McLaren’s Malay Malaise
By Nasir Hameed
Seems like yesterday when McLaren was fined a record $100m fine for their involvement–and concealment of facts from FIA–in the Stepney-gate spy saga. The once proud team–which brought championships to the likes of Fittipaldi, Senna, Lauda and Prost–was also thrown out of the 2007 constructors championship.
An expensive way to learn a lesson, or so the motor racing world thought.
We’ve only just begun: The 2009 season has just begun and McLaren team and star driver, Lewis Hamilton, are in hot water again in the simmering heat of Malaysia. A simple off-track excursion by a fellow competitor, Jarno Trulli, in the season opener last weekend in Montreal, may put the youngest world champion off the track if the matter is escalated to World Motorsport Council.
Did not get the memo-rex: Incredibly, despite knowledge that his statement to a reporter, Adam Cooper of SpeedTV and recorded radio communication with the team, was all over the web and no doubt had reached the stewards, Lewis Hamilton and team’s Sporting Director, Dave Ryan, stuck to their guns that the Toyota driver passed Hamilton under a yellow and he was under no instruction to let Trulli pass.
Ryan expressed: Dave Ryan is the first casualty of the firing line. He was suspended by team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, and was told to take the first available flight back to England. Whitmarsh himself may be wishing he had waited few more races before taking over the team from Ron Dennis. If evidence emerges that Whitmarsh was aware of team’s radio communication with Hamilton, he may also join Ryan on gardening leave.
Starry, Starry Knight: Mercedes-Benz is a major investor in the McLaren team and also the engine supplier. It was their power plant in the back of Jenson Button’s car which won the opening round in Australia. The embarrassment of lie-gate coming within two seasons of Stepney-gate may take its toll not only in their relationship with the team but also the driver, whose career they have financially supported since his karting days.
European vacation: The Grand Prix gala goes to China and Bahrain before the first European round in Barcelona. The World Motorsport Council may give Hamilton a leave of absence and put him in a position where he was few years ago, in front of a TV screen on a Grand Prix weekend admiring the drivers, instead of being one of them.
Jenson Button takes his first career back to back pole.
Jarno Trulli with a great performance in his Toyota for P2.
Vettle and Barrichello in the second row but both take grid penalties.
Felipe Massa with a mistake by Ferrari never gets out of Q1.
Diego Nunes takes an impressive first victory for Piquet GP.
Sebastian Loeb takes the lead in the Rally of Portugal.
1. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:35.058 1:33.784 1:35.181
2. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:34.745 1:33.990 1:35.273
3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:34.935 1:34.276 1:35.518
4. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:34.681 1:34.387 1:35.651
5. Glock Toyota (B) 1:34.907 1:34.258 1:35.690
6. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:35.083 1:34.547 1:35.750
7. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:35.027 1:34.222 1:35.797
8. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:35.166 1:34.562 1:36.106
9. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:35.476 1:34.456 1:36.170
10. Alonso Renault (B) 1:35.260 1:34.706 1:37.659
11. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:35.110 1:34.769
12. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:35.341 1:34.788
13. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:35.280 1:34.905
14. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:35.023 1:34.924
15. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:35.507 1:35.431
16. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:35.642
17. Piquet Renault (B) 1:35.708
18. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:35.908
19. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:35.951
20. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:36.107
Post qualifying car weight (KG)
1. Button Brawn-Mercedes 660
2. Trulli Toyota 656.5
3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 647
4. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 664.5
5. Glock Toyota 656.5
6. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 656
7. Webber Red Bull-Renault 656
8. Kubica BMW-Sauber 663
9. Raikkonen Ferrari 662.5
10. Alonso Renault 680.5
11. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 692
12. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 683.4
13. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 688
14. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 688.9
15. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 670.5
16. Massa Ferrari 689.5
17. Piquet Renault 681.9
18. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 680.5
19. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 655.5
20. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 686.5