after teammate Kubica retired wîth a recurrence of the team's gearbox problems, while Fisichella was a slightly disappointing fifth although more disappointing was teammate Kovalainen who made several mistakes on the way to tenth place.
Felipe Massa was the final unlapped runner after an excellent, single stop race, pipping Nico Rosberg who finished a fine seventh. Ralf Schumacher finished top Toyota runner in eighth place, claiming the final championship point.Source - Ferrari
Spanish Grand Prix - Second Consecutive Win for Massa
Barcelona, 13th May 2007 - Ferrari's Felipe Massa scored a resounding second consecutive win in the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday to put himself firmly in contention for the World Championship. He led home McLaren's Lewis Hamilton by 6.7s although the margin had been nearly twenty seconds earlier in the race.
The young Briton becomes the youngest driver ever to lead the World Championship, two points ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso, while Massa is a just a point further back, but Ferrari's joy at victory was offset against the disappointment of the retirement of former joint championship leader Kimi Raikkonen wîth a suspected electrical fault.
In front of 140,700 spectators and in sunny weather, the race was virtually decided at the first corner, according to Alonso. Massa got away first, but Alonso was able to slot in behind and go around the outside of the Brazilian going into the first righthander. Alonso tried to stay on the outside but was squeezed onto the gravel and promptly lost two places to Hamilton and Raikkonen, rejoining wîth a damaged bargeboard.
At the end of lap one, Massa already led by 1.6s from Hamilton, then came Raikkonen and Alonso, followed by Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld in the BMWs, David Coulthard, then Nico Rosberg, Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button in eleventh. Both Toyota drivers suffered badly; Trulli stalled on the grid and had to start from the pit lane, and Ralf Schumacher was hit from behind by Alex Wurz, both requiring pit stops.
At the front, Massa continued to pull away, having a 6.6s lead over Hamilton after ten laps. The gap from Hamilton to Raikkonen also opened up, although not so quickly. However, Raikkonen pitted to retire wîth a minor electrical problem after only nine laps, which elevated Alonso to third place.
The BMWs remained in touch, wîth Kubica ahead and Heidfeld not far behind him, up to the first pit stops which began on lap 19. Massa and Alonso pitted together on lap 19, wîth Massa making a fiery exit of which he was not aware and which had no consequence. Kubica came in on lap 21 and then Hamilton a lap later, followed by Heidfeld on lap 24.
At the end of the pit stops, Massa had an almost identical lead over Hamilton at 8.8s but this would more than double in the next 27 laps. However Hamilton emerged wîth a 10s margin to teammate Alonso which had virtually trebled. Conversely, Alonso's margin to Kubica had virtually halved. Heidfeld, however, lost a wheel nut which causing a single slow lap to return to pits which put paid to his chances.
At the front, Massa's lead grew to 19s before he made his second stop on lap 42. Hamilton would stay out until lap 47 and Alonso stayed out a lap longer, but Massa's lead had halved to ten seconds by the time Hamilton rejoined, although his margin to Alonso had grown by seven seconds.
In the final stint, Massa gradually saw his lead dwindle, but not dramatically, so that he took a seemingly troublefree victory. Hamilton came in second, but now leading the championship, finishing his fourth successive Grand Prix on the podium, while a disappointed Alonso completed the top three.
Kubica annexed fourth place for BMW for the fourth time this season, while David Coulthard confirmed Red Bull Racing's testing form wîth fifth place after Heikki Kovalainen needed an extra mid-race pit stop which pushed him back to seventh behind Nico Rosberg. Takuma Sato was the final points-scorer delighting the Super Aguri team and resulting in their first World Championship points.Source - Ferrari
Bahrain GP Highlight: We Hate You Massa…We Love You Massa
In a race filled with highlights, Massa's drive of dominance is the most impressive and poignant story to have surfaced from the Bahrain grand prix. It is uncertain whether he was motivated out of a desire to kiss and make up or to snub his detractors. But one thing is certain, Massa's drive at the Bahrain GP has made all things right again with the Ferrari fans and Italian press…for now. Will the love continue? Did Massa potentially set himself up for a fall-out?
Pick your analogy: 'Being roasted over a roaring fire', or, 'Standing before a firing squad'. Whichever one chosen would have adequately described the position Felipe Massa found himself coming into the Bahrain grand prix. 'Throwing away' victory in the Malaysian grand prix made him enemy number one amongst Ferrari faithful. Massa had to do something to change that relationship. Massa had to do something that eased the call for his head. Bahrain was the opportunity presented and Felipe took advantage.
Felipe's best practice times were rather unassuming. While he was near the top he never was the 'one' to beat out or apparently worry about. In fact, it is doubtless that some thought Massa would play it safe and look for a good result. Sure he would go for a win, but a high finish in the points would have seemed of more importance. Any such thoughts changed in qualifying. In the first round of knock-out qualifying Massa topped the charts. He topped the charts again in the second round and would go on to take pole in the third round with a time some .300+seconds faster than Hamilton in second.
Massa's get away from the grid at the start was very good. This allowed the Brazilian to be first into the all-important turn one. That meant Felipe had clear track in front of him and he took advantage of it. Felipe pulled away with Hamilton in tow. All throughout the first stint Massa brought the lap times down while being smooth behind the wheel, not at all looking like a man under pressure.
The Ferrari team performed well giving Felipe quick, clean stops. This kept their man up front once all the pit stops cycled through. Hamilton seemed to go off pace in the second stint and this allowed Massa to further stretch his lead. After Massa's final stop, the gap between him and Lewis was large enough that Felipe seemed to back off in order to preserve the car to reach the finish. Because Massa backed off it is hard to fully realize the dominance of the Ferrari driver by the finishing times. Yet, it was clear. Only a failure of Massa's car would have allowed Lewis to achieve his first win in Formula One.
