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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hamilton steals pole from Alonso in Japan

Lewis Hamilton snatched pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix in a rain-hit Fuji qualifying session on Saturday.

The championship leader punched the air in delight after denying Fernando Alonso with a thrilling final lap and took pole for the fourth time of his stellar rookie season.

Hamilton, who leads his McLaren team-mate by two points with three races left, bagged top spot right at the end of the session by just 0.070 seconds, as he defied the greasy conditions with a time of one minute 25.368 seconds.

Rivals Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa will line up on the second row of the grid.

Hamilton, 22, said: "I'm feeling relaxed and with the way this weekend has gone, I am even more relaxed.

"I know I have got two guys breathing down my neck, but I am not bothered. But it is going to be a very close, tough race and the key will be getting to the first corner first.

"I knew it was my last chance at pole and I was delighted when I got it. That's why I punched the air.

"We have not had much practice in the wet conditions and it was difficult. But it was good fun out there and I am sure if the conditions are changing during the race it will be exciting."

Double world champion Alonso said: "It would have been better to be on pole, but I am on the front row, which is important. It is very close between the top four drivers."

Raikkonen, 13 points behind Hamilton and needing to win Sunday's race to keep his title hopes alive, finished just a tenth of a second back.

The Finn said: "I had a small problem with the gearbox but hopefully that will be fixed for tomorrow. It was a sensor problem which cost us some time.

"But the car felt pretty OK in the last session and I was happy. I think I am in a good position for the race."

Germany's Nick Heidfeld was fifth fastest for BMW, just ahead of his countryman Nico Rosberg, driving for Williams, who will start 10 places further back after suffering a penalty for changing his race engine earlier in the weekend.

It looked for a time that Hamilton would fail to qualify from the first timed session as he got caught behind two slower cars, but he eventually made it through with just 17 seconds to spare.

Britain's Jenson Button, who gave the home crowd something to cheer about after finishing seventh fastest for Japanese giants Honda, will now start sixth after Rosberg's penalty.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Formula One: Belgium Grand Prix Review

