Monthly Archives: August 2014

Classic #jonesonF1: 2000 German Grand Prix

The most iconic picture of the 2000 German Grand Prix

The most iconic picture of the 2000 German Grand Prix

The German Grand Prix: Round 11 of 17 in the 2000 Formula One World Championship. Heading into the race, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher lead the Drivers’ Championship with 56 points, ahead of McLaren driver David Coulthard on Rubens Barrichello in fourth on 36 points and Giancarlo Fisichella was fifth on 18 points.

When qualifying began, there were black clouds around the track and with the threat of rain in the air; everyone went rushing out to try to get a time in the bag. It was not the moment to have a mechanical problem or a spin. And so there was some consternation in the BAR, Benetton and Ferrari pits when one of each of their drivers did not return from their first runs.

Jacques Villeneuve and Giancarlo Fisichella had overcooked it and spun while Rubens Barrichello had suffered a mechanical problem. There were also troubles down in the Arrows pit  where Jos Verstappen’s car refused to start and while the spannermen flexed their wrists everyone else ran around signing “Rain, Rain, go away, come again another day”. It worked.

In those frantic opening minutes Heinz-Harald Frenzten, Jacques Villeneuve, Jaron Trulli and Michael Schumacher  were all briefly in the number one spot but then David Coulthard put all their efforts into perspective as he sailed round to record a lap time which was 1.4secs faster than that of his McLaren  team mate Mika Hakkinen.

The McLaren 1-2 looked to be pretty solid as a sprinkle of rain came along but as it was happening Fisichella in his spare car was out on a desperate mission to make the grid. It probably helped that Fisichella knew that he had very little to lose and so pushed harder than he might have done otherwise. The result was that he popped up to second on the timesheets, and then the rain ended dreams of others doing any better.

In fact at the end of the session the track had dried enough to allow Michael Schumacher to sneak a time which was six-hundreths head of Fisichella but he was still a very long way behind Coulthard. Schumacher’s second place was good news for him and came after a difficult Saturday morning when he crashed his own car. This meant that he went into qualifying with the spare car. Schumacher said after the session that it made little difference but it did mean that he did not have the confidence to push to the absolute limit on his first flying lap.

Down at the back of the grid, there was some excitement as both Barrichello and Frentzen just managed to get into the field with their final efforts. Benetton was happy to have Fisichella third and Wurz seventh (although the Austrian was nine-tenths of a second slower than the Italian). While it is nice to see the cars going well, there was a large element of luck in Fisichella’s position. If he had not spun off he would not have been out on the track at exactly the moment he needed to be there without anyone else to get in his way.

The nature of the qualifying meant that there were quite a few surprises, notably fifth place for Pedro de la Rosa, using the Arrows spare car because of an engine problem in his own at the end of the morning practice session. Verstappen was less happy but 11th on the grid was not bad given that he might have failed to qualify if the rains had come a few minutes earlier.

The Jordan team was pretty disappointed with sixth and 17th positions on the grid with the revised EJ10 and the latest Mugen-Honda  engine. Trulli was happy enough with fifth given the fact that he had problems on Saturday morning but Frentzen was not pleased. He had been right up there in the early minutes of the session but his best time was taken away because he had gone through a chicane and ended up 17th.

The top 10 heading into the German Grand Prix was David Coulthard taking Pole Position ahead of Michael Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella, Mika Hakkinen, Pedro de la Rosa, Jarno Trulli, Alexander Wurz, Johnny Herbert, Jacques Villeneuve, Eddie Irvine and Jos Verstappen.

The first lap incident between Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella at the 2000 German Grand Prix

The first lap incident between Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella at the 2000 German Grand Prix

On race day, Jenson Button was left sitting on the grid as his BMW engine had refused to fire up and would have to start from the back of the grid. At the start, neither Coulthard , Schumacher or Fisichella had a good start but Häkkinen had a blinder. Häkkinen was quickly ahead but behind him Coulthard moved across to block Schumacher.