Massa's performance may have been too good; prime for a trap. The Ferrari faithful have come to expect the re-emergence of the Schumacher-style era. From 2001-2004 Ferrari achieved unrivaled success. This led the Ferrari fans to get used to complete domination. Renault's performance over the last couple of years has been viewed more as an exception and nowhere near the rule. And given McLaren-Mercedes' struggles last year it was undoubtedly presumed Ferrari would rise again. To the fans wearing red, Alonso's departure from Renault meant the two-time constructors champs would struggle. The Australian grand prix seemed to prove that. The other assumption was that while McLaren-Mercedes now had the services of the two-time champion Alonso the car's overall performance was still lacking compared to that of Ferrari. Again, it would appear that thought too was confirmed during the race in Australia given the fact both Alonso and Hamilton finished well behind Raikkonen. Given this information Ferrari fans undoubtedly thought the season was all but a sure lock. All seemed right again in the world.
Therefore, however, when Felipe threw his car off at turn four in Malaysia, the Ferrari fans saw a mistake by a driver with the dominant car—a sure win thrown away. It was bad enough that Felipe lost positions starting from the pole, but in no way, in the minds of Ferrari fans, did the situation warrant Massa's bold attempt, and especially against a rookie. Inevitably, all that was seen was a mistake unlike what Ferrari fans had grown accustomed with Schumacher behind the wheel. But just like the last two years of Schumacher's career, Ferrari drivers actually have to race for spots and for wins again. They aren't just happening anymore. This potential ignorance of the diehard Prancing Horse fans can come back to haunt Massa.
So while Massa's stamp of dominance on the Bahrain grand prix restored relations and led the Ferrari faithful to sing his praises, all will have to wait and see if this dominant display ends up hurting Massa in the end. There is no nostalgia feeling at Ferrari anymore since Michael Schumacher came to drive for the team. And while the drive to win must be paramount, this win or die mentality can lead fans to either want to either kiss the driver with their lips or with their fist. So while Felipe thought the pressure was off his back, it may have only now come to be on him because of his impressive win. Such is life as a driver at Ferrari.By Jeremy McMullen
Bahrain GP Wrap-Up
Some left Bahrain having made an emphatic statement. Others left frustrated but ultimately encouraged. And yet, there were others who left still scratching their heads in confusion. Where Australia proved to be a lesson in dominance and Malaysia one in reemergence, Bahrain offered up a wide variety of drama that could never be scripted; at least most of it. And while the rookie Lewis Hamilton deservedly occupied much of the headlines, Nick Heidfeld should have gotten out of his car and said loud and clear, 'Can I get an offer please!'
Leading up to the race all the attention and hype surrounded the rookie Lewis Hamilton, and rightfully so. Hamilton stood on the brink of history before the Bahrain GP. He had facing him the opportunity to get off to the best start for any rookie in F1 history. Lewis, in fact, would drive his way into the history books using his unique rookie coolness to track with Massa all day long until eventually finishing second. Hamilton showed himself to be more the seasoned aggressor than the reckless rookie and it has everybody sitting up and paying attention. In contrast, little attention was given to Heidfeld until he made an impressive pass for fourth on two-time world champion Fernando Alonso. On a whole, the Bahrain GP proved to be a drama filled and exciting race.
The drama of knock-out qualifying continued at Bahrain. David Coulthard was relegated to the back of the grid from the start when his gearbox gave him fits in the first round. And despite their normal running position during a race, Bahrain proved to be the first time all season so far a Spyker started from dead last in the field.
For the first time all season both of the Honda factory cars made it to the second round of qualifying…barely. Nevertheless, the trend of customer cars out-qualifying factory cars continued. Anthony Davidson, in his Super Aguri, out-did the factory Honda cars. Both Williams-Toyotas were able to split the performances of their factory Toyota competitors. And Mark Webber and his Renault powered Red Bull chassis at least beat out Heikki Kovalainen and his Renault.
In the end the real surprise amongst the top ten qualifiers was Alonso's poor showing in his McLaren-Mercedes. All Fernando could muster was a fourth spot on the grid right in front of the two BMW Saubers. After throwing the car off the track in a desperate bid to take second at the Malaysian GP one week prior, Felipe Massa was under fire from the Italian press. Despite the pressure Massa stormed to the front of the grid at Bahrain taking over the pole. However, the Tifosi would only be happy if that front grid spot translated into a win.
As with qualifying, the race too proved to be exciting and drama filled. Much anticipation hung over turn one prior to the race with the hard-charging Massa and rookie Hamilton occupying the front row. The tension even got to the usually stoic Ron Dennis of McLaren-Mercedes. As the lights went out both of the buys on the front row behaved themselves and passed cleanly through the first couple of corners. Alonso was even able to come forward into third, pushing Raikkonen back one spot. Every one was looking at the front for trouble but it actually emerged at the back.
Cars were two wide into many of the corners. Drivers were cutting each other off making it virtually inevitable there would be some cars that would come together. Sure enough, as with the Malaysian grand prix the week before, turn four led to the undoing of some of the drivers and their cars. As each driver accelerated down the short straight going into turn four, all the jockeying for position caused an accordion effect amongst the cars at the back of the grid. Jenson Button got squeezed off and started into a spin that caused others to brake hard to avoid him. This rapid drop in speed caught Adrian Sutil off guard in his Spyker and led him to plow into the back of Scott Speed's Toro Rosso. Sutil tore the front of his car off so bad it looked like the car was bent in two. Adrian would continue on in the race after having his nose replaced. The Spykers had proven to be so slow throughout the weekend that it was even doubtful that the damage actually hurt Sutil's straight-line performance. While Sutil was able to carry on both Speed and Button had to retire. The bottleneck crash at turn four further grouped the cars together as it was determined the safety-car should be dispatched.
Coulthard started in the very back but used the inexperience of the drivers ahead of him at the start of the race. While the majority of the drivers followed each other nose-to-tail causing a serious accordion effect, Coulthard went wide into the first turn avoiding the line and jumping up quite a few spots. In fact, David jumped up to 15th within the first couple of laps and continued to come up through the field. Other fast starters included Kovalainen, Sato, and Christijan Albers. Both Ralf Schumacher and Nico Rosberg had bad starts and dropped several places.
After a couple of laps under the safety-car the race resumed. Massa was able to take advantage of the rolling start and led the McLaren-Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Alonso. Soon, Massa and Hamilton would begin to pull away from Alonso and Raikkonen. Heidfeld, in his BMW-Sauber was able to keep in touch with Fernando and Kimi. Behind those three, pockets of close competitive racing developed.
