Motorsports Mondial

Snapshots from Sepang

The F1 Weekly love fest goes global again. This time covering the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur. Long time and dedicated listener Christi Paul was our man on the spot. His memo from Malaysia reads

“I was in Sepang to witness a great race again, this time with far more pit stops than ever. These Pirelli’s are finally doing what it’s intended to do, faster degradation, more pit stops, more excitement. A great shake up to the running order, drivers who can now understand the tyres, will make it work. Fantastic!”

His race buddy Adrian John gets the credit for photographs.

Motorsports Mondial

Formula Renault NEC


Sainz Supreme in Red Bull Stampede

The Battle Royale that is expected in the Formula Renault Euro Cup this season, between Carlos Sainz Jr of Spain and Dutch driver Robin Frijns, had its first encounter in the opening race of its NEC version, North European Countries, last weekend at Hockenheimring.

All three races of the weekend were won by Red Bull young chargers. Russian star Daniel Kvyat won the opening race with Frijns hot on his heels in second place, and setting the fastest lap of the race in process. Sainz Jr was third two seconds behind the Dutchman.

Sainz Jr stamped his authority on rest of the weekend, winning both race 2 and 3 and also recording the fastest lap for both events. Frijns was second in the second race and Kvyat was third.

In the third and final race of the weekend Sainz Jr triumphed over Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who placed second. Frinjs, who is with Josef Kaufmann Racing of Germany, was third.

Last year Frijns won the final edition of Formula BMW Europe while Sainz Jr took Rookie of the Year honors.

The Formula Renault Euro Cup starts this coming weekend at Motorland Aragon, located between Barcelona and Madrid.

— Nasir Hameed

Greetings and Gazpacho regards.

Motorsports Mondial

Cool in the heat and loving it

Photo. Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel continues his winning streak on Sunday by taking the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. Victory in both the opening races of the season has given the Red Bull reigning world champion 24 points lead over Jenson Button. The McLaren driver finished second and third man on the podium was Renault’s Robert Kubica replacement Nick Heidfeld.

Vettel now has 12 career victories and Sunday’s win was fifth Formula 1 success in the last six events for the young German.

Mark Webber came close to a podium finish. The second Red Bull driver lost places at the start but fought back to finish fourth.

Felipe Massa was fifth ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso. The 2005 & ’06 World Champion damaged his front wing in a battle with ex-teammate Lewis Hamilton. The McLaren driver had to make a late pit stop and finished seventh, not what the 2008 World Champion was hoping after looking strong for a podium finish earlier in the race.

Hamilton’s seventh place became eighth after a post-race 20-second penalty for blocking Alonso. The Spaniard was also assessed a similar penalty for running into the back of Hamilton’s McLaren, but retains his finishing position.

Japanese Kamui Kobayashi was in his usual combative mood and after dueling with Michael Schumacher finished eighth and was promoted to seventh following Hamilton’s penalty. Schumacher was ninth.

The final championship point for tenth place was scored by Scotsman Paul di Resta; the Force India driver also earned a point on his Grand Prix debut in Australia.

A dramatic moment on lap 53 of 56 saw the Renault of Vitaly Petrov go wide and then became airborne when the Russian driver tried to re-join the track, breaking the steering column upon landing. Petrov was poised for points finish after his dream podium drive in Albert Park.

Vettel leads with 50 points. Button is second on 26, two points ahead of Hamilton. Further two points behind in fourth is Webber with 22 points. Alonso is fifth with 20 points. Petrov and Heidfeld are next with 15 points each.

Round three will take place next Sunday in Shanghai

— Nasir Hameed

Greetings and scintillating regards from Sepang…….

Photo. Reuters

F1weekly podcast # 495

Photo: Renault Sport F1

Sebastian Vettel continues his dominance winning in Sepang.

Great drive for Jenson Button taking second place.

Nick Heifeld proves the naysayers wrong with a podium!