Kim Räikkönen became a three-time winner at Spa leading Ferrari to a one-two victory as McLaren were thrashed into a distant third and fourth on Sunday.
The 18 championship points also secured Ferrari the Constructors’ Championship following McLaren’s disqualification in the manufacturers title race.
It was a dominant performance by Ferrari, who had the measure of the beleaguered McLaren team for the entire race and never once looked to be under any threat.
Räikkönen confessed Spa was definitely his favourite circuits on the F1 calendar.
“For sure it’s my favourite circuit, it was even before I came into Formula One, so it’s nothing to do with if I win or lose here. I just like it here, but I think that’s the reason that I have won here. It’s just a good circuit,” he told reporters in the post race press briefing.
Runner-up Felipe Massa, who set the fastest lap, said he was delighted for Ferrari. "It was a good race. I am very happy for the team as we really wanted this one-two! Now, the situation in the championship is a bit better and we will continue to fight to the end, believe it!"
Jean Todt was impressed with the team’s performance and with the numbers. "Seventh win, the fourth with Kimi and the third one-two of the year. These are the numbers after a fantastic weekend and they come courtesy of all the work of a great team, which is working as one, united and motivated, while the drivers also did a great job,” he stressed.
“There are three races to go and we will tackle them in the same spirit with the same approach as always, which means to say, with determination, passion and team spirit."
Third placed Fernando Alonso conceded Ferrari were simply too quick for them this time.
“I think they were too quick for us. I tried quite hard in the first stint to keep pace with Felipe, just hoping around the pit stop time to make up a position but slowly they were disappearing and after the first stop, for sure, we didn’t see them anymore,” he said.
“We lack a little bit of pace in the race. We were quite OK in qualifying but for sure in the race we were off the pace by a couple of tenths.”
Ferrari were so dominant in a two-horse race that uncharacteristically the Belgium Grand Prix proved to be a rather staid affair with the only true drama coming in the opening lap when Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, who finished fourth, ran side-by-side through turns three and four, eventually Hamilton was forced wide and conceded the place to his team-mate.
The championship leader was incensed by Alonso’s tactics saying: "For someone that's always complaining about people doing unfair manoeuvres, and wanting to be fair, and someone I look up to...he has gone and swiped me and pushed me as wide as he could. I was just really lucky there was a run-off area so I could take that."
BMW-Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld consolidated his position as the best of the rest with another fifth place finish whilst Williams’ Nico Rosberg secured his second consecutive sixth place.
Mark Webber grabbed his first points since the European Grand Prix with seventh whilst Heikki Kovalainen took the last of the points in eighth for Renault.
Further down the finishing table the only driver to stand out by some margin was a vastly improved Adrian Sutil and the B-spec Spyker car, who, for much of the race was running in 12th place until his second stop.
Team principal Colin Kolles was delighted with his team’s performance saying:
”I am very pleased to see that we are now making real progress and are able to compete with the cars around us. Adrian had an excellent race to 14th position. I think we can now look forward to the last three races of the year.”
Not so happy were Fisichella, who ran wide damaging his suspension on the opening lap, Sebastian Vettel who had a steering problem, David Coulthard and Jenson Button who both retired with a hydraulics failure and finally Alex Wurz, who once again had a miserable weekend spinning in the opening few laps before eventually suffering a fuel pressure failure.
Kimi Räikkönen’s victory closes the gap to Hamilton to 13 points, whilst Alonso has taken yet another point of his team-mate to lag just two points with three races remaining.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Fernando Alonso wins The Italian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso, the reigning world champion, wins again at the Italian Grand Prix. He won it quite comfortably leading from start to the finish. The second place went to Lewis Hamilton, who had to work hard to fight off Kimmi Raikonnen of Ferrari who came third.Fernando Alonso had been fluent all weekend and today was no exception. No one troubled him except for Lewis Hamilton in the very first corner and for a next few laps. Lewis actually had a very bad start and almost gave away the place to Filipe Massa, but Lewis wasn't giving up and with extra late breaking almost even caught Alonso off guard, but there was a small contact and Lewis went flying staright missing the chicane.
Safety car was brought in after David Coulthard went staright to the tire walls, with front wing problem. The laps under safety cars became crucial later as this allowed many drivers even Kimmi Raikkonen for a one stop stragedy. Filipe Massa was the next casualty, he didn't have any accidents but retired with suspension failure.
The one stop stragedy nearly paid off for Raikonnen. He came ahead of Lewis Hamilton after Lewis's second pit stop. But Lewis wasn't going to make that happen and with Raikonnen struggling with the car and his own heath(neck problem after the horrendous accident during practice), Lewis overtook the struggling Ferrari in the circuit's first corner, and with a move only he could manage.
Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica took fourth and fifth places for BMW Sauber, the German driving his customary impeccable race, the Pole driving a stormer to recover from a fudged first pit stop, when his car appeared to fall from its jacks. He passed another race hero, Nico Rosberg, for fifth place on the 46th lap. The young German drove superbly in an initial fight with Jenson Button, who scored the final point for Honda in the wake of Heikki Kovalainen, who flew for Renault. The Briton was also in feisty form with a halfway decent car beneath him, but could not hold the Williams at bay.
Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Honda’s Rubens Barrichello duelled throughout, chased to the line by Jarno Trulli who lost many places on the opening lap in his Toyota. A dismal day left Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella lapped in 12th place ahead of Williams’ Alex Wurz, Super Aguri’s Anthony Davidson and Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher. Super Aguri’s Takuma Sato recovered from troubles on the opening lap for 16th, to head home the Toro Rossos of Tonio Liuzzi and Sebastian Vettel, and the Spykers of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto.
In the driver title stakes, Alonso is now only three points behind Hamilton, with four races left. In the constructors’ championship, McLaren extended their advantage over Ferrari to 23 points.