Michael Schumacher after his collusion with Giancarlo Fisichella

Michael Schumacher after his collusion with Giancarlo Fisichella at the start of the 2000 German Grand Prix

 

Fisichella did not guess that happening and hit Schumacher who had switched sides to make another attack on Coulthard. Both spun off, hit the wall and retired with the two blaming each other. The order at the end of lap 1 was: Häkkinen, Coulthard, Trulli, de la Rosa, Herbert, de la Rosa, Irvine, Verstappen, Villeneuve, Zonta and Barrichello.  

Häkkinen and Coulthard were pulling away from the rest but there were changes behind them as Barrichello and Frentzen (both on two-stops) were charging through the field. Barrichello dealt with Villeneuve and Zonta on Lap 2 and Frentzen was up to 11th on the same lap. Irvine was under attack from Verstappen and was forced to defend. Verstappen attacked him on Lap 4 and pushed him wide.

Barrichello got past both of them and soon Frentzen began to attack them. By now, at the front, Häkkinen was a second ahead of Coulthard and 4 seconds ahead of Trulli. But the action was behind them as Barrichello passed Herbert on Lap 8 and behind them Frentzen got ahead of Irvine and Verstappen in 3 corners. On the next lap, with the McLarens 7.2 seconds ahead, Barrichello set a lap matching the McLarens.

Pedro de la Rosa in the early stages of the 2000 German Grand Prix in fourth place

Pedro de la Rosa in the early stages of the 2000 German Grand Prix in fourth place

On Lap 10, Frentzen passed Herbert to take sixth. On the next lap, Barrichello started to attack de la Rosa for fourth, 8.5 seconds behind Häkkinen.

Verstappen passed Herbert for fifth on lap 12 and soon afterwards Barrichello edged past de la Rosa with Frentzen started to close in on de la Rosa as well. Herbert retired on Lap 13 with gearbox problems. Barrichello went after Trulli and was right behind him by Lap 14. He sneaked ahead of him on the next lap. Häkkinen was 1.1 seconds ahead of Coulthard and 14.3 seconds ahead of Barrichello. Barrichello started to close in on the two up front before pitting on Lap 17 and rejoined sixth.

Frentzen pitted on the next lap immediately after passing de la Rosa. Häkkinen and Coulthard were now 18 seconds ahead of Trulli and 32 seconds ahead of Barrichello. Barrichello passed de la Rosa for fourth but he was 8 seconds behind Trulli and was 31 seconds behind the McLarens. He closed the gap to Trulli to 4 seconds and the McLarens to 30 seconds but there were dark clouds looming.

The Mercedes employee that got onto the track in the 2000 German Grand Prix

The Mercedes employee that got onto the track in the 2000 German Grand Prix on Lap 20.

Then suddenly a disgruntled former Mercedes employee appeared beside the track with a banner on which was written, “Mercedes Benz, who knew about my health problems, offered me a job I could not do and then sacked me for physical ineptitude after 20 years service”.  He crossed the track as marshals chased him and so the safety car was sent out until the man was caught.

But the sign only came after the McLarens had started the next lap and so others like Trulli, Barrichello, de la Rosa and others went into the stops. There was confusion in the McLaren garage as they could not handle both cars at the same time. Thus Häkkinen went into the pits first. On the next lap, Coulthard went to the stop but rejoined at the back because of the extra lap. The order was: Häkkinen, Trulli, Barrichello, de la Rosa, Frentzen, Villeneuve, Zonta,  Salo, Button and Heidfeld. 

Riccardo Zonta pressurising Jacques Villeneuve before their incident in the 2000 German GP

Riccardo Zonta pressurising Jacques Villeneuve before their incident in the 2000 German GP

When the safety car went back into the pits, Alesi and Pedro Diniz collided taking them both out, bringing out the safety car again. In between, Coulthard was able to pass Heidfeld and Button and gained 4 places. There was more drama because after the safety car went on Lap 34, Villeneuve and Zonta collided, tipping Villeneuve into a spin. Later in the lap, Coulthard passed Salo to take sixth and then the rains began to fall down.