Lewis Hamilton struggled with his Pirelli tyres finishing in seventh.

Christian Horner On Vettel’s race.

“I think he was the coolest guy here today, I mean his composure in the car, the way he controlled the race, looked after the tyres, did what he needed to when he had to,” he told the BBC. “We had the option of doing a three-stop or a four-stop and he gave us those options so it was a really mature drive by him today.

He’s just experienced. We forget that he is only 23 years of age, he can only just hire a hire car, so he is in his 60-something grand prix and he is just learning, gaining more experience and just continues to get better. It was also a great recovery by Mark today.”

Eric Boullier on Renault’s race.

“That was a tough race with a lot of pit stops, a lot of strategy changes and honestly I don’t believe everything was going according to plan for anybody but as a team we reacted very well.I’m pleased of course for Nick but I’m also pleased for the whole team. It’s another great reward for us, especially after the tough start to the weekend. It’s good to be on the podium again, although it is disappointing to have lost one car with less than ten laps to go. There’s no doubt the car is competitive although it is not currently quick enough to be winning races. So, we need to push hard on the development side, but scoring two podiums in a row is definitely very satisfying.”

Nick Heidfeld, P3, R31-04

“I had a great start just like in Australia, and did not expect to make up so many positions. I moved up to P2, making up four places. After that I did my best to follow Sebastian (Vettel) but he was much quicker. Then, I noticed some drops of rain and my tyres were going off but I stayed out. I lost a couple of places at my first pit stop, but it’s clear we had really good pace and we were able to fight with the cars ahead. I got lucky with Fernando (Alonso) having a problem, but it was great fun fighting and getting ahead of Lewis (Hamilton). In the final few laps Mark (Webber) was close behind me but we had the pace to stay ahead. It’s another great result for Lotus Renault GP and it’s clear the team has taken a big step forward this year.”

Vitaly Petrov, DNF, R31-03

“First of all I am happy for the team as we got another podium, so we can consider this a great start to the season for us. It was a strong performance by the team in an unusual race. I made a small mistake which shouldn’t have had the consequences it had. I went wide and the car took off on the curb, landing hard. Both cars should have been in the points today, but the good news is that we clearly have the pace needed to compete this season.”

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton given 20 second post race penalties.

Updated race results:

1. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 56laps 1hr 37m 39.832s
2. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes +00m 03.2s
3. Nick Heidfeld Germany Renault-Renault +00m 25.0s
4. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +00m 26.3s
5. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 36.9s
6. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 57.2s#
7. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Sauber-Ferrari +01m 06.4s
8. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes +01m 09.9s##
9. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +01m 24.8s
10. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes +01m 31.5s

11. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
12. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +1 lap
13. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
14. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
15. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Lotus-Renault +1 lap
16. Timo Glock Germany Virgin-Cosworth +2 laps
17. Vitaly Petrov Russia Renault-Renault +4 laps

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Photo: Getty images

Sebastian Vettle edges out Hamilton for pole at Sepang.

Mark Webber in front of Jenson Button on the second row.

Fernando could only manage fifth in his Ferrari.

Nick Heidfeld out-qualifies his team mate vitaly Petrov.

HRT  qualifying both cars for the Malaysian GP.

Nick Heidfeld, P6, R31-04, 1:36.124
“I’m very satisfied as I think it’s the maximum we could have achieved, especially looking back at Friday where we didn’t do many laps at all and didn’t have a lot of time to set up the car. It got faster and faster in qualifying today, but I have to say in Q1 I took it easy then I pushed a bit over the limit in Q2 and lost some time there, but in Q3 I found the golden middle and it was a good lap. Of course, I was a lot happier with the traffic here than I was in Australia.”

Vitaly Petrov, P8, R31-03, 1:36.324
“To get in the top ten today is a good result considering the track time we lost yesterday. We worked hard on improving the set-up in final practice and in the end I had quite a good feeling with the car. For the race, anything can happen, but it’s clear that looking after the tyres will be very important because the degradation is very high here. We will also have to watch what happens with the weather because there is a high risk of rain. I don’t mind if it’s wet or dry.”