Battles quickly developed between many of the factory teams and their customers. Prior to the first round of pit stops a train of mid-pack runners developed. Once again, the Williams-Toyota team was able to split their factory counterparts Toyota. While Webber, in his Red Bull-Renault, was able to hold at bay behind the factory Renault of Fisichella, Coulthard proved to be even faster in his RBR3. Coulthard's fuel strategy allowed him to quickly come up through the field and he made easy work of the factory Renault drivers.
The competition remained tight after the first round of pit stops. Coulthard continued his charge forward reaching as high as 7th. Raikkonen's Ferrari team was able to get him out ahead of Alonso into 3rd and Alonso slipped back into the clutches of Nick Heidfeld after his BMW-Sauber team got him out of the pits closely behind Alonso and his McLaren-Mercedes. Rosberg continued to slip on and off the course while pushing to pass other cars in front of him. Mark Webber's problems continued. After his pit stop his fuel door failed to close and eventually led to the t-wing on the engine cowling breaking off. Anthony Davidson in his Super Aguri stretched his fuel to gain higher places. However, Anthony's stop and dropped him all the way to 14th. Massa, however, stretched his lead with Hamilton following.
While tight nose-to-tail running continued after the first round of pit stops nothing was more noteworthy than Nick Heidfeld's pass on Fernando Alonso for fourth place. Nick raced Fernando clean and took over the spot giving BMW-Sauber's Director Mario Theissen reason to smile and Ron Dennis of McLaren-Mercedes a cause to recant his rather harsh words toward the BMW team.
At Australia Ron thought BMW-Sauber ran light fuel loads just to make some noise and get attention. He didn't believe their pace was reflective of hard work but only opportunistic tactics. However, after two solid fourth place finishes in the first two races, plus long stints between stops, Dennis and the rest of F1 have had to come and realize BMW is for real.
David Coulthard was one of the first to stop for the second time. However, Coulthard's day ended soon afterward with a broken driveshaft. The second round of pit stops went smoothly enough for Massa, Hamilton, and Raikkonen. Heidfeld stopped prior to Alonso, and so the McLaren team was bent on getting Fernando back out on track ahead of the German. Despite a quick stop the Spaniard found himself right behind Nick again; still in fifth place.
The battle between Alonso and Heidfeld continued all the way to the end. Up front, however, there was no battle. After being blasted and ridiculed in the Italian press Massa put an exclamation on the weekend and silenced the detractors. Hamilton, for the second race in a row, had to hold off a more experienced driver to earn a well deserved second and the accolade of having the best start of any driver in Formula One history. Kimi Raikkonen would finish on the podium in third place. And after being out-paced by his younger teammate last year, Heidfeld made and emphatic statement in his contract year with his fourth place finish ahead of reigning champion Alonso. After Alonso the finishing order for the rest of the points was Robert Kubica in the second BMW, Jarno Trulli in his Toyota, and Giancarlo Fisichella in the Renault. With the finish of this race, both Raikkonen and Hamilton would lead the championship with a one point advantage over Alonso.
FERRARI After a dismal Malaysian GP for Massa which included a poor start from pole and then him throwing the car off and ruining his chances for a higher finish, Felipe put a seal of domination over the Bahrain GP weekend. Massa was one of the fastest throughout but his pole and dominant drive for the win really reignited his championship hopes and relationship with the Ferrari fans and Italian press.
Raikkonen led a quiet role throughout the weekend. Despite all of the pressure upon Massa, Kimi was unable to really put forward a serious challenge throughout the weekend and the race. Kimi appeared to struggle with the car all weekend long and was never able to get the balance just right. Despite this issue Kimi still seemed to hold back. Raikkonen's reputation for being too laid back may come to haunt him after this result.
MCLAREN-MERCEDES Bahrain proved to be filled with excitement and confusion for McLaren-Mercedes. Hamilton, the boy wonder, continued to impress throughout the race weekend. Lewis would put his name in the record books with the best start ever for a formula one career. Lewis seemed to be just a step above Alonso all throughout the weekend. Starting and finishing 2nd Hamilton drove a consistent and controlled race; not at all looking like a man having only started two grand prix before Bahrain.
Alonso's weekend, for McLaren standards, was just a bit off. Despite being more experienced, both in F1 and at Bahrain, Fernando never could match the pace of his rookie teammate. Another great start allowed Alonso to leap up to 3rd where he held off Raikkonen throughout the first stint. However, it was Fernando who seemed to go 'off' the pace during the second stint. During this time Heidfeld was able to get by. And despite a valiant effort on the part of both team and driver the Spaniard would have to settle for a 5th place finish.
BMW-SAUBER What a way to start off a contract year! Although outshone by his teammate last year, Nick Heidfeld has turned it on this year and has put in some inspiring drives. With his pass on Alonso after the first round of pit stops Nick proved BMW capable not only of picking up positions with pit stops, but also, with sheer pace. Nick looked balanced throughout the weekend and showed the BMW capable of running with the top teams. Nick continued his string of 4th place finishes, and perhaps this year, more than ever, Nick believes in his chances to score well and be competitive. This confidence has peaked his motivation and ability and it shows.
Robert Kubica's weekend proved a blessing after a failed gearbox in Australia and just being off the pace in Malaysia. Robert put in a solid, fast performance throughout the race maintaining contact with his teammate and the McLaren of Alonso. It would not have been at all surprising if Robert's pace and drive were a little reserved in hopes of achieving a good result. Kubica's solid 6th place should have revived his competitive spirit.
TOYOTA Once again it was proven that sheer finances alone will not guarantee higher finishes. Jarno Trulli battled all day for the final points paying positions. In the middle of the race he complained of not having the speed to chase down the Renault of Fisichella. Yet somehow, Trulli would find his way past and would finish a respectable 7th. This of course is respectable for a team with a budget about a quarter of that Toyota has.
Ralf Schumacher languished at the back of the mid-pack runners all weekend long, especially during the race. Even the upstart Super Aguri of Anthony Davidson out-qualified the German. All through the race Ralf struggled to have the same pace as that of smaller budgeted teams. Ralf finished a dismal 12th, one lap down.