Jenson Button in the latter stages of the 2000 German Grand Prix

Jenson Button in the latter stages of the 2000 German Grand Prix

Trulli was given a 10-sec stop and go penalty for overtaking under yellow flags. Häkkinen pitted for wets and so did many others. The ones who did not pit now occupied the top four positions – Barrichello, Frentzen, Coulthard and Zonta with Häkkinen fifth, Salo sixth, Button seventh having passed de la Rosa.

Zonta was given a 10-sec stop go penalty for the same reason as Trulli and thus he lost concentration and spun out on Lap 38. Coulthard pitted soon after for wets and rejoined fourth, just ahead of Salo and Button. On Lap 40, Frentzen had an electrical failure and retired from second. As Hockenheim is one of the longest tracks of the year, different parts of the circuit had different levels of wetness.

Rubens Barrichello wins the 2000 German Grand Prix ahead of Mika Hakkinen in second place and David Coulthard in third place

Rubens Barrichello wins the 2000 German Grand Prix and the first of his career ahead of Mika Hakkinen in second place and David Coulthard in third place

Häkkinen was 7.5 seconds behind Barrichello and gained significantly on the wetter parts of the circuit before losing most of the time he had gained on the dryer parts. On Lap 42, Button passed Salo for fourth and Salo could do nothing as Button pulled away from him. It did not rain until the end of the race and so Barrichello won his first Grand Prix of his career from Häkkinen, Coulthard, Button, Salo and de la Rosa.

The 2000 German Grand Prix will also be remembered as the race where Barrichello’s win was the first victory by a Brazilian driver since three-time world champion Ayrton Senna seven years previously at the 1993 Australian Grand Prix. Barrichello’s win is still considered to be the most universally popular throughout those involved in the sport and is still one of the most liked people in F1.

Let us not forget that Barrichello went on to take his first Grand Prix win at the event. As he stood on the podium listening to the Brazilian national anthem, he was overcome with emotion and started sobbing with the sheer relief and joy of it all. Alongside him, Hakkinen and his McLaren team-mate Coulthard, hoisted Barrichello onto their shoulders in celebration. In the media centre, Barrichello got a standing ovation and, once the interviews were over, he was cheered back to the Ferrari motorhome in the paddock as well.

Starting from 18th on the grid after problems in qualifying, Barrichello showed throughout the race with some determination and great driving to gain the lead of the race when the opportunity arose and he was rewarded with a cracking race win for his hard work. He fought his way through the field by overtaking car after car every lap. The rain started light but began to get heavy towards the end of the race. Barrichello gambled staying on dries and it paid off magnificently. And what a Grand Prix victory to have won and it’s a Grand Prix that many fans still enjoy watching and reliving today.

And as the 2000 World Championship leaded towards the next round in Austria at the A1 Ring in Spielberg, Schumacher was still leading the Driver’s Championship by 56 points ahead of Hakkinen two points behind with 54 points and Coulthard in third with 54 points.

Boullier: We are backing Magnussen’s driving

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In an interview with Autosport F1 today, McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier has backed Kevin Magnussen over his aggressive racecraft in the Belgian Grand Prix, despite the Dane getting a penalty and losing his points.

Magnussen was relegated from sixth position to 12th overall after being handed a 20 second penalty for pushing Fernando Alonso off track as they fought over fifth position late on.

Despite the controversy, in his interview with Autosport F1 today, Boullier defended Magnussen’s actions, saying that F1 should be embracing such exciting battles at a time when some are complaining the sport is boring. Boullier stated the following:-

‘I love it. This is racing. It is all what we are talking about, and I think we had an incident-packed race, so it was a great race.’

As Boullier says that is what we want to see, the best drivers in the world battling each other safely for the best possible result that they can achieved. Even though all eyes are on the sport and the aspect of the ‘show’ it provides its audience who watch it on television, it is clear that yesterday we saw another great race with lots of action and controversy.

Further on in his interview today, Boullier believes Magnussen has shown good progress over the course of the campaign, having bounced back from some early-year troubles. Boullier added the following:-

‘Obviously it is part of the experience he is gaining over the season. He is very motivated. He is new to the category and it is nice to see the big boys a pushing a little bit to show him ‘stay behind, kid’. It is part of the learning process, so it is good.