James Allison, Technical Director: “We can expect lots of pit action tomorrow”

James, sixth and eighth on the grid – surely that was hard to predict this time yesterday?
We certainly had a troubled day yesterday, but there was no reason to believe from yesterday’s running that the car was struggling for pace so it’s very nice to be sixth and eighth on the grid, very nice to have both our cars in the top ten only having had one in Melbourne.

Does today’s result put you in a strong position for tomorrow?
It will do if we make a good start as both drivers are already in points-scoring positions. However, if we want to convert a promising qualifying into something very good then we’re going to have to do well in what is certainly going to be an interesting race, whether that’s with the risk of rain which is more than moderate and also with the fact that there’s going to be a flurry of pit-stopping.

Pos  Driver                Team                 Time         Gap   
 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m34.870s
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m34.974s   + 0.104
 3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m35.179s   + 0.309
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m35.200s   + 0.330
 5.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m35.802s   + 0.932
 6.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault              1m36.124s   + 1.254
 7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m36.251s   + 1.381
 8.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault              1m36.324s   + 1.454
 9.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m36.809s   + 1.939
10.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m36.820s   + 1.950
11.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m37.035s   + 1.466
12.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m37.160s   + 1.591
13.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m37.347s   + 1.778
14.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m37.370s   + 1.801
15.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth    1m37.496s   + 1.927
16.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m37.528s   + 1.959
17.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m37.593s   + 2.024
18.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth    1m38.276s   + 1.532
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m38.645s   + 1.901
20.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault        1m38.791s   + 2.047
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth      1m40.648s   + 3.904
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth      1m41.001s   + 4.257
23.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth         1m41.549s   + 4.805
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m42.574s   + 5.830

Motorsports Mondial

Photo: Reuters

Star from Down Under Mark Webber is hoping to get his F1 season back on track. The season opener on home ground yielded the same best finish on home soil as his debut with Minardi. His young teammate, Sebastian Vettel, was on a different planet in Albert Park.

Webber set the pace on Friday. Vettel and McLaren boys will give him run for the pole and company in the race.

Sunday the simmering heat and humidity of Malaysia will take its toll. Rain may add more spice to the show. Michael Schumacher, the most successful driver in F1 and Sepang’s short history, has predicted it might be a “lottery.”

Red Bull and his young fellow German may still hold the winning number when the checkered flag falls on the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix.

McLaren is being tipped as the most likely team to challenge Red Bull, at least in the first half of the season. With two world champions as teammates it will be interesting to see if Lewis can do to his teammate Button what he has always done to his teammates. To the surprise of many it was Button who grabbed two early season victories last year before Lewis landed his first win.

Ferrari, the prancing horse. The famous Italian stable may not be so stable for Felipe Massa, who has become Mark Webber of Maranello. Very good but with a teammate who is very good +, and then some.

Fernando Alonso, jockey du jour at prancing horse, missed out on his third championship last year in the final round due to a team blunder. He collected valuable points in Australia from his fourth place finish.

Renault’s Russian driver Vitaly Petrov is now back on earth after his historic orbit of the F1 podium in Albert Park. Nick Heidfeld was chosen to replace Robert Kubica, and was unable to demonstrate, due to damage suffered at the start in Australia, what he could do in a car good enough for Petrov to be on the podium.

Toro Rosso. The two young drivers in what was formerly known as Minardi, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, are both looking to avoid the Speed/Liuzzi treatment by parent company’s motorsports matador, Dr Helmut Marko.

The Sepang track was designed by Hermann-the German-Tilke and hosted the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999, victory was gifted to Eddie Irvine by his Ferrari teammate, Michael-the even more German-Schumacher.

— Nasir Hameed

Greetings and Grand Prix regards.

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