RENAULT Things are not going quite right if Flavio Briatore actually gets on the radio and urges the obvious. Such is life and such is the frustration at Renault right now. Giancarlo qualified well, starting in the top ten. However, the race proved that the reigning constructors champions have a way to go to catch the top teams. Fisichella's day was spent near the front of a long train of mid-pack runners. Unfortunately, Giancarlo either never got the chance or never had the pace to shake free and try to run down Kubica's BMW. Instead, Fisichella battled all race long with Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli, and yet, despite Flavio's urgings Giancarlo had to settle for the final points paying position of 8th.
Heikki Kovalainen's day seemed even less noteworthy. Heikki failed to make it into the final round of qualifying, and instead started the race 12th. Heikki had a great start up into 9th aligning himself behind his teammate Fisichella and the Red Bull of Mark Webber. Kovalainen would lose his place to Jarno Trulli in the Toyota before the first round of stops. After the first stop Heikki fell far down in the field. While his climb up to his eventual 9th place finish was impressive, he didn't do so with sheer pace. Needless to say, Kovalainen's day did not look like a drive people are used to out of Renault.
WILLIAMS-TOYOTA What started out looking promising ended up status-quo. Nico Rosberg qualified his Williams in 10th, which was impressive considering the factory Toyota team's best qualifier was Trulli but only for 9th. Last year's Bahrain GP was Nico's first race in F1. He dazzled by coming right out and setting one of the fast laps. Nico's race started out fast paced but only because of a poor start that dropped him to 13th. All the rest of the race was spent playing catch up. And when playing catch up it's easy to push too hard. This was true for Rosberg who would go off course some two or three times; depending on how you look at it. Despite all the on-track battling, most often with his teammate, Nico settled for a rather lackluster 10th.
All those years spent testing led many to believe Alex Wurz's return to full-time racing would be something to watch. Unfortunately, it hasn't proven to be worth watching. While its true Wurz himself has been responsible for several developments that help make the Williams better, so far, it hasn't proven to make him better. Alex qualified rather well in 11th. The beginning of the race looked as one where Wurz would show his prowess. He held his 11th spot firm until the first round of stops. After Wurz's first stop, however, things seemed to change. After falling well down in the field after his first stop, the rest of the race appeared more like a testing session. Wurz ran steady and with decent pace. Key retirements, especially of every Red Bull sponsored car, allowed Wurz to finish well, but his 11th place result was a bit misleading.
HONDA Bahrain proved there were still some dark clouds hanging over the Honda factory team. Rubens Barrichello again struggled in qualifying and was unable to better than a 15th starting spot. While Rubens would go on to finish, the race itself proved to be frustrating and confusing. While Honda's B-team driver Anthony Davidson would run as high as 6th in a version of last years Honda team car, Rubens languished at the back all race long. And despite making it through the wreck at turn four, Barrichello still fell back at the start to seventeenth. Pit stops didn't help move him up either, and were it not for others retiring, it would have been highly doubtful Rubens would have finished in his 13th spot.
Jenson Button's day was a picture of how most people felt about Honda—'Why prolong the agony?' Like his teammate, Jenson's qualifying was nothing to talk about. In fact, Button barely made it into the second round (starting 16th). Button's misery ended quickly however. Going into turn four David Coulthard was on the outside of the corner and squeezed down a little bit. This caused Button to react and spin, thus ending his day.
SPYKER-FERRARI For all their cars lack in straight line speed the Spyker cars make up for it in durability. And don't forget the team's fortitude. Christijan Albers' day started at the back and uncompetitive. However, Albers kept his car on track, avoided a collision, and with retirements from other teams ended up giving Spyker a good result. Despite being painfully slow, the attrition of others allowed Christijan to finish 14th.
Adrian Sutil's race started out with a bang and proved to be the only highlight all weekend long for the Spyker driver. Adrian started the race in 20th. Going into turn four he collided heavily into Scott Speed's Toro Rosso. This sent debris flying everywhere and looked to break the Spyker in half given the damage to the nose of the car. Sutil was able to make it back to the pits where the team fitted the car with another nose and sent him on his way. Further showing proof of Spyker's slow pace was the fact that Sutil was able to keep up with his teammate's pace despite the heavy damage. Sutil would end the race in 15th. In and of itself, to have both cars finish is a good result for the team.
RED BULL Mark Webber's weekend proved to be another frustrating one. Although he qualified 8th, hydraulic problems again plagued his grand prix. A failed gearbox, however, forced him to retire early. Until retiring he mixed it up in the long train of mid-pack runners and looked set for a good result. Like in Australia the fuel door failed to close. This large door acted like a huge airbrake and even broke off the T-wing on the cowling from the force of the air at speeds. All-in-all Bahrain proved to be another frustrating weekend for the Aussie.
David Coulthard's weekend went from bad to good and back to bad. Problems in qualifying meant David started the race at the back of the field. The team decided to go light on fuel and Coulthard took advantage of it. A veteran move at the start allowed him to jump up right at the start. David simply went around the slow single-file line of cars and picked up quite a few places. From then on Coulthard set sail. David would climb all the way up to 7th until his driveshaft failed. It was an impressive drive and showed David's ability as a racer.
TORO ROSSO Bahrain proved it was better if Toro Rosso had just skipped the weekend all together. Vitantonio Liuzzi's weekend started out poorly only being able to qualify in the 18th spot. Vitantonio tried to focus then on the race and possibly moving up but even the race was short lived as hydraulic problems plagued him and forced him to retire after only 26 laps.
If Liuzzi's weekend was bad then Scott Speeds' isn't even worth mentioning. The American struggled to find the pace of the other runners and settled for a 19th starting spot on the grid. Scott was put out of his misery quickly though when Sutil punted him in the back and out of the race on the first lap.
SUPER AGURI Super Aguri's weekend seemed to be looking up until both cars went up…in smoke. Anthony Davidson put his Super Aguri Honda in the race with a very good 13th grid position. Anthony jumped up one spot at the start but then fell back a couple places. Things would remain unchanged until the first round of stops. After things cycled through Davidson found himself running all the way up in 6th. After the stop he fell way back but started to come up. After the second stop he was running good until his Honda engine failed him.