‘I think it is not easy to step into F1, especially with a top team. There is a lot of pressure in delivering when there is no more testing. It is not easy.’

As Boullier says, Magnussen over the course of the season is getting more experience and is using what he has learnt so far in order to get the best possible result on the track. It is clear that Boullier is happy with the progress that Magnussen is making and that he is not afraid to challenge drivers such as Alonso for position.

Boullier does make a valid point and the experience that Magnussen is gaining especially yesterday battling with Alonso will only help him develop his driving and also his racecraft. Even if Boullier believes that Magnussen did the correct thing yesterday and personally I think he did too, he will only improve and learn from this.

Overall, I think Boullier makes a valid point. It is not easy for young drivers such as Magnussen and also fellow rookie Danill Kvyat to enter into Formula One where there is limited opportunities to gain experience in the sport and also driving an F1 car.

But this season we have seen Kvyat and Magnussen show quite quickly that they are more than capable of delivering in the car when the opportunity comes their way and are able to show that they are definitely potential talents of the future. And the great thing is if they continue to improve like they are, then their future in the sport is looking very bright indeed.

In regards to Magnussen, I think Boullier is right to defend him. Even though Magnussen has been punished for the incident with Alonso, it is clear that Magnussen is a driver that is improving, is learning all the time and is also one driver to watch for in the future.

He may have lost his points, gained a 20 second penalty and two penalty points on his license for the incident with Alonso yesterday, but what is clear is that Magnussen has the potential ahead of him to be a future star of Formula One and has demonstrated that he can challenge and keep behind established drivers such as Alonso behind him and that is something that cannot be overlooked.

 

Bottas: I’m happy with third place

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In an interview with ESPN F1 yesterday, Williams driver Valtteri Bottas is happy with third place at Spa even if he was surprised with the pace Red Bull showed as Daniel Ricciardo won the Belgian Grand Prix.

Over the summer break Williams targeted Spa and Monza as its best chances to win a race this year due to the team’s low downforce configuration. But Williams struggled in Saturday’s wet qualifying session and Bottas started sixth, before struggling to get past Sebastian Vettel at mid-distance after Red Bull’s low downforce set up saw it matching Williams for pace in a straight line.

Despite being happy with his fourth podium of the season, in his interview ESPN F1 yesterday, Bottas thinks the race showed Williams how big a job it needs to do to beat Mercedes and Red Bull in Italy. Bottas said the following:-

‘It was, again, a really nice race, nice to be in. Obviously yesterday the weather played a role in the qualifying and we knew that in the dry we would have better pace than in the wet, so we were really hopeful for today. I have to say that we are little bit surprised by the pace of Red Bull and Mercedes. They were quite a bit far away.

‘Of course our race was a bit compromised after the poor start. I was quite a long time stuck behind some other cars and couldn’t really go at the pace we had. But yeah, had some good overtakes. We had good pitstops and good strategy by the team and that allowed us to come up a few places and again to the podium.’

Once again, Bottas has shown just how talented he is and that he was in a position to score yet another podium for the Williams team. As Bottas says, the weather played a part in qualifying and he knows that his car performs better in the dry rather than the wet conditions and is glad that it was dry.

I think just like Bottas was, many were surprised with the performance of Ricciardo and Red Bull yesterday and have improved over the summer break. Even though Bottas had a bit of a bad start to the race, got held up by cars during the race, he still managed to fight his way through the grid and also his strategy helped him achieve his podium yesterday and it is a great result for him again.

Further on in his interview, Bottas thinks the team might have to re-assess its chances at Monza. Bottas added the following:-

‘We are still chasing for the highest step but for now, for this season, if we keep like this, it’s OK because it’s the future that matters. I think this season it’s going to be difficult. We definitely need to be lucky to achieve that. Mercedes is really strong and even on a track like this Red Bull was really, really quick, we couldn’t really challenge Ricciardo, so we have still work to do but we are on the right way.’

As Bottas says himself, even though Williams and himself want to be winning races as soon as possible, he is realistic that it could not happen this season but the prospect of winning in the near future is great and that it can be achieved. It is crucial that Williams want to achieve this, but they are in the right direction too. But Bottas is right, it will be difficult for them to achieve a win this season, especially with the performances of the Mercedes team and its drivers as well as Ricciardo but if the opportunity is there, he will grab it if he can.

Bottas managed to get past fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen at the end of the race for third place, and in the latter stages of his interview, he says the battle with the 2007 world champion was a highlight of his race. Bottas said the following:-

‘I think it was a nice and fair fight. First I nearly had a go into Turn Five but wasn’t really quite as close, so then I just had to wait for a couple of laps to really prepare for it, then went for it and it was nice, clean racing with him. So, yeah, really enjoyed it.’

As Bottas says it was a nice and clear fight between himself and Raikkonen. Both drivers defended well and were careful and respectful towards each other too. It was great to watch on TV and even though Bottas got the upper hand in the battle, he had to work for it.

But overall, Bottas should be happy with third place yesterday. He has shown again that he can extract the pace and performance from the car and get himself into a position to fight and claim podiums. Bottas for me this season has shown that he is a very talented and gifted racing driver and it will only be a matter of time before his first victory in Formula One is achieved.

It might happen to Bottas this season if he gets the chance, it might not. But at the end of the day, if Williams keep on improving and stay on the level of direction they are on now, the chances of Bottas winning his first race is greatly increased. And I am sure that many would be happy if Bottas wins his first race in the sport as soon as he can and it would be a victory that would be well received with the fans too.

Question is; when Bottas win his first race in Formula One? Will it be this year or will it next year? Whenever it is, it will only highlight just how talented Bottas really is and that his future in Formula One is growing ever brighter and very quickly too.

Alonso: My penalty prevented me from getting a podium

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In an interview with ESPN F1 yesterday, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso believes his hopes of a podium at the Belgian Grand Prix ended after the penalty incurred for the problems he experienced on the grid.

Ahead of the race Alonso looked well-placed in fourth but, as the cars departed for the formation lap, the Spaniard was still raised on the jacks, with the Ferrari mechanics returning to his car as others pulled away around him. The Ferrari eventually got going before the last car had crossed the line, meaning Alonso could start from fourth, but he was given a five-second penalty for his first pit stop.

In his interview with ESPN F1 yesterday, Alonso says the problems related to the F14 T’s battery. Alonso stated the following:-

‘At the start we had problems with the electricity of the car, the power of the car. I think we had to replace some kind of battery in the last minute as we could not fire the car on, as it was stopped with everything off – no power.

‘We put in the extra battery, the portable they have on the grid, and everything was OK, but the battery inside the car was empty, I think. We managed anyway to start the car and do the normal start and the five-second penalty was the lesser problem at that moment.’

It would seem that Alonso had issues with his battery while he sat on his grid slot which meant that his mechanics had to fix it in order for him to start the race. But as Alonso says, he would rather take the penalty and race his way back through the grid rather than not start the race at all.

Further on in his interview, Alonso thinks it meant he dropped away from the likes of Valtteri Bottas, who finished third at a crucial point in the race through a relatively lenient penalty given to him. Alonso added the following:-

‘Without that I was in front of Bottas when I stopped, Bottas finished third and I could have been around those positions. At least we could finish and help the team with the maximum points that today I could make. I think the car was more or less competitive this weekend.

‘We thought we would be quite a long way from Williams and we were a little bit competitive than we thought. In my case the power was the biggest concern. We had all weekend a bit of a deficit on the power unit so this extra horsepower that we could have we were missing in the race probably. Over one race it was OK but it could not change the race from day and night. The battery at the start was the biggest price we paid.’

With the penalty Alonso received, it is hard to say if he could have finished ahead of Bottas but it would seem that Alonso feels that he would have been able to. But the main thing is that Alonso got the best result he could of achieved after taking his penalty and brought home some points for the team, even if they paid the price with the penalty.

Even though Ferrari are a long way ahead of Williams at the moment, but it would seem that Ferrari have made steps forward this weekend with their car and was rewarded with the results from Raikkonen and also Alonso too. As Raikkonen has stated in his interview, Alonso believes also that the engine that Ferrari have is not where it should and could be and it is affecting their chances of challenging at the front of the grid.

On the final lap Alonso lost his front wing after hitting Sebastian Vettel, which followed an entertaining duel with Kevin Magnussen which at one point saw him on the grass at Kemmel which gave Magnussen a 20 second penalty after the race yesterday. In the latter stages of interview, Alonso believes the frantic finish only made it more difficult to score a more competitive result. Alonso said the following:-

‘[Magnussen] was lapping one Caterham and we were all in the slipstream, and when he moved to pass I had the extra speed and tried to overtake and he closed a little bit too much maybe – I had half the car on the grass.

‘In the last lap I broke the front wing in the first corner touching with Sebastian. I lost around 10 seconds in one lap and luckily it was the last lap. All this action meant it was always an uphill race for us today.’

From what Alonso stated yesterday, it is clear that he feels that Magnussen while trying to lap the Caterham was only concentrating on getting past in order to keep Alonso behind him and you would expect that from him. And the stewards feel that Magnussen did not comply to the regulations and has been punished for him.

In regards to Vettel, it would appear that Alonso lost a lot of time as a result but is more than happy that it happened on the last lap and not earlier in the race where he could have lost even more positions and could have brought no points home from the race at all yesterday.

I would agree with Alonso that the penalty he received in the race did affect his progress. But as he says himself, if his mechanics couldn’t get his car to run, then he wouldn’t have scored any points yesterday and given Ferrari a encouraging weekend for them to build on for the rest of the season ahead. And that is all that matters.

With Ferrari battling Williams for third place in the Constructors championship, it is imperative that Alonso achieves the best result possible for the rest of the season and bring home the points to keep Williams behind them. And yesterday was a prime example of this and this should be Ferrari’s aim for the rest of the season while looking to improve the car as much as they possibly can.

Raikkonen: I needed a clean race

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In an interview with ESPN F1 yesterday, Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen thinks that fourth place at the Belgian Grand Prix is proof of what he could have achieved with Ferrari this year if he had more clean races in 2014.

Fourth in Belgium was not only Raikkonen’s best result of his frustrating season but also the first time he has beaten Alonso in 12 races. In recent races Raikkonen has felt more comfortable with his car and said his issue-free race meant he was able to put this to good use.

In his interview with ESPN F1 yesterday, Raikkonen said the following:-

‘The race was clean, there weren’t any issues in the race like in the past, we always had something happen and this was probably the first race this year [we didn’t]. Obviously it helps and meant we could do our own race and the result was a bit better, but it was still disappointing not to fight further up but we knew this race and the next race will be difficult for us.

‘I think it’s the first race this year that was clean, where we don’t have damage in the car or any other issues and we can do our own race. The speed wasn’t too bad but this is still not good enough. I don’t think we deserve any better. If we deserve it we get it. Today we didn’t get it and they were a bit too fast for us.’

Yesterday Raikkonen had a brilliant race to achieve fourth place and shows that if he can put everything together, he can deliver well. Even though Raikkonen had difficulties during the weekend, it is great to see that he was rewarded with his best result of the season so far.

But Raikkonen is realistic and he knows that there is still a lot of work needed to do by Ferrari in order to get to the position where they want and need to be; which is at the front of the grid fighting for race wins. But I believe that Ferrari and Raikkonen extracted as much pace and performance from the car as they could and they was rewarded with the best result they could have achieved.

At one stage a podium looked like a possibility but Raikkonen does not believe he had any chance against the superior power of Valtteri Bottas’ Williams, which passed him in the final laps. Further on in his interview, Raikkonen said that the Williams were faster than him and he couldn’t really fight for a podium. Raikkonen added the following:-

‘It was not much of a fight really, I mean in a straight line they are much faster. On one lap he almost caught me and I could keep him behind but the next lap there was no chance. For me it doesn’t count as a fight. This is what happens [when you are slower].

‘I think we ran the proper downforce we should have to do our maximum speed over the lap and in qualifying conditions, over one lap, it isn’t too bad. But over the race we are suffering more against those cars, they can charge more and have a bigger advantage than over one lap. We don’t have the horsepower in the engine they have but what they can recover compared to us is probably the bigger problem right now.’

I would have to agree with Raikkonen here. It is clear that Ferrari could not put up as much as a fight with the Williams team as they would have liked. Williams are just too far ahead of the Ferrari but Raikkonen did the best he could to try and fight them for a podium finish but sadly it wasn’t meant to be.

As for Raikkonen yesterday, it would appear that Raikkonen achieved the best possible set up for his car that he could even though it is clear that they haven’t got the pace to challenge their rivals. It would seem that Raikkonen believes that the Ferrari engine lacks the power over their rivals and it doesn’t help them while trying to fight on the track for the best result possible.

Overall, we saw yesterday that if Raikkonen has the car underneath him and manages to put everything together, he can deliver on the circuit just as well as his team mate Fernando Alonso. When Raikkonen is on form, he demonstrated yesterday that he hasn’t lost any of his talent and can still be fast.

But Raikkonen will no doubt take fourth place from yesterday and use it as a platform to improve for the rest of the season and will do everything he can to do this with what he has at his disposal. And Raikkonen needs to, in order to show what he can do and also help him prepare for the 2015 in the best possible way.

But even though Raikkonen will be happy to take away fourth after a difficult first half to the season, it is clear that the passion, desire and motivation is still there to be the fastest driver on the grid and win races. And Raikkonen and the Ferrari team need to work together to improve the car as much as possible and show that they will do whatever it takes to get back to the front of the grid again.

Question is; will see Raikkonen and Ferrari challenging at the front of the grid before the end of the season? I think not. But in 2015? Who knows.

 

Wolff: Nico “felt he needed to make a point”

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In an interview with the media yesterday, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says Nico Rosberg “felt he needed to make a point” during his battle with Lewis Hamilton at Spa, but says he didn’t deliberately crash into his team-mate.

The tension at Mercedes went up another few notches at Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix when Rosberg made contact with Hamilton’s left-rear wheel while he was trying to regain first place. Hamilton was forced to pit for a puncture and he eventually retired while Rosberg fought back to finish P2 behind Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull.

The Mercedes bosses called a team meeting after the race and Hamilton was left furious after Rosberg apparently admitted he did it on purpose. Hamilton in the media stated to that Rosberg did it on purpose and did it to “prove a point” and to ask Wolff and Lowe to confirm the comments.

In his interview with the media yesterday, Wolff says Rosberg’s comments were misinterpreted and he simply didn’t want to give his team-mate space. Wolff said the following:-

‘Nico felt he needed to hold his line. He needed to make a point, and for Lewis, it was clearly not him who needed to be aware of Nico. He (Rosberg) didn’t give in. He thought it was for Lewis to leave him space, and that Lewis didn’t leave him space.

‘So they agreed to disagree in a very heated discussion amongst ourselves, but it wasn’t deliberately crashing. That is nonsense. It was deliberately taking into account that if Lewis moves or would open then it could end up in a crash.’

From what Wolff has stated, he believes that Rosberg held onto the line and to “make the point” to Hamilton and make him aware that he was in a position to pass. I can understand that, but Rosberg still for me should have taken more care and if he knew he wasn’t going to pass Hamilton, back off and find another way somewhere else on the circuit.

But it would seem that the incident has not only sparked a debate with the fans, it has also with the team too. And now Wolff and the Mercedes team have to work through what happened, find a viable solution for all involved and move on as quickly as possible to the next race in Monza in two weeks time.

Wolff admits further on in his interview that Rosberg should have avoided such an incident so early in the race. Wolff added the following:-

‘We had a collision that could have been avoided, a second-lap collision, it was Nico who attacked and he shouldn’t have done it. It was also to show he was not prepared to give in. With hindsight, if he could turn back time, Nico would probably not do it again in the way he did.

‘It doesn’t change the scenario at all because the incident, as I see it, is not acceptable for us. What we saw there was that Nico was not prepared to take the exit, and that caused the collision. That is not something we want to happen.’