Takuma Sato's weekend was long and frustrating. Unable to really find the pace, Sato started the race from 17th. Sato had a good start, jumping up some three spots. Takuma's day ended, however, after the first round of pit stops when his Honda let go on the front straight in a big and impressive cloud of smoke.By Jeremy McMullen
Spanish Grand Prix Wrap-Up
A record crowd was on hand to see their king and to show him their support. Fernando Alonso has revived Formula One in the hearts of the Spanish people. Yet despite Alonso's efforts, the crowd willing their champion on, and the apparent home-court advantage, Spain had to crown a Brazilian their king. Formula One couldn't even be found on Spanish TV until Fernando Alonso came into the series back in 2001. But now after back-to-back driver's championships, if given the word, the people would willingly depose their king and give Alonso the title of Head of State…that is if he ever grew tired of racing. Coming into Spain, the championship was anything but boring. So far this year Alonso has found himself caught up in a tough fight, a fight to take away his crown. And who says F1 would miss Michael Schumacher? After the last race in Bahrain there was a three-way tie for the points lead, which included Alonso, his McLaren-Mercedes teammate and rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton, and Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari. Despite the tight competition; however, the Spanish GP had the feel of being a virtual lock for Fernando. After all, it's his home grand prix. Nothing could stop him…right? However, either nobody told this to Felipe Massa or he failed to heed the point. For all Alonso strained to do he would still find the Ferrari driver just in front. But once again, the fight up front proved only to be part of the story and the drama throughout the weekend. The race proved to be filled with much drama and many surprises. Qualifying looked like a race day given the incredible throng of fans surrounding the track. Qualifying, and its new and exciting knock-out format, didn't let the fans down. If anything, it only heightened the drama and anticipation for the race the following day. Session one meant all of the cars hit the track. All of the drivers began the fight for the all-important grid positions. Before the heat really got turned up in the first round, Scott Speed's qualifying efforts came to a premature end when his engine seemed to die whenever he shifted down. Scott's team would never get his car fixed in time, and despite looking good all throughout practice, Speed's day was done and the American was relegated to the last spot on the grid, 22nd. Hamilton started the charge bringing the lap times down. Many teams, however, waited to the last few minutes before they sent their drivers out onto the track. But when they did, the action really began to heat up. Another Red Bull sponsored driver, Mark Webber, again suffered from car issues, and thus, would only qualify in the 19th spot. As the session drew to a close many drivers, who needed good laps, started to turn the wick up. Nobody from 13th, or so, back was safe. Ralf Schumacher faced elimination but his fast lap allowed him to jump up into the top 16. This lap result pushed Barrichello out of the top 16. Fisichella, who only went out with some 3 minutes left, put in a lap that saw him leap up to 11th. This pushed Jarno Trulli down to 17th and out of the next round of qualifying...for the moment. The real drama came with both Barrichello's and Jeson Button's last lap. Rubens had been bumped out but recovered and was able to push both Trulli and Button further down for the moment. Trulli's last lap, however, vaulted him passed Alex Wurz and into the eventual 13th spot for the round, which meant Trulli was safe. Button too turned his last lap up a little bit more and unseated Ralf Schumacher who thought he was safely into the next session. So in the end, the drivers who failed to make it to the next round of qualifying were, from 22nd to 17th, Speed, Albers, Sutil, Webber, Wurz, and Schumacher. The second session was no less exciting. Jarno Trulli and David Coulthard hit the track early. Anthony Davidson stepped off the track and through the gravel. This meant Anthony had to go back to have his car checked for any needed repairs. Shortly after his incident, Anthony's Super Aguri teammate Takuma Sato came to a stop on the track, thus ending his push to get into the last round of qualifying. During this round Hamilton set the fastest time of the weekend; that is, until Massa eclipsed him a little later on in the session. Alonso waited until the last 4 minutes until he went out on track. This did not hold him down since only a couple of laps later he would set the 4th fastest time and safely make it into the final round of qualifying. Once again, the excitement and drama all built up during the last couple of minutes. Kubica put the hammer down and took over the 6th spot. Anthony Davidson pushed hard but it proved to be a little too hard. The car swapped ends and again traveled through the gravel effectively ending Davidson's bid to move up any further. David Coulthard busted out one more good lap to slide into the 7th spot. And yet, despite pushing very hard Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, or Rubens Barrichello could not make up the necessary time to advance. The order from 16th to 11th went: Vitantonio Liuzzi, Anthony Davidson, Jenson Button, Takuma Sato, Rubens Barrichello, and Nico Rosberg. The final ten prepared to do battle in the final session for the best spots on the grid. And there were a few surprises among those that would fight it out. David Coulthard and Heikki Kovalainen were able to make it into the final session for the first time in the season. All of the cars lined up in the pit lane waiting for the green light and the start of the final session. Each team and driver took advantage of every second to burn down fuel since the rules stated those who would make it to the final round of qualifying had to at least start the final session with the fuel load the driver would start the race with. Therefore, each driver took to the track to burn down fuel to make the car as light as possible toward the end of qualifying. The cars continued to circulate, but in the closing moments the intensity rose and the nerves stood on edge. The race for the pole really began. With a little over three minutes remaining the darling of the home crowd, Alonso, set the fastest time. The crowd understandably erupted in a roar. With one minute remaining Hamilton started what was the final race for the top spot. Lewis couldn't dethrone Alonso's earlier time, and for a moment, sat in 2nd. That result was brief as, right behind Lewis, Kimi finished his last lap in his Ferrari. Kimi would overtake Hamilton with the second best time. This pushed Hamilton back to 3rd. Heidfeld finished his lap right behind Raikkonen but couldn't mount any kind of challenge and had to settle for the provisional 5th spot. Trulli eclipsed Heidfeld's time but was immediately eclipsed by the other BMW-Sauber driver Robert Kubica. Coulthard was the next to the line and was able to jump up to the 8th spot. Massa followed and set the pole time, beating Alonso's previous best by only two tenths of a second. But the race for the pole wasn't over. Alonso was one of the last cars on the track and he would have the opportunity to take the pole back in front of his home crowd. Alonso's bid looked good. He had set the fastest time in the second sector. Fernando rounded the last corner powered down the straight and…like that, the air went out of McLaren-Mercedes. Alonso's bid for pole came up short by only three hundredths of a second. Unnoticed, since all eyes were directed on the race for the pole, was that Kovalainen's last lap proved to be enough for him to leap up and take David Coulthard's position in 8th, and thus, push David down to 9th. So, after catching one's breath the order went as follows: Massa on pole, Alonso next to him. Then it was Raikkonen and Hamilton, Kubica and Trulli, Heidfeld and Kovalainen, and Coulthard and Fisichella.
Qualifying only got things rolling. Prior to the race, the grid was a maze of dignitaries and celebrities. Despite starting second, most all of the attention was on the two-time champion, this being his home grand prix. The drama and anticipation that had been building all weekend long grew ever higher when the start had to be aborted as Jarno Trulli's Toyota stalled on the grid due to a struggling engine-driven fuel pump. After the aborted start Trulli's car was pushed to the pitlane. Jarno would have to start from there as the rest of the cars were sent around the track again, and then, lined back up on the grid for the start. As the lights went out and the scramble for position began, Alonso drafted Massa down to the first turn. Massa stayed wide-right to block and to have position into the first turn, while Alonso pulled out of line to Massa's left. The tow and late braking allowed Fernando to be ahead of Felipe but Felipe's inside line meant he would hold the first place spot. The late braking from Alonso, as well as being on the outside, led to the McLaren slipping off the track and through the gravel trap in what looked like a huge sand storm. Alonso rejoined the track, narrowly being missed by his teammate Hamilton and Raikkonen in his Ferrari. As the first lap unfolded, Alonso's playing in the gravel proved to be only the first of many exciting things to come. Giancarlo Fisichella was desperate to get past his teammate Kovalainen. In his haste, Giancarlo went off the track and rejoined, but did so while having lost a few spots. But the drama didn't end there for Fisichella. Giancarlo moved down inside one of the Super Aguri's going into the very next corner. This move caused other drivers to check up. Ralf Schumacher checked up just enough to catch Alex Wurz off guard. Alex collided into the back of the Schumacher's Toyota, damaging the front suspension and wing on the Williams. Wurz limped back to the pits with his left-front tire sliding along on top of a piece of wing. Despite making it to the pits, the car was too heavily damaged, and thus, led to Alex's retirement. Things finally settled down for a few laps, with the exception of Alonso attacking Raikkonen. Massa led Hamilton. After Hamilton the rest of the top ten were Raikkonen, Alonso, Kubica, Heidfeld, Coulthard, Kovalainen, Rosberg and Barrichello. After about eight laps the excitement and drama picked back up when a slew of cars ran into trouble all at once. The first victim of the fallout was Mark Webber with another hydraulic problem. Immediately after that, Trulli's day ended due to the fuel pressure problems that had plagued the car and had led to the first start being aborted. After Jarno's retirement, Kimi Raikkonen's car fell victim to some sort of electrical problem. While Kimi's car was being pushed down pit road toward the garage, Scott Speed's weekend turned worse when his left rear tire exploded on the front straight. This ended Scott's day. All during this trouble Massa stretched his lead. It was thought Ferrari would dominate. The week prior Ferrari had dominated at the same Barcelona track. Now, the race seemed to be proving those speculations to be well founded. The action didn't cease when the first round of stops began. Massa's stress level was possibly highest during his pit stop than out on the track. Massa's car slowly began to roll while waiting for the crewman to remove the fuel nozzle. What fuel that dripped out of the nozzle upon it being removed ignited on the extremely hot exhaust. A huge streak of flame stretched from the fuel port past the rear wing as Massa exited. Having pulled away, the flames extinguished and Felipe went on his way. During the pit stops Liuzzi's Toro Rosso slowed and barely made it back to the pits. David Coulthard had to do some evasive maneuvering to avoid hitting Vitantonio's car in the entry to pit lane. As with each previous race, Hamilton had his turn in the lead before making his stop. Upon Lewis' stop, the surprising BMW-Sauber team, with Nick Heidfeld at the wheel, took over the lead. While Nick continued to cycle around the track in the lead, Jenson Button, in the Honda, made his stop and re-entered side-by-side with his teammate Rubens Barrichello. Button lost the back-end a little going into turn one which caused his nose to tag his teammate's rear. While Rubens was fine and continued on, Jenson's front wing had broken off, which led him to have to return to the pits for a new nose. Most people would say that was enough excitement, but oh no…it wasn't over yet. The teams thought they would do even more to entertain the viewers and the fans at the track. BWM-Sauber thought having the lead wasn't exciting enough. As Heidfeld made his stop the right front tire was not going on properly. The air-gun was still engaged when Heidfeld was given the signal to go. Nick slid to a stop a short distance past his pit but the wheel nut that holds the tire on went rolling down the pit lane. Miscommunication led to Nick continuing back onto the track without the wheel being attached properly. Miraculously, the tire stayed on and let Nick circulate and eventually make it back to the pits. New tires were put on and Nick went on his way, albeit far down in the running by that time. Finally, after all the chaos that took place around the first stop ended the focus could get back to the boring, old race. After all the stops cycled through, Massa resumed the point and pulled away. Hamilton maintained second. Alonso still languished back in third. The greatest drama on the track came down to the nose-to-tail battle between Coulthard and Kovalainen. Giancarlo Fisichella led the second round of stops. With 23 laps to go Massa made his final stop and came close to repeating the same problem that ignited during the first stop. Kubica, Coulthard and Rosberg all made clean stops. Hamilton, again, had to relinquish the lead to come in for his final stop and to make the mandatory switch to the harder compound tire since he had been running the softer tire. A couple of laps later, Alonso, having made the decision to switch to the harder tire at the first stop, was fitted with soft tires again with the intention of bringing a fight to his teammate for 2nd before the end of the race. All-in-all, the second round of stops were relatively straight-forward. The top eight to this point were Massa, Hamilton, Alonso, Kubica, Coulthard, Rosberg, Kovalainen, and Fisichella. Massa walked the last ten laps. Hamilton followed in second but far enough back that only a mechanical failure would have given the Brit a chance at victory. In fact, Massa even dialed down the revs just to make sure the car would make it to the end. The damaged caused to Alonso's car from the run through the gravel at the start seemed to hinder his ability to mount any kind of challenge for Lewis. Looking further back through the points paying positions, a BMW-Sauber finished 4th again but it was Kubica in the spot instead of Heidfeld. Following Kubica was David Coulthard in the RBR 3. Coulthard had to baby the car to even finish. Red Bull was worried about the reliability of their new seamless-shift transmission. They had David switch to the conventional semi-automatic shifting toward the end of the race to make sure the car would finish. On top of this struggle, Coulthard also had lost the use of one of his gears. Despite this, Rosberg was too far back to overtake and gain the 5th finishing spot. Due to Coulthard's problems Nico made up time fast but still had to settle for 6th. However, this was the best result for Williams since the opener in Australia. Kovalainen and his Renault settled for the 7th spot. Rounding out the points paying spots was a relative surprise. A failed pit strategy, or unmentioned problem, led Fisichella to make a pit stop very late. This surrendered the 8th spot to the Super Aguri of Takuma Sato. Massa ruled the weekend. Felipe achieved pole, fastest lap of the race and the race win. This was a dominant display from the Ferrari driver. Lewis Hamilton left Spain leading the championship; the youngest ever to do so. Fernando's weekend was filled with frustration. He put on a show, but ultimately had to settle for points instead of a glorious triumph. For some, the weekend proved to be memorable. For the others, the Spanish grand prix ended up being a race they would desire to forget.
FERRARI While Spain would be a glorious triumph, there still had to be some questions following Kimi Raikkonen's failed race. Massa's weekend was one filled with highlights for his portfolio. Felipe did everything he needed and also added some extras, bonuses that went on to prove his dominant performance. Felipe took the pole in dramatic fashion. While all attention was on Alonso, Massa made a statement about his chances and ability. This race, like Bahrain, showed the consistency, concentration and sheer pace Felipe is capable. Kimi's Spanish grand prix was nothing to write home about. Kimi's weekend turned from good to bad. Raikkonen was near the top of the time sheets all throughout the weekend. Raikkonen qualified a respectable third. However, Kimi's race went bad. If there is a car meant to break Raikkonen will be the one driving it. After years of bad results and failures at McLaren, it is undoubtedly sure that one of the reasons for Kimi's departure for Ferrari was there apparently bullet-proof cars. It doesn't seem to matter where Raikkonen goes. Raikkonen's car inexplicably slowed out on the track. Apparently some electrical problem ended his race.
MCLAREN-MERCEDES This race seemed all about McLaren-Mercedes and Fernando Alonso. The double world champion gave it his all but it wasn't even him that left feeling the best of the two McLaren drivers. Lewis Hamilton's weekend proved to be another solid performance by the rookie. Each and every race Lewis looks more and more like a veteran than a rookie. He continues to amaze and stretch the thoughts about what a rookie should be able to do. In fact, Lewis showed his prowess throughout qualifying being consistently near the top. Hamilton didn't let the pressure get to him in the race either. He got off a good start from the line and slid into second after Alonso's 'off'. He would never put a foot wrong all throughout the race and finished with a very good 2nd. Alonso's grand prix very well could be described by the term 'hindsight'. There were many moments throughout the weekend where Alonso could go back and tell himself, 'If only I had done this instead, or, If only I had pushed harder here.' Fernando stood on it in qualifying but fell only three hundredths short. Then, in the race, instead of keeping the position behind Massa going into turn one he aggressively tried for the lead. The move failed, and were it not for Raikkonen's troubles, it is doubtful Alonso would have even been able to finish 3rd. No one can accuse Fernando of holding back; that is one thing not in doubt.
BMW-SAUBER Yes, the result is good, but it ought to be like the team who has to run laps after a game because they didn't win by as much as they could have. BMW could have really stunned some people. They could have shown the world how good they truly are. Instead, the team needs to be happy with the result achieved and go home and work on pit stops. Robert Kubica has proven he is getting more comfortable with his car despite having to change his style. He let his rear-end hang out during qualifying and achieved a good starting spot for the race; better than his teammate Heidfeld. Not much was heard or seen of Kubica during the race as he ran a consistent race—no hold your breath moments. Kubica's 4th was the best result for him all season. Nick Heidfeld's race should have ended better, much better, than it did. Nick was quick all throughout the weekend. Despite being out-qualified by his teammate, a great start led Nick to be up in 6th after turn one. Nick ran fast and even held the lead at one point. But it was his pit stop after being in the lead that led to his race coming unraveled. With the right front tire not being held on by the wheel nut Heidfeld had to circulate the track much slower. He fell way down in the order once he stopped again to have the situation remedied. Eventually, Nick's car slowed toward the end of the race and ended what could have been another promising race.
RED BULL Amidst rumors that he was fighting for a job next year, David Coulthard put together a good result to take into the negotiations. David showed the RBR3 chassis was strong and competitive. The RBR3 was one of the fastest in the speed trap and Coulthard made good use of it. David reached the top ten in qualifying for the time in the season. He made a good start and was 7th in the early going. A good solid drive and some mistakes and failures of others led to Red Bull's best finish of the season so far, 5th. Mark Webber's weekend was literally stuck in neutral. The problems never hit until it counts. Webber was fine during practice. Qualifying and the race were another matter all together. Mark never got out of the first round of qualifying. In fact, he barely even got out of the garage. He was able to post a lap fast enough to start 19th, but that was it. He barely went any further in the race. Just prior to the first round of stops, Mark's Red Bull-Renault would shift into neutral any time he didn't have the gas pedal down. This situation led to his retirement.
WILLIAMS-TOYOTA It would be easy to think the seasoned test driver would be able to get more out of a car than a sophomore driver. That was not the case in Spain for Williams' two drivers. They could not have been any further to each end of the spectrum. Nico Rosberg's weekend revived his confidence. Rosberg's good result in Australia had yet to be duplicated. However, Nico's qualifying didn't appear to be a sign of the good things to come. At a track where position is of great importance, Rosberg's position on the grid could have kept him out of the points. His race was something entirely different. No doubt helped out by mistakes and attrition, Rosberg still put together a strong race. Nico didn't just get into the points. He finished a very solid 6th, a good result for the Williams team. While Nico left Spain with confidence, Alex Wurz left possibly worrying about his status as a race driver. Wurz's weekend was a disaster all throughout. At least he was consistent. Qualifying was tough. Alex never could get clear of other traffic. This traffic obviously slowed him down. Things got even worse in the race when he collided with Ralf Schumacher halfway through the first lap. In Alex's defense, it appeared Ralf checked up to avoid hitting one of the Super Aguris. This maneuver, at such close distances, obviously spelled disaster.
RENAULT The most exciting part of the Spanish grand prix for Renault was qualifying. After that, it just turned strange. Kovalainen managed to get into the top ten in qualifying, which was his first time this season. Heikki's race offered a good result. This was badly needed for him. Heikki ran a rather quiet race, but he put in a strong performance and earned a 7th place finish. Still, this is a shock considering this is the constructors champion for the last two years. If Renault's struggles weren't enough to talk about, then the strange strategy employed for the race would more than make up for any lacking conversation. Renault worked on their car to make it better and it appeared to be. Giancarlo Fisichella put the second Renault in the top ten in qualifying. Giancarlo pushed hard in the race even to the point that he went off the track trying to get by his teammate. Whether the car was damaged or not is uncertain, but from that point on Renault employed a different pit strategy. Unfortunately, this caught Giancarlo too much out of sequence with the other runners. Giancarlo's late pit stop surrendered the final points paying position to Takuma Sato. There seems to be a lot of confusion at Renault right now, it even has affected their pit strategy. What else will get confusing for the team?
SUPER AGURI-HONDA A group of the right people can mean more than a whole lot of able people. Such is the case with Super Aguri. This team continued to surprise the Formula One community. The weekend appeared to be heading toward a result that was nothing spectacular. But oh, how things can change, and in the closing laps too. Takuma Sato had a rather quiet and unassuming weekend. Practice times were nothing exciting. Qualifying went even worse. Sato's car came to a stop in the second round and ruined any hope of a better starting spot. Takuma ran solidly in the race however. He stayed out of trouble and, when Giancarlo had to make a late pit stop, inherited the 8th and final points paying spot. What a result for one of the smallest team in the paddock. Anthony Davidson has made it clear that his target is his teammate. After the Spanish grand prix weekend, that psychological gap between Anthony and Takuma increased a few paces. Takuma's qualifying ended with apparent trouble with the car. Anthony's qualifying ended due to him having two 'offs' in one session. These run-ins with the gravel hurt his starting spot, and thus, ability to come up through the field. While Sato was able to come forward and gain a point for the team, Anthony finished a quiet 11th.
HONDA When a team is struggling, and Honda is struggling mightily, the last thing the team needs is to have both of its cars come together and potentially knock each other out. It is the ultimate display of how badly things are going. Rubens Barrichello's weekend started out without much of a surprise. Rubens could only make it into the second round of qualifying. The race went a little better however. All throughout the race Barrichello flirted with the top ten. With the help of some attrition and some hard racing he was able to get his Honda into the 10th spot at the end, albeit one lap down. But, things could have been for naught if Rubens' teammate pushed the issue a little more than he did. Jenson's weekend was indicative of Honda's season. Honda's car could only provide Button enough pace to make it into the second round of qualifying. Button's race also went better until the pit stops. When the team doesn't have the pace to really race faster teams, then the team's drivers will end up racing each other. Jenson pushed hard coming out of the pits in order to get in front of his teammate. Button pushed a little too hard and almost erased any hope the team had of a good result in what has been a difficult season. This cost Button his nose. Jenson would recover; however, but would finish a rather disappointing 12th.
SPYKER-FERRARI A victory to the Spyker team is when both cars finish a race. Straight-line speed has always been a problem for the team, but reliability and driver error had been a bigger problem. Adrian Sutil started the race in the familiar back of the grid. However, Adrian ran a smooth and consistent race. Part of motor racing is being blessed while others seem cursed. And while many other cars were laid waste with attrition, Sutil powered on and would be rewarded with a 13th finishing spot. Christijan Albers' race was very quiet, just as was qualifying. Not surprising, neither Albers nor his teammate made it past the first round of qualifying. But, for Spyker, qualifying is far less important than merely finishing the race. And like his teammate, Albers took the opportunity to drive a smooth race. Staying out of trouble rewarded the driver. And though Albers too finished two laps down on the leaders, the 14th spot was a great result. Although it doesn't look like it, these results are a great reward for a team merely looking for reliability from both its machines and its drivers.
TOYOTA All that money to look like the biggest bust? At least Spyker, who's barely able to keep competing in F1 finished with both cars running! Ralf Schumacher was the highest finishing Toyota on paper for the Spanish grand prix, but by no means is he really worth what honor that may be. Ralf's weekend was very lackluster. While his teammate was able to start the race from the 6th position, Ralf, in the same car, could not even get into the second round. And while many might have sympathy for his being hit in the back by Alex Wurz, which led to his eventual retirement, there still has to be a reckoning as to how he could have been that far back on the grid in the first place. Jarno Trulli's weekend looked promising, but just like the other races so far, the race didn't prove the promise. Toyota has shown pace at times but their struggles are just not like what people are used to from one of the largest motor companies in the world. Jarno had a good qualifying but was let down in the race. Fuel pressure problems led to an aborted start and an early exit; such disappointment for a team dearly needing a better result than they have been able to achieve so far.
TORO ROSSO Toro Rosso's weekend proved to be good but it could have been much better. Vitantonio Liuzzi's weekend was suspicious and was a sign of things to come. He had no time in the second round of qualifying and started 16th. The race itself was showing to be better. However, the team's fears about hydraulic problems were visited again. The problem struck Liuzzi's car after only 19 laps. Vitantonio's race lasted a bit longer than his teammate's however. Scott Speed's weekend started out with such promise. Speed had the 10th fastest time at the end of the second round of practice on Friday. But Saturday was a whole new day and gave evidence to how Sunday would go as well. Gearbox issues right at the start left the American unable to even put in a flying lap. This relegated Scott to the back of the grid. Speed recovered well in the race however. After avoiding the first lap melee, Speed climbed all the way up to 14th. Scott's day was looking good until his left-rear tire exploded down the front straight. What started out looking so good literally exploded into little pieces, just like Scott's hopes.By Jeremy McMullen
Lotus showed strong pace once again during the teams home race at Silverstone, but difficulties on Saturday ultimately kept them off the podium.
While the sun came out on Sunday, Friday and Saturdays...