I would agree with Wolff and the situation yesterday could have been avoided and Rosberg shouldn’t have done it in the manner in which he did. I think when Rosberg like Wolff says looks back at the incident, he may regret the manner in which it happened but will not regret trying to get past his team mate.

But in regards to my views overall, Wolff sums it up for me nicely. The accident is quite rightly not acceptable for everyone in the Mercedes team. Of course they want to see their two drivers race fairly and with respect for themselves and also for the team too. And it is clear that did not happen yesterday and Mercedes overall could have extended their lead in the Constructors further and could have had a better race than they did.

If Rosberg did it to prove a point, what point was that? Was it to tell Hamilton that he will not back down and is not afraid to overtake him? Or was it to show that he will take no prisoners to claim the championship? That is up to yourselves to decide this fact.

But the Mercedes team now to have resolve the issue at hand as quickly as they can, learn from it, put measures in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen and then prepare themselves for the next Grand Prix in Monza. Question is; will we see anymore incidents like this for the rest of the season remaining?

Let’s hope not, but the Mercedes team are now in a predicament that could easily get out of hand if they don’t get a handle on this asap and for me, they must get a handle on it now before it is too late.

Rosberg: Only British fans booed me on the podium

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In an interview with Sky Sports F1 yesterday, an unrepentant Nico Rosberg refused to publicly apologise to Hamilton after the race and claimed that only “British fans” booed him on the Spa podium.

Mercedes bosses Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda immediately and quite righly condemned Rosberg’s driving after the race. In his interview with Sky Sports F1 yesterday, Rosberg reckoned he was only heckled by British spectators on the podium after the race. Rosberg stated the following:-

‘They are British fans so I understand. It wasn’t a nice feeling. All I ask is that they really prepare themselves well before having such opinions. For example, by reading the regulations and really understanding what is the code of conduct for us drivers – that is what I would ask.

‘But anyway, it was a small minority, the British fans here, and all the other people were excited by a great race.’

Even though many pundits and fans have every right to question the way the incident happened between Rosberg and Hamilton yesterday, I have to say that booing Rosberg on the podium is completely unacceptable. I understand why people did it, but that is not the correct way to behave. And if you want to discuss the incident, do it in a manner that is respectful and is a better way to get your point across.

I’m not disputing that the manner in which Rosberg drove into Hamilton wasn’t fair and everyone has a right to question it, but to be booed on a podium wouldn’t have been nice for Rosberg to hear, but he does understand why he received this action. But it still doesn’t make it right and I believe that Rosberg shouldn’t have been booed like he did yesterday as it is completely disrespectful in every way.

Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle after the race described Rosberg’s move as ‘clumsy’, with Rosberg nearly an entire car’s length behind his team-mate when he struck the sister W05. However, further on in his interview, Rosberg believes that his attempted overtake was legitimate. Rosberg added the following:-

‘In terms of an apology, I need to see it to go into any such detail. I was quicker, I wanted to overtake and I went for it. Unfortunately we touched. I definitely tried [to overtake] and I was alongside.’

From what Rosberg has stated here, it is clear that he feels he did nothing wrong yesterday and believes he was in his right to overtake Hamilton. I do understand why Rosberg would think he is right. But for me, I believe Rosberg should have backed out of the move if he knew he wasn’t going to get past Hamilton and waited for another chance to get by.

Of course, Rosberg is a racing driver and will be looking for the gap in order to get past his team mate as he is a racer at heart, but I felt he went the wrong way about it and his comments to the media are not the correct way to behave and will only fuel the fire that is surrounding it.

As I have stated in my article about Hamilton today, it is open to interpretation on who you feel was responsible for the incident yesterday. But it is clear that the incident shouldn’t have happened and whichever driver you feel is responsible did not respect their team mate or the team’s desire for the drivers to race each other fairly.

The debate surrounding the incident between Hamilton and Rosberg will only continue as Formula One heads to Monza in two weeks time and this incident could be the start of things changing at the Mercedes team for the rest of the season. But it is clear that the battle between the Mercedes drivers for the title has now moved to another level, a level that Hamilton, Rosberg and the Mercedes team have never dealt